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public speaking fear

Public speaking fear treatment

Is it really about public speaking?

My client said that she had an issue with public speaking. Whenever she has to speak with people who are above her or in a senior role she blushes and stammers and feels very uncomfortable. Even when she is in a meeting with people she knows. When they go round the table and ask everyone to introduce themselves she dreads it as the turn comes towards her. She always feels as though she's being put on the spot. Someone might ask a question and she won't know the answer. She hates the feeling of being in the spotlight.

Rather than being an issue of public speaking, it seemed to be more about the fear that people will think her less knowledgeable than they are.

Public Speaking and issues from childhood

I discussed this with her and she revealed that she had felt this way for a long time. This suggested to me that the problem came from childhood. A problem from childhood needs regression therapy or metaphor replacement therapy.

She told me that it is quite likely that this came from her childhood. She was one of a pair of non-identical twins. Her sister is currently being treated for anorexia. Her sister has a history of behavior difficulties. When they were growing up, of the two twins my client always felt that she was the favourite, and that her sister was discriminated against. My client was blonde and bubbly, and her sister was dark and sullen. Whether this was cause or effect she could not say. She could not remember anything in particular about her childhood that had to do with public speaking issues with people in authority. But she was quite willing to go ahead with the therapy.

Metaphor Replacement therapy - defining the object

I explained to her that the fastest way was metaphor replacement therapy. For that she would have to be able to get the feeling right there in the chair. If she was  not able to get the feeling then we would do regression and try to find the childhood incident that caused it all.

It took quite a while for her to get the feeling. I then said to her "and where in your body are you feeling it?" She said "in my heart". I said to her "what thing does that most resemble? Think about its color, its shape, its size, think about what it be like if you were to reach out and hold it." She took a very long time to respond. I began to think that she was not able to get the feeling and we would have to go to regression.

But eventually she whispered "it's like a ball". I asked her to start describing it. She said it's sort of transparent, with red and black going through it. It is warm". Further probing elicited that there was about the size of her hand, it felt soft, it was like a marble with colors going through it. It was smooth. When I asked "what else do you know about it?". She said "it is a part of me".

Developing the metaphor for fear of public speaking

I then said "and what would you like to have happen to it?" She said "I would like it be gone". I then tried to create the link between this thing being gone and her behavior. So I asked "and if it is gone, would that mean for you?". She said "There would be a hole".

And I said "and what could you do then?". She said "I can fill the hole". I wasn't sure whether she had actually got rid of the object already or whether she just didn't understand what I was asking. So I sent her what would it mean to you if that thing was gone completely from your body. And she said "freedom". I tried to finish the link. I said "and with freedom what can you do then?" She said "I would be lighter".

Not Destroying the metaphor object

I thought the session was going off track. So I asked her "can you make that feeling a little bit bigger?" She took a very long time to answer. And then she said "yes." And I said "can you make it a little bit bigger still". She started to get very emotional at this point. I was worried that she was going to have a catharsis. Or some sort of abreaction. Her mouth was twisting, her chin was wobbling up and down, she looked deeply distressed. Under her eyelids her eyes were moving as if searching for something.

I reassured her "nothing in your own mind can ever harm you". Next, I encouraged her to change that ball. I asked "can you make it a little bit smaller?". And to my surprise she immediately said "yes". I then got her to progressively make it smaller and smaller. From time to time I asked "and what is going on in that place now?". She said it is very small". Then she said it has changed colour. It is now blue. It is not a problem anymore."

Keeping her new resource

The standard part of the process is to destroy the object. But in this case she insisted "it is not bad". It appeared that she wanted to keep this thing. So I got her to take the thing out from where it was. I suggested that she might find someplace and nobody wish you could keep it. Where it would be an asset to be useful to her.

Then I told her to think about the place where that marble had been. I told her to find some pleasant helpful thing that she could put in there. I suggested that there was something she could put in that would fill the place completely and overfill it and fill the rest of her body. "What have you found to put in there?" She said "positive feelings". I asked "and what colour are those positive feelings?". She said "yellow". So I use that to suggest that that dark hole had been filled with yellow and the whole of her body was filled with that lovely yellow feeling and tied it into things like daylight and days at the beach and other good memories.

Coming back from trance

I then got her to take two deep breaths and to count from one up to 3. I suggested it when she got to 3 she will be back in the present. And she was.

I tested to make sure that the feeling was gone. And she said "you know I'm thinking about it. I am thinking about the meeting with my bosses. And I just can't believe that that feeling is completely gone. Totally not there."

Lessons from the session

In this case whatever was causing her public speaking issue was very strong and very personal. But it also contains some element that she wanted to keep. Which was why she did not want to get rid of it completely. Fortunately I recognised this and allowed her to convert into some thing that she would find useful.

She ended the session still amazed that she could find no trace of that feeling.

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fear of public speaking

Fear of Public Speaking therapy

Fear of public speaking

Today's client was very nervous and fidgety when she sat down.  She told me she's got a new job, and hates it when they all sit around and everyone has to introduce themselves and say who they are. So it seems that she has a simple  fear of public speaking. That is usually easy to clear, and very quick.

Finding a feeling to work with

I explained about metaphor replacement therapy and how it works. I told her what I was going to do. Because I expected this to be a very short session, I treated this is a bit of an experiment in getting people to go into trance without formal induction. I used a breathing induction to settle her down. Got her to take two big deep breaths and then on the third told her to close her eyes. I told her to think about being in a large room with many people  It was slowly coming round to her turn to speak. The start of the sort of therapy is to try to get the client to move into the feeling. Once the client is fully experiencing the feeling, they are pretty much in trance. It is then easy to manipulate images in the unconscious mind.

In this case she said she was feeling the anxiety. But it was very difficult to get her to say anything. I kept prompting her about the introduction ceremony, checking that she was feeling the anxiety and she just wasn't speaking at all. I wasn't getting any feedback from her.

Finding a different scenario to recreate her fear of public speaking

So I decided to offer her a different scenario that would generate her fear of public speaking. I asked her to imagine being the bridesmaid at a wedding. She had to stand up and address the whole audience. To increase the fear I said "everyone is looking at you". "You are the center of attention, the success of the whole wedding depends on you getting it right". "It will be remembered forever".

I asked what she was feeling. She said "a little nervousness, tenseness". I asked her where she was feeling it, and she indicated it was in her chest. So I went on with that and after a lot of prodding, persuasion and encouragement, she finally said "it's like a cloud".

I asked her what she would like to have happen to the cloud and she said "go away". Then I asked "what would that mean for you", and she replied "no fear". And finally, I asked her "what could you do then?" And she replied "anything". This set up the logical link between her actions and the outcome.

Reluctance to speak = reluctance to change?

I tried to get her to make the cloud bigger. After a lot of prodding she could get it to become a little bigger, but she could not get it to go any smaller. I explored the properties of the cloud with her. It was a black cloud, heavy, floating in front of her, it was round. I asked her to look at it from the back. After a long, long silence she said " it is just the same". I asked if she could move it to one side of the other. "No." I suggested the cloud might rain. it might shrink. it might get thinner, it might change colour. all the things I could think of. Still she sat there absolutely silent. Eventually in desperation I said just imagine that you could push that cloud. That seemed to work. She eventually said, it's much further away. I kept persuading her to push it away more, but was getting no response. "How are you experiencing that cloud now?" "What does  it look like now?" After another long silence she finally said "It's disappeared".

Clearing her fear of public speaking

Something that usually takes two minutes took over forty. This woman seriously did not want to talk about her problem even in the metaphor. However, I tested her by making her think about the whole wedding thing again, and she said "the feeling has gone, just not there". I tested her again later on, and she said "no is definitely gone". "I usually get the feeling of tension in my chest. That just isn't happening now".

My feeling is that the fear of public speaking was actually linked to a much earlier fear from somewhere deep in her childhood. I think that she was afraid of something very much deeper, and was not going to allow me to get anywhere near that feeling. When I put that to her, she agreed. She couldn't say how she knew, she just felt that that felt right.

Her experience of trance was interesting

That would have been the end of the session, but I was anxious that she did not leave with the idea that she had not been hypnotized. So I told her that what we had done was a form of hypnosis.  And she said something very interesting. She said "when we were getting rid of the cloud I felt that I had gone inside myself. That I was very small and my body was very large. In particular I felt my hands were huge".

I commented "you're a very unusual client, this usually doesn't take very long, and the client talks all the way through it. You seemed very reluctant to speak?" She said that she wasn't speaking because she felt she was not sure what to say or what was wanted. I wonder if that had anything to do with her reluctance to speak in public. Although I did not pursue it.

Given that I was trying out ways of inducing trance without a formal induction, her reaction was very interesting.

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Needle phobia removal

Needle Phobia removal

Blood/needles/injury phobia

I had an interesting client today. He came to see me about social anxiety. He is about to start a new job and he is terrified that he will get so anxious that he will faint and then lose the job.

I asked him if he had ever fainted and he told me that he had fainted about every two years since he was four years old. Now, the only thing with a psychological cause that makes you faint is blood/needles/injury phobia, so I was intrigued.

I asked him about the fainting and sure enough, every instance was related to something medical. His last one was a year ago when he fainted in his doctor's office. The trigger was being shown an x-ray of his own chest. He also said that there were hundreds of other situations where he felt faint. He felt more and more anxious if he thought that he could not get away easily.

After more discussion I established that he in fact had two issues. He had the medical phobia, and he had a more generalized anxiety of looking silly in public by panicking.

I think that what has happened is that he has been suffering from a genuine physical problem, the blood phobia, that is making him faint. All the rest of his problems stem from a very understandable fear that he might faint in public.

Needle Phobia removal

The solution was simple. I taught him how to squat down and pull in his stomach to increase his blood pressure a little. I then tested him by talking about broken bones sticking out of someone's leg until he showed distress. Then I got him to do the squat. He reported that the feeling of faintness really did go away.

So he had learned to control it in one way. I then got him sit down again and taught him how to tense his abdominal muscles and increase his blood pressure. Once again this banished the fainting feeling. He then began to realize that he did have control of this thing, for the first time in his life.

All I had to do then was to teach him a bit of NLP visualization. That way he could change how he saw future events, instead of letting his anxiety run away with him. And that was all it took to change his outlook on life.

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How to treat a phobia

How to treat a phobia

How to treat a phobia

I have a client coming in who wants to deal with a Phobia.  I got to thinking about how to deal treat a phobia.

Phobias are learned disorders and therefore any phobia can be unlearned. Treatment for phobias are usually successful, although clearing a phobia completely may take several sessions.

In hypnotherapy for phobias therapists often use the NLP Phobia Cure, or some form of graduated exposure therapy. But there are other ways of dealing with a phobia.

Ways of treating a phobia

Graduated exposure for phobias is done by introducing the phobic person to what they fear, a little at a time, to get them used to it.

Flooding consists of surrounding the phobic person with what they fear. For example a person with a fear of knives would be taken to a room with a drawer full of knives, and knives on the bench top. This will cause them to have their reaction. Although it can be unpleasant, they will realize that they did not come to any harm. So you learn that you can be in a situation where there are knives.

Another method  is Counter conditioning. This is a treatment that teaches the phobic person how to relax while in the phobia situation. By relaxing, you learn to control the panic you get from their phobia.

Ordeal Therapy is seldom used today, but it does work. The idea is to get the phobic person to be exposed to the phobia just up to the point where they want to turn away and avoid it. Then the phobic person is told to do something unpleasant. You are told to keep doing it until it gets so unpleasant that you would rather face the phobia.

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Bird phobia

Bird phobia Fear of birds

Bird Phobia

 I had an enquiry from a hypnotherapist in the UK.
I have a client (child aged eleven), with a very bad bird phobia.
We have had one session, which worked for a while, but the fear is back.  Do you have any scripts that may help?  We did cinema screen reframe last time.
For your child with bird phobia, you will find that NLP methods do not really work very well. Neither will a script. The best way to deal with a phobia is with simple regression.

Bird Phobia with regression

You need to get the child to get the feeling of the fear of the birds while she is in your office. This may be difficult and/or distressing. However it is the only way to get a result.
There are two methods. The standard method is to use the Affect Bridge. The child will give you a memory of when she was first frightened by the bird. You then find some resource to help her either chase away the bird or make friends with it. Reframing could be useful here. Make such changes to her memory of the event as well leave her feeling in control of it.

Bird phobia with Gestalt

Since the child is so young, there may not be a clear memory to work with. In that case use Gestalt Therapy. What you do in this case is to find a way for the child to be in the feeling, just as you do with simple regression. But do not attempt to find the memory. While the child is in the feeling, ask her what "thing" does that feeling most resemble. She will describe some thing, some object, that represents the feeling.
Then get her to make changes to the object. She can change the size, the colour, the shape, anything at all. As she makes changes, at some point it will transform into something quite different. Then encourage her to find a way to get rid of, to destroy, whatever it is that is left. The phobia will be gone.
See a longer description of clearing bird phobia.
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Fear of snorkelling

Fear of snorkeling phobia

Fear of snorkeling phobia

I am looking for a script that will work with a lady who is having trouble putting her head underwater to swim or snorkel.

I haven't as yet had a full session with her. She mentioned that this would be what she would require healing with.  I am not sure which script would work best. Your advice much appreciated.

I have used your hypnosis scripts in the past especially for nail biting.  We have had a lot of success. I only had to go back and do a follow-up once.

Removing fear of snorkelling

There isn't really a script for this type of thing. What she is experiencing is a type of psychological fear linked to a much earlier fear.  Most phobias are created when a child gets frightened by something. The child's mind creates an association between the fear and the situation. After that every time the child finds themselves in that situation the fear comes back. Over time, the fear get stronger and stronger. It can eventually become debilitating. Most adults deal with the fear by avoiding the situation. However, phobias are fairly easy to clear up.

You need to use regression for this condition. Find out what is triggering the fear, and what the original situation was that is causing the fear. Put the client into a light trance. Tell her to bring to mind the fear by thinking about what triggers it. When she is experiencing the fear at a mild level, ask her to allow her mind to open.  Ask her to remember the very first time she ever felt that way. She will probably report some childhood event that she remembers, but has given very little weight to.

Ask her to describe the event in detail, who was there, what happened, yet had to make it as vivid as possible.   Then introduce some element, or some person, or some personal power that she has that allows her to overcome the fear. Once she has succeeded in banishing the fear in her mind, the phobia is gone forever.


You don't need a script, you just need a procedure to follow.

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Fear of birds

Fear of birds – clearing the phobia

This morning I had just finished a client, and I was working at my computer waiting for the next client. I heard a message arrive on my cell phone. Having nothing better to do I checked the message. The message said that the sender was on a train and needed to see me urgently.
The message said something like "I am coming into SilverStream station and will be there within the next 10 minutes. I am shaking with fear. At one of the previous stations the doors opened, and a pigeon flew in. It was under the bench seat next to me, walking around, and I could see his head going back and forward as it walked. I have a bird phobia. I saw hypnotherapist several years ago, and that moderated most of my fear. But this incident today has shaken me badly and I need to see somebody right now to get this fixed."
I texted back to say that I had my next client at 1 o'clock, but I would be happy to see her either before then or afterwards.
She immediately texted back to say that she would be at my place in 10 minutes time.
She duly arrived. And she did look shocked and frightened. She seemed very relieved to see me.
I only had 20 minutes or so to deal with her before the next client arrived. There was no need to spend any time finding out what the problem was, it was completely obvious. She was still highly emotional, so I used this this to start the therapy.

Treatment for fear of birds

I got her to focus on her feelings. She really didn't want to, but I got her to associate into her feelings of fear and anxiety. As soon as I was sure that she was experiencing the actual feeling that the bird had generated I asked her to describe the feeling in terms of an object. "If that feeling was an object, what object would it most resembles?"
She said "A triangle." She described it as a grey triangle, with smooth sides, that was just sitting there. I asked "what would you like to have happen to that triangle?" She said "I would like it to fade into the background." "And if it faded into the background what could you do then?" "I would be able to walk past it, and I wouldn't be looking for the triangle everywhere I went."
So I started to develop the metaphor object. I asked her "can you make it a little bit bigger". She said she could. "And can you make it a little bit bigger still?" "Yes", she said. Then I asked her "now can you make it a little smaller?" And she immediately said "it's become black." This meant that she had changed the metaphor object. Changing is the first step to clearing the emotion.
So I asked her "and how does that seem to you now, that whole bird thing?" She said "I can walk past it, I don't have to look out for it any more."

And that was the fear of birds phobia banished.

The whole thing was done in less than five minutes.

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fear of earthquakes

Fear of earthquakes

I live in an earthquake zone, but up until today I had never actually had a client with a fear of earthquakes. My client was a young mother who had lived in New Zealand all her life.  Earthquakes are a monthly occurrence here. But since the last big earthquake she had been getting more and more fearful. Her anxiety was now becoming a serious problem. To the extent that she was seriously considering moving her family to Australia to avoid earthquakes. Strangely, it was not the earthquake itself she was afraid of, it was not being able cope with the aftermath. 

Not an irrational fear

She was very embarrassed about having such an irrational fear. She asked her husband if anyone else where he works was afraid of the next earthquake, and he said no. It was well is the fear is suffering from acute embarrassment.

I said that it seems to me like a simple phobia. She told me that her mother had also been terrified of earthquakes, and as a child, he had been disturbed by her mother's distress. It seemed to me that this might be a case of phobia by proxy.

I told her that as far as I was concerned, her fear of earthquakes was not irrational, although it was unusual. I told her that it wasn't irrational because it was actually based on a childhood fear that had never been dealt with. Something in the last earthquake  had triggered that childhood fear, possibly about an earthquake, possibly about something else. And now, every time she thought about it, that childhood fear was triggered back into action. The way to treat her fear of earthquakes was to treat the childhood fear.

Treating her fear of earthquakes

She was easily distressed just by talking about it and so I explained about Gestalt metaphor technique. I talked her through feeling the fear and got her to feel it in her body. I developed it as an object. She told me that she felt something oblong in her stomach. It was black and wobbly and soft and cold like jelly. I asked what she wanted to do with it. She told me she wanted a stamp on it. Gradually, I got her to change the object until it became like a teardrop, but she could not change it any further.

I asked her if she had ever done any baking. I talked about rolling, spreading, flattening, twisting, to seed the idea in her mind. This worked and she said that it had now become like a balloon. I got her to expand it and expand it, until it popped. She then put it down the sink disposal unit.

Then I got her to think about the place where it used to be. I encouraged her to fill it with something nice, like a flower, or a candle, or a child's smile, or something else that she liked. He decided to fill it with the view from her new house.

Replacing the fear of earthquakes

I then deepened her into a safe place, where she had everything she needed, and felt safe and comfortable. I suggested that her baby was there with her. Together they were surrounded, protected, and loved. In that place they were not affected by what happened outside.

Then I added some personal resources for her. I suggested that she was the type of woman who shines in an emergency. The type of woman who takes control, the type of woman who is in charge of herself and everything else. I suggested that she was ready, and in control, and a survivor. That she was the type of person that other people rely on.

Then I allowed her to bring herself back to the present.

That she felt very tired, but now thought of earthquakes quite differently.

I guess we shall just have to wait for the Next Big One to find out. 

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chinese restaurant phobia

Chinese Restaurant Phobia

Chinese Restaurant Phobia

I saw a client today with Chinese Restaurant phobia. This is one of the more unusual phobias I have come across. My client went to a Thai restaurant about two weeks ago and was enjoying the meal. But something in the ingredients set off an extreme allergic reaction. He ended up being stretchered out of the restaurant barely breathing and into hospital dangerously ill.

He was discharged two days later and swore to avoid Thai restaurants in future. However this week, when he went into a Chinese restaurant he immediately felt dizzy and frightened and had to go outside again. After ten minutes we went back in to join his friends. But again he was seized with an overwhelming fear and actually vomited when he ran outside.

It is interesting to see so clearly the process of how a phobia forms.  His unconscious mind has identified something in the Thai restaurant as being associated with the sudden onset of a dangerous illness. It is therefore primed to protect him  by forcing him out of any place where he might get harmed. It is now in the process of broadening out the possible indicators to include other types of Asian 'things'.  Over time, if left untreated, his unconscious will start to include an ever wider range of possible indicators. It may eventually end up as a full size fear of any restaurant, or even of food.

Treating the phobia

I like to treat phobias by going directly for the feeling. I ask the client to think about the feared situation and feel the fear. If they can get the fear as a feeling in their body I can clear it immediately using Gestalt Metaphor Therapy.

In this case the client could not summon up the feeling, probably because it has not had time to create a strong repeatable feeling.

So I put him into trance and tested to make sure he was under. Then I suggested he think about the Thai restaurant and the Chinese restaurant and the feeling that he got there. The client turned to be one of these people who go corpse-like in trance, and give no indication of what is going on inside. I therefore could not do a question and answer session with him.

All I could do then was assume he had the feeling and try to remodel it without feedback. I suggested that the feeling could become an object, that it  had a shape, a size, a color and so on. Then in several different ways I suggested  that the object was changing, shrinking, changing color and transforming itself in ways it wanted to. I really had no idea what was going in his mind or whether he was experiencing anything at all.

I brought him out of trance and asked, a bit nervously, what object had looked like. "Oh, a big concrete square," he said, "and I crushed it".

Looks like the job got done.

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fear of driving

Fear of Driving Phobia removal

Fear of Driving

This phobia is fairly common. A surprising number of people get the shakes when driving over a high bridge or into a tunnel. Usually it is hard to pinpoint exactly why.

Yesterday I treated a woman who wanted to end her Fear of Driving. She said that she was OK around the back streets and normal driving. But when she got to a road with a drop off at the side, or a narrow part, she lost all her confidence. 

The source of the fear

I asked when this started and she said it began about three years ago and had got progressively worse. She told me she was out driving one day  when suddenly, out of nowhere, came an overwhelming sense of fear. Since that day she has been afraid of the feeling coming back. She tries to avoid driving so that she will not be exposed to feeling again. 

This is a classic description of how phobia is created. You are doing something distinct like driving or flying, and then you experience an overwhelming fear, and then your mind links the fear to the activity, and you have a phobia.

Normally it is impossible to say exactly what created the link. But in this case, the woman recognised the fear. Her son had died suddenly ten years before and this was the same overwhelming pain she had experienced at the time. Something she was doing or thinking at that moment reactivated the initial feeling. The pain gets linked to the driving activity,  and the Fear of Driving phobia is triggered.

Most phobias are not about the obvious activity. Fear of Driving is not about the driving, it is about not wanting to get that old fear again. The cure for phobias is to eliminate the origin of the fear. 

In this case the mother had never gotten over the death of her son. She was still carrying around that dread that something else bad would happen. So the answer was to lay the old fear to rest. 

Removing  fear of driving

I hypnotised her and put her into a deep trance. Then I suggested that she visualize a chair in front of her. Then I gently suggested that there was someone sitting in the chair, someone who wanted to talk to her. Someone who was taken away from her and didn't get the chance to say goodbye. I suggested that this person wanted to give her one last message before going away. 

I developed a dialogue saying to my client what a son would want to say to his mother. Then I  let her say to him what she wanted to say. I suggest that he was reaching out to her, and most movingly, she extended her arm out to where the chair might be. And slowly, tears rolled down her face. 

I finished the session by suggesting that her son had a gift he wanted to pass to her, and that he was saying "I'm OK mum. It's time to go now. I love you". He then got into a car and drove away, until the tail lights faded in the distance. 

I let her come back to the present in her own time. She said to me "I feel such a feeling of relief".  And that was the end of it.

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