Fixing a Spider Phobia the Entertaining Way
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 15:50, June 26 2014.

Stage hypnotists like Paul McKenna and Derren Brown can have a big advantage over a clinical hypnotherapist – an audience!  Derren Brown described this advantage saying “the bigger the audience the bigger the effect”.  An audience puts pressure on the “subject” because if the “trick” fails the “subject” looks bad.  The same effect occurs if “therapy” has an audience – the therapy is more likely to work and work spectacularly.  I am rarely in a position to exploit this advantage: one time was when I ran a phobia day at Chessington World of Adventures and another is detailed below.

The Client

My client is an employee at our local gym.  Rachael agreed to be the subject of an article in the gym newsletter.  Rachael is a well respected and liked member of the staff.  With her history of playing top class rugby, Rachael is not the sort of person one would expect to be frightened of anything.  However, prior to her treatment Rachael had a spider phobia!

No Surprises

An audience makes ones client more focussed and more willing to change but one still has to adhere to a very important principle: if one wants to teach someone not to be frightened one has to do it without making them frightened!  Throughout the process, therefore, Rachael stayed in control – there were no surprises and her consent was obtained for each step forward.

What Rachael Said

 “I went to see Stephen about my fear of spiders.  On my arrival he made me feel very welcome and comfortable.  He explained how the session works and what I should expect during this session...

“Stephen got me to do a couple of exercises… this involved visualisation, movement, and imagination. I found this strange as I was seeing a spider but knew that there wasn’t one there… but I still acted as if it was real. Hard to explain really!!!  I felt very relaxed. Stephen kept making sure I was happy all through the session.

“Stephen brought out a toy spider which I was ok with (after all it was just a toy), then he brought out some dead spiders which were covered up and placed at the other side of the room from me. I had to build myself up to go and unwrap the jar of dead spiders, unscrew the lid and pour them on my hands (If you know me you would know that I would’ve ran out the room at the thought of it)… Then he brought out another jar, this was the real deal; he placed it at the other end of the room and again I had to walk up toit, unwrap it, take a look at the live spider running around the jar, then, if I felt happy, undo the lid [and] tip the jar over onto the palm of my hand… I cannot tell you how overwhelmed and happy I was that I was holding the spider...

 “I can still pick spiders up now (Fantastic!!! and my partner is extremely pleased as she doesn’t like them), the session has also helped me with my fear of heights as I can now climb a ladder up to my attic which I couldn’t do before.

 “I can definitely say that I would recommend this kind of therapy and I can’t thank Stephen enough for getting me to control my fear.”

If you would like to see Rachael with her spider click here.