Many of us enjoyed a good fright at Halloween. But if you are scared of something all year round, then it’s time to do something about it writes hypnotherapist Debra Aspinall

It’s no coincidence that this article on fears and phobias is appearing at this time of year. But for every reader who enjoyed a good scare on Halloween, there will be another who would love to stop being scared the other 364 days of the year.

Dealing with people’s fears and phobias is the stock-in-trade for hypnotherapists. It stands to reason that if a fear or phobia is controlled by your mind, some gentle re-programming of your thought processes, while in a very relaxed hypnotic state, will re-set your programming.

Think of your sub-conscious like a powerful computer capable of storing millions of thoughts and responding in certain ways to certain ideas. When some reactions are wrong or exaggerated they need setting back to default. Back to new. Nobody is born with a phobia.

And yet it seems there is no end to what people can be scared of, from the more common fear of flying, spiders and heights to the rare, but very real phobias of buttons, balloons, dwarfs, bodily functions, and even the colour yellow.

Just ask around in your workplace and you will probably be surprised how many people are afraid of a wide range of things. What can be totally acceptable to one person may be quite panic-provoking to another.

So what is a phobia and how is it different from a fear?

A phobia is any persistent fear of a specific stimulus object or situation. Phobia is from the Greek to fear or dread. But it is more than a simple fear or being afraid. It is to be totally terrified of the stimulus.

A quick way to tell if you have a phobia as opposed to a fear is to consider the question: how much money would you take to face your fear? For example if you have arachnophobia would you take £50 to hold a spider? Or £100? If you could bear to hold a spider for a large amount of money, even just for a few seconds, then you don’t have a phobia. A true phobic couldn’t bear to touch one for ANY amount of money.

Many of us manage to live quite well with our phobias and fears. However, when they start to affect our everyday life, then something needs to be done.

To use the arachnophobe as an example again, if they have to check every corner of their room, inside their shoes and between the sheets before they can even attempt to get into bed, then the phobia is starting to impinge on their life too much.

Hypnotherapists will always try to find out what caused the phobia before attempting to treat it. It could have been triggered by a bad memory or event. It could have been created by seeing someone else react badly to the trigger. If a trigger event or memory can be unlocked then it can be reversed or, at the very least, the sub-conscience can be re-trained to react in a different way.

Often under hypnosis a memory can be brought into clearer focus and the original cause of the phobia highlighted. This makes it even easier to tackle.

The remedy then is to re-programme the mind of that memory and delete or de-sensitise someone from their false instinct so the phobic reaction is ended.

Once this has been achieved, then hypnotic suggestion can create a new template for the client, so they can see the previously feared situation in a non-threatening light.

There’s plenty of help out there for phobics. So don’t be scared.