In over twenty years of practicing NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and hypnosis in Atlanta, it has been rare that I have needed more than one session to help someone completely eliminate a fear of public speaking. The secret is simple.
A fear or phobia has a rigid structure. Interrupting or interfering with that structure thoroughly enough will cause the fear or phobia to vanish for good. So how does a hypnotherapist discover those structures?
It is just a matter of knowing which questions to ask. People who manage to scare themselves with the mere thought of public speaking are experts in creating their own fears. Usually, it only takes a few questions to determine those experts’ methods. Happily, the number of ways of creating those fears are limited.
The person either has to be mentally talking to him or herself or making scary internal pictures. Both of those are actually examples of unhelpful self hypnosis. When a person scares him or herself with a thought, they are creating state of hypnosis because they are responding to thoughts as if they are reality. For example, Sally Sue would think about doing a presentation at work the next week, and get scared even though she was safely peeling carrots in her kitchen at home.
Sally Sue kept telling herself that she was going to be making a fool of herself in front of people and be humiliated. And, she said it to herself repeatedly in a way that was very convincing. And, that is how Sally Sue managed to scare herself and feel anxious for days before every presentation.
Timid Tim mentally saw himself being humiliated in front of a large audience. Of course, he had to run that mental movie over and over again rapidly to ensure the maximum amount of fear. One of the great things about his movie was that there was no ending. Tim just saw the humiliation going on forever. He never finished his speech and went on with the rest of his day in his movie. That simple addition to his mental movie would certainly have helped him feel more comfortable.
To continue creating a phobia the brain has to send a series of signals down a specific set of nerve pathways the same way every time. So, the solution is to simply lead the person into a hypnotic state and have him or her run the mental movie or scary phrase backwards enough times to scramble the habit of using the phobic nervous pathways. It only takes a few minutes of practice to install the new thinking habit, and public speaking just stops being scary.
You may notice that there is no need to find a root cause, or drag up the memory of the first time the person was afraid to talk to a group. Nor, is there any need to explore issues of self esteem, or boosting self confidence. Once the thinking habits are reversed, the fear simply vanishes.
If you would like to learn more about the specifics of eliminating a phobia, there is an in depth description of how to get rid of a phobia or fear in Heart of the Mind: Engaging Your Inner Power to Change With Neuro-Linguistic Programming by Steve and Connierae Andreas. Although the book does not mention hypnosis specifically as a part of the phobia cure technique, it hypnosis is happening none the less. Doing all the steps of the technique will automatically cause someone to go into a very light trance state. And, that that is all the hypnosis needed to eliminate a fear of public speaking for good.