Jed Shlackman, LMHC, treats clients in the Miami, South Florida area who have experienced a variety of anxiety issues, including phobias, PTSD, and social anxiety. Here Jed has provided an explanation of his approach to addressing these issues.
Phobia refers to a pattern of symptoms where an individual exhibits irrational or excessive anxiety in response to a situation or stimulus. This includes common phobias such as claustrophobia and agoraphobia (fear of being in an enclosed space and fear of going outside one's home). People may fear heights, water, snakes, spiders, flying on airplanes, crossing bridges, coming in contact with germs/microbes, or anything else that one may experience in life.
These fears exist as reaction patterns in the subconscious mind. The body's anxiety response begins even before the conscious mind evaluates the situation. The Institute Of HeartMath has conducted biofeedback research showing that a person's body begins to react to emotionally provocative stimuli a few seconds before the images are even available to the visual sense and conscious mind. This suggests that the most powerful methods of clearing phobias may need to go beyond working with the conscious mind and instead access the subconscious, which processes much more information than the conscious mind, and in a more rapid manner. Right now as you read this and contemplate it with your conscious mind, your subconscious is managing your breathing and heartbeat and eye-blinking and the activities of the immune system and digestive system and most other activities of your body.
People may attempt a variety of cognitive and behavioral methods to extinguish or cope with a phobia. Distracting the mind with some other stimulus or thought stopping method is commonly taught. People may attempt to systematically desensitize themselves to fear triggers. For example, a person may first look at snakes on TV, then watch someone else handle snakes from a distance, then gradually come closer to the snake and then at some point touch the snake while someone else holds it. These provide new experiences where you can be with a stimulus or situation and not experience harm, helping the mind create a new association with the old fear trigger. What can be difficult with this technique is that a person may begin to experience anxiety and decide not to go through with the exposure. By repeating that avoidant pattern the person is reinforcing their phobia rather than resolving it.
There are safe effective methods of clearing phobias that can produce rapid healing. Hypnosis, NLP, and some energy psychology techniques help the subconscious mind reprogram its reaction to the previously anxiety-provoking stimulus. This can be done by using verbal cues, symbols, and guided imagery to help the mind perceive the stimulus from a balanced state. Balancing the body's energy system (the aura and the acupuncture energy meridians) as the stimulus is brought to mind can also be effective in neutralizing the old phobia/anxiety reaction. This can be thought of as neutralizing a negative feedback loop that had been carrying fear through the mind, releasing stress hormones in the body, and draining energy from the human energy field/aura. Once a person is able to bring to mind the situation that had been a source of phobia, this time without having a stressful reaction, then the subconscious learns to have this new balanced response to that stimulus. It doesn't matter how long the old phobia program has been running in your subconscious - you can rewrite that program at any time and be free of the fear! This can be seen via analogy like the way a computer program bug is fixed. You just change the computer program code and now it automatically runs correctly as if the bug were never there.