Using Hypnotherapy to Treat Fears and Phobias: by Dublin based hypnotherapist Ailish McGrath


Irish Times writers face down their fears…


Irish Time's Emma Somers conquering her fear....

Irish Time’s Emma Somers conquering her fear….

I was contacted by Roisin Ingle of the Irish Times, about working with one of their journalists for a piece they were writing on overcoming holiday phobias.
Emma had a phobia (strong fearful reaction) of diving into water.
We only had time for a single session, so we covered the essentials and the practical approach to resolving the fear.
Thanks to the effectiveness of the process, my experience and Emma’s bright and willing participation, all went to plan and Emma had her triumphant moment.
The link below takes you to her article:

Click here to read Emma’s account…

“The second time I go for it, and as soon as I leave the ground, my fear disappears. After a wonderful Wile E Coyote moment of air beneath feet, it’s straight into the surprisingly tepid water and back to the surface. It’s all over too soon, and if it weren’t for the rain and the rush back to the office, I’d have leapt straight back in again.” (Emma)

Fears and Phobias

Whatever your particular fear, or phobia, this page will go some way to explain how phobias are created, and perhaps more importantly, how the processes I use can help stop them.
If your particular fear or phobia isn’t mentioned on this page, don’t worry, it’s just that they can’t all be listed. Simply contact me for further details. Many phobias, like Emma’s are quickly resolved within a couple of sessions and some take a little longer, yet all can be stopped using these methods.
Phobias are extremely common and are experienced by approximately 11% of the population at some time in their lives.
Two very common phobias are SOCIAL PHOBIA (social anxiety: a fear of being judged negatively in social situations) and EMETOPHOBIA (a fear of vomit/vomiting).


A fear is an unpleasant reaction we feel when confronted with real danger. It is an essential ‘fight or flight’ instinct, which makes us prepare to either run away from that danger, or stick around and fight it out.


A phobia on the other hand (while still a very strong and unpleasant reaction), is an irrational fear which has been attached to an object, or situation, which causes little or no real danger. (Sometimes there is potential danger yet the person knows the level of panic they feel is disproportionate to the likelihood of the threat coming true).
There will usually be strong avoidance behaviour connected with the phobia, which will run alongside intense feelings of anxiety, loss of control and panic.
Sometimes, confrontation with the object feared, can even lead to fainting, but this is usually only associated with blood, injury, or needle-type phobias.

Specific phobias

Specific phobias can be categorised into five main types:

  1. Animal: such as rats/mice, spiders, insects, snakes, flying creatures, dogs, cats and reptiles.
  2. Natural Environment: such as water, thunderstorms, heights, fire, and the dark.
  3. Blood / Injury /Needles: such as injections, the sight of blood, dentistry, surgical operations, or other invasive medical procedures.
  4. Situational: such as flying, lifts, driving, tunnels, bridges, enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), or being sick. These fears relate to a fear of being trapped and unable to get away.
  5. Other: such as illness, germs, choking, vomiting.


Complex phobias

As well as the specific phobias, there are also the complex phobias of social phobia / social anxiety, and agoraphobia (the fear of open spaces). These are also very distressing and debilitating and impact many areas of a person’s life.

What causes phobias?

There are three main ways:
1) Attaching inner fear to an object. Phobias are often caused in childhood, where the child experiences a real fear, but the mind manages to detach (or repress) the feeling of terror, from the situation that caused it.
This leaves the mind with a strong fear, and nothing to attach it to. The mind doesn’t like it this way, and will therefore, symbolically attach this fear, to a real object or situation that it does know about, be it a spider, an enclosed space, a lift… whatever it may find.
From then on, whenever the person comes into contact with the symbolic object or situation (say, a spider), they feel the fear that the mind has coupled it with and they have a ‘phobia’.
2) Direct frightening experience. Sometimes, however, phobias can develop after being in an accident, a turbulent flight, being attacked, having a distressing or frightening visit to the dentist’s office, or even just hearing about terrible disasters can sometimes be enough to trigger a phobic reaction.
3) Learned from someone else. A child may model the behaviour of someone else who has a phobia, and as a result, become phobic as well.

Common phobias.

Some very common phobias are:

  • dental phobia / fear of dentists
  • flying phobia / fear of flying
  • snake phobia / fear of snakes
  • emetophobia / fear of being sick
  • spider phobia / fear of spiders
  • driving phobia / fear of driving
  • social phobia
  • fear of public speaking


Would Hypnotherapy be beneficial for your fear / phobia?

To gauge the degree to which your fear is affecting your life, ask yourself the following:
Do I spend an excessive amount of time thinking about my fear?
Is my fear affecting me physically? (e.g is adrenalin regularly being dumped into my blood, causing undue stress on my heart and lung function. Excessive and regular production of adrenalin causes a lot of wear and tear on the body, prematurely aging the body and increasing risk factors for disease.)
When I think of this fear does my pulse increase, do my hands shake, do I feel nausea?
Does this fear make me depressed?
Does this fear make me do things the hard way, such as planning sea travel so as to avoid flying, or miss out on promotions because I’m terrified of giving presentations?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are likely to have a phobia and may consider hypnotherapy to remove it quickly and effectively so that it no longer intrudes into your life.

Fears and Phobias CAN Be Helped!


Why Hypnotherapy is so successful at treating phobias:


The way a person thinks about the object feared is usually catastrophic, disproportionate and repetitive. These are all ways of thinking that can induce strong feelings of fear. The way a person thinks can be changed, so that you can successfully treat fears and phobias.
The original fear inducing experience can be reassessed and resolved emotionally so that there is no longer any ‘need’ for the phobia.
We work in a way and at a pace that you are comfortable with. You are always safe and will not be asked to confront any fear or do anything that you find threatening.