Phobias are something that many people ‘suffer in silence’ with. Sufferers are often to embarrassed to visit their GP about it, often going to extreme lengths to hide it from friends and colleagues. However, Lyn experienced an end to her phobia of lifts which she’d had for years. And it took about 90 minutes!
Phobias are usually created through one of two roots – trauma or learned. Lyn hadn’t been a massive fan of lifts but then suffered the trauma of being trapped in one for over an hour. Needless to say, from that point on, lifts were not an option!
Many people will avoid hypnotherapy because they misconstrue how it works. Here is how Lyn describes it:
“It was just a very relaxing and peaceful experience. I was aware of sounds around me at the time but they were not intrusive, your (Caroline’s) quiet and gentle voice was the only thing that I was really tuned in to. I was a bit worried about being put into a trance but it wasn’t anything like the hypnosis I had seen on TV shows: it was a really pleasant experience.”
Lyn had one therapeutic session only. She left the session and drove straight to the local department store that had a lift. Within an hour, I received a text to say she had ridden up and down in the lift on her own several times. I did wonder what the staff were thinking!
The mind is an incredible powerful resource. Due to Lyn’s traumatic experience, part of her mind had made the link between a risk to her personal safety and lifts. The primary role of the subconscious mind is survival and so the mind came up with a reasonable decision – to stay safe, stay out of lifts!
However, the subconscious can also be very myopic. It was unable to see that this focus on personal safety was actually harming her emotional security. It couldn’t see that she was missing out on lots of things that would bring her happiness.
And this is one of the roots of how hypnotherapy works. It introduces new information and evidence to the subconscious mind creating new mental associations. It’s a bit like changing the points on a train track – a simple flick of a switch and the train heads off in a different direction.
“I cannot thank you enough for your help, I just with that I had visited you a long time ago. It has been such a positive experience.”Let's Talk
Sonny is in his mid 70s. He contacted me to ask if I could help him overcome a phobia of eating chicken – a meat he had been unable to eat since very early childhood. The mere thought of eating it created nausea and revulsion.
The aversion had caused him some minor embarrassments at social functions over the years. However, a recent medical diagnosis had resulted in the need to drastically change his diet. He had been advised to adopt a high protein, low fat diet. He was not keen on beef, could not eat pork for religious reasons, and lamb was too fatty. Thus the variance in his diet had become very limited making it even harder to stick to the new regime.
Sonny had some preconceptions about hypnosis but had been encouraged by neighbours and family to, “Give it a go, as after all, what have I got to lose!”
In the first session we successfully recalled an experience directly relating to chickens. Reviewing that memory (known as regression) allowed a significant change in his attitude to eating chicken. At the end of this first session, he felt as if the issue had been “75% resolved”. The remaining 25% however did not have anything to do with the aversion – and this is very common. This new problem was related to what we call the “what if monkey” – that part that lives within most of us that jumps up and asked, “What if I …..” and in Sonny’s case, “What if I fail?”
The second session addressed this issue and the following feedback was received from Sonny shortly afterwards.
“The problem is now resolved. The fact I eat poultry now after over 70 years abstinence must mean a significant change has occurred. In addition, my wife, adult children and grand-daughter are so pleased with the change in my phobia of eating chicken.”
Like many people, Sonny was nervous of the concept of hypnosis. His thoughts post the two sessions;
“I had expected the hypnosis part of the process to be completely unconscious as seen on TV shows. Instead, I experienced some heaviness particularly on eye lids but was completely focused on the dialogue with the Therapist. I was aware of ambient noise but this was disregarded as attention to the dialogue was the principal requisite.”
Sonny has since recommended Caroline Cavanagh to a neighbour, referral being the highest form of recommendation.Let's Talk
Catherine contacted me in relation to high anxiety levels every time the phone rang. Over time this had escalated to feeling anxious at looking at emails and also answering the door.
This kind of escalation in anxiety is very common. Part of the role of the subconscious mind is to protect us. At a subconscious level, Catherine’s mind was linking all contacts from the outside world to something that had scared her.
Catherine was very open-minded to the concept of hypnosis but even she was surprised: “Being hypnotised felt no different to feeling very relaxed and comfortable, I retained a full awareness and felt in control throughout. If anything, it felt surprisingly normal and natural.”
The work with Catherine spanned 4 sessions. During these we identified key instances in her past that had led to this reaction being developed. There were a number of traumatic experiences relating to close family members, whereby she’d received the news via a phone call. Whilst there are many techniques that can desensitise such traumas, activity done under hypnosis is very effective. It is the connection between the events is at a subconscious level that needs to be addressed – the level we work at in hypnotherapy.
Catherine experienced an improvement during our work together. In the follow-up call 6 weeks after the last session, she confirmed that she had, “Experienced a significant improvement.”
Whilst we focus on a specific goal in the therapeutic work, the knowledge gained can often be used to affect other areas of life. Catherine already had a keen interest in areas such as meditation but she added,
“My understanding of why my body responds in the way it does is now greater. I also have a higher awareness of how to perceive things more accurately. I feel that I have a tool to develop my responses in a direction which benefits me and an increased awareness of how powerful my mind really is.”
Catherine’s closing words:
“I would like to thank you, Caroline, for your kindness and professionalism as well as your generosity with your time. I know that I feel better and that I do have the resources to overcome anxieties before they embed and become problematic. This couldn’t have been achieved on my own and this whole experience has been 100% positive.”Let's Talk
Debbie has an incredibly demanding role in a high pressure environment. In her work role she is strong and confident when working with her clients. But she struggled when it came to the managerial element of her role and had been avoiding opportunities for promotion. Once she left her place of work, low self esteem prevailed. However, her main reason for contacting me was due to a developing driving phobia.
She had noticed it was escalating. She had started to experience panic attacks and realised she was starting to avoid going out to certain places.
Debbie had a total of 6 sessions with me spread over 3 months. In this time she achieved a “significant improvement” with the problems she was experiencing.
“Caroline is unique! She was able to help me ‘peel back the layers’ and address some deep rooted issues which quietly niggled away in the background. In the first session with Caroline I was apprehensive but after that, I couldn’t wait to see her again to have the next one!” said Debbie.
This is also quite common and I often refer to some of my clients as onions! Layers build up over time and the one at the top becomes the dominant one. As you work through these therapeutically, others then emerge which have been ‘buried.’ But they are still ‘niggling away’ in the back of the mind and impacting on the quality of life.
During our last session together – a special one that I love doing as it really ‘hands over’ the tools to clients to use in their life going forward, Debbie noted numerous differences in her life. She felt more relaxed and had taken action on a legal matter that had been weighing her down for a long time. She was driving – and enjoying it! Even driving at night which was one of the things she had started to avoid. In work, she had noticed that she was no longer feeling vulnerable in management meetings and, “My senses are more alert. I even think I am standing taller!
Quite simply, I’ve found my mojo! I am less anxious, more confident and feel big smiles inside!