This client was introduced to me by my Aunt 31 years ago and remains a close friend. As a Civil Engineer of Roads/Highways they are required to walk across footway/motorway bridges. In their mind, they describe it as “being drawn to the edge” leaving them with a fear of falling.
Introduction and Initial Consultation:
From information collected at our initial consultation, this client experiences anxiety with apprehension or fear when faced with crossing bridges. It affects their everyday life. In other words, it appears this is a simple phobia, possibly the result of long-term stress/feelings threatened by something or someone. How they respond to stress is perhaps inherited from their parents and the environment they grew up in. It is possible this has affected their self-worth/inner confidence and self esteem.
However, deducing I have the skills to treat them, other modality forms and a contract were completed, initially offering 5 therapy sessions.
Reassessment of the course of therapy will be a continual process.
Overview of Therapy Sessions:
During our sessions it was established that this client found the middle part of crossing a bridge felt like there was nothingness or a void, so their mind catastrophised about safety and about how they could fall down or off. When asked about their feelings whilst approaching or walking over a bridge and footway, the client replied they trembled with their palms becoming sweaty, their heart racing and experienced a knotted stomach, behaviour compatible with anxiety. In fact, it transpired that as a 14 year old they fell off a zip-rope/pulley apparently going into an unconscious state.
Personalised screeds were written and read to the client at each session. The client also came up with a positive affirmation to use as a metaphor.
In the second session the client admits to not feeling asleep but found their body felt heavy whilst in a hypnotic state, whilst in another session the client woke looking as though they had experienced a deep sleep. In the third session, the client left adding “when I am able to walk over a bridge safely …”
On arrival at the fourth session the client was pleased to mention they had crossed over a railway station bridge calmly, whilst affirming their metaphor. They had also looked both ways down the track. It appears they have managed to look out of a high rise glass fronted building too, standing closer to the edge than previously. During this session Hypnoanalysis was used, where the client tells me they climbed a tree to the Z-frame, the brake went on, they were on the ground, sitting quietly, unsure how they got there which related to the incident when they were 14 years old.
When meeting for the fifth session the client tells me they have experienced memory flashbacks, popping into their head at unrelated times. They have screamed during the night too adding they have been tired, sleeping deeply noticing their right eye has looked closed. Word association was used during this session and on full consciousness, the client was dozy. When readdressing the word association results, the client acknowledged and accepts the possibly they may have died from their accident. Parts of this session were emotional for the client. It transpired that as a child they experienced thoughts about being able to fly, which they say they pushed away as reality says they can’t….
At the beginning of our last session, the client tells me they have driven across the Dartford Crossing calmly and relaxed managing to look out down the Thames, even to the nearside of the river. This session was used to explore their fear of falling, which appeared to be about “sudden death”. Summarising the client said falling from a great height they worried and felt terrorised, because it is a long way down and there is time to think about dying during the fall. They worry about not knowing the outcome.
As sessions have progressed, this client’s confidence has grown with regard to crossing bridges. Whilst there’s been subtle signs of trauma release, they tell me they can now confidently walk across a motorway bridge, looking along the motorway at the cars – a eureka moment for them!
Sessions were on-going.