This is the third week of the This Morning Therapists The Speakmans appearing in their own ITV television show. In this episode they worked with a 62 year old lady who was struggling with her overwhelming fear of enclosed spaces, otherwise known as claustrophobia. As even her own family have said "She is frightened of practically everything.
Sandra Lloyd is 62 and has suffered from a fear of confined spaces for most of her life. The fear has now taken over so much that things have become very difficult for her.
She has never been able to fly on an airplane and even find it difficult to go into a public toilet. Even getting into a car is difficult for her. This fear is not as unusual as you may first think. I have dealt with clients who also struggle to be inside cars as well as other spaces.
Sandra was diagnosed with bowel cancel and her fear is making her treatment even harder and like a military operation. Having an MRI scan is very important to her treatment but the worry of taking part in this part of her treatment is causing her to be even more stressed.
Her claustrophobia means that she has a fear of lifts and so even after an operation she would not go in the lift to go up one floor.
In all of the episodes we have seen there have been some heartbreaking stories. This episode perhaps more than any of the others so far shows us the real story and the real importance of overcoming your fears. Many people have arachnophobia and their fear of spiders is something that they do not address, perhaps because it does not really affect them. In this case the claustrophobia being treated by the Speakmans is something that Sandra has a very good reason to address.
When Sandra and her husband met the Speakmans at their home she explained how it affected her life to Nik and Eva Speakman. She stated that she has also never been on a train or a boat. Talking about how hard it is for her to have a scan was difficult. She explained that to her it felt like being in a coffin.
When she became ill with cancer it really made things harder before her because she could no longer avoid the things that she was able to in the past. She cannot even go into the oncology department of the hospital and use a toilet in its own room. Things have really reached a point where she can no longer go on. After five years of living with cancer now is the time for her to make that change.
In this tv show we have seen that the Speakmans are great advocates of family therapy and making sure that all the family have their say. This has worked well in this case, but of course you are also able to ask for help if your family would not want to take part in sessions. It is not something that is needed for everyone and every phobia. Of course some people would not have family support and if this is you then you can still ask for and get help.
Sandra's daughter also took part in this family therapy session. Jo of course wants her mother to feel better about things and be able to get the support and help she needs with scans and tests.
Her daughter Jo said that she has always been aware of her mother's claustrophobia, and now she really wants her to be able to do what needs to be done for her cancer treatment.
We also learned that Sandra had been treated for IBS, irritable bowel syndrome. She threw away a letter from the doctor about this in the past and felt bad about this and what effect it had. IBS is something that is often caused by stress and anxiety and hypnotherapy has been proven to have a massive amount of success in taking back that control. Professor Peter Whorwell has conducted a great deal of study with patients in Manchester.
We then watched as her family left so that she could continue her therapy with the Speakmans alone.
After fifty years it was time for Sandra to take back control of the phobia.
The treatment with The Speakmans
We went back to the start of her fear with claustrophobia when she was about five years old and was a sleepwalker. Her mum and dad were worried about her so they added a hook and eye to her bedroom door and this meant that she was trapped inside and could not get out. Like most fears and phobias we see that there is an initial sensitising event which takes place and creates the first panic. If that event is allowed to grow then in can lead to the phobia being created and getting worse.
By looking at the event and reframing it we can see that locking her in the room meant that she did not have a chance to fall down the stairs are this could have been a disaster for her.
Whilst watching her therapy session it did seem that this was the first time she had been confronted by the idea of why things happend and how to see it differently. In common with their unusual treatment methods, and this is clearly something that is being done for the benefit of the cameras they then put her in a child's playpen...
As a metaphor for her growing up they asked her to press the release button and get out. Do the Speakmans use hypnosis? Of course that depends on what you think hypnosis is. Using a metaphor like this is exactly the sort of "hypnotic language" that hypnotherapists such as myself would use, and you do not need to have your eyes closed to start to think about things in a different way. There are so many ways to deal with any fear or phobia and any good therapist will use a variety of techniques in order to help the client. A good therapist will not decide how they will treat a client's concern until they know what that is. Everyone is different, and deserves their own therapy based on their needs.
If you have claustrophobia or any other fear or phobia then rest assured that you can overcome it. There is lots of free help and advice on this website about many different fears and phobias. If you are looking for help then speak to two or three hypnotherapists and pick the one who you feel the most comfortable with to work with. Then you can be confident that you can lose any fear or phobia. On average I see clients for issues like this for three to four sessions and most people would understand and see that they could let go of that phobia after a first session.
You can email me on [email protected] or call me on 07980 233610