Many people are frightened of cats, dogs, birds, snakes, and many other creatures. However, simply being afraid of something does not make it a phobia. For a fear to be classified as a phobia the fear must be irrational, and cause the person so much distress that they avoid all contact with that particular thing.
The fear may or may not be associated with a particular traumatic experience such as being bitten by a dog.
Hypnosis is very valuable in treating patients with animal phobia. In the security of the Consulting Room the patient is encouraged in imagination to gradually get used to the animal in question. During the treatment session hypnosis is used to counteract the fear of the animal and over a period of time the patient is encouraged to imagine increasingly more difficult situations in relationship to it. During the sessions the patient is taught self hypnosis and is recommended to practice this for ten minutes each day at home. In addition once the patient is comfortable with the situation in the Consulting Room, he/she is encouraged to face that situation in real life. Sometimes this may involve the therapist accompanying the patient and approaching the animal together.
Over a period of time patients are capable of making a complete recovery from their phobia, particularly if they are well motivated and persevere with the treatment programme.