Discuss the Relationship Between Stress Anxiety Phobias and Habits

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Module 5: Discuss the relationship between stress, anxiety, habits and phobias and describe how you would treat these issues with hypnotherapy (word count 2150)



This essay endeavours to define the aforementioned states, how they could be diagnosed in a clinical setting and will highlight how they interlink with each other. Appropriate treatment strategies with adherence to ethics will then be suggested to conclude the report.


Lazurus (1966) states that stress arises when an individual cannot cope with the demands being placed on them or threats to their wellbeing. According to numerous publications, including the Chrysalis module five course notes, stress is prevalent in our everyday lives and people are regularly exposed to it. A certain amount of stress is seen as productive in our lives (Greener 2002). Selye (1936) was the first to note somatic disorders as exhibiting the now recognised symptoms of stress i.e. decreased appetite, decreased muscular strength and endurance, and lowered levels of ambition or drive. Therefore, if stress can have such an impact on our physical (as well as mental) wellbeing, then it is an issue to be taken seriously. The age-old nature-nurture debate applies to the field of stress. Some people can cope with constant and extreme levels; others stumble at the slightest suggestion. These individual differences can be attributed to either genetic and/or environmental factors. For instance, parents who suffer high levels of stress tend to have offspring who display similar tendencies. This could be attributed also to a learnt environment where the offspring learns the behaviour from the parent. Twin studies have indicated that stress has a genetic factor and there is also a correlation between stress and a learnt environment so many modern day practitioners and theorists tend to view both arguments as valid, and take a middle ground stance. This argument is relevant to the hypnotherapist who treats stress and its related phenomena as the way we cope and perceive stress can be traced back to our childhood experiences. To understand the problems, one must look at the root cause and see what mechanisms have been formed to perceive stress. Greener (2002) states that hypnotherapy has a high success rate in uncovering repressed memories and in the alleviation of stress. Cannon (1929) first defined the sympathetic nervous system’s response to sudden events. The flight-fight stimulus response is an inherited survival mechanism that prepares our body for threat from danger by raising adrenaline and responding instantly by facing the threat directly, or fleeing from it. The flow of adrenaline into the blood stream prepares the muscles for instant action. This phenomenon is relevant to the hypnotherapist as sometimes an inappropriate experience causes this response. Bansal etc al (2010) have collated the many different levels of stress defined. These include; eustress (the “good” stress), acute stress (most common, associated with the recent or present), distress (alternations to routine), episodic acute stress (frequent exposure, ceaseless worry), chronic stress (serious, long term, can be present from childhood experiences, can also result in breakdown or suicide), hyperstress (often witnessed in professionals, pushed beyond boundaries to cope), hypostress (lethargy, uninspired), emotional stress (caused by change in personal life), illness stress, hormonal stress (shifts in hormones, more common in women), environmental stress (extreme weather, toxin exposure), limitation stress (always on the go, not enough rest) and post traumatic stress (witness to difficult or violent disaster, can be from years ago). Stress is also a cause and a product of anxiety.


Knight (2011) defines anxiety as a symptom of stress, a response to those initial...
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