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Faced with the problem of treating multiple people with phobias, Richard Bandler (1985) modelled a group of ex-phobics who had successfully overcome their problems. In almost every case, he found that those who had overcome their problem had learned to dissociate from the feared object.
The Fast Phobia – One Trial Learning
After learning that recovered phobics dissociated from the feared object, Richard Bandler designed a set of procedures designed to change the perception of the object or situation. He began by having the client remember two neutral, safe places, one from before the event that created the phobia and another from a more recent time when she was undisturbed by the phobia (a neutral, non-phobic situation).
He continued by confirming that the phobia was present by having the client imagine that object or situation just enough so that the therapist could observe changes in their physiology that signalled the onset of fear (increased breath and pulse rates, changes in posture and skin colour, pupil dilation, lip moisture and tension, etc.). Having confirmed the onset of these symptoms, the therapist was to stop the response by changing the subject, distracting the patient or otherwise breaking the state.
The “Fast Phobia Cure” is so powerful, and so effective it re-wrote the history on “One Trial Learning”. Before this time, it was considered one trial learning, that single one event that anchored the whole of the persons chemical response to the fear, was permanent. Through this process – we have taken people past the phobic response to the place where the “thing” that used to trigger the fear simply does not do so, any longer.
The difference between a Phobia and Anxiety? Phobia’s become anchored through the one intense experience where all the neurology is involved and triggered and the moment is forever held fast in the clients experience and memory. Anxiety is the slow build up over time of continued stress and anxiety that result in an almost “adrenal burn-out” where it takes no real event to feel anxiety, or a feeling of anxiousness, it’s just there all the time.
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