John Teleska, M.Ed., NBCCH

Integrative Medicine Department, Clifton Springs Hospital &
Private Practice, Pittsford, NY (near Rochester)

Hypnosis for Relief from Anxiety and Phobias

About John Teleska's practice

About John Teleska

Interview w/ Teleska

Teleska's hypno blog

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Endorsements by colleagues

About hypnotherapy

What is hypnosis?

"Unconscious" means...?

What's it good for?

What will I experience?

How many sessions?

About hypnotic ability

Hypnosis for...

...relief from anxiety
       fears, and phobias

...pain relief

...migraine relief

...birth & comfort

...recovering from trauma
       (including sexual abuse)

...people with cancer

Evidence-based medical uses of hypnosis

Articles by John Teleska

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Engaging hypnotic ability

Modern hypnotherapy

Client comments

Client stories

Selected bibliographies

Uses of hypnosis

Ericksonian hypnotherapy

Pain relief

Relief from migraines

Hypnosis and birth

About Milton Erickson

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"I feel like my brain has gotten less dramatic… like things that happen are just what is... not such a big deal. My old normal level of anxiety is just less all the time, now."

— client, after gaining relief from her old habitual anxiety

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. But for some people anxiety involves more than temporary worry or fear. The anxiety may be intense, not go away, and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as travel, socializing, work or school performance, and relationships.

Symptoms of excessive and persistent anxiety

* Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
* Being easily fatigued
* Difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank
* Irritability
* Muscle tension
* Difficulty controlling worry
* Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep)

"I’d like to take it out behind the barn and shoot it!"

— client, first session, referring to his fear of flying

Different experiences of anxiety

Base level of anxiety: Some people experience an almost constant level of anxiety—as if the anxiety switch got turned “on” and they can’t find the “off” switch. This can produce any of the symptoms listed above.

Anxiety can arise in particular situation such as test taking, public speaking, performance. Anxiety can also arise as a result of a past traumatic experience. For instance, after a car accident, we might be anxious when faced with the prospect of or actually driving or riding in a car. Here anxiety is a problem when it interferes with the task at hand.

Anxiety can arise in anticipation of a particular situation—such as taking a test, giving birth, having surgery. This becomes a problem when it persists and produces symptoms described under “Symptoms..." above.

A phobia involves persistent fear and anxiety and avoidance of a specific object or situation. This type of phobia includes, but is not limited to, the fear of heights, spiders, and flying. A phobia is limiting and therefore can be a problem.

Social anxiety (or social phobia) is anxiety that arises in social settings and can cause avoidance of social situations.

A panic attack can be an unexpected wave of intense fear—that may include palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate; sweating; trembling or shaking; sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking; and feeling of impending doom. The person may even mistake these symptoms of anxiety for a heart attack, which further fuels the anxiety.

Anxious about becoming anxious: Once having experienced a panic attack, people can become anxious about the possibility of having a panic attack in the future.

"You’ve taught me that I’m all right."

— client, after several sessions working on vague feelings of anxiety

Hypnotherapy offers effective support...

…for addressing and resolving anxiety and phobias (see Bibliography, below). Simply learning self-hypnosis can relieve much chronically held anxiety. Other times more exploration is needed to untangle what holds the anxiety or phobia in place.

See unsolicited client feedback immediately below (used with permission).

Motion phobia

"I have overcome my motion phobia to the extent that I can fly reasonably comfortable and also travel in boats and automobiles without fear. I cannot tell you how much this has improved the quality of my life. I am planning another trip to Brazil to visit a good friend in September. Next summer, my wife and I are planning a 3 week trip to visit friends in Sicily and Sardinia. None of this would have been possible without the help you were able to provide for me. I am forever in your debt. Regards,"

— client

Anxiety in anticipation of surgery

"It worked! I really thought the whole thing would be pretty horrible. And you said, 'Would it be okay if you woke up in the recovery room and everything is fine?' and I took that right in. I was comfortable and not anxious the night before, going to the hospital, going into surgery, waking up, just being there, then coming home... and I haven't had much pain at all."

— (we worked together before her surgery)

Work related anxiety

"Thank you for once again helping me to help myself last week! Nothing really has changed as far as my job goes, just my ability to deal with it. I'm back to feeling like I'm in control of my own life and destiny again. There is still stress at work, and for all I know I may decide at some point to look for something different, but I no longer feel trapped. In a nutshell I feel 'normal' again!"

— client, after several sessions addressing his work related anxiety

Anxiety related to driving, speaking up, and other stressors

"I last saw you about a year ago and I just wanted to let you know how things are going. I came to you with a problem with driving and you told me to have a nice drive home and amazingly I did. No white knuckling at all and I've been great ever since. I even drove to Maine and back on vacation last summer.

"I'm also speaking up now. I find that it's almost like another 'me' is standing next to me... if I get a little nervous about saying something then that other 'me' takes over and just says it. I hope I don't sound like I'm losing it but it's really cool.

"I almost never have a problem with my heart racing. When I feel stressed I can still feel my blanket wrapped around me like I did during one of our sessions and I feel instantly comforted. I still have issues that I'm working on but I just wanted to thank you for all that you've done to help me and to tell you my success story."

— client (we had worked 10 sessions)

Examples of hypnotherapy with anxiety and phobia

The links below connect to entries on my my blog recounting therapeutic work with people with anxiety or phobias.

Snakes triggering paralyzing fear... big ones, tiny ones, dead ones, pictures of them, it doesn't matter.

Waking up in the morning with anxiety and fear... and feeling "it's safer to stay in bed," but you can't figure out why.

Fear of flying... on a plane, or of any new adventure.

Bibliography: Hypnosis for relief from anxiety and phobias


Clarke, J. C, & Jackson, J. A. (1983). Hypnosis and behavior therapy: The treatment of anxiety and phobias., New York: Springer.


Flammer, E., Bongartz, W. (2003). On the efficacy of hypnosis: a meta-analytic study, Contemporary Hypnosis 20(4), 179-197.


Gay, M. (2007). Effectiveness of hypnosis in reducing mild essential hypertension: A one-year follow-up. The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 55(1), 67-83.


McGuinness, T. (1984). Hypnosis in the treatment of phobias: A review of the literature. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 26(4), 261-272.

 Contact information

John Teleska, M.Ed.
(585) 264-9497

 Office Locations

38 Parkridge Drive
Pittsford, NY 14534
SE of Rochester by Powder Mill Park near Bushnell’s Basin exit 27 of I-490
Integrative Medicine Department
Clifton Springs Hospital
2 Coulter Road
Clifton Springs, NY 14432
between Canandaigua and Geneva,
New York

Copyright © 2016 by John Teleska. All rights reserved. Updated 7/7/16.