The fear factor

Holistic therapist, Sue Bayliss, at the Norwich Wellbeing Centre. Picture: Denise Bradley

Holistic therapist, Sue Bayliss, at the Norwich Wellbeing Centre. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

Whether you are terrified of snakes or crippled by anxiety when you get on a plane, most of us have a fear of something. But rather than accepting a phobia as an inevitable part of every day life, Norwich therapist Sue Bayliss says there are plenty of ways to tackle your anxieties.

“People think they can’t be helped and many just accept it, but they can get worse and have a really detrimental impact on how people live their lives,” says Sue. “People are often really surprised when I say phobias can usually be cured in one or two sessions, but I have treated people with all sorts of phobias, some of which are very unusual.”

Sue uses a combination of therapies to treat patients’ anxieties, including neuro-linguistic programming and eye movement neurointegration training. A lot of her work focuses on the connection between the mind and body and physiology, using breathing and visualisation techniques.

While some understand what has triggered their fear, many have no idea how it started. “The phobia might be a result of some sort of obvious trauma, sometimes though you have no idea of why you are frightened of something. For me it is a bit like detective work. It could be something that happened in childhood that seemed unimportant at the time and you have just buried away. You need to bring that to the surface.”

She says most people believe they will grow out of phobias, but in many cases they just get worse.

“The more you run any circuit in your brain, the more the brain is ready to cooperate and create those same responses,” she adds.

She has dealt with many different phobias but one of the most common is fear of flying which she breaks down into three elements – claustrophobia, fear of crashing and loss of control.

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“There are many different techniques, but one coping mechanism is to teach people to imagine they are the pilot. If they start to feel anxious during a flight, it can really help to imagine what the pilots are doing. You might be scared, but if you imagine them in the cockpit, not panicking, having a cup of tea and chatting and just going through their everyday tasks, it can help you normalise it.”

She says being open about your phobia can also really help.

“One of my younger patients has a problem with anything squeamish and she didn’t want to go to school. If she was in class and they were talking about something particularly gory, perhaps in history, or biology, it was terrible for her, and on top of that was the worry of showing this fear in front of classmates, heightening the anxiety.

“People often put themselves under social pressure by not admitting to their fear, covering it up only adds to it.”

For more information about Sue’s work and phobia clinics,