OCD, Fear & Phobia

How Obsessive Thinking and Phobias Impact Our Lives

Obsessive thinking and intense fears that we know are irrational are more than just inconvenient - they can impact every aspect of our lives and make it difficult to experience joy. You might feel embarrassed or ashamed about these thoughts or resulting behaviors, but trying to stop the obsessions often leads to greater distress as you engage in a vicious cycle — with only the repetitive behavior capable of relieving the anxiety. These behaviors can occupy a significant amount of time, and thus interfere with work, school, relationships, and daily living.

Our goal is not to try to talk you out of these thoughts, but to use hypnosis and integrative therapy methods to quiet the mind and help you find the peace that you so greatly desire. Most of us realize that these thoughts are disproportionately intense, but trying to quiet these thoughts on our own can seem overwhelming. By using hypnosis and integrative methods, we don’t just ‘hypnotize’ you, but instead, empower each person to learn the art of relaxation and creative problem solving in order to help them overcome their obsessive thoughts and fears.

Hypnotherapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Dr. Kimberly Fishbach and Dr. Laura Faiwiszewski are our expert in helping individuals who have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She uses a combination of CBT and DBT in conjunction with hypnosis and mindfulness to empower her clients to reduce avoidance, alleviate hyperarousal, change their mindset, and reclaim control over their lives. While incorporating creativity, humor, and empathy, their approaches guides clients in finding new ways of coping, creating a deeper sense of relaxation, and promoting creative ways to develop solutions. They tailor therapy to each client’s needs, personality, and learning style so they can focus on growth and confidently address the issues impacting their lives.

Dr. Fishbach and Dr. Faiwiszewski understand that OCD is complex and often very far from how it is portrayed on TV. Obsessions are often thematic, such as needing order and symmetry, fear of contamination, or worries about security. However, there are many that can seem bizarre and feel intrusive, impacting very rational people to feel obsessed with something they deep down know is not true. Despite trying to refrain from compulsive behaviors, many find themselves engaging in repetitive behaviors, rules, and rituals that bring temporary relief from these anxieties — like repeatedly checking that the stove is turned off or engaging in superstitious behaviors that make them feel secure.

Dr. Fishbach’s work with OCD and anxiety started with her internship at Neuropsychology and Complementary Medicine (NaCMeD) in Fredericksburg, VA, where she trained with a multidisciplinary team that specialized in clinical neuropsychology, health psychology, and psychiatry. She became proficient in holistic therapies, such as biofeedback and mindfulness-based therapies in both outpatient and inpatient settings. She went on to complete her postdoctoral fellowship position at NYCBT, where she developed proficiency in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) while also learning techniques to aid in obsessive thinking such as Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, Habit Reversal, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and mindfulness techniques. She offers a supportive and non-judgmental model to her treatment of OCD, understanding that obsessions are complicated and unique and impact each client in different ways.

Dr. Faiwiszewski uses techniques from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in the treatment of OCD. Consistent with ACT, Dr. Faiwiszewski believes that one’s intrusive thoughts or compulsions are not inherently problematic, but become so when one becomes overly fused with them, and when they interfere with one’s values. With defusion, the client will begin to see their intrusive thoughts for what they are, and will use strategies to help create distance with such thoughts, often in a fun and humorous way. Using mindfulness exercises and hypnosis, clients learn to be present with thoughts and urges, and learn how to accept them without fighting them, and can focus more on becoming the person that they want to be. The goal is less focused on reducing the frequency or intensity of the thoughts or behaviors, but rather to change one’s relationship to them, so that they become less distressing, and clients can better focus on what is truly important to them.

Hypnotherapy for Fears and Phobias

Dr. Karolina Pekala and Dr. Meghan Downey are experts in helping people overcome fears and phobias, such as fear of needles, fear of heights, fear of flying, medical phobias, and fears related to animals (e.g., snakes). They combine their expertise in CBT, DBT, Jungian Therapy and psychoanalysis to help their clients recognize and embrace their inner strengths when confronting fears and phobias, while using hypnosis as an impactful tool in helping them quiet their fears and visualize positive interactions with the things in which they fear the most.

Phobias can have significant negative impacts — for instance, missing out on family vacations or work conferences due to a fear of flying,or putting off necessary medical appointments because of a fear of needles. There can also be significant self-judgment and recrimination, when you keep telling yourself that it’s “all in your head.” More than a minor, irrational dislike, a phobia is an extreme fear of something that poses no real danger, but can feel extremely intense and real in the moment.

Common phobias include spiders, needles, and heights, but people can develop a phobia of nearly anything. The mere thought of the phobic situation or object might leave you feeling anxious and terrified. You might feel a tightness in your chest, have hot or cold flashes, feel dizzy or sick to your stomach, or have difficulty breathing.

Dr. Karolina Pekala is our expert in helping clients with medical phobias. With a focus on how unconscious processes influence feelings and complex behaviors, Dr. Pekala uses hypnosis to help her clients access the unconscious in a positive way, so that they may uncover and harness their inner strengths. She combines hypnosis with other therapy modalities, including Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), to help her clients achieve their goals in releasing their phobias and improving their lives. Her areas of expertise include, but are not limited to, phobia such as animal phobias, fear of needles, and other medical phobia.

Dr. Meghan Downey takes an approach that is informed by Jungian philosophies, positive psychology, and existential psychology to focus on her clients’ individual needs, healing, and growth. She integrates hypnosis with mindfulness and other specialized techniques — such as DBT, CBT, and ACT — with a goal of improving her clients’ lives and alleviating suffering. Dr. Downey’s holistic focus helps clients gain insight into their unconscious patterns and explore the origins of their behavior, so they can create and sustain meaningful relationships and emotional wellbeing. Her areas of expertise include animal and medical phobia, as well as issues such as fear of flying or fear of driving.

Hypnotherapy for OCD: Can it Help?
Rapid Therapy of Compulsion by Flooding with Hypnosis (Scrignar, 2011)
Hypnosis in the Therapy of Phobias (McGuinness, 1984)

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