Hypnosis for Claustrophobia – Does it Work?
The dictionary defines claustrophobia as an “extreme or irrational fear of confined places”. It is a phobia which impacts around 5 to 10% of the population but in the majority of cases, people tend to live with the problem rather than seek help for it. Avoidance tactics are used by many people with this fear as a way of getting around the problem. The problem is that by never facing their fear the anxiety about being stuck in a confined space only gets worse and not better. So can hypnosis for claustrophobia help cure the problem?
What is Claustrophobia?
Even though the dictionary gives a brief description of this problem it doesn’t answer what is claustrophobia in detail. So before we begin talking about how to resolve the problem it is important to understand what it is. The fear actually encompasses two fears one of which is a fear of being restricted and the other is of being suffocated. Both of these are forms of anxiety and as such create symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, dizziness, sweating, nausea, panic and problems with breathing. Whilst claustrophobics worry about being unable to escape from a situation it is worth mentioning cleithrophobia which is a fear of being trapped.
When people think of claustrophobia or indeed cleithrophobia they may think of situations such as potholing or being stuck in a tunnel but actually there are a large number of places or situations which can trigger these fears. They include:
- Being in an aeroplane
- Getting into a lift
- Using an MRI machine or CT Scanner or Radiation Therapy Scanner
- Going into Cupboards
- Going to a toilet
- Dressing rooms in shops
- The Tube
- Being in a Room that Doesn’t Have Windows
- And a new one for this year – wearing a facemask
Some of these are easy to avoid but others are not. In London, for example, most of the capital gets around by using the underground train system. Using buses can be slow and due to its size walking can take a long time. Yet clients with a fear of being in confined spaces would take the slower routes time and time again to avoid triggering their fear.
Many clients, in fact, spend years with this problem before seeking hypnosis for claustrophobia because of their avoidance tactics. It is usually only when they start to suffer panic attacks or need to undergo a medical procedure that they finally choose to seek help because they are unable to avoid the problem anymore.
What is the Opposite of Claustrophobia?
The closest phobia to being the opposite of claustrophobia is agoraphobia which is traditionally thought of as an irrational fear of open spaces. However, the dictionary describes it as an extreme or irrational fear of entering open or crowded places, of leaving one’s own home, or of being in places from which escape is difficult”.
Even though claustrophobia is a worry about being in a confined space and being restricted or suffocated agoraphobia can trigger similar feelings of anxiety. An example of this may be a person who worries about attending a large outdoor music event. A claustrophobic might worry about being crushed by the crowd whilst an agoraphobic might panic about being unable to escape to a place where a crowd is not around them.
As you can see with fears and phobias there are many overlaps or situations that are incredibly similar that could be triggering the fear. Hypnosis for claustrophobia can help by discovering what the actual triggers are so that the thoughts behind this process can be changed.
Exposure Therapy for Claustrophobia
The traditional treatment for claustrophobia is exposure therapy. This is a form of therapy where a client is gradually exposed to the problem that they fear so that eventually the anxiety reduces. The key to making exposure therapy work is to slowly introduce the issue that is causing the problem rather than pushing a client to resolve their worries straightaway.
This might mean getting a client to look at pictures of a toilet cubicle and working out how the door works. Then helping the client to stand inside the cubicle with the door open. Eventually, when they build up confidence and feel calmer you may shut the door but not lock it. Finally, when the client is ready you get them to lock the door for a few seconds and finally build them up to a number of minutes until the problem is resolved.
The trouble is this sounds easy on paper but is far more difficult in practice. What if your client is so anxious they simply refuse to go near the cubicle? What if they have a panic attack as they start to approach the problem situation? What if you think you are resolving the right problem but in fact, the issues are something subtly different? We already know that these fears and phobias can be closely connected so it can be easy for a therapist to get the wrong end of the stick.
Hypnotherapy for Claustrophobia
So what can hypnotherapy for claustrophobia do that is different to traditional exposure therapy? Hypnosis for claustrophobia is a great alternative form of therapy to help fears and phobias because it works in three ways to address fears:
- Deep relaxation to calm the anxiety response
- Positive affirmations, visualisations and mental rehearsal to reduce the severity of the fear
- Analytical hypnosis to address the underlying root cause of the problem
Let’s start by talking about deep relaxation. When a person has a fear of a phobia their anxiety levels are elevated making if difficult for many to challenge the phobia or to think clearly. When a client is in a trance however these anxieties are dampened significantly making the client calmer, relaxed and easier to work with. The actual fear response to the phobia is also generally reduced. This makes it easier to use exposure techniques without the worry that the client will feel too anxious.
Secondly whilst a client is in hypnosis they are firstly more suggestible so helping them to increase their confidence and lower their anxiety with suggestions can help them to view their fears differently. In addition, anxiety hypnosis can build on mental imagery to get a client imagining doing the thing that they fear in the safety of hypnosis. The more that they mentally rehearse getting in a plane or lying in an MRI the lower the anxiety response becomes. This means that by the time they actually attempt to do the thing they originally worried about the easier it is.
Finally understanding and addressing the real reason why a client has a problem may be crucial to changing the way the fear is triggered. Analytical hypnosis can help a client to go back through their memories to discover the reasons why they may have a problem. When that awareness of why the problem was created is remembered it can take away most of the fear.
Our clients have found that they have experienced problems because:
- They were locked in a dark room as a punishment when they were a child.
- They were accidentally trapped in a room, cupboard or vehicle.
- One of our clients was trapped in the drawer under a bed.
- They had an experience of being unable to breathe when their sibling was fighting with them and put a cushion over their mouth.
- They got lost in a crowd of people and couldn’t find their parents.
- They had a near-drowning experience as a child.
These are just some typical examples of what we have seen but there may be plenty of other reasons that we have not mentioned. Helping our clients to understand their childhood experience and then aiming therapy at the real problem can go a long way to stopping the phobia in its tracks.
Hypnosis for MRI Claustrophobia and Radiation Therapy Patients
It is worth noting that in most cases having claustrophobia is not life-threatening which is why so many individuals with the problem fail to seek treatment for many years. However, in some cases, it is absolutely essential that the problem is resolved as quickly as possible when a medical emergency is present.
Many people finally seek our hypnosis for claustrophobia when they have to have an essential MRI or require radiation therapy. Most MRI’s are enclosed which means that for doctors to see results a patient needs to be able to lie in a machine that resembles a tunnel for around half an hour. Some people simply can’t face the procedure which is why a panic button is built into the machine apparatus. Hypnotherapy can help to make people more comfortable with the procedure and potentially enable them to get the medical results they need.
Radiation therapy treatment takes things a little further. Head and neck cancers require targeted radiation to be aimed at a tumour. In order to make sure the right area is hit the patient has to wear a mask which restricts movement. This is a safety feature so that the radiation is not aimed at the wrong areas. As many patients who have cancer therapy may already be feeling highly anxious the mask-wearing amplifies the fear or phobia even more. Hypnosis can help by addressing the fears, increasing feelings of calm so that this life-saving treatment can be given.
Hypnosis for Face Mask Claustrophobia – Coronavirus/Covid 19
It is also worth mentioning that hypnosis for face mask claustrophobia is starting to become an area where therapy is being increasingly sought. Since Coronavirus swept around the world governments are implementing restrictions to prevent the spread. The UK, for example, has just announced that anyone using public transport needs to now use a mask.
For many people who have claustrophobia, the idea of wearing a mask fills them with horror. In particular, the fear of being suffocated or not getting enough air is a major concern. Public transport passengers will have no choice but to follow the rules as there is £80 fine in the UK for not wearing one. If you are worried about how you will cope with the new rules then seeking out hypnosis for claustrophobia will be important in helping you manage this new normal.
Self-Hypnosis for Claustrophobia
Self-hypnosis for claustrophobia can also be used to help and is a self-help system that can be used at home. As claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder our self-hypnosis for anxiety program is the perfect tool that can help. Our five audio recording program has been created to help people to stop triggering feelings of anxiety by inducing feels of calm and deep relaxation. The recordings help with anxiety, feelings of panic and worrying and negative thinking.
To get your copy of our self-hypnosis program for anxiety simply head on over to our online store to download your copy to use at home.
Fear of Enclosed Spaces Hypnosis
To get more personalised help then you can contact us about our hypnosis for claustrophobia online program. This consists of four sessions of hypnosis to help you overcome your worries and fears. This program can be conducted on Skype, Facetime or Facebook video messenger. To arrange your program simply contact us at the form below to arrange your personalised sessions and take back control over your fears.
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