Arachnophobia and hypnotherapy: I tried it.

My arachnophobia was something I learned to live with for the majority of my life. I’d come across hypnotherapy as a treatment before (7 years ago, to be honest), but never followed through. That’s how badly I tried to avoid the issue. Because it was easier to  undergo the bouts of extreme fear, rather than confronting myself with the root cause of my phobia. That is, until recently

What changed?

I love the outdoors and cabins in the woods. Unfortunately, so do spiders. I was happily living in denial about this fact, when 6 weeks ago I stumbled upon a creepy, hairy spider on a  vacation. The critter had snuck into the bathroom and given me a good scare. My dear husband Jelger had to come to the rescue for the hundredth time. Only this time, when he went outside with the spider (he’s a big believer of ‘catch and release’), he fell pretty hard on an icy patch outside of our hotel room. And so we got into a fight.

I felt that he had to protect me, because a spider was the worst thing that could happen to me. He felt tired (and this time, soar) of having to rescue me of the eight-legged monsters with no end in sight , because I had consistently avoided  to deal with the bigger issue.

Of course, my husband was right. It was much easier to be a victim, than to look at myself and consider that I might have a the problem. Once I acknowledged this, it was time to do something about my fear,

arachnophobia and hypnotherapy

About arachnophobia

I’ve lived with a terrible fear of spiders for as long as I can remember. It’s a phobia, so there’s nothing rational about it. Yes, I’m much bigger than the spider and yes, I know it’s probably more afraid of me, than the other way around. And of course I know it’s not going to harm me. But knowing this rationally, is one thing. Having my subconsciousness accept it for truth  a completely different one.

My online research taught me a lot about arachnophobia. For starters, I definitely had a lot of the typical symptoms: I’d scan any room for spiders (the ceiling, corners, edges) and if I knew there was a spider, it had to be dealt with immediately, otherwise, I’d need to leave. During unexpected confrontations, I got heart palpitations and felt as if I was going to faint. But despite the sheer panic I kept an eye on the culprit, because I needed to know at all times where it was. This fear was a terrible thing to live with.

I also learned that people aren’t born with arachnophobia and that it’s something you learn. Most often you adopt the fear during your childhood from a parent with the same phobia. Sometimes it happens because of an event with a spider that left deep, negative impact. Knowing this, made me feel relieved. My phobia had seemed  like “a part of me“ so much that I didn’t consider it something I could “unlearn”. Until my first hypnotherapy session.

Hypnotherapy

I chose a hypnotherapist that I knew and that was part of a professional organization and received good reviews online. That said, always listen to your gut when choosing any therapist. It’s crucial to feel good about the person you’re seeing.

I was a little nervous at first, because I had no idea what to expect. But Kamilla put me right at ease with her soft spoken and friendly approach.. During the session I felt myself relax deeper and deeper and eventually we started talking about my childhood experiences with spiders. The experience  almost felt like a deep, guided meditation. Several memories of spider encounters that had left intense impressions, popped up in my head. Somehow all of them were still ingrained in my brain.

We talked about the memories and about what I would say to my childhood self in those situations. And slowly we came to the resolution that spiders inside of the house are just out of place, and that they can go back to their home outside.. There was a very peaceful feeling about realizing that. During the session, Kamilla also “installed” a little physical reminder in my brain(I’m sure there’s a more scientific term. ;)) She told me if I felt fear rising, I could rub my thumb and index finger together and I’d feel peaceful, calm and in control.

What happened next?

Immediately after the session I looked at some images of spiders online. And lo and behold, the sharp edge had definitely been filed off my fear. In the past, when looking at those photographs, I’d  feel uncomfortable and would have to stop after a while. But when coming home after my hypnotherapy session, I watched tarantula videos non stop for an hour.

I still didn’t entirely trust my newfound confidence and wanted to put things to the test for real., I took steps to meet a tarantula in person. I found a person that does live presentations, but eventualy decided against the idea. It would be another big financial investment and what was I trying to prove anyways? I pictured myself holding the spider but did I really have to take such measures?? And prove myself to whom?

Yesterday, my hubby approached me with a spider he caught in our living room (caught in a glass), and guess what: I wasn’t terrified. We looked at each other for a while (me and the spider) and then I, and not my hubby, was the one releasing him outside. For me, this was a big step! In the past I wouldn’t have been comfortable being so close to the spider. And I’d definitely not have been willing to be the one shaking out the glass and setting it free! I used to have vision of spiders jumping on my hands.

My biggest takeaway

While spiders might not be my new favourite pets, hypnotherapy helped me overcome that all-encompassing, numbing fear. I know I now look at spiders in a different way and I feel confident about catching and releasing them myself when the time comes. I wish I’d have addressed my phobia sooner. And I wish I had known the process would be so smooth and painless. Yes, it was emotional, but it felt like a huge relief. So I definitely recommend it!

Maybe one day I’ll get my picture taken with a tarantula, but for now I’m glad (and proud) I took these steps to improve my mental wellbeing.