A Guide to Overcoming Phobias

Experienced hypnotherapist Faith Waude DHP has treated thousands of people for issues such as fears and phobias. Writing exclusively for Psychologist World, Faith takes us through the psychological techniques you can employ to self-help yourself to overcome those fears forever…

First, to define a phobia…

There are literally thousands of different kinds of phobia; practically all of them have been given names, ranging from Agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) to Xenophobia. (Fear of strangers or foreigners), it would take a whole volume to even attempt to list them all.

A Roman writer named Celsius first used the word phobia to describe ‘morbid fears’ and since then that name has stuck, even being used by William Shakespeare.

Many people have phobias without even realizing it – people who blush furiously when facing a situation where they feel they are being looked at, probably have no idea that they are suffering from scopophobia (a fear of being stared at) whilst another person who is actually afraid of blushing could be said to have ereuthophobia (a fear of blushing).

Queen Elizabeth I had a fear of having a rose anywhere near her, but it is doubtful that she’d ever heard of the term anthophobia and King Edward VII’s fear of the number thirteen affected him so much that he could not bear to be at a table where there were thirteen people present.

Although each phobia is given a different name and all seem unique to the person suffering this extreme fear, they are actually a symbolic outward expression of internal anxiety – a free floating, nameless, formless thing that is within themselves but outside of their own control.

This free floating anxiety attaches itself to something within the individual’s environment in order for them to make sense of it. It is far easier to attach an anxiety to, for example, a fear of spiders, than it is to try to understand what these internal conflicts represent and to then deal with them. In a way, phobias are more common in intelligent people as it takes a degree of intellect for a person to project these free floating anxieties outside him or herself.

The gain to the intellect is that it is far easier to project these unwanted feelings onto something that they can understand and so avoid, rather than try to work out what it is that is causing the anxiety.

Should the sufferer avoid whatever it is that represents his phobia (e.g. thunderstorms) and still feel bouts of anxiety, then his phobia will escalate at an alarming rate and he or she could develop numerous other fears and phobias, such as fear of electricity, fear of sudden, loud noises, fear of leaving the home, etc. until he or she has a long list of phobias.

 

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Dream Interpretation: Why Do We Dream?

The brain receives stimuli from many different sources
all day long. There are far too many stimuli for it to
process. The mind prioritizes the stimuli and makes you
aware of those that need immediate attention (the crying
baby, the out-of-control car, your boss’ request) so that you
may act accordingly.

The stimuli that you are not consciously aware of are
nevertheless noted by the brain, but on a subconscious level
(the drip of the bathroom water faucet, the remark by a
coworker at the water cooler while you were on the
telephone.)

Furthermore, you feel emotions all day. Some you
acknowledge and act on (you say thank you and smile when
you are complimented.) Some you repress or do not allow
yourself to act on (you don’t punch your boss in the nose
when he tells you the report you worked on for a week is no
longer needed.)

Traumatic experiences occur that you face (you call the
police) or if it too painful, you deny them happening and
send them deep into your subconscious (repression.)

In addition to all these emotions and stimuli the brain
must process daily, it also keeps your body functioning; it
remembers names and faces; it allows you to talk and walk
and chew gum (sometimes all at the same time); and
performs numerous other activities that you take for
granted.

You must admit — that’s a lot to do. At night, when
your body must rest, the mind continues working. When no
longer called upon to type letters and do the grocery
shopping, the brain concentrates on processing all of those
subconscious stimuli and emotions (while still maintaining
body temperature and breathing, etc.)

This is why we dream. Only you are not awake to
receive the signals at a conscious level — you can not hear
or see or touch (at a conscious level) while you are sleeping.
The brain must resort to other means to get the signals
through to your conscious mind. This is why we dream the
way we do.

The mind uses everything at its disposal (which is
everything it has ever been exposed to) to get the message
across. Simply put, dreaming is the minds way of
processing all of the stimuli and emotions it has received
during the day or repressed over time, so that you may act
on them.

All in all, it’s a pretty neat system. But unless you are
remembering and making sense of your dreams, you are
missing out on countless opportunities to learn about
yourself and experience life to its fullest.

Even though we’ve addressed it before, it bears
repeating. Why should you try and remember your dreams?

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Dream Interpretation Guide

Psychologist World’s comprehensive online guide offers a complete reference to help you to understand the subconscious meanings behind you and your family’s dreams and nightmares, and understand their relevance to your life:

What will you learn?

Dream interpretation

What do your dreams say about your life? Are they mere concoctions of the imagination, or do the content of your dreams relate, either directly or metaphorically, to aspects of your life? What is your sub-conscious trying to say about your internal repressed feelings towards the situations in your life? Our online guide How to Interpret Your Dreams offers expert psychoanalysis for the dreams experienced by millions of us each night, that we do not realise have a deeper meaning than a novice might recognise.

Understand the Meanings of Your Dreams

How to Interpret your Dreams offers all the information you need to start interpreting your dreams and understand the dreams and nightmares you’ve experienced in the past:

  • Expert theories on dreams and why we dream

    Learn the background that the past 120 years of psychoanalysis have provided us with regarding dream processes and the reason for dreaming.

  • Methods you can use to recall your dreams

    Many of us find it difficult to remember every dream we experience, recalling just a few poignant dreams that trouble us. Discover the techniques you can use to recall more of your dreams, and in doing so, gain a fuller understanding of your subconscious.

  • Particular image dreams

    Why we dream about particular issues, and what this means according to psychoanalytic techniques.

Benefit from over a century of psychoanalytic research

How to Interpret your Dreams takes into account of the research of leading experts in the field of dream analysis to enable you to easily reference the dreams that you, your family and friends recall. Freud practised psychoanalysis and published many case histories such as Schreber, and believed that, given the relevance many people can see in dreams, the content of our dreams contain the expression of our subconscious, and used hypnosis to uncover the underlying subconscious thoughts of patient in order to reveal the problems in their lives that they didn’t actually realise existed.


Dreams…are not meaningless…they are a completely valid psychological phenomenon, the fulfilment of wishes… constructed through highly complicated  intellectual activity.
– Psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud

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Dream Interpretation: Interpreting Your Dreams

Interpreting your dreams can be a lot of fun. As we’ve
said, it can also give you valuable insight. Dreams are like
coded messages from your unconscious mind. When you
decode them, you gain access to a wealth of intuitive
wisdom.

Remember that only you can interpret your dreams.
Many people have published “Dream Dictionaries” that
describe what each part of the dream symbolizes. Actually,
the same dream can have infinite meanings, depending on
the person who dreamed it. The important thing is, what
does it mean to YOU?

Interpreting dreams isn’t something you can pick up
and become an expert at right away. It takes time and
practice. First, keep the following things in mind:

• Dreams are the reaction of the inner self to daytime
activity and often show the way out of the dilemma. So
relate them to current activity, because dreams may be
retrospective as well as prospective.

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• Observe carefully recurrent dreams, as well as the
serially progressive ones. These often illustrate
progress or failure.

• Be practical in your interpretations. Always look first for
a lesson. What have you refused to face or been
ignoring?

• Dreams come to guide and help, not to amuse. They
direct your attention to errors of omission and
commission and offer encouragement for right
endeavors. They also give us the opportunity to pray
for others and to help them bear their burdens.

• Look for past-life experiences in your dreams. These
manifest themselves not only in color, but in the proper
costume and setting of their period. They come to warn
you against repeating the same old mistakes; to
explain your relationship and reactions to certain
people and places; to reduce your confusions; to
enable you to better understand life.

• Dreams that are unchanged through the years indicate
the dreamer’s resistance to change.
The difficulty most people have with interpreting their
own dreams is that they aren’t objective enough. Their
familiarity with the people and places in their dreams
obscures the dreams meaning. Experts have come up with
the “I AM and I NEED” formula, devised to overcome this.

Here’s how it works.

Once you have your dream written on paper, get two
different colored pens. Using one color, underline every
negative word or phrase in the dream which indicates
limitation, disrespect, containment, avoidance or damage.

Using the other color, underline every positive word or
phrase. You now make two lists. List the negative words and
phrases under a column titled I AM. List the positive words

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and phrases under a column titled I NEED. You are almost
ready to interpret your dream.
Determine the subject matter of the dream. The
location where the dream takes place is one of the best
methods for doing this. When you have determined the
subject matter take each of the phrases or words in the ‘I
AM’ column and fit them into the following sentence.
When it comes to my (subject matter) I AM (phrase or
keyword)

Change the phrase or keyword slightly to force the
sentence to make sense. If you cannot determine the
subject matter apply the keywords to yourself in general.

This exercise tells you how you feel or react to the subject
matter of the dream. When you have done this read through
the ‘I NEED’ column to learn what you must do to correct
the problem. To get the meaning put each of the phrases or
keywords into the sentence,
When it comes to my (subject matter) I NEED (phrase
or keyword)

Let’s take an example. Using the sentence ‘The dead
woman lay on the cold hard slab’. The negative keywords
are; dead, cold and hard. Women, in dreams, can represent
emotions so in this case the sentences constructed would be
When it comes to my emotions I am dead.
When it comes to my emotions I am cold.
When it comes to my emotions I am hard.

The meaning is obvious. With analyzing just one
sentence from a dream we have learned a lot about the
dreamer. Using this technique you now have all of the
information you need to start interpreting your dreams.

However it takes practice to be able to apply what you have
learned. Be patient with your efforts.
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Not all dream interpretations will be that cut and dried,
but it is a way to remain objective when you are analyzing
what your dreams mean and how best to put the messages
they are conveying to good use in your life.

Keep in mind that Most dreams are * NOT *
precognitive, and once one learns the subtle differences
between a precognitive dream versus a regular dream, they
are easily discernable and will put your mind at ease.

The first thing everyone should consider is the typical
universal symbology of the dream images. For instance,
death symbolizes the end of something that’s ready for
change, and a new beginning. Most people start out highly
resistive to changes of any sort, and see any upcoming
change in their life as something foreboding and scary.

Death dreams are usually about change.
The symbols and what they represent is the most
fascinating part of dream interpretation. There are literally
hundreds of them. We don’t have the space to address ALL
of them, but we will touch on some of the most recurring
themes in dreams as well as the symbols of those dreams
and what they mean.

 

 

psychologistworld

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Bodity scan meditation

Body Scan Meditation

When doing this meditation, remember that, as always, there’s no need to strive to make anything happen. Simply observe what you find and practice letting things be for a while. When something uncomfortable grabs your attention, like pain or an itch, observe it first and see if it changes. If you find you need to address it, that’s fine. Noticing that, pause and make an adjustment. In this way, the body scan provides an opportunity to practice responsiveness.

Begin by lying down or sitting in a comfortable chair. If lying down, let your arms and legs relax and fall to the sides; if seated, find a balanced and stable position.

Take a few moments to notice sensations of breathing.

Expect your mind to wander, and when it does, return your attention to your feet without judging yourself or giving yourself a hard time.

Draw your attention to your feet. Notice the pressure of your feet against the floor or bed, the temperature, comfort or discomfort, itches, or anything else. Expect your mind to wander, and when it does, return your attention to your feet without judging yourself or giving yourself a hard time. Let your attention rest with your feet in this way for a few minutes.

Move attention to your lower legs. You might feel the touch of clothing or a blanket, and you might feel nothing at all. Sustain your attention without rigidly exhausting yourself. Whatever you experience, that’s what you’re supposed to feel right now.

After a few minutes, shift attention to your upper legs, observing them in the some way

Pacing yourself turn this some kind of attention to your abdomen and then to your chest. Notice physical sensations, such as breathing, internal feelings like hunger or fullness, and the resonance of any emotions—physical manifestations of happiness, sadness, tension, anger, feeling open or closed, and so on.

Continue turning attention to the rest of your body in the some way, spending several minutes each on your bock, then your hands, then your arms. Then bring attention to your neck and shoulders, releasing tension when you’re able without fighting what remains.

Finally, bring attention to your face and head, noticing expressions and reflections of emotions that occur around your mouth and eyes in particular.

Whether you feel relaxed or tense, restless or invigorated, pause before concluding. Take a moment of stillness, and then, with intention, choose when to move on with your day.

NOTE: The instructions above are intended for your own use, with a child’s body scan available separately below.

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Emotional support animals offer companionship, comfort

Saturday, July 18, 2015 by: Antonia

(NaturalNews) While most people have heard of service training dogs, the notion of an “emotional support animal” (or ESA) is somewhat new to the base of cultural knowledge. Recently, the awareness of the many benefits of these pets is spreading fast.

Last November, the existence of emotional support animals came blasting into international headlines when a woman and her emotional support pig were asked to disembark from a U.S. Airways flight at Bradley International Airport. Presumably, the woman could not “control” her pet, according to the airline.

Jokes abounded in the wake of this incident. However, the value of the therapeutic support of these “furry friends” is inestimable.

If you are interested in the benefits of having an emotional support animal due to personal emotional distress or anxiety disorders, read on for the low-down.

Important definitions

  1. Service dog: According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a “service dog” is defined as “Any animal trained to do work for or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.”
  2. Emotional support animal: A dog or other common domestic animal that provides therapeutic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life.
  3. Mental health service dog: A category of service dog that is individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a mental impairment that rises to the level of a disability.
  4. Medical detection dog: Trained to assist individuals who manage complex medical conditions on a day-to-day basis.

Medical detection dogs can even be trained to detect increased levels of cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone,” in those who suffer from elevated levels of stress, for instance, children with autism, attention deficit disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder.

Multiple benefits of emotional support animals

If a doctor determines that you have a disabling mental condition that could be helped with the companionship and attention of an emotional support animal, they can actually prescribe an ESA.

In order to qualify, a person must be able to prove limitations on life activities because of their condition.

As opposed to the other kinds of support dogs and animals described above, an ESA requires little training, other than that they be trained to be considered well-behaved. For example, they must be toilet trained and have no habits that would disturb others in the vicinity.

There are numerous studies demonstrating the health benefits for those with pets, whether they are officially an ESA or not.

Examples of proven health benefits include:

  • lower cholesterol
  • lower blood pressure
  • lower triglyceride
  • reduced stress levels
  • reduced feelings of loneliness
  • better mental health
  • increased activity
  • more opportunities for exercise
  • more time spent outdoors (for dog owners especially)
  • more opportunities for socialization

How you can learn more about qualifying for an ESA

If you believe that you or a loved one could benefit from having an emotional support animal, there are many resources for you to investigate. Here are some of the best places for information and help:

  • servicedogcentral.org
  • nsarco.com
  • emotionalsupportpet.com

Sources:

www.courant.com

www.ada.gov

servicedogcentral.org

medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk

www.naturalnews.com

www.petpartners.org

About the author:
A science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition, Antonia has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/050445_service_dogs_emotional_support_pets.html#ixzz4XtnGNwGy

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6 Proven Ways to Recover From Stress

Stress, whether large and small, is a fact of life. At one point or another, we may face financial stress, the stresses of aging(our own or our parents’), loneliness, health concerns, or worries about getting into college or finding a job afterwards. You may have too much to do in too little time or face stressful conflicts in your personal relationships or parenting role. You may have gone through a breakup or lost somebody close to you. On a daily basis, you may face traffic, a messy house, long hours at work or childcare, or witness terrorism on the news.

Whatever your stress, you need coping tools. Following are six proven ways to reduce stress or recover more quickly.

1. Slow Things Down 

Our brains and bodies were designed to face acute stressors and then have a period of recovery to relax, eat, sleep, or procreate before facing the next one. Today we often don’t get that period of rest and recovery. The next best thing is to take 5- or 10-minute mental breaks throughout the day to check in with yourself and notice any signs of tension in your body or of worry in your mind. Take some deep breaths and ask yourself what you need or what is the wisest thing to do right now, and then move forward more mindfully. This is an easy and quick way to bring mindfulness into your life. If it works for you, consider learning to meditate; there are a variety of apps with scripts to help you. Research shows that mindfulness interventions can lower your blood pressure and help your brain deal with stress more effectively.

2. Exercise

Studies show that aerobic exercise (like walking or running) has many stress-relieving benefits. It can improve your mood, help you sleep better, improve your focus and mental alertness, and make you feel fitter and more confident. It may even help your brain release dopamine or endogenous opiates that cause a temporary “runners high,” but that only happens occasionally, according to research. Exercise can also lower your blood pressure and help you maintain your weight, thus combating the effects of chronic stress on health. When you are chronically stressed, your cells can age quicker, as shown by shorter brain telomeres. However, moderate exercise several times a week can protect you from this effect.

3. Get in the Green 

If you walk outside in green spaces, or even look at pictures of nature scenes, you may be able to increase your resilience to stress. A recent study by Stanford researchers showed that walking in green campus parkland reduced anxiety and worry more than walking on a busy street and had cognitive benefits as well. In another study, students were stressed by having to take a math test and getting feedback (even if not accurate) that they were performing below average. After the stressor, researchers assigned participants to one of two groups that either saw pictures of empty pathways and trees or pictures of urban scenes with cars and people. Those who saw the pictures of trees had faster cardiovascular recovery from stress (e.g., heart rate slowed down faster).

4. Smile 

A recent study by Tara Kraft and Sarah Preston at the University of Kansas showed that smiling—even if they’re fake smiles—can help your body resist stress. In this clever study, the researchers used chopsticks to arrange subjects’ mouths into either (fake) smiles or neutral expressions. Half the subjects in the smile group did not know they were smiling. The other half were told to smile and therefore had genuine smiles (which involve moving both eye muscles and mouth muscles). But both smiling groups had lower heart rate than the neutral group after performing a stressful task. The group with genuine smiles had the lowest heart rate overall; the fake smile group had less of a drop in positive mood during the stressor. The researchers suggest that moving your facial muscles sends a message to your brain that can influence your mood.

5. Stand Upright

Do you remember your mother telling you to stand up straight when you were little? Well it turns out that standing in an upright pose actually helps you perform better under stress, as compared to slouching. In another clever recent study, published in the journal Health Psychology, researchers assigned people to either stand upright or slouch. The researchers held the subjects in position with physiotherapy tape (after giving them a cover story). Both groups then had to do a stressful speech task. The upright group performed better and had less fear and more positive mood, compared to the slouchers. They were also less self-conscious. So the next time you’re under stress, remember to stand tall.

6. Try to See Your Stress as a Challenge 

A study by Harvard and Yale researchers shows that your attitude toward stress matters and that people can learn more positive attitudes. The researchers showed one of two brief video clips to managers at a large, multinational banking firm, then measured their mood and work performance in subsequent weeks. These managers had high-pressure jobs with quotas they had to meet. One group saw a clip showing the negative effects of stress while the other group saw a clip about seeing stress as a positive challenge. The group that saw the clip about the positive aspects of stress actually felt less stressed—they engaged more at work and were happier and healthier. They also reported a 23% decrease in stress-related physical symptoms (like backache) compared to the group whose members saw the negative video. So try to see your stressors as challenges that you can learn from (even if it’s just learning to tolerate stress).

Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. is a practicing psychologist in Mill Valley, California, and former Professor of Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology. She is an expert on relationships, stress, and mindfulness. She provides workshops, speaking engagements and psychotherapy for individuals and couples. She regularly appears on radio shows, and as an expert in national media. She also does long-distance coachingvia the internet. She is the author of The Stress-Proof Brain (New Harbinger) now on sale at Amazon.

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Can Mindfulness Make Your Relationship Happier?

How Does Being More Mindful improve Our Relationships?

Eight weeks of mindfulness training have been shown to change the brain in many positive ways. Mindfulness makes us more compassionate and better able to stop destructive impulsive behavior. It can help us resolve conflict, rather than exacerbating it and be less reactive to relationship and life stressors.

Mindfulness creates specific changes the brain in ways that are likely to make us better relationship partners.

Mindfulness makes the amygdala (the brain’s threat detection and alarm center) less powerful and increases the connectivity between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex —the brain’s executive center.  This helps us to calm down anger and fear so we don’t get stuck in escalating cycles of negativity. We may be less likely to see our partners’ behavior as threats to our wellbeing. This can help us move from defensive self-protection to protecting the relationship. With a less anxious brain, we are also less likely to let stresses from other areas of life (like work, parenting, or finances) infect our attitudes and behavior towards our partner. and create downward spirals.

Mindfulness strengthens the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a part of the brain associated with self-perception, regulation of attention, emotions and impulses. The ACC is also involved in cognitive flexibility or the ability to see problems from a different perspective. The ACC helps you adapt and change rather than getting stuck in fixed views of yourself and your partner. Many couples get stuck in negative cycles that result from childhood attachment insecurities and past traumas. Romantic relationships are especially likely to trigger our insecurities and distrust. Mindfulness can help us calm down and stop automatic negative behaviors like trying to control our partner or avoiding intimacy. It can make us more able to adapt and change ourselves and our relationships as we are faced with new life and personal challenges.

Mindfulness also creates positive changes in the insula, an area associated with emotional awareness and empathy.  With a more functional insula, we are more able to be aware of our own and our partner’s feelings. This can lead to greater compassion for both ourselves and our partners. Mindfulness promotes an open, accepting attitude towards our partners. If we find ourselves ruminating about their flaws, we can change tracks and focus on their positive attributes. When we understand our partners’ behavior in the context of their life circumstances (current and past), we are more likely to understand and forgive negative behaviors and expressions. Greater awareness of our own emotions also makes it less likely that irritability or stress will “leak out” and affect the way we interact with our partners.

So if you want to build more secure attachment or be more successful in love, try learning mindfulness along with your partner!

Resources

Mindfully in Love:  A Meta-Analysis of the Association Between Mindfulness and Relationship Satisfaction by Julianne McGill, Francesca Adler-Baeder, and Priscilla Rodriguez  (Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, February 2016)

Rewire Your Brain for Love: Creating Vibrant Relationships Using the Science of Mindfulness by Marsha Lucas (Hay House, 2013).

Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. is a practicing psychologist in Mill Valley, California, and former Professor of Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology. She is an expert on relationships, stress, and mindfulness. Dr. Greenberg provides workshops, speaking engagements and psychotherapy for individuals and couples. She regularly appears on radio shows, and as an expert in national media. She also does long-distance coaching via the internet. She is the author of The Stress-Proof Brain (due out in January 2017 from New Harbinger).

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Screening Tests for ADHD and ADD

http://counsellingresource.com/quizzes/adhd-testing/

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Testing for Bipolar Disorder and Mania

http://counsellingresource.com/quizzes/bipolar-testing/

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