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This man can cure your phobias and help you face your most terrifying fears

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We’re all scared of something. Be it snakes, spiders, flights or heights, the idea of finally facing our fears is an anxiety-inducing thought and can feel impossible.

However, Christopher Paul Jones, also known as ‘The Breakthrough Expert’ is a therapist who specialises in allowing people to let go of their anxieties and is so good at it that after curing his own phobia of flying, he was able to go on a sight-seeing flight through the Pyrenees - strapped to the outside of a helicopter.

Based in Harley Street, London, Christopher has worked with clients from across the globe including famous faces such as Suki Waterhouse and Poppy Jamie.

How exactly are phobias created, and what triggers them?

“A phobia’s basically an irrational fear,” Christopher begins to explain.

“It gets created by an event or series of events in the past. So a simple example would be a turbulent flight when you were young; the brain thinks ‘physical danger - avoid’, and it creates a link. So if you experience that event again in the future, your brain remembers that past event and tells you to avoid it. It tells you its dangerous and that its a risk.

“The music that’s playing while you kiss the love of your life - you could play that tune and you’d be back there. If the love of your life breaks up with you and that tune’s playing in the background five years later, say it comes on the radio - you would be [upset]. We make links all the time and that’s what happens with a phobia. You see that spider, or snake, or flight and that becomes cemented in your mind.”

Some of the most common phobias are arachnophobia (spiders), ophidiophobia (snakes), glossophobia (public speaking), claustrophobia (confined spaces), emetophobia (vomiting), aerophobia (flying) and acrophobia (heights).

“The treatment is pretty much the same. A simplified version of this is, if you see that [phobia] and react, or hear about that phobia and react and its scary, if you scramble those images… so a simple example would be: if you think about a plane taking off now, how would it be if you played it with some Benny Hill music or comedy circus music? If you scramble those images and those feelings and those sounds in such a way to make it humorous or relaxing, and you can track that back to the point the phobia was first created and play with those images, it takes out the emotional charge of the phobia.”

Most people would assume that the best way to get over a phobia is to just get out there and face it. I explained to Christopher about my own phobia of masks, clowns and waxworks and asked whether I should simply take myself along to a circus or fancy dress party (or even worse in my eyes, step outside on Halloween) - but much to my relief, he told me I don’t have to do that just yet. 

“That’s called exposure therapy. My issue with exposure therapy is that you need to do it in a way that’s graduate. If you go too much, too soon with that you’ll actually just cement the phobia because you’re terrified and it becomes worse, not better.

“You DO need to stretch your comfort zone which is why changing your perceptions and scrambling it first is important. Then, once the emotional charge is gone or lessened, then you can get out there and expose yourself to it. I’d say face your fears, definitely. If it’s a fear - yes. If it’s a phobia, you need to do something first as it can make it worse.”

Panic attacks are a common result of overwhelming anxiety and fear. Also specialised in treating this in patients, Chris gives some solid advice on what to do should you feel yourself slipping into a panic attack or how to stop one that’s already started:

“They key is you’ve got to think, what meaning are you giving it? In order to be overwhelmed, you have to be thinking in a certain way. You have to be picturing something in your mind, saying something in your head. So the key really is just figure what sets you off - ‘what is it that I’m focusing on for me to get into this state of panic?’ and then when you can target that it’s a lot easier to change it when you realise whats going on underneath the surface in the unconscious mind.

“In terms of stopping that, breathe through your diaphragm. Instead of breathing in your lungs, basically take a deep breath in through your nose and fill your stomach with air, hold for five seconds and then breathe out for five seconds. If you regulate your breathing, it lessens. The thing about panic attacks is it’s a focus on the ‘oh my gosh, I’m panicking’ and so you panic more, you become short of breath and then you become more panicked and it's a downward spiral.”

It just goes to show that peace of mind is only a thought away.

More information is available on Christopher’s website and YouTube channel.

 

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