One of the hardest things if you suffer with a dog phobia is that dogs are everywhere! With many other phobias like the dentist or flying you can try and control your fear by avoiding those things.

Yet dogs can be found everywhere in your day to day life - outside shops, by play areas, on green spaces and even walking towards you down the street. And with a dog phobia you are likely to be alert to any possible sounds or sightings of dogs - especially dogs off their lead who could run towards you.

And most people with dog phobias whom I have helped have also carefully managed their contact with friends who own dogs. This may be making sure the dog will be shut in another room or even avoiding going to their house altogether.

When you are around or near a dog, that fear response will kick in. You will feel on edge, alert, probably keeping one eye constantly on the dog. Depending on how near the dog is and what it is doing you may even experience shaking, sweating, breathing changes and a racing heart.

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Over the last year I have been working with an increasing number of adults who struggle with food phobia or selective eating problems.

Whilst they do eat certain familiar foods, people with a food phobia tend to struggle with any new foods - they just physically cannot take a mouthful and swallow it. Depending on how long it has been going on, and the range of foods they can eat, this can impact on health - as well as causing social problems about eating around others.

If you struggle with something similar then it may well have been going on so long that it's just become what you do around food. You'll have a mental list of foods that are ok for you to calmly eat, and you will have developed practices to avoid getting into embarassing and anxious situations around food (e.g. making up excuses to avoid social eating, cooking your own meals).

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When Claire came to see me she told me all about how her fear of flying affected her life. She would dread the prospect of flying for weeks beforehand, she would struggle with her fear during the flight itself and would then spend her holidays worried about the upcoming flight back rather than enjoyng herself. Now that she had children, she was worried that they may pick up on her fear and start to learn to have their own fear of flying.

Fear of flying can turn what should be a wonderful holiday into a draining anxiety-ridden ordeal. Even before the flight you may run many scenarios over in your mind of what may happen - and all those 'what if's' only add fuel to your fear. The fear only increases if you catch any stories in the news about things happening to planes.

And all that fear and anxiety is even before the flight itself, where the anxiety levels may rocket as you wait at the airport, only to increase further when you get on the plane, take your seat and await take off.

Many people try using medication or alcohol to numb some of the anxiety, yet often even that isn't enough to stop the fear taking hold. And even if you do force yourself through the flight, there is still the daunting prospect of repeating the whole ordeal on the return flight to contend with.

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The Cambridge News has just featured an article about how I helped Steve Miller finally overcome his 40 year phobia.

Before working with me, Steve had struggled with anything to do with blood and needles. Even saying the word 'blood' or seeing anything with blood on TV would cause him anxiety.  

Steve now tells me that he is completely calm and relaxed about those things that used to cause him such fear.

You can read the article here: pdfCambridge_News_201014_Steve_Miller_end_phobia_with_hypnotherapy.pdf

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Phobias are often funny things aren't they? How is it that the sight of a spider can make a grown person desperate to get out of the room? Or the sound of a dog barking can generate intense panic? Or even,as was the case with one client I worked with, the thought of being somewhere with balloons was enough to make him avoid places.

Logically you know that you are not in physical danger. Yet somehow out of your logical control all that fear kicks in - you may feel faint, sick, sweaty, on edge or any of the other symptoms associated with panic and fear. You may even suffer panic attacks.

And having learnt to experince all that fear and those feelings in relation to your phobia, you'll have soon found how reliable your keeping safe reactions are when in other similar situations.

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A couple of months ago, I worked with a client who suffered with a massive level of health anxiety. She avoided anything to do with the doctor, dentist or optician because the fear and worry was too overwhelming.

And by far the biggest fear she had was about giving blood. It was unimaginable for her - just the thought of it made her anxious and worried. There were all sorts of imagined fears around needles and blood whirring through her mind.

Yet after just a few sessions she had been to the dentist for a check up, had her eyes tested AND given blood (and enjoyed it!). Amazing!

Giving Blood

I may be up on my soap box with this one a bit but please bear with me because it is important.

If you are anything like me then giving blood is one of those things you mean to get around to doing (unless you suffer with needle axiety or blood phobia in which case you don't!).

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If you suffer with a phobia or fear then you will know the levels of anxiety that can arise and you will probably do all you can to avoid the particular thing or situation. You may even feel anxious just talking about your phobia.

Recently I worked with Steve Miller, who you may recognise as the presenter of Sky 1's 'Fat Families' as well as from his books, magazine articles and other TV appearances.

Steve had suffered with a phobia around blood and a phobia around needles for forty years. When we first met he couldn't even say the words 'blood test' without getting anxious and on edge. 

In the video below, Steve talks about how he now feels about his old phobia after working with me for two sessions.

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Do you struggle with a fear of spiders?

Recently I’ve helped a number of people conquer their fear of spiders. One of the first things that nearly all of them told me was that they knew it was irrational – but they still couldn’t stop their fear and panic around spiders.

One of my clients would visibly physically flinch at just the thought of a spider. She told me she couldn’t even look at a picture of one without getting that panicky feeling, and she had countless examples of times she had needed to call for help to get a spider out of the room. She even had times she dreamt about them and woke in a panic 

Other clients check places in their houses where they had seen them before, and the sight of a spider on TV, especially a moving one, can start that feeling of fear.

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Do you suffer with a phobia? Perhaps you know someone who does?

If you have a phobia or fear then it can have a very limiting effect on what you do and rob you of the freedom to enjoy your life in all the situations you would like to. 

Although the impact of a phobia can vary, they all involve fear and anxiety and a desire to avoid certain situations or things and an overwhelming desire to get away if faced with them. Whatever the cause, your mind now fills you with overwhelming fear to get you away and keep you safe.

You may feel anxious and uneasy just looking at or thinking about the phobia. And you may have had shaking, sweating, heart palpitations, breathing changes and panic attacks in the past. 

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With your fear of flying, thoughts of holidays can seem more like nightmares – unless you can get there by car. You may have used many excuses to explain why you haven’t been places on holiday or to visit friends and relatives.

Some people with a fear of flying don’t even like to look at planes passing by overhead or see planes on TV.

Because with your fear of flying you’ll do just about anything you can to avoid getting on a plane, until one day you either can’t avoid it anymore and you need to fly or you decide enough is enough and you take that first step to overcoming your fear.

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