These instructions were created for people learning to conduct a hypnotherapy session to eradicate a client’s phobia, but you can just as easily use them to work with a phobia (yours or someone else’s) on your own. Done with respect and kind attention, with trust and rapport, it is extremely quick and effective. And best to enjoy it as a mind game. Healing and learning should be fun! (That’s a good “should”)
I believe Richard Bandler, co-originator of NLP, first devised this fast phobia cure technique. That such a simple process can do so much for so many who have suffered for so long is truly extraordinary.
The speedy effectiveness of the phobia/trauma technique demonstrates that our problems are not really solid and tenacious as our senses and memory suggest they are — literally a hypnotic suggestion. If we correctly recognize the structure and activity that is creating the illusion of a solid problem, we can quickly change it or eliminate it.
As you learn the steps involved in doing the process, notice the underlying principles which have been assembled to make this work – the structure of the “pieces” and the way they function together. As you learn to recognize and think about applications of these underlying principles, you, too, may create powerful change work in any area of your life.
1. Establish rapport: always the first step. Ironically, establishing rapport with oneself is often overlooked or woefully inadequate. Be interested in your thoughts and feelings and how they work together — how they flow and dance. They are the structures and their relationship and activity create our experience.
Be interested. Be patient. Be kind. Be encouraging. Radiant warm confident good humor to yourself. Client’s first response often is, “I don’t know how.” I ask them if they have a good friend. So far everyone has had one. I say, “Treat yourself they way you treat them. Talk to yourself the way you talk to them.” Client invariably says, “Oh, I can do that.”
It’s amazing how few of us have figured this out and actually make the consistent effort to act like our own best friend!
2. Reframe the problem state as a demonstration of your creativity, power, and capacity to learn. Watch for the contemplative shift that should occur. “Hmmmm.” You facilitate change by finding the pure intent of the behavior, separating the behavior from the intention. Any problem is a problem because one has picked the wrong strategy (activity) to accomplish the intention. Once that is clear, notice all the power, creativity, and learning that were utilized to create the problem behavior. Generate a new appreciation of these resources in the light of the pure intent. They are not “bad” – they were just being used inappropriately. This clear recognition inspires the generation of new beneficial behaviors.
Most people learn to be phobic during just one experience that was genuinely dangerous or that was perceived as dangerous. Generating such a quick, powerful, and lasting learning is a wonderful capacity of your mind, that you can appreciate, now, even though, in this instance, the learning has had its drawbacks.
But you can appreciate that your unconscious mind has only been trying to protect you, and that, with new learnings, it will be able to use all that power and capacity to learn and generate powerful responses to reevaluate and create even better and more effective and appropriate protective responses.
Isn’t that right?
Yes, all we want to do is enhance your deeper mind’s ability to care for you appropriately by increasing its learnings and understandings.
3. Partially trigger the phobic reaction. The reason for doing this is to give you the opportunity to recognize and calibrate the physical signs of phobic response for later testing and evaluation. “What makes you phobic? What if it were here right now?” As you moves into the phobic response, break state: stop imagining it; stand up if necessary, shift your focus, “shake” it off.
4. Put yourself in a double dissociated state. Use the movie theater model.
a) Imagine sitting in a theater looking at a blank screen (or a black and white snapshot of yourself on the screen).
b) Now float out of your body and up into the projection booth, where you can see yourself sitting in the theater seat down there, and you can also see the snapshot of yourself on the screen out over there.
It can be helpful to anchor yourself in the booth so you don’t pop into the seat or the screen. You can also imagine a clear Plexiglas barrier in front of you, which lets in all the sights and sounds. Put your hands on it and feel it while you watche what happens next in the memory movie.
5. Pick a time when you had the phobia: the first, the worst, or a recent time.
a) Run a black and white movie of the event on the movie screen.
b) Watch the whole event starting before the beginning of the phobic response, through to after the end of it when you felt better. Make it a black and white movie with sound, running at normal speed.
c) Watch that younger self over there going through the experience. Watch it as a detached observer, even as a stranger. As needed, emphasize that you are safe, here and now, safe in the booth, feeling the glass with your hands, while also noticing the other self in the theater seat watching. It’s just a movie.
d) Run the movie to the end of the situation and stop the film on the last frame, like a snapshot.
6. Leave the booth and float quickly into your former self in the still picture on the screen. When fully there, run the movie backward, in color, in about 2 seconds (make a sound indicating this: “Just run it back real fast…shooouuup!”), all the way back to the beginning.
7. When you have done it, test your responses. Ask a question that would have elicited the phobic response. “Here comes a snake slithering by your chair.” Calibrate the response. If there still is a phobic response, check the way you ran the process. Take yourself back through it, making sure you does it correctly (steps 4-6). Repeat as necessary. Practice makes perfect!
8. Ecology check. Recognize the need to learn about those situations, to reevaluate them with sensible response options now that the fear response is gone, so you can determine appropriate responses under the conditions. Encourage yourself to take your time to carefully understand and accept better choices of response in future possible similar situations, as appropriate.
Technically, utilizing the phobia cure for trauma is simply a matter of combining it with regression (using timeline or any other regression theatrics). Take yourself back to the incident but floating safely above it, and run phobia theater floating in the air over the incident at this safe distance, running a movie of the incident.
If you want to use this technique for self-hypnosis, you can make a recording of yourself or someone else reading this script and then play it back to yourself. Make sure to give yourself plenty of solitude, space and time to relax and fully experience this intentional daydream, or visualization, as you listen to the recording.
The full background of my approach to this technique is described in my book, Finding True Magic: Transpersonal Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy NLP (also a Kindle ebook) which forms the basis of the hypnotherapy NLP certification course offered by the Institute for Therapeutic Learning.