Unlearning Phobias

I was talking to a client about phobias the other day. She told me, “I’m utterly beside myself at the moment with the thought of flying in August. I’m struggling to sleep etc., lots of tears and involuntary shaking.”

Poor thing! I can completely empathise having once been terrified of creepy crawlies myself. But, the good news for her is that phobias can be cured. And that’s because they are a ‘learned’ behaviour.

We are born like a blank canvas. As babies, we don’t really have phobias like we do as adults, we are born with just a handful of reflexes and fears – loud, sudden noises and falling for example. Phobias we learn along the way. Our subconscious – or other than conscious mind makes associations and learnings based on our life experiences in order to protect or promote us. Some of those learnings are useful to us. Some, like phobias can actually hinder us sometimes.

So, for me, working with client’s phobias is a five step process:

1. The ecology check. I like to start by understanding the scale of the phobia before we set about curing it. Usually rating it on a scale of one to 10. It’s a useful benchmark.

2. The kinaesthetic experience. It’s useful to fully understand the physical feelings and experiences associated with that phobia, and how to ‘dial them down’.

3. Unlearning the phobia. This involves ‘re-programming’ the client’s learnings around the phobia. NLP stands for neuro-linguistic programming, and NLP trained coaches like my good self, use language among other things to understand and change our programming – for the better.

4. Another ecology check. After the bulk of the coaching work is done another rating becomes useful. Because if it is still too high at this point, more ‘unlearning’ work may be required.

5. Future pacing. Like all good coaching work, a session or sessions should end by making the results ‘stick’ into the future.

My experience of working with phobia cases is that coaching can be very effective, very quickly. For more information on how to repaint your canvas, call me on 07768 026197.