Phobia Treatment Southampton

Utilising a combination of Cognitive-Behavioural and clinical hypnotherapeutic* approaches, our phobia treatment programmes are designed not only to help you overcome a specific phobia but give you the skills that can overcome many of life’s fears.

SCH phobia programmes are evidenced by high quality research, supporting their use in clinical practice.
‘Evidence-based’ hypnotherapy programmes allow for reliable and informed safe practice based on the most up to date research available.

Throughout our lives we often encounter situations or objects that make us uncomfortable or even fearful. When a fear is persistent and is exaggerated in proportion to the actual presenting danger it is labelled a phobia.

‘A phobia – from the Greek meaning ‘flight’ or ‘terror’ – is an extreme, irrational fear of an animal, object, place or situation that most people would not fear’ Palmer, O’Broin (2008)

Phobias are considered more intense than generalised fear and in the field of psychology are categorised as an anxiety disorder.

How can I overcome my phobia?

Many studies have compared the effective use of cognitive behavioural therapy & clinical hypnosis strategies with pharmacological treatments.
The research findings clearly indicated that CBT and imaginal strategies are a more effective treatment for social anxiety disorder (SAD) than Beta-Blockers, Turner et al (1994).
Clark & Agras (1991) similarly concluded that CBT was more effective than Buspirone in treating socially anxious musicians (stage fright).

Such studies indicate the strength of hypnotic and cognitive behavioural strategies when dealing with phobias.

SCH Phobia Programme

Southampton Clinical Hypnotherapy phobia treatment programmes can give you back control over your problems. A combination of therapy and skills based training allow us to discover how your problem has developed and occurs.
Training in specific skills aims to then give you relief from your problem and free you from your fears.

Typical sessions include:

  • Relaxation & Self hypnosis training. Learning to experience deep relaxation easily and quickly whenever you choose is a key to overcoming anxiety. You cannot be anxious and relaxed at the same time, so you will learn how you can easily control your anxiety.
  • Thought, feelings & behaviour training, teaches you how you can spot, stop, alter and control negative thinking & self-critical thoughts. This can give you back control of your feelings and problematic behaviours.
  • Self reliance training. Learning how to put all your new skills into practice in the real world, is an important part of the programme and can help you maintain control of your life and how you feel.

As a guide 3 – 4 sessions will be required for most clients, however progress & results will be reflective of commitment and motivation.


Contact SCH today to book your FREE CONSULTATION SESSION


What is a phobia? 

It is widely accepted that phobias can be catergorised into two brackets, specific and complex.
There are five subtypes of specific phobia; animal, natural environment, blood-injection-injury, situational, and other.

Common specific phobias include fear of flying, spiders, needles, snakes, storms, the dark, disease, dentist, sexual performance etc

Complex phobias usually relate to a daily activity or scenario that is difficult to avoid. It can often involve more than one anxiety.
Two common examples of complex phobias are agoraphobia (fear of open spaces, crowds or traveling alone on forms of transport) and social phobia (fear of public speaking, scrutiny or certain social situations).

Both of these as with most complex phobias can be very debilitating as the related anxieties are triggered in situations that are difficult to avoid in our daily lives.

Often people will organise their lives around the phobia in an attempt to avoid the scenario or object (stimuli) or control their response to the perceived threat.

This can perhaps be explained by the theory that as part of our natural protective systems we have evolved a bias towards discovering a threat. In other words in order to ensure our safety, we will opt to ‘play it safe’ in situations that on closer inspection hold little real danger (Ohman et al, 1985).

This bias towards discovering a threat is not the only theory as to why and how we have come to suffer phobic reactions

Why do we suffer from phobias?

There is no one answer to why people suffer with phobias, however there are some widely discussed theories.

Predatory defence –
It has been proposed that we are evolutionarily prepared for certain phobias. Essentially this means that threats to early mans survival such as spiders, heights and spaces, still strike fear today. Ohman et al (1985) suggested that the danger and related fear of dinosaurs lives on within us as a fear of snakes. Similar theories relating to early predatory defence systems have been proposed by Agras et al, 1969; Costello, 1982.

Social submissiveness –
Social phobias, similarly to the predatory defence system theory, are believed to be inherited from early man. Ohman et al (1985) theorised that social phobias originated due to the hierarchy within the social systems of early man. Group members would boss and dominate with fear in an attempt to bring order to social systems. This would create social submissiveness in less dominant members of the group who were subsequently ruled by fear.

It is common to see submissiveness issues in therapy when discussing the modern working environment.

It would appear then, that we are more likely to fear objects and scenarios that posed a danger to our ancestors such as open spaces, predators and heights (Marks, 1969; Seligman, 1971), but what about more modern phobias?

Several studies have been conducted to assess the various and common fears of modern man. Three large studies compared peoples’ reaction to pre-technological threats (fear of snakes, spiders, heights etc) with modern more realistic threats (fear of motor cars, weapons, electrical sockets etc). The concluding results showed significantly greater phobic reactions to the pre-technological threats than the more modern threats.

Participants were selected who had no history of phobic reaction to the threats used in the studies. The results indicated that we are more likely to develop a phobic response to pre-technological threats that modern ones, suggesting an inherited propensity for acquiring phobias (De Silva, Rachman, & Seligman, 1977, 69 cases in London; de Silva, 1988, 88 cases in Sri Lanka; and Zafiropoulou & McPherson, 1986, 49 cases in Scotland)

So if the traits of early man can influence us, why do some people suffer with phobias and others do not?

As the studies discussed above highlight it seems we are susceptible to developing phobias related to early man’s struggle for survival. These studies show that we are prepared or predisposed to accept a phobia but the phobia must still be activated.
In the early man examples above the phobia is accepted via a form of Pavlovian conditioning, where by the person experiences or is aware of the danger (becomes fearful) and associates their physical response (stress response) to the activating stimuli.

This same Pavlovian style conditioned response is just as viable an explanation for more modern phobias. Kent (1997) showed that the more non-traumatic experiences children have with a dentist the less likely they are to develop dental anxiety (fear of going to the dentist) when they do have a traumatic dental experience.

Similar conclusions have been drawn from Mineka and Cooks’ (1986) research. This study demonstrated that some monkeys became immunized from developing a fear of snakes by observing other monkeys behaving non-fearfully with snakes.

This indicates that phobias can be learned vicariously, through observation.

Further to this Stemberger, Turner, Beidel, & Calhouns’ (1995) propose that 56% of specific phobia sufferers could recall an individual event that they attributed to causing the phobia. Research has also pointed to social phobias being learned from within the family environment.

Another factor that influences our development of phobias is whether the fear is escapable. Mineka, Cook, & Millers’ (1984) study suggests that when the stimuli is escapable it is less likely to create phobic tendencies in future scenarios.

Levey & Martin (1981) propose that high levels of generalised anxiety will leave a person vulnerable to acquiring a phobia.

How do we become phobic?

So to summarise, how or why we become phobic can be due to one or more of the following –

• If the threat was considered a danger by early man.

• Experiencing a traumatic event, or repeated exposure to a fearful experience.

• Vicariously, through observation. Learned through the family environment, for example.

• If we feel trapped and cannot escape a threatening situation/environment

• If we are already suffering high levels of anxiety before the stimuli is introduced.

I have a phobia what do I do?

Don’t let a fear of flying ruin anymore of your holiday seasons or the fear of spiders keep you hopping up on chairs, email us to arrange a free consultation.

Common phobias we work with:

Arachnophobia – Fear of spiders
Ophidiophobia – Fear of snakes
Acrophobia – Fear of heights
Agoraphobia – Fear of open spaces or crowds
Glossaphobia – Fear of public speaking
Pteromerhanophobia – Fear of flying
Necrophobia/ Thanatophobia – Fear of death or dead things
Cynophobia – Fear of dogs
Claustrophobia – Fear of confined spaces
Trypanophobia – Fear of needles
Mysophobia – Fear of germs
Emetophobia – Fear of being sick or vomit
Hemophobia – Fear of blood
Nyctophobia – Fear of darkness
Astraphobia – Fear of thunder & lightening
Coulrophobia – Fear of clowns
Pediophobia – Fear of dolls
Pyrophobia – Fear of fire


Contact SCH today to book your FREE CONSULTATION SESSION


Overcome your fears today, call 023 81 846287


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Detailed discussions regarding - common issues, services and all things hypnosis can also be found inside the SCH blog

Latest discussions include - The causes of anxiety; What is anxiety? Why do I get panic attacks? What can I do to manage anxiety? How to stop a panic attack? Eliminating negative thinking & critical self-talk.
Agras, W.S., Sylvester, D., & Oliveau, D. (1969). The epidemiology of common fears and phobias. Comprehensive Psychiatry,10, 151-156.
Clark, D.B. & Agras, W.S (1991). The assessment and treatment of performance anxiety in musicians. American Journal of Psychiatry, 148, 598-605.
Costello,C.G. (1982). Fears and phobias in women: A community study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 91, 280-286.
De Silva, P. (1988). Phobias and preparedness: Replication and extension. Behavioural Research and Therapy, 26, 97-98.
De Silva, P., Rachman, S., & Seligman, M. (1977). Prepared phobias and obsessions: Therapeutic outcome. Behavioural Research and Therapy, 15, 65-77.
Kent,G. (1997). Dental phobia. In G.C.L. Davey (Ed.), Phobias:A Handbook of theory, research, and treatment (pp.107-128).Chichester, England:Wiley.
Levey, A., & Martin, I. (1981). Personality and conditioning. In H. J. Eysenck (Ed.), A model for personality (pp.123-168). Berlin, West Germany: Springer-Verlag.
Marks, I. M. (1969). Fears and phobias. London: Heineman Medical Books
Mineka, S., & Cook, M. (1986). Immunization against the observational conditioning of snake fear in rhesus monkeys. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 95, 307-318.
Mineka, S., Cook, M., & Miller, S. (1984). Fear conditioning with escapable and inescapable shock: Effects of a feedback stimulus. Journal of Experimental Psychology:Animal Behavior Processes, 10, 307-323.
Ohman, A., Dimberg, U., & Ost, L-G. (1985). Animal and social phobias: Biological constraints on the learned fear response. In S. Reiss & R. Bootzin (Eds.),Theoretical issues in behavior therapy. New York: Academic Press.
Palmer, S., O’Broin, A,. 2008, Phobias – what, who, why and how to help’, British Psychological Society
Seligman, M. E. P. (1971). Phobias and preparedness. Behavior Therapy, 2, 307-320.
Stemberger,R.T., Turner, S.M., Beidel, D.C. & Calhoun, K.S. (1995). Social phobia: an analysis of possible developmental factors. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104 (3), 526-31.
Turner SM, Beidel DC, Cooley MR, Woody SR, Messer SC (1994a). A multicomponent behavioral treatment for social phobia: Social effectiveness therapy.
Zafiropoulou, M., & McPherson, F. M. (1986).”Preparedness” and the severity and outcome of clinical phobias.Behavioural Research and Therapy, 24, 221-222.
*Hypnosis is not suitable for all clients and results vary person to person. All our programmes can be delivered effectively without the use of hypnosis.
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