Recently I saw a client whose life was being impacted by his fear of riding on elevators.  When a person has a persistent illogical fear of a specific situation or a thing, that fear is called a phobia.  Most people have heard of claustrophobia (the fear of confined spaces) and perhaps seen the movie "Arachnaphobia", the title meaning fear of spiders.  In my practice in northern Virginia, the two phobias I encounter the most are fear of bridges and fear of driving on the beltway.  Whether a person fears heights (acrophobia), doctors ( (latrophobia) or the number 13 (triskadekaphobia), when the phobia begins to dominate a person's life, they may seek help.  Doctors will probably write a prescription and psychotherapists will use talk therapy and education to help the person get over their phobia.

    Hypnosis can be a powerful tool in dealing with phobias.  With my client who had the fear of being on an elevator, I took a detailed clinical interview.  I found out his history including two traumatic events which had triggered his fear.  He described his physical and emotional feelings when he thought he would be exposed to the possibility of riding on an elevator, and I tried to get as many of his words as possible to describe what he wanted to do and how he wanted to feel around elevators.  In hypnosis, I had him visualize himself as safe, calm, confident and in control when riding on elevators.  The session included an age regression to go back to the two traumatic events to envision a different outcome.  I gave him a physical trigger that he could activate himself for stopping anxiety and another for activating relaxation and feeling calm, confident and being in control. He then visualized himself going right away to his girlfriend's office and riding up on the elevator in her building.

   The client left a message later that afternoon, saying he had successfully ridden on that elevator.  I encouraged him to continue to reinforce with the recording of the session and to practice stopping anxiety and triggering relaxation.  Hypnosis can be a valuable tool for dealing with many phobias including fear of elevators.