In the last NLP blog we talked about the classic psychological technique of flooding. In this NLP blog we will continue talking about dealing with phobias – this time with the classic technique of progressive desensitization – not an NLP technique, but a well practiced psychotherapeutic technique for working with phobias. I first learned this back in about 1990 when I was first training as a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, where this was one of the main techniques we were taught for dealing with phobias. Together with the NLP fast phobia technique, it is a valuable tool for any therapist, and much more pleasant than flooding!
Basically it involves exposing the client to things that they are progressively more frightened about. So if it was a fear of heights, you would find the thing that the client was most frightened of, and then the thing that they are least frightened of and then make a hierarchy of things that are progressively more and more frightening.
So for heights, say the thing they were most afraid of is being on the top floor of a high building, you would then find out what they are least afraid of, for example standing on a stool. You then would make a list of things they are progressively more afraid of, for example standing on a table, standing on a small ladder, then a bigger ladder etc.
You would then get the person to start with the thing they are least afraid of and stay there as you talk with them and help them relax. After a little while they would feel fine doing that and you would progress to the next thing on the list, which you would get them to continue until they felt comfortable. You then continue with each step on the list until they could work up to the thing they are most afraid of, which is often a surprisingly short time.
In the nest NLP blog we will explore some more details about the NLP fast phobia technique.