Friendly Spider Programme

Do you have a spider phobia? Then it's time you joined our Friendly Spider Programme where we will help you to overcome your fears.

There is no good reason to have a spider phobia, they're harmless and extremely beneficial invertebrates whose survival depends on avoiding such large, lumbering threats as ourselves.

However, millions of perfectly rational people are terrified of spiders. No matter how much they try to calm themselves the response remains the same: sweating, nausea, panic, rapid, heartbeat and worse.

The Friendly Spider Programme (FSP) is an afternoon course, carefully designed to ease or eliminate the condition of arachnophobia – fear of spiders. The programme is a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy.

The course takes place in the Zoological Society of London's meeting rooms. No animals, photographs or illustrations are used until the end part of the course.

More information

The session begins with an explanation, by hypnotherapist John Clifford, of how phobias can become established, followed by a series of questions to the participants designed to comprehensively clarify just what it is about these animals they don't like.

The Zoo's spider expert, Dave Clarke, then provides the facts on these animals (addressing all the comments raised in the earlier Q&A session) proving there really is nothing to be afraid of.

After refreshments, there is a group hypnosis session designed to remove any remaining negative subconscious feelings about the animals and support the newly-acquired positive feelings, imparted by Dave.

The session concludes with an optional visit to the invertebrate collection in the Zoo's BUGS! building. Here participants can, at their leisure, practice calmly catching British house spiders and even meet one of their cousins, our friendly Mexican red-knees. Great care is taken to ensure that the programme is as stress-free as possible.

We appreciate that it's a strange concept, losing a lifelong fear of spiders in a single afternoon, but the results of the course speak for themselves. Since the programme began in 1993 we have treated more than 3,000 people aged from 7 to 82. And although we cannot guarantee success for everyone, follow-up analysis shows that more than 80% of participants report that they now remain calm, confident and relaxed when they encounter a spider.

Quotes from participants on the Friendly Spider Programme

Schedule of events for the Friendly Spider Programme

  • 2:45pm: Arrival of participants at the Zoological Society of London Meeting Rooms.
  • 3:00pm: What are we afraid of? How phobias become stuck in our subconscious mind. Group Q&A session with hypnotherapist John Clifford of the Centre of Clinical Hypnosis.
  • 3:50pm: Everything you ever wanted to know about spiders, but were afraid to ask. Talk and Q&A session presented by Dave Clarke, Head of the Invertebrate Conservation Unit.
  • 4:30pm: Break. Beverages and biscuits served in the lobby.
  • 4:50pm: Group hypnosis session by John Clifford.
  • 5:30pm: Visit to the Zoo's invertebrate collection to see our display spiders.
  • 5:45pm: Meeting with British spiders, training in catch-up, and presentation of certificate of completion + chance to meet their Mexican cousins.
  • 6:30pm - 7.00pm: Programme finishes.

A 30% discount is available for concessions; senior citizens, registered students, persons on income support and under sixteens.

Please note that persons under sixteen years of age must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian who will also need to sign a formal consent form. Accompanying adults do not need a ticket (unless they wish to participate too).


Get sponsored to face your fear…..

Why not ask friends and family to sponsor you for taking part in the Friendly Spider Programme?

By asking friends and family to support you in overcoming your phobia of spiders, you could also be helping ZSL to ensure the survival of many threatened species. Any sponsorship that you can raise would go towards supporting ZSL in a variety of different ways. From our amazing conservation projects worldwide, to our world class scientific research, ZSL ensures the protection and future of endangered species. Unfortunately animals of all different species are losing their homes every day, and extinction rates are on the rise; however we hope within the next few years to decrease the number of endangered species and protect their environment. From the national parks in Kenya to the forests of Bangladesh, ZSL really does work everywhere! Many people don’t know it, but we have conservation projects running in 50 different countries across all seven continents! Along with focusing on our international projects, we have the much loved ZSL London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo, right here in the UK.

Set up your fundraising page now by going to . Setting up a JustGiving page is a great way of maximizing every opportunity of sponsorship. To find out more about sponsorship please email

2017 dates:

  • 5 August 2017
  • 2 September 2017
  • 30 September 2017

Course fees:

  • Adult = £135
  • ZSL Member = £121.50 (10% discount)
  • Concessions = £94.50 (30% discount)

Concessions are senior citizens, registered students, persons on income support and under sixteens.


2.45pm - 7pm