A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder defined by a persistent and excessive fear of an object or situation. Phobias typically result in a rapid onset of fear and are present for more than six months. There are many people who are held back in some way by phobias and fears impacting upon them at home and in the workplace. What is the biggest fear of them all? Fear of being honest with yourself – that’s where it starts.

In this blog, I have highlighted some of the most common phobias and the benefits of using NLP approaches to help overcome them.

Aviophobia or Aerophobia

Fear of flying is called aviophobia or aerophobia. Fear of getting on a plane can be a heritage from childhood or it can emerge from adulthood as a result of various triggering factors.

Research also suggests that triggers such as bad weather, take-off, and turbulence tend to be the most anxiety-inducing aspects of flying. Travel delays, common when flying at popular times, may make the fear of flying worse.

When working with flying fears it is essential to understand specifically when and where the unwanted response starts. There are numerous examples, anything from receiving the flight tickets in an email, entering the airport, boarding the plane, taxiing down the runway or even when taking off. Flying fears can be overcome by using various NLP techniques designed to meet the clients needs whether its hypnosis or Time Line Therapy® in a series of focused sessions online or face to face.

Needle Phobia

I spent a significant amount of time during lockdowns working with people who wanted to overcome their unhelpful relationship with needles so they could access vaccinations. There are many variations from mild and manageable to extremely severe.

There are two versions:
Trypanophobia is an overwhelming, extreme fear of medical procedures that involve needles. It’s closely related to phobias of needles or sharp objects. Specifically, it is a fear of needles in a medical setting which causes many problems visiting surgeries, hospitals, dentists and health centres.
Needle phobia is an intense fear of needles (in any setting). Both causes problems accessing vaccinations, tests, samples and procedures.

Often the phobia stems back to an event during childhood where the person experienced discomfort, pain and or emotional trauma relating to having an injection.

It can be triggered in a variety of ways such as:
Visual eg seeing a syringe in a dish ready to be used, or even watching an advert involving a needle being used
Kinesthetic eg the sensation of the needle going in or withdrawing
Auditory such as hearing the phrase “needle” “sharp scratch”

There are various approaches we can employ with clients to help them overcome their phobia using NLP Coaching, Time Line Therapy®, Hypnosis or a combination of them all.


Misophonia is described as a condition in which individuals experience intense anger and disgust when they are confronted with sounds made by other human beings. In particular, sounds like chewing, lip-smacking or breathing may cause intense anger… Sufferers usually avoid misophonic situations or endure them with intense discomfort.

This can cause devastating impact, increasing pressure upon relationships, resulting in withdrawal and social isolation to avoid. Sounds including tapping, dog(s) barking, voices of certain people, clocks ticking can trigger a variety of responses.

The subject was featured on GMB. Take a look at this video on YouTube:

Agoraphobia – fear of open spaces

Did you know agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or that help wouldn’t be available if things go wrong?

Many people assume agoraphobia is simply a fear of open spaces, but it’s a more complex condition, it could be fear of crowds or leaving one’s own home. There was increased awareness of this phobia when lockdown rules were relaxed and homeworking continued.

Acrophobia – fear of heights

Acrophobia describes an intense fear of heights that can cause significant anxiety and panic. (Not to be confused with fear of driving over bridges – Gephyrophobia (although a similar approach using NLP can be used effectively.) Some research suggests acrophobia may be one of the most common phobias. It is a specific phobia, called space and motion discomfort.

Depending on the phobia’s severity, you may fear being on a high floor of a building as much as simply climbing a ladder. It’s extremely important that your acrophobia is professionally treated as quickly as possible, particularly if heights are a regular part of your life.

I remember an NLP student on the Coach Practitioner Training who shared her fear of heights to the group during training Time Line Therapy® (TLT). TLT is a content free process to use with clients on releasing emotional baggage comprising of the major negative emotions: anger, sadness, fear, hurt and guilt. There is also a specific approach to working with phobias which we used in the demonstration. When we finished for lunch the student went up several floors in the nearby shopping centre and took selfies of her leaning over the edge! Something she would never have done before the training.

This is another benefit of our training as all practitioners experience themselves what its like to be a client with real challenges to work on, as well as coach practitioner.

Fears who may manifest more often in the workplace

Atychiphobia is a fear of failure.

Atelophobia is a fear of not being good enough, making mistakes, imperfection also known as Imposter Syndrome.

Glossophobia is a fear of presenting.

It may not always be obvious to others, staff experiencing a fear at work may initially want to hide or cover it up due to misinterpretation as having a weakness, a lack of motivation or feeling ashamed. The key is being able and feeling able to talk about it. The culture of an organisation and its leadership throughout will be an important factor in staff sharing having such a fear.

Indicators of staff experiencing these fears may be frequent absence, being withdrawn in group discussions, inability to complete projects or a decline in performance. lets be clear, all of the above can be indicators of many other challenges so relationship and communication skills with staff are vital to making a positive supported start. NLP trained leaders are able to build deep rapport to create a safe environment, ask the right questions, read for congruence and get to root cause quickly before any action is taken.

Each of these fears can be overcome by a blended approach of  NLP Coaching, Time Line Therapy® and hypnosis if required.

Further support

For Practitioners who wish to add to their services, learning and techniques to help clients overcome fears and phobias, we have regular accredited NLP Training courses.

Check out our pages for more info or drop me an email

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Rod Hahlo

Rod is a Trainer of NLP and Personal Development Master Coach, based in Bolton, Lancashire.

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