Hypnotherapy works by accessing the underlying cause of the phobia and eliminating the person’s conditioned response to the stimulus. When hypnosis is used to treat a phobia, the initial goal of the hypnotherapist is to discover the initial event from which the phobia developed. The cause is often a traumatic event which occurred at an earlier time in the person’s life. Often the phobic individual does not remember this event. It may be a memory which has been repressed for many years. Repression is a protective mechanism our mind utilizes by keeping memory of the trauma out of our conscious mind until we are ready and able to deal with it.
In order to access this memory, the individual will first need to be in an extremely relaxed state. The hypnotherapist will use techniques in order to help the person become very relaxed and focused. This state of heightened relaxation and focus is referred to as the hypnotic trance. It is during this state that the unconscious can be accessed. While in this trance state a person is very receptive to suggestion, which is what opens the door to bringing about the desired change.
Also, it is during this trance state that unconscious memories can be unlocked and brought to conscious awareness. The hypnotherapist does this by taking the person back to the place and time where the distressing event occurred. Addressing this old memory consciously will enable the individual to better understand it as well as begin to see it in a way which is no longer threatening. When this is achieved, the phobia will generally disappear.
The number of hypnosis sessions required for effectively dealing with phobias varies, and depends on several factors. These factors include how long the person has had the phobia, how severely the phobia affects him, the person’s maturity, his personality structure, and how determined he is to be free from the phobia. In general, it will take approximately three or four hypnotherapy sessions. However, in severe cases it can take more.