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Overcoming a Phobia with NLP Therapy

Overcoming a phobia can feel like an insurmountable task. However, finding the correct therapy can give you a light at the end of the tunnel. If you were wondering what type of therapy is best for phobias, consider Neuro-Linguistic Programming Therapy.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming Therapy (NLP) is a practice that helps clients build confidence, build their own self-awareness, and repair or build communication skills. NLP helps people draw the line between belief and reality, making it an effective tool when battling a phobia.

What Is a Phobia?

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder categorized by unrelenting and excessive fear or aversion to a certain place, object, animal, situation, and more. Sometimes this phobia can be so strong that an individual’s everyday life and relationships are severely impacted.

Harvard Medical School breaks down phobias into three main categories.

  • Specific Phobia (or Simple Phobia) – Often this is the first thing someone thinks of when they hear the word ‘phobia’. Some examples include a fear of dogs, fear of flying, fear of clowns, or fear of small spaces. A specific phobia is just that: any specific animal, thing, person, or situation that causes extreme distress and fear in an individual. 
  • Social Anxiety DisorderIndividuals with social anxiety disorder may fear certain situations, such as presentations or forms of “performance”. Or, they may fear being in certain situations with individuals they don’t know. Socially phobic may also fear situations such as eating in public or having to engage in unfamiliar social situations.
  • AgoraphobiaSomeone who is agoraphobic fears the outside world and being in situations that are difficult to escape. They may have difficulty leaving the safety and comfort of their home.

Phobias can be passed down genetically, develop because of a trauma, or seemingly come out of nowhere. Sometimes, phobias can exist concurrently with other mental health disorders. 

There are several therapeutic techniques that can be utilized to treat phobias.

What Type of Therapy Is Best For Phobias?

Person journaling about overcoming a phobia with NLP therapy in Miami

There are several ways to treat phobias, and no one solution will be a perfect fit for everyone. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and talk therapy are both methods that could be a part of a treatment plan for an individual attempting to overcome a phobia. Here at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, neuro-linguistic programming therapy is utilized in conjunction with hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to empower our clients on their mental health journey.

What Is Neuro-Linguistic Programming Therapy (NLP)?

NLP can be broken down into three core concepts.

1. Subjectivity

As individuals, we experience the world subjectively. When we take in information from the outside world it’s filtered through our experiences, opinions, and interpretations. How often have you said something to someone and they’ve taken it to mean the opposite of your intention? How we take in the information around us can be out of step with the reality of what is actually happening.

2. Consciousness

When focusing on consciousness, NLP considers both the conscious and unconscious mind. Our perception of the world around us is shaped by beliefs held that we may or may not be aware of.

3. Learning

NLP therapy is a practice of imitation. Patients are encouraged to ‘model’ thought patterns and potential situations as a way of learning a healthier mode of being.

In a way, NLP can be thought of as an exercise in “reprogramming” the brain into a healthier thought pattern while also being aware of why the distorted pattern was there in the first place. 

This practice can also help one identify the positive patterns and train themselves to repeat them. NLP therapy utilizes several techniques that help patients achieve these new healthier thought patterns.

NLP Techniques for Phobias

There are several techniques or exercises that can be utilized in NLP therapy to assist people working to overcome a phobia. These exercises may look like the following:Feelings jar with lavender in it on a field

  • Anchoring

When anchoring, an individual associates a trigger (whether internal or external) with a healthier response again and again until the practice becomes natural to them. Therefore they are “anchoring” old negative beliefs with healthy responses and changing the narrative.

    • Example: Let’s say someone is agoraphobic and holds the belief that if they go outside into a public place, there will be someone who will harm them. 
    • When utilizing an anchoring practice, a therapist may suggest to this client to replace this thought with the idea that when they go outside into a public place there will only be people there to help them, receive them, and care for them. This encourages the client to continue to practice this belief until they associate being outside in public with positive possibility.
  • Belief-Changing

This technique seems simple, but it can be extremely effective. Belief changing is simply replacing negative thoughts and beliefs with positive thoughts. Whenever a negative thought comes up, it can be battled with a possible one that challenges it. With practice the positive thoughts can replace the negative ones.

    • Example: Maybe a client has a phobia of spiders. A therapist may help this patient via belief changing. They could challenge the thought with statistics and information about the types of spiders this individual would encounter. Eventually, the negative thoughts and reactions to the spider would be replaced with more rational, grounded, and positive reactions.
  • Visual Kinetic Dissociation

This is a hypnotic technique that a therapist may use to help a client challenge their problematic beliefs from a more detached state. During this practice a therapist would guide a client through their trauma via an out-of-body experience that allows them to reexamine and challenge the trauma.

    • Example: An individual may have a fear of water because of a near drowning experience from childhood. While under the hypnotic state, a therapist may gently guide them to process their trauma via childhood regression techniques.

These are just a few of the NLP techniques for phobias that a therapist may utilize. A therapist will be able to curate a treatment plan to fit each client’s unique needs.

Finding Support for Overcoming Your Fears

If you are looking for help to overcome a phobia and are curious about NLP techniques for phobias contact us at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy today. The life you dream of is within reach!

Anna Marchenko

Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M. is the principal therapist at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy. She holds a bachelor's degree from NYU and dual masters degrees from Columbia University. Marchenko’s hypnosis certification is from the only hypnosis program in Florida that has been certified by the state’s Board of Education. She helps her clients by utilizing an integrative approach to psychotherapy, tailored to each individual’s mental health journey, drawing from hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, NLP therapy, EMDR, and more.

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