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How to Get Over a Phobia

09 May

Question:

Hi BR - LOVE (!) your CDs; thank you for your beautiful work. I have all your programs that your website’s search engine says relate to PTSD. 

My question: a decade ago, I developed a phobia of spiders. (I’m getting chills and shudders, even as I write this.) Our beautiful new home in a new city was overrun with 'predator spiders' (huge, Amazonian creatures!) and about 20 different other species - hard to believe, but anyway - we moved.  

I went to therapy for quite some time; no help. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with anxiety (no kidding :-) and am on meds. I am doing extremely well, but every time I see a 'beast' in the house (just the 'typical' critters of Spring) I go into full panic mode. This is only for spiders - no other bug produces the long-lasting panic in me.

For days and months afterwards, I am fearful every time I enter a room, or go near the spot where one was sighted. I don't know what to do. I listen to your CDs, and intellectually also 'get it' that they won't hurt me. But they can be on ceilings or floors or walls, or lamps or anywhere. My adrenaline is pumping all the time, it seems, and I know that is not good for me.

Do you think your PTSD CD would help me? I love all of your other 'stress-relieving' ones very much. Thank you - I've never been through something like this.

Thank you again.

Emily

Answer:

Dear Emily,

Thanks. I'm glad our audios have been a help to you. 

I don't think the PTS imagery alone will make a dent on your phobia, however. The practice of self-calming is always a help, but probably not enough. You probably need something more cognitive-behavioral to interrupt this habituated panic reaction.  And I do have two suggestions for you. 

One, I'd try working with Mary Sise's Thought Field Therapy video. She provides real, in vivo examples, as she deploys the technique on several people in the audience who have phobias, intense anxieties and similar issues.

She uses a well known tapping protocol (which is actually, to my mind, closer to Emotional Freedom Technique than Thought Field Therapy, as she calls it, but it's effective, however you choose to name it.)

One of the people she works with is terrified of heights; another of snakes. The final track of this video invites viewers to work with her on their own issues, and, after having watched her repeatedly demonstrate this method, her guidance is easy to follow.  It does help a lot of people. 

That would be the quickest and easiest thing to try first. 

If you still feel you need help, I would seek out a certified Somatic Experiencing (SE) therapist, who can work with you, one-on-one. The protocol starts with your physical sensations of terror first. By working primarily through body sensation, as opposed to your thinking processes, you can make quite a dramatic difference without triggering a flood of panic. I think it’s a brilliant technique.  There is a directory of practitioners you can check out for finding someone in your geographic area.

Best of luck to you.

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Belleruth

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award