Hypnotherapy Common Uses Phobias

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by an irrational fear of a situation, object or animal that actually poses little to no danger. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2009), more than 19 million Americans struggle with phobias, such as flying, heights, small spaces and specific animals.

The fear associated with phobias can have physical effects, such as rapid heart rate, sweating and shortness of breath. It also causes psychological stress that interferes with daily life.

Researchers are still learning about the causes of phobias. Brain chemical imbalances and traumatic events appear to influence the development of phobias. Hypnotherapy may be helpful in alleviating the fears associated with these phobias.

Treating Phobias with Hypnotherapy

The goal of hypnotherapy for phobia sufferers is to stop the subconscious patterns that create anxiety. The “rewind technique” is commonly used to treat phobias. During the therapy session, the therapist guides the patient through a series of images and steps to detach the client emotionally from the event that creates the anxiety. The client usually experiences the event from an observing position, like watching a movie in a theater.

The therapist retraces how the patient feels during the episode and works “backwards,” letting the client “rewind” the scenario several times to create further emotional detachment that causes the desired behavior modification. Therapists don’t focus on how the phobia started. Instead, they focus on changing patients’ reactions to phobia triggers such as seeing a snake or walking onto a high ledge.

Effectiveness of Hypnotherapy for Phobias

Some patients respond very well to hypnotherapy treatment. After several sessions, patients may experience a better quality of life, and the need for anxiety medications may decrease.

A few personality traits indicate how well a patient will respond to therapy sessions. For example, people with the ability to easily get lost in music or a book typically experience the best results. Other characteristics that indicate high rates of success include emotional reactions to scents and experiencing physical sensations when thinking about memories. Getting plenty of rest before hypnosis sessions sharpens your concentration and improves results.

Choosing Hypnotherapy for Phobias

Some risks are associated with hypnotherapy, as they are with most treatments. Adverse reactions may include headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety and false memories. Some doctors prescribe medications such as antidepressants or sedatives to get phobias under control.

Work with your physician if you’re taking medication while undergoing hypnosis. If you want to taper off medication and use hypnosis as the primary method of treatment, this should be accomplished under the oversight of a licensed doctor. A doctor may recommend continuing medication while participating in hypnotherapy for better control over the disorder.


Douglas, P. (2010). Using hypnotherapy to treat fears and phobias.Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.avonhypnotherapy.co.uk/phobias.htm

Jones, S. (2009). Treat phobias with hypnosis and the rewind technique. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.naturalnews.com/027267_phobias_hypnosis_hypnotherapy.html

Mayo Clinic. (2010). Phobias definition.Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/phobias/DS00272

National Institute of Mental Health. (2009). Specific phobias. Retrieved August 12, 2010, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/specific-phobias.shtml