Jack* wasn’t by any means the first groom I’d seen in the run up to a wedding. Unlike most however he didn’t want me to help him overcome any nerves around his speech – what was worrying Jack was the bride-to-be’s ultimatum. “She’s told me to get these gaps in my teeth sorted out for the photographs” he told me “and I know I should but I’m terrified of the dentist. It’s always horrible.”
He’d arranged a dentist’s appointment some time ago, and now it was two weeks away. “Have I left it too late for hypnotherapy for dentistry fear?” he asked me, clearly at the end of his tether. “No” I said “but we’ve both got to put a fair bit of work in before your appointment.”
The first thing was to reflect back to Jack some of his language – “It’s never okay”, “It’s always really, really horrible”, “There’s nothing that isn’t painful”. His thinking was polarised, and this was making any problem he had around the dentist much worse. He was telling himself all the time that it would be painful, because what else could it be if it there was never anything pleasant about it?
I really pushed Jack on his thinking, and got him to think of and accept other situations and sensations that weren’t pleasant without being horrible. I also challenged him around his extreme thinking of “always or never”, and using the new idea for him that it’s possible for things to be okay instead of horrible, got him to accept that it wasn’t a case of “always or never” at the dentist.
Jack was still left with some anxiety around the visit to the dentist, and he felt that he should be rid of all of it. I explained that most people don’t actively look forward to visiting the dentist, and that wanting to only have positive feelings about it wasn’t really realistic. Jack had been telling himself that any anxiety was bad and learning to accept it was half the battle. That, and a technique I taught him to feel calm whenever he needed to, were enough to get him to the dentists – and more importantly down the aisle.
*Jack’s real identity has been protected, and he is happy to share his story of hypnotherapy for dentistry fear.