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.

Since the course, I can honestly say I feel like a new person. It has changed my life... I have a 9-year-old daughter... and I have been able to show her what I achieved on the day at the Zoo and how I have been before. I knwo she will now grow up to be calm and OK around spiders... Once again, thank you! (Sam W, 2018)

Find out what other people thought about the Friendly Spider Programme


New dates announced for 2019!

Tickets for the following dates are now on sale:

  • April 13 2019
  • May 11 2019
  • June 8 2019
  • July 6 2019
  • Aug 3 2019
  • Aug 31 2019
  • Sept 28 2019

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 5,000 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.

Take a look at the guest pack for more information. If you already booked on the programme, please read this pack PDF icon Friendly Spider Programme Guest Pack (709.19 KB)


Schedule of events for the Friendly Spider Programme

  • 2:30pm: 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.
  • 7.00-7.30pm: 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. 

As an international wildlife conservation charity, we work in over 50 countries around the world to protect wildlife and their habitats. With your support we can do even more.

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

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..30pm - 7/7.30pm

Any questions please call us on 0344 225 1826 or email