Living with Spiders

Our Living with Spiders course is currently on hold due to Covid-19. Please email us on education@bristolzoo.org.uk to register your interest in future courses.

At Bristol Zoo Gardens we have responded to the demand for people wanting to get over their fear of spiders by offering a course, called 'Living with spiders'.  This is delivered jointly by Greg Nejedly (a hypnotherapist at the Hypnotherapy Bristol Practice) and a member of the Zoo Education team and takes place in the Zoo's Conservation Education Centre on Guthrie Road, opposite Clifton College. You will join a small and personal group, with up to ten participants enjoying a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

The course lasts for four and a half hours and includes a variety of approaches to help you, including talks, relaxation, hypnotherapy and an optional meeting with our friendly spiders.

Living with Spiders course content:

  • Introduction and a talk on phobias with a group discussion on how the phobia affects you
  • Relaxation
  • A talk about the wonderful world of spiders – highlighting their anatomy, behaviour and role in nature
  • Refreshment break with a selection of hot drinks and sandwiches
  • Discussion and information about hypnosis
  • Hypnotherapy
  • An optional meeting with live, friendly spiders.
  • Presentation of certificate of attendance

Refresher session:

If you have previously attended a Living with Spiders course and would like a refresher, this session is for you! There will be the opportunity to discuss your experiences, ask any questions you might have, remind yourself of relaxation techniques, and meet some of our friendly spiders again. This shorter refresher session will revisit and reinforce your learning, and will make sure you are still comfortable and able to live with spiders. 

Is the course effective?

Evaluation from the course shows that this combination of approaches really does result in a clear positive change in participants’ reactions and emotions towards spiders. Average anxiety levels for participants during face to face spider encounters fell by over a half after the course – see graph to the right.

Participants also described their reactions and emotions to spider encounters in three words. The results pre- and post-course can be seen in the word clouds below with feelings of ‘panic, terror and fear’ being replaced by ones of ‘calm and interested’.

word cloud spider phobia pre-course


word cloud spider phobia post-course


75% of participants graded the usefulness of the course as 8-10 out of 10 and feedback from previous participants has been extremely positive:

I want to say a huge thank you for last night. After 30 odd years of being petrified I now feel far more positive about my next inevitable encounter and dare I say I'm almost looking forward to it to see how well I deal with it! 
Katherine Burfoot, Nov 2017 

Thanks for yesterday's course. When I got home I had a spider encounter. I was able to safely take it outside. But before I did, I had a chance to actually admire it closely...so thank you once again.
Adela Miles, Sept 2017

spider phobia course - average level of anxiety graph


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