Total session: 6 sessions over 10 weeks
An 8 year old boy came to see me with a fear of dogs that he had had since the age of 3. His Mum felt she was responsible for the fear, it had started whilst she was walking along holding his hand when a large friendly dog came bounding up and knocked her little boy over and started licking his face. The Mum screamed and shouted at the dog. She realises now she totally over reacted at the time, that there had been no danger to her or her boy; she had simply been taken by surprise.
Since then whenever her son saw a dog, he ran and hid behinds his parents, screaming and crying, needing to be picked up. He is always anxious when playing, fearing a dog could be nearby. The boy and the family stop themselves going to some public places in case a dog is around.
Because of the age of the boy and the severity of the fear it was paramount that the treatment plan went at his speed and not that of mine or the parents.
I established what the exact fear of dogs was. The fear was of all dogs of all sizes, breeds and of all ages even tiny puppies. The boy wanted to like dogs, he wanted to feed and stroke the dog next door to where he lived. Over the next few weeks with the use of the CD at night time we began to reduce the anxiety linked to dogs. Together we recognised his boundaries and then came up with ideas of how far he could push himself each week to help get closer to his goal of overcoming his fear. He also learnt what the normal expected amount of apprehension or anxiety regarding unknown dogs or dogs off the lead or large barking dogs should be.
During the next 6 sessions over a 10 week period he found that he could to go outside to play in parks and go to football matches and not even think about dogs or even notice that there was one near him. He gave treats to the old dog next door whilst he was tied up in the car. He went to a family BBQ and took a picture to show me of a dog running around his feet whilst he happily ate. Whilst in a pub garden with his parents a policeman and two police dogs came to search the pub, he didn’t go running back to his parents, he sat quietly and watched the dogs work, previously this would have been an extremely anxious and frightening experience for him. Yet now he was fascinated by how the dogs worked for the police.
This period of time was governed by his own ability to change his belief about dogs, at the speed and time he needed. He still wasn’t a major dog lover by the time he left me, but he wasn’t scared anymore. Dogs didn’t restrict him or his family in anyway. He was beginning to think that some dogs looked rather lovely and cute and was wondering what it would be like to cuddle them.
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