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Transform Fear into Ease: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Phobias

Living with phobias of any kind can be debilitating. Fortunately, there’s help. Phobic episodes create panic in your mind and can sometimes lead to other compounding health issues. However, there is a difference between the word fear and phobia.

  • Fear is a rational and emotional response to a real or perceived threat.
  • A phobia is a fear as well as a possible avoidance of an object, activity, or situation that is not a real perceived threat.

Causes of Phobias

The exact cause of phobias is unclear, but they could arise from traumatic situations that occurred in the past. These situations could include being bitten by a dog, or by acquiring exaggerated or false information such as all dogs bite.

Regardless of the cause, cognitive behavioral therapy for phobias is an extremely beneficial form of treatment. This type of therapy does not focus on the past; it zeros in on the current situation to find a logical solution.

Types of Phobia Disorders

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, there are three types of phobia disorders.

  1. Simple Phobias – These phobias, which are considered to be the least severe include fear of specific objects or animals such as snakes, or being in particular situations such as small spaces.
  2. Social Phobias – These phobias include fear of being watched or judged by others which can lead to avoidance of being in public or around other people.
  3. Agoraphobia – This phobia is the most severe type that causes a person to feel as if they are not able to escape a situation, which will often lead to panic attacks.

Symptoms of Specific Phobias

Specific phobias cause an overwhelming fear of objects or situations that do not pose any real danger, yet causes extreme anxiety and avoidance to occur. Unlike brief anxiety that is caused by things such as taking an exam, specific phobias will create intense longer-lasting physical and psychological reactions which can include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Feeling as if you are out of control or trapped

Differences Between Common Anxiety and Phobias

Common anxiety versus phobias may include:

  • Feeling anxious around your friend’s german shepherd versus avoiding your friend’s house entirely for fear of their dog.
  • Feeling queasy while climbing a tall ladder versus not attending an office Christmas party because it is on the 25th floor of a hotel.
  • Worrying about taking off in an airplane during a thunderstorm versus refusing to go on an all-expense-paid trip to the Bahamas because it involves air travel.

Treatment for Specific Phobias

The most effective treatment for specific phobias is cognitive behavioral therapy which teaches techniques to help cope with objects or situations that cause the specific phobia to occur. Utilizing this form of exposure therapy, you will learn other possible beliefs about the fear as well as the physical and psychological reactions that occur.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy may also include a gradual exposing of the object or situation to help manage the anxiety that arises. For example, if you have a fear of driving on the freeway, initially, you may be asked to look at pictures of cars on the highway. You may then move on to sitting in a vehicle nearby and ultimately driving on the freeway. The first actual drive on it may only entail traveling to the first off-ramp, then exiting, but the next time will be the second off-ramp, etc.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for phobias allows you to manage your fears by changing the way you think. The basis for this form of therapy is that thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors are interconnected with the thought being the core. If you change your thoughts, you change the way you feel and behave, resulting in a new belief. This new belief sheds a positive light on what appeared to be a negative situation.

Finding Help for Specific Phobias

At Miami Hypnosis & Therapy, we provide a safe and comfortable environment with highly trained professional therapists. We will incorporate a unique treatment plan because each person is different in their wants and needs.

We have a vast array of therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy for phobias. We also offer neuro-linguistic programming and hypnotherapy, which can all be utilized and integrated into your sessions for optimal results.

Don’t let your phobias dictate your life. Take the first step and make your appointment today to get help with your phobias and to start living in peace instead of panic.

Fall and Holiday seasonal decorations with candle, pumpkin, and pinecone on a table

Causes of Family Stress & How to Manage Holiday Anxiety

The holidays should be a time for fun and festivities, but for many, it can be a time of substantial stress. Even if you may not celebrate religious holidays, family gatherings bring a special kind of heightened conflict, either internally or externally. Having to buy gifts as well as having various holiday functions for work can all add up to feeling overwhelmed and overloaded. If all that wasn’t enough stress, we also have our family functions to attend.

Causes of Family Stress

The family unit is a structure that is based on balance and equilibrium, and anything that disrupts that balance can cause a disturbance.

  • Expectations — One of the biggest causes of family stress is having expectations of yourself as well as your family members. These expectations are elevated during the holidays where everyone wants everything to be perfect, and when things do not go as planned, it upsets the family dynamic.
  • Over Extending Ourselves — When we overextend ourselves emotionally, physically, and financially, this can lead to resentment and lashing out at those we love all because we wanted to make their holiday happier.
  • Family Traditions — Having traditions such as hosting the family function can create an overwhelming degree of stress.
  • Changes in the Family — These changes can be positive, such as the birth of a child or natural changes that may alter the family dynamic, such as divorce.
  • Unhappy Memories — When the family gets together for the holidays, it may trigger unpleasant childhood memories.
  • Toxic Relatives — Having to deal with toxic relatives can cause family stress for everyone.

There are many causes of family stress, especially during the holidays, but there are ways to manage and control, and potentially alleviate holiday anxiety.

Managing Family Stress

  • Change Your Outlook — Ease your worries about what “should” be. Allow things to flow. Remember, everything does not have to be perfect, but it can be the best it can be at that moment in time.
  • Stick to a Budget — Overspending will add unnecessary monetary stress. Sticking to a budget will alleviate the added financial anxiety as well as helping you to feel more in control.
  • Plan Ahead — Taking a little time to plan out holiday preparations can help diminish last-minute stress caused by family functions.
  • It is OK to say No — Learn to say no when asked to do things that are going to cause you to feel overwhelmed and resentful. The word “no” is a complete sentence, after all!
  • Make a List of Coping Strategies — Knowing what triggers set you off and having a list of ways to deal with them can help you regain your thoughts and clear your mind. When things get hectic, you can make adjustments by doing the following:
    • Take a break and walk away for a few minutes to clear your mind.
    • Practice deep breathing exercises to calm you down and refocus your mind.
    • Learn relaxation techniques that you can apply to all your daily stressors.
  • Seeking Professional Help — Sometimes what causes holiday stress is too much to handle, so finding professional help can be the holiday life raft you need.

Finding Outside Assistance

Our thoughts can get clouded by the overwhelming amount of stress that can occur, especially around the holidays. Having a trained professional by your side can help you see problems from a different perspective.

At Miami Hypnosis & Therapy, we offer a safe and comfortable environment with highly trained professional therapists that can assist in one-on-one or family therapy. Our wide-ranging scope of services include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and hypnotherapy. By utilizing these different forms of treatment together in tailor-made treatment plans, we enhance the healing process as well as expedite your progress.

  • CBT — This form of treatment is based on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors being interconnected.
  • NLP — This form of therapy is based on the belief that the actions of our minds are the result of learned behavior which can be changed through our efforts.
  • Hypnotherapy — During a state of hypnosis, the mind is far more receptive to suggestions so the behaviors we want can be achieved.

The causes of family stress can be overwhelming, but with the proper mindset, a holiday get-together with family can be fun, festive, and anxiety-free.

As we move into Fall and the season of gathering with loved ones, make sure you have the tools to support yourself emotionally. Contact us today to get started with stress management for you and your family today.

Top 5 Therapeutic Books for Self Care, Managing Emotions & Self Improvement

After a long day, there’s something grounding about enjoying a good book. Self care includes spending your free time away from the screen, and books are the age-old answer for a means of self care and self-reflection. The age of self-improvement is here, and that starts at the core by managing our emotions. With so many therapeutic books available, it can be hard to choose the right book that will be able to ignite your specific interest or need.

The following are the top 5 therapeutic books that will help you learn how to manage and control your emotions, even when life gets complicated. These books give you powerful tools to improve your sense of self in all aspects of your life.

  1. Cognitive Hypnotherapy: An Integrated Approach to the Treatment of Emotional Disorders by Dr. Assen Alladin
    • This therapeutic book integrates both cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with hypnotherapy to help treat a wide range of emotional issues such as:
      • Anxiety
      • Depression
      • Eating disorders
      • PTSD
      • Insomnia
    • An easy to follow, step-by-step approach is given to the combining of these two highly influential forms of therapy.
    • CBT is based on the conscious part of the mind with thinking, feeling, and behavior being interrelated.
    • Hypnotherapy is based on the subconscious part of the mind and utilizes a hypnotic state to relate directly with the subconscious.
  2. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, MD
    • One of the best books for managing emotions for anyone who has endured any trauma, including physical, emotional, or mental.
    • The scars that form from traumatic experiences remain in our minds and are reflected in our emotions.
    • This five-star therapeutic book explains how traumatic events can rearrange the brain’s wiring affecting areas dedicated to pleasure, control, engagement, and trust.
    • By utilizing innovative treatments such as neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, yoga, and other activities, you can reclaim your life and heal debilitating scars.
  3. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
    • A genuinely transformative book that explains how being vulnerable in life is not a weakness but rather a real sign of courage.
    • Vulnerability is the core of our deepest emotions such as fear, grief, and on the other spectrum, joy, and empathy.
    • Open up new avenues to explore relationships, creativity, and even how you handle stressful situations that may arise.
    • A New York Times bestselling therapeutic book that can transform all aspects of daily living.
  4. Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self, by Anodea Judith
    • Each chapter focuses on the seven chakras from Eastern philosophy and how they align with Western psychological analysis and science.
    • Starting with a description of characteristics, it then branches out to explain particular childhood developmental patterns.
    • Traumas and abuse are also discussed as well as how to heal and maintain balance within.
    • This eye-opening therapeutic book flawlessly merges both Eastern and Western science and philosophy with psychology and spirituality.
  5. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brene Brown
    • Leadership is not about arrogance or having a higher status than another person. It is about taking responsibility for recognizing true potential and having the courage to develop them in people.
    • A true leader must overcome fear and uncertainty, which further strengthens a person’s core belief in themselves.
    • This empowering therapeutic book teaches that learning and unlearning requires brave work, tough conversations, and presenting yourself with a whole heart while doing it all.
    • If anything in life is holding you back from achieving a dream or goal, then this is a must-read book.

Reading therapeutic books can help you understand and think about things from a different perspective, but sometimes the best self-care books might not be enough. Consider help from an outside source such as a therapist who can offer more insight to help with self-esteem, and self-confidence when books aren’t enough.

At Miami Hypnosis & Therapy, we offer an integrative approach to treatment, including CBT, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and hypnotherapy. Our treatment plans are unique for each patient because each individual has different needs. By incorporating various forms of therapy together, treatment time is shortened, and the benefits are more significant.

Changing your life for the better starts when you say it does, so isn’t it time to start feeling better about yourself and your life? Take that first step to a positive transformation, and contact us today!

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