Total session: 4 sessions over 8 weeks

A 12 year old boy was referred to me having suffered involuntary noises for 4 months making constant hiccup and burping noises every 7 seconds. He had seen his GP, a chiropractor, an ear nose and throat specialist, had X-rays and examinations with no physical explanation concluded. He saw a psychologist whose prognosis was probably psychosomatic and was told to go away and stop making the noise. By now the boy was attending limited lessons at school and those he did attend were carried out in a secluded room away from his class mates. He was embarrassed and becoming increasingly angry and frustrated by the noise. He gradually became more withdrawn from his friends and hobbies, he had stopped all afterschool clubs and sport teams that he belonged to.

During the first session I established when, where and how the noise begun. It started as a bad cough and cold, the first time it happened was when he used a steam inhaler to help with his sinuses, the vapour added was too strong and he inhaled too sharply, this surprised him, made him catch his breath and made a hiccup / burp noise which carried on for that evening. Upon waking the next morning the noise continued and he was kept off school for another week. He attempted to return to a normal timetable but because of the interruption from the noise he was making all lessons he attended were taken elsewhere.

I soon established that the boy didn’t make the noise whilst eating or sleeping supporting the conclusion that it was not a physical condition and a subconscious behaviour that had become a habit.

Over the next four sessions it came to light that he had established a degree of anxiety concerning two of his teachers and was feeling anxious about being shouted at in class. Subconsciously he had created the hiccup noise to allow him to avoid these classes, to save him from being put in an anxious situation that he didn’t know how to deal with.

During the 4 sessions he was taught strategies and techniques of how to deal with his worries and develop coping mechanisms to help him overcome challenging situations both now and in the future.

Throughout the 8 week period he returned to his sporting hobbies and gradually attended school more often. The noise started to decrease and became less dramatic and quieter. He asked that his parents did not discuss the noise when he was around or to other people.

The end result was that after 4 sessions over a period of 8 weeks, the boy returned to the classroom and full time school, full after school activities, he was competing in all his team sports and the noise stopped. Throughout his treatment programme different supporting CD’s were listened to each night.

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