I received a thank you card from one of my trainees the other day and I thought you might find it interesting to hear their story.
You may not be aware that the Thrive Programme can be used effectively with young people, and it was such a young person who had taken the time to write to thank me.
My first contact with this family was a phone call from a mum who was anxious about her son Peter (all names have been changed) . Peter was in need of some intensive orthodontic treatment which meant that he would have to go into hospital and be anesthetised and this operation was already scheduled. The problem was that Peter was needle phobic. Mum explained that his phobia was having a huge effect not only upon Peter but also on the family.
I, like other consultants, offer initial consultations for prospective trainees, it’s a good way to explain about the programme and to develop a good working relationship; trainees need to trust their trainer so I suggested that she came to meet me on her own to chat about things. We arranged an initial consultation to take place a few days later. I felt there was little point in meeting Peter at this point as he had seen so many other professionals and nothing had really helped him; he was getting very despondent.
Mum explained how Peter had had this phobia since having fainted in the past, the first time being when he had his childhood vaccinations at four. Going abroad was problematic too as Peter would refuse to have the necessary injections, running out of the treatment rooms in panic for example. Mum explained that on one occasion he had had to be dragged out from under a table where he was cowering in fear.
She had tried everything to help her son, speaking to doctors and psychologists. One psychologist had tried graded exposure therapy, but with no lasting success. Coming to see me was her last resort. I explained how I help young people using various approaches including The Blow away technique, which is a unique form of hypnotherapy for children and young people http://www.harlandhypnotherapy.com/html/children.htmland and the Thrive Programme. www.thriveprogramme.org. I explained that during the Blow Away session Peter would have an opportunity, whilst he was relaxing quietly, and guided by me, to think about those things that were troubling him and imaging blowing all his unwanted feelings away. I explained that during the session emotions may be released which in turn will help him feel calmer. Once feeling calmer I could help him more effectively with the Thrive Programme. Mum thought that this approach might work.
When I met Peter he had just come from school and appeared a typical 13 year old. He was engaging and was happy to chat to me. We chatted about those things that were bothering him. “ I have a needle phobia, I’ve always been like it” he said and he described very clearly how he felt and about how fed up he was with it all. Nothing was making him feel better. He was even frightened at school because his mates would teas him. He described how he had an over whelming
desire to run away from the doctors and nurses, a desire that he couldn’t control. He wasn’t sleeping well, finding it difficult to go to sleep at night and was feeling really anxious.
I asked him how he felt he was getting along at school and what did he think he was good at. “Not much” he said.
Over the next few weeks Peter and I worked together. The first two appointments were Blow away session. Peter’s mum joined us too on the first but in the understanding that she wouldn’t ask Peter about those things that he had been thinking about. It is quite possible for the young person to release some emotions during these sessions and its important that their thoughts can be private. It is also a good opportunity for them to be reminded of times when they felt good about themselves too.
During the subsequent sessions, we had four in total,we worked through elements of the
Thrive Programme that were relevant to him and at the end of each sessions he would invite his Mum to join us and he would explain about those things that he had learnt
He soon began to understand that there was nothing wrong with him and that he didn’t need fixing, he could fix himself if he thought about things differently. He realised how many unhelpful messages he was giving himself and the importance of thinking in a more positive way. He realised too that if he worried about things he felt worse. He also began to recognise all his qualities and his self esteem began to sore.
The turning point for him was when he discovered that he could manage his own emotions, “ so its only an emotion” “Yes” I said.
During our last session we talked a lot about his up and coming operation and he was very calm. We talked about what he might want to do so that he would feel more in control of the situation. He wanted to know where the operation would take place and so it was arranged that he would have a look around the day surgery department in the hospital prior to his treatment.
The day of the operation came and went and very soon afterwards I received this email from his mum.
“Just a brief message to let you know that all went well with Peter’s operation today. He was incredibly chilled whilst waiting 3 hrs until it was his turn, coping really well with seeing other children return to the ward after their operations in various states! He also tolerated having the cannula in his hand for 2 hrs and didn’t really seem bothered by it at all. I’m extremely proud of him and he even admitted that he was proud of himself.
Once again, many thanks for all your help, much appreciated by us both.”
Soon afterwards I received his card. This is what he wrote:-
“Thank you very much for all your help and understanding to prepare me for my operation. It all went well on the day even though I had to wait 3 hours but after the procedure I was able to tolerate having the cannula in my hand and I even managed to watch it being pulled out. I now feel more confident when talking about needles and I feel that I would be able to have a simple injection with ease”
Whilst working with this young man one could clearly recognise his limiting beliefs by carefully listening to how he described his situation. His self esteem was low, how he felt about himself, his social anxiety was high, that anxiety about what others might think of him, and his locus of control was external, that belief that he couldn’t control his emotions and that he had a phobia.
Peter and his Mum were worried, they seemed locked in the cycle of worrying about what might happen and neither of them know that Peter would have the ability to manage his own thinking. Just as Lyubomirsky and Tkach described in their paper The Consequence of dysphoric rumination (2004), they created a problem that seemed insurmountable.
Great result don’t you think!
If you would like to know more about the Thrive Programme and would like to meet Rob Kelly and some of the Thrive consultants and bloggers in person, we will be at the Vitality Show at London’s Earls Court 2 http://vitalityshow.co.uk from Thursday 21st March – Sunday 24th March. It would be great to meet you. You’ll also be able to purchase a new Thrive book specially written to be used with children and young people.
If you cant make the Show but would like to find a licensed Thrive Consultant please follow this link: www.thriveprogramme.org
Thrive Consultant and Blogger