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Discuss the Relationship between Stress, Anxiety, Habits and Phobias and describe how you would treat these issues with Hypnotherapy. Many people who suffer with stress, anxiety, habits or phobias will turn to hypnotherapy for treatment. It has been proven extremely successful and can have a major impact on a persons life. With an understanding of the relationship between these disorders, examining the similarities and the differences between each, the therapist then has information in deciding how and if to treat these disorders.

Stress is our bodies’ way of responding to any kind of demand, an emotional and physical strain caused by our response to excessive pressure from the outside world, run down, overloaded. It is a fact of nature and we need some form of stress in our lives as it provides us with more energy and strength, preparing us for danger. This is called Survival stress or flight or fight syndrome and it is our body’s natural response. At some point in our lives, we all suffer from some form of stress due to our lifestyles sometimes being challenging. While certain types of stress are good for you, (e. g. nticipation) stress that begins to debilitate or produce depression requires treatment. If left untreated it could result in a stress related illness, leading to anxiety or even a phobia. Stress related problems can stem back to our past. If our parents did not cope with stress very well, we are more likely to inherit a lessened ability to deal with stress appropriately. Some people can be addicted to stress, putting unnecessary pressure on themselves and focussing on the negatives in life. People may experience stress because of pain, discomfort, diet, health problems and refusal to accept important feelings.

E. g. sadness. Feelings of stress can be experienced as anger, frustration, tension and anxiety. Stress is a negative emotional experience resulting from a person feeling a mismatch between the environment and their ability to cope with that environment. A change occurring in a person’s life can cause a fear of that change. E. g. moving house, bereavement. Types of stress are; hypostress, eustress, acute stress, episodic acute stress and chronic stress. The more severe cases of stress cannot be treated by us without their G. Ps consent.

People with stress may also find that they are suffering from a psychological change which presents itself as depression or acute anxiety but can’t always be connected to a specific cause. Common symptoms are insomnia, confusion, and sexual dysfunction. To treat stress we must help the client to learn to relax and learn triggers that will help them to deal with the condition, giving motivation and assisting them to realise they must be prepared to take responsibility, making changes necessary to remove negative symptoms changing reactions towards stressful situations.

Incorporating new responses into the clients’ life, helping them to feel protected from outside pressures and stress, and accepting repressed feelings. Positive phrases, deep relaxation and imagery would be used according to the clients’ initial consultation form and preferences. . Anxiety is essentially a learned and anticipatory response, fear implies a response to a visible or immediate threat, whereas anxiety is apprehension or fear which is less clearly defined. We may feel anxiety when we are under long term stress, feeling threatened or not knowing why we are anxious. The symptom of anxiety can stem from traumatic experiences e. . childhood, repressed memories and even inherited from our parents. Anxiety is a state that we all experience at some point and it is a normal response that teaches us to avoid dangerous situations. It aids our survival and again, we need it for addressing situations and motivation, only we all react differently to it. High levels of anxiety over a long period of time can affect your health, can sometimes be irrational, cause stress and in extreme circumstances form a mental health problem. Anxiety affects our emotions, health and behaviour; it creates fear that makes us want to avoid situations.

High levels of anxiety can interfere with a persons life and can have physical symptoms such as; palpitations and sweating.. These are just some of the symptoms that occur when our bodies jump into flight or fight mode, the body prepares to send more oxygen to the parts of the body that we need to jump into action. To treat anxiety we would need to help the client cope with anxiety provoking situations, helping them to relax, raising self esteem and confidence, reassuring them, identifying patterns of worry and deconstructing them, then finding a healthy way to cope with a legitimate concern.

Helping the client to cope with the anxiety but not remove it entirely, helping them to realise that their symptoms can be relieved. It is unique that in a hypnotic state where imagery and fantasy predominate, the level of anxiety can be controlled. This way the client is induced to think calmly about topics that are normally too distressing to be faced in an ordinary conscious state eg; a phobia. Using triggers and positive affirmations during hypnosis can help the client relax more during hypnosis.

The trigger would be chosen and explained with the client beforehand with the clients’ special place in hypnosis being their safety net and being in control. A phobia is an abnormal or irrational fear of an object or situation, it involves fear and avoidance. Thus why it is related to stress and anxiety. There are several types of phobias, simple phobias or specific phobias are fears of single stimulus such as heights and enclosed spaces etc. Complex phobias are fears of a number of stimuli such as when your phobia spreads into other areas of your life.

Social phobias are fears of what may happen whilst in the company of others, e. g. blushing or trembling. Agoraphobia is a fear of open or crowded spaces. This applies to people who are very nervous about going outside the safe surroundings of their home. In some severe cases they do not go out at all. Panic attacks are severe attacks of acute anxiety reactions; these do tend to run in families and are very distressing. These can be triggered by life crises involving intense brief periods of abrupt disabling fear.

There are many different things people can be frightened of, some are simple fears such as heights or enclosed spaces, but there are others that are more frightening, such as complex phobias. A phobia maybe the product of experiences that have occurred over years which have built into excessive anxiety. It could also be a fear of fear, or could even have been passed on to you by another person. The subconscious only deals in black and white, so if we experience something negative in the past and something similar in the future, it will react the same. There are times when a phobia happens due to a past trauma.

It can either be subconscious or conscious. You can be aware of the trauma or have buried it deep so you have no conscious recollection. Not all phobias are seen in the same way to everyone. If a person has a phobia with spiders, another person may not understand because of their upbringing and belief system. The deeper phobic reactions are harder to treat as it may in time be replaced with another phobia. All forms of phobia should be taken seriously as the individual sees their phobia as very true and real, even though a phobia may be used for attention.

Some people may even enjoy having a strange phobia, not forgetting that some fears that clients have are realistic but it is the reaction to the situation that can be addressed. Symptoms of a phobia include excessive or unreasonable fear, recognising the fear is excessive or unreasonable, the trigger of phobic response always causing anxiety and avoidance in whatever causes the phobic response. Physical and emotional reactions to a phobia include; shallow breathing and increased heart rate at just the thought of the possibility of encountering the phobia, anxious and tense, shame, embarrassment and possibly withdrawal.

Before treating a phobia we need to be sure there is no secondary gain or underlying issues beyond our expertise. We must try to find out the root of the phobia, assess the type of phobia and personalise an appropriate screed and assess the clients’ progress. During hypnosis the client experiences the fearful situation in their imagination and enables them to put things into perspective because they have a sense of control. Again, triggers could be used to aid relaxation, remaining calm and reduce feeling of fear. Uncovering techniques can be used and also dissociation.

Under no circumstances must we as therapists show any amusement or surprise at the clients phobia as it could have detrimental effects, making the whole situation worse and putting your reputation on the line. A habit is a pattern of behaviour carried out repetitively with little thought and effort. Habits are learned behavioural patterns which are stored in our subconscious mind. Not all habits are bad though, something that can be seen as a habit is just a routine that we do. The brain relies on habits either to solve a problem quickly or to use the habit to bring pleasure.

The pleasurable ones are often the hardest to stop. Some habits are damaging, such as smoking and when we know that smoking is bad for our health and that we should stop, it can cause stress and anxiety at the very thought of it. A bad habit can be changed as long as it is replaced with a new and healthy strategy for coping effectively. Habits are acquired and if bad habits are learned then new ones can be too. Other habits that can lead to stress, anxiety and phobias can be due to excessive substance use. (narcotics, lcohol abuse etc. ) This would not be able to be treated with hypnotherapy alone and again would need to be carefully assessed by the therapist with doctors consent.

To treat or change a habit positive suggestions can be used, benefits of breaking the habit, make them very aware of the fact that the habit is no longer needed or effective and that they need to take full responsibility to change it. By changing this behavioural pattern, it may cause stress and anxiety. Hypnotherapy, as we have discussed, can help relive those symptoms. There are cases where a client may not be treatable using hypnotherapy techniques. As discussed previously, a client showing signs of psychosis or underlying issues must not be treated and should be referred back to their doctor as it would be damaging to both the client and therapist. If a client has a health problem or you suspect they are not telling the whole truth about their medication, you must get written consent from their doctor before any treatment is given and with consent from your supervisor.

With hypnosis, change in the subconscious mind can be brought about if the person seeks for that change and if they are encouraged to accept the differences they will feel once the necessary adjustments are made. Stress and anxiety could be signs of a psychotic disorder and cannot be treated without the G. P consent. As in the counselling side of the therapy, the therapist should be as diplomatic as possible, when dealing with any form of client problems. Adhering to the code of ethics and being sure to refer those on whom you cannot treat. E. g. nderlying psychological or physical reasons, clients with PTSD and other serious stress disorders. Other reasons for referring clients on are; depression, complicated cases connected to deeper issues, no progress in your treatment plan, they may require or benefit from counselling and psychotherapy. Clients presented with physical symptoms must have a thorough medical check up before treatment. The therapist must be aware of any drugs and alcohol intake and be aware of signs relating to suicidal thoughts as these should be treated by those who are experienced and specifically trained.