I had a number of children come to hypnosis recently, and it occurred to me that I have never written an article about children in therapy.
I am grateful of my past experience as a child sexual assault (CSA) counsellor that guided me to learning more on how to deal with children.
There is much to be said for using your intuition, gut feelings and your valuable knowledge as a parent to help children overcome anxieties. And mostly parents do just that! If a child hurts itself falling off a bike, gets stung by a bee, or frightened by a dog, and we might rub the area that got hurt, saying; “There… there… it’s OK now.” A hug with the words; “It’s OK, mummy (or daddy) will look after you.” A kiss and a hug and they are off and running having forgotten the incident.
But there may be a time when that is not enough. Here are some of the things that have presented themselves at my office:
Fear of birds – Fear of dogs – Fear of lifts – Fear of going to sleep – Fear of eating – Fear of going to school – Fear of failing exams – Fear of bullying at school – Sucking thumb at 13 – Wetting and soiling pants are a few of the things, off the top of my head that I remember dealing with. Some of the above issues have occurred with a number of children, yet each fear has its own story as to how it occurred.
Don’t think a child is too young to be helped. A child counsellor might use sand therapy, draw, or cut out pictures from old magazine to paste on a poster, I have found that even as young as 4 years of age being direct with a child is also a very valid way to allay fear.
Case History –
A past client many years before had come to give up smoking. He phoned me to ask if I could help his daughter with her fear of birds. (Let’s call her Mary, not her real name.) He told me that Mary used to come down to the kitchen in the morning and have a glass of milk from the fridge. One morning as Mary came down to the kitchen a bird had somehow got into the room and on seeing her, it was fluttering around looking for an escape exit. The fluttering of the bird around the room frightened Mary so much, that from that day forward she would not go down the stairs without her parents. It had also impacted on her going to bed at night, fearing the bird might come into the room, and she was now getting out of bed and going into her parent’s bed because of that.
Before Mary came for the session, I had taken the trouble to look on the Internet for ‘bird pictures’ and had downloaded images of all sorts of birds. Budgies, pigeons, mina bird, parrots, eagle, cockatoo, woodpecker, kookaburra – you get the picture? (Pun intended.) I had downloaded about 3, A4 pages of birds.
So when Mary arrived we spoke about her fear of birds. Using age appropriate wording, I said; “Daddy told me that you got a big scare with a bird – is that right?” To which she nodded her head. “Show me, how big was the bird?” I asked. To which Mary stretched both arms out wide as far as she could. “That big?” I asked. To which she again nodded her head. “That must have been really scary.” She agreed with me by nodding her head vigorously.
I brought out my bird pictures and asked her if there was a picture of the bird that she could show me, and she pointed to a small bird about the size of a sparrow. I stretched out my arms as wide as I could and said; “You mean it wasn’t that big? Stretching my arms out wide, then putting my hands closer together asked; “Was it about that big?” She didn’t say anything, so I continued; “Look how big you are…, and I elaborated with my arms her size, from floor to the top of the head… I bet you must have looked like a giant to that little bird…. I bet it must have been very scared of you, locked in the room not able to find a way out. What do you think?” (A shrug of her shoulders) I continued… “Is it OK Mary if I ask you to close your eyes for me and see what happened? You can hold my hand or daddy’s hand if you like… when you have seen what happened, open your eyes again.” Mary, after a little while, opened her eyes again.
“Tell me Mary, was the little bird scared of you and was it trying to fly away from you, or was it chasing you around the room?” To which she told me that the bird was trying to fly away. “But it was still scary, right?” Mary nodded her head again.
I said; “Now that you know it was scared of you, because you looked like you were a big giant, and you know that you were scared it might hurt you, would you like to get rid of that nasty feeling of being scared?” To which she nodded her head. So I told Mary about Ben’s story which is about a real boy who had a fear of dogs and how the fear went away.1 I asked Mary if she would like to try it. And her little head nodded. And so we did Pat-Pat Power.
When the fear went away (getting Mary to see the incident again and there were no more scary feelings left), I told Mary that she can use Pat-Pat power anytime she felt scared, even without my or daddy’s help, but always tell your mummy or daddy if something scared you so that they can help you. “Will you do that for me?” Mary nodded her head. “Are you still scared Mary?” With a “No” from Mary and a final talk with dad, we ended the session.
Feedback from dad a few days later, showed that Mary no longer had that fear.
I use whatever method seems appropriate for me at the time – as I do with each client – no matter what age. Reif presents this method for when returning veterans have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), as a hypnotherapist I would work differently with this – EFT2, or AcuTapping in the hypnosis trance state – the seat of the emotions – where we access the feelings and emotions is more powerful for me when dealing with traumatic events of older clients.
A Russian Scientific research has shown that your DNA can be reprogrammed by words and frequencies in a deep relaxed state. That is why hypnotherapy will be able to assist you to make changes easier.
You can read a brief translated overview on this link…
1, In 2008 a psychologist, Donald Reif had written this story about a technique called Pat-Pat Power. For this and more free stories on how to release trauma – go to; http://www.traumazapper.com/
2. See the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology; http://www.energypsych.org/
See also –
World War II vet sees self-hypnosis as way to defeat PTSD
TRE (Trauma Release Exercises) & Core Release, also known as Tension Release Exercises
ART (Accelerated Resolution Therapy) A combination of evidence-based psychotherapies and use of eye movements
Tag:acceleration resolution therapy, AcuTapping, anxiety, ART, children anxieties, children in therapy, fear o going to school, fear of birds, fear of bullying at school, fear of dogs, fear of eating, fear of failing exams, fear of lifts, fear of sleeping, Pat-Pat Power, PTSD, Self Hypnosis, sucking thumb, tension release exercises, TRE, wetting and soiling pants