Do you struggle with making friends?  Do you have a hard time in maintaining friendships? Do you identify yourself as being shy?  Do you work from home and rarely interact with other people in person?  How isolated are you?  Hypnosis can help you to come out of the house and out of your shell.

    There are a number of reasons people struggle with shyness.  People perceive their world and place in it in different ways.  Researchers have found that even babies have different temperaments.  Some infants reach out to be held while others cry or crawl away.  Some preschoolers race into the school and never look back.  While others have great difficulty leaving their parents.

    Your basic temperament will determine your need for social contact.  Our lifestyles also can make it difficult to make and maintain friendships.  Some jobs require constant moves with demands for learning new skills and setting up a new home.  There is little time or energy for making new friends.  As people move and old friends also move, even close friendships may be hard to maintain. Isolation can become so familiar, people may no longer even make the effort to try to meet new people.  

     For many people, the combination of natural shyness and particular circumstance can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.  Studies have shown that this isolation from others can lead to a predisposition to illness.

       Social phobia is an anxiety disorder which may be described as extreme shyness. Psychologist Richard Heimberg defined social phobia s "shyness gone wild.  It cuts people off from the good things of life - social interaction, love."

    If you recognize yourself in this description, know that hypnosis can be a valuable tool to help you overcome the fears and anxieties that keep you from developing and maintaining friendships and enjoying social interaction with others.




      Have you ever been to a yard sale or flea market and seen an old oil painting that you liked?  Perhaps the frame is beautiful and appealing.  But often an old painting has an ugly dark frame that makes the painting dreary and unattractive.  If you love the painting, you might buy it and decide to reframe the painting in something brighter and more appealing. 

      Sometimes situations and circumstances in our lives our limited by the frames of our thoughts, ideas and attitudes.  Hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool to change the perception of the situations and circumstances to make positive changes.  You can use hypnosis to reframe a situation by reframing your thoughts about it.  It can help you to have a new positive perspective about a situation in your life. 

     A qualified hypnotherapist can help you reframe situations that you have been unable to change by yourself.  With hypnosis you can reframe your choices to choose to eat healthy foods, be comfortable speaking in public, stop smoking, exercise more or sleep through the night.  Make your life brighter and more appealing by using hypnosis to reframe old ideas, attitudes and thoughts that are keeping you from having the life of your dreams.


     Do you know what the most common anxiety disorder is?  The answer may surprise you.  Phobias are the most common affecting up to 14% of Americans during their lifetimes.  The word phobia comes from the Greek word phobos which means mortal fear.  If you are extremely anxious about flying, being in an elevator or exposed to heights, your life may be limited by these fears.  A phobia is considered to be an unreasonable and persistent fear that limits the person's ability to freely socially interact, work or play.  Sufferers with phobias will often make unreasonable or irrational choices in order to avoid that fear.

      Some people suffer with phobias by simple avoidance which often limits their lives.  Others become so uncomfortable by the physical symptoms that often often occur with phobias.  When such symptoms as shortness of breath, trembling, rapid heart beat and the strong desire to flee become too strong, they take medications like alprazolam (Xanax)  or clonazepam (Klonapin).  

     Be aware there are other treatments to reduce the severity of a phobia or even help it to disappear.  Therapy can be a non-medication way to treat phobias.  Your medical doctor may be able to recommend a mental-health professional who works with clients suffering from phobias.  There are a number of different therapies, including talk therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and exposure therapy.

      Hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool to alleviate or eliminate your phobia. You can free yourself from the limitations caused by phobias.  Hypnotherapy is brief therapy.  I work with most phobics only one time and allow the client to record the session for reinforcement at home.  Get the help you need, free yourself and Be Well. 


     It's that time of the year.  A lot of us are traveling at this time of the year.  For many, the idea of taking a vacation is very appealing.  But if you are afraid of flying, a holiday may lose its appeal.  If you fear flying, it can limit your life.  If this is an issue check out some of the old posts on this blog for dealing with phobias and anxieties.  Hypnotherapy can be a great way to set yourself free from the fear of flying.  I'm leaving for a few days at the beach. Don't let your fear of flying keep you from having the vacation you want.  


      Have you been watching the remarkable performances at the Olympics?  Most of us will never have an opportunity to perform on a world stage in any kind of event from athletics to public speaking to singing a song.  But almost all of us will at some time or another go for a job interview, attend an event where we don't know someone or make a presentation at work.  If just the thought of doing any of those things makes you nervous, you may have performance anxiety.

     Clients often come to me and describe the many physical manifestations of the nervousness that they experience when having to perform in such a situation.  They will describe their hearts racing, hands shaking, sweaty palms and even feeling queasy.  In fact, what they are describing is the perfectly normal release of the hormone adrenaline by their adrenal glands.  Adrenaline is released when we feel threatened.  It dilates blood vessels and breathing passages and boosts our heart rate giving us a burst of energy.  This was very useful when humans were being hunted by large, wild animals.  But, this adrenaline rush, is not so effective when we have to give the presentation at work and can't afford to run away.  If time permits, use your muscles to burn off adrenaline.  Take a brisk walk, tense and relax your muscles or push against a wall with your hands. Deep breathing can be a useful technique to overcome an adrenaline rush.  Slowing yourself down by breathing slowly and deeply, walking more slowly than seems natural, taking a moment before speaking can allow your heart rate to slow and keep you more comfortable. 

     Focusing outwardly rather than inwardly will help as well.  When we are anxious we tend to focus on our own behavior expecially shortcomings and mistakes.  Instead, focus outwardly.  If you are giving a speech, look into the eyes of your audience.  Connect with individuals as real people rather than a collective audience judging you.  As you connect, remember your subject (not you) is the important thing.  Instead of worrying about how people are thinking of you personally, delight in giving your audience the information they have come to hear about.

    And don't expect to be perfect.  Perfectionists often focus on one problem or error and that causes them to lose their confidence or focus and make more errors.  Make your goal to give your performance at your best.  This does not mean perfect.  Be aware that no one else expects perfection.  Those enjoying your performance have made mistakes, too.  People will probably like and relate to you more if you seem human enough to make a mistake.  Instead, focus on sharing why you are there - to compete, to inform, whatever.  If you make a mistake, smile, acknowledge, correct if you need to and move on.

    Of course, performance anxiety is more likely to happen if you haven't prepared.  Do what you need to do - practice, study, rehearse.  Hypnotherapy can be a great way to deal with performance anxiety.  Then go out and enjoy!


      Just got back from my trip to my high school reunion.  As part of our classes' reunion we attended an Alumni Banquet designed for anyone who had graduated from the school.  The oldest person there graduated in 1934.  Part of the program included speeches from representatives of three honored classes.  I spoke for my class and had a great time reminiscing about my time in that small town and the years we spent together as classmates.  The evening reminded me how many people find public speaking terrifying.  Several people came up to me afterwards and told me they could never do that.  Yes, you can!.  Hypnotherapy can be a great tool to help you overcome public speaking anxiety.


     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.


     Almost everyone has experienced trauma at one time or another.  So often when we hear that word, we think of a childhood trauma like physical or sexual abuse or of trauma caused during wartime.  But a person can experience trauma from a fender bender and be afraid to drive or trauma from a home burglary that leaves the person afraid to be in their home.  

     When the traumatized person is not able to overcome the fear, it can exhibit as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia or specific phobia such as fears of flying, heights or blood.  These are ways of putting up a protective wall but do not relieve the fear.

     Sometimes traumatized people are encouraged to "get right back up on the horse".  This may actually cause further harm and the person may be traumatized again.  In some case, individuals are so traumatized that they have trouble seeking help for themselves.  It is always wise to seek professional help as soon as possible.  Family members may have to help facilitate this.  This may consist of brief psychotherapy of somewhere between twelve and twenty sessions.   Medication may be prescribed including sleeping pills, anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants.  Medication is usually prescribed as part of a treatment plan to support the therapy. 

     Hypnotherapy is often used as an adjunct therapy to psychotherapy.  Hypnosis may include:  retrieveing traumatic memories, facing them and viewing them clearly in a broader perspective, recalling memories and working through the trauma that they caused, and creating new coping techniques to protect themselves as they leave the trauma behind.  Most hypnotherapists will teach the client relaxation techniques which can be practiced whenever the client is anxious.

       Self-help is also a way to deal with trauma.  This may mean talking to an understanding person or someone who has actually shared the same experience.  Group sessions and support groups are helpful in providing the encouragement and understanding the traumatized person needs.

     Another self-help tool is to use a journal to write about the fears, anger and other negative emotions experienced because of the trauma.  Writing down memories, feelings and nightmares helps to give new insights and understanding about the experience.

     Self-talk is another way to deal with those traumas that limit everyday life.  We talk to ourselves all the time.  Reframe those negative thoughts into positive ones.  If you focus on the negative, the fear will be reinforced.  Rather than think to yourself, "Driving is dangerous. I might have an accident like last time", focus on the positive and tell yourself, "I will drive safely and cautiously and get there safely."

    When it is time to get back on the horse, take small steps.  If you are afraid of flying, just drive out to the airport and watch the planes.  The next time, you might go in the airport.  When you finally fly, take a short trip and experience how easily and comfortably you made the trip.  Each time it will get easier.

     We know that traumatic things happen all the time.  People lose jobs.  People die.  Accidents happen.  The stock market tanks.  With the right tools including  psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, medications, and self-help tools, it is possible to overcome the trauma and get on with your life.


     The past week in my area of Northern Virginia has been really interesting.  Last Tuesday we had a 5.8 earthquake which has been followed by several aftershocks.  Two of these were in the 4.5 range.  This may cause many people on the west coast to be amused at our shock and drama.  But earthquakes are not usually a part of our lives.  Because of the earthquake, there was a rockslide on a major traffic artery that upset thousands of commuters.  Mid-week storms came in from the west causing tornado watches and warnings.  Then over the weekend Hurricane Irene came ashore in North Carolina and swept up the east coast.  This morning the announcer on the radio said 25 people have been killed by Irene.

    The reason I mentioned all this drama is because of the number of calls I have had from people who are terrified.  Fear is a natural human emotion.  Sometimes fear is triggered by specific things which most people would consider dangerous or threatening.  In these cases fear may just be the next step up from healthy respect.  It is healthy to respect dangerous situations such as tornadoes and earthquakes.  This respect encourages a person to make appropriate responses such as taking shelter.

    When fear is irrational or becomes so debilitating that it is effecting your life, it is time to seek help.  Hypnotherapy is an excellent way to deal with fear. A persistent illogical fear of a thing or specific situation is called a phobia.  Anxiety about social interactions or performances is called social phobia.  Inexplicable terror such as that experienced in panic attacks or chronic fearful distress called generalized anxiety disorder or GAD may also be experienced.  A well-trained hypnotherapist can be very valuable in helping people to deal with their fears.