Phobias of all kinds can be a huge disruption to people's lives. This is not only because of the distressing emotional and physiological symptoms people experience when they encounter the feared situation or trigger. Disruption is also caused by people having to work extremely hard at having to avoid triggers for the phobic response.
Case Study: I had a client who had been terrified of large dogs for as long as he could remember. This capable man in his 30s had spent a lifetime consciously and unconsciously setting up his existence so that he would not not encounter the feared trigger. He based himself in the middle of London (but at a good distance from the Royal Parks so he could avoid running into dogs on their walks). He even avoided travelling by tube for fear of encountering guide dogs on duty. His daily routine had become a study in avoidance and fear. Despite it all being very hard work, he was relatively successful at his avoidance until, as fate would have it, he fell in love and became engaged to a woman who loved dogs, and whose parents owned three large black labradors. At first he would find excuses not to visit his partner's parents but this very quickly caused resentment within the family and became untenable. He forced himself to engage with the visits, but paid a huge psychological price whereby each visit was preceded by a sleepless night of dread. He would feel humiliated and embarrassed at the end of each visit, having sat through Sunday lunch trembling and shaking, unable to eat or converse properly even though the dogs were safely shut in the kennel for the duration of his visit. As a result, he decided for the first time in his life to cease using avoidance as a strategy for his phobia, and seek therapy with me instead. We worked together for 12 sessions in order to:
- De-sensitise the trigger (ie large dogs) associated with the panic response
- Enable him to be in the presence of large dogs without the fear of losing control
- Foster an attitude of relaxed ambivalence about encountering the trigger
- Replace avoidance with fearlessness and confidence
- Learn Mindfulness techniques to promote wellbeing and balance in dog situations
- Equip him with the ability to stroke and pat a dog
- Develop areas of life that may have been neglected because of the previous avoidance strategy
The most common three phobias I work with in my practice in Waterloo and Covent Garden are:
- Fear of flying (situational type phobia)
- Social phobia
- Fear of tunnels (a situational type phobia that has a huge impact on Londoners who suffer from it - many clients who see me previously only transited the city by bus and would avoid the tube)
All of the above, as well as other types of phobia, interfere with a person's normal routine, and can be addressed in therapy.
Length of therapy for Phobias: 6 to 12 appointments of fifty minutes each - depending on an indvidual's particular situation.
Fee: £75 per 50 minute appointment. Reduced fee slots are £45 but limited and based on demonstrated financial need.
Location: Southwark (Waterloo) and Covent Garden.