Spider Phobia Cure
Spider Phobia Cured by Jacki Hickman Williams
“This testimony doesn’t do justice to how Jacki has changed my life. I have always had a phobia of spiders, and I mean phobia! Just the mere thought of having a spider in my house would reduce me to tears. It was starting to take over my life so when I met Jacki I jumped at the chance to change things.
Jacki was so calm and reassuring and the session only took an hour. The results……..
It took me over a week to even come to terms with the fact that I am no longer afraid of spiders, I kept expecting to go back to my old reaction. I have since caught a spider in a glass and took it outside. This may seem insignificant but for me and my family it is the biggest achievement! I can’t thank Jacki enough and can’t believe I waited so long to treat my phobia.”
Client had a spider phobia. We met for coffee and I asked her some questions about it. The current situation was that if her husband was at work, her children at school and she was home alone with her 6 month old baby and saw a spider, her fight or flight response would begin then she would have to leave her house and call her Dad to drive to her house to kill the spider and remove it. Even talking about spiders started her fight or flight response.
There had recently been a situation where a very small spider had been on the babies car seat. Client, in her panic had tried to swat the spider off with a newspaper but accidentally knocked it onto the baby instead and then she had completely freaked out.
Client had previously been referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy by her GP to cure her spider phobia but had been too scared to go and cancelled it.
Client agreed that she would know her phobia had gone completely if she would be able to look at a spider on a bush in her road without crying. She assured me there were hundreds of spiders in bushes in her road.
Two weeks later I went to Clients house to help her overcome her phobia. Client works from home and we sat in her office to do the work.
I got her to tell me about her relationship with spiders until her fight or flight response started, then I asked her to teach me how to do it. We went through the sensory experiences in her body which had to happen in a certain order and went through the triggers. The triggers included anything that could be a spider, such as a bit of fluff or cotton as well as actual spiders.
We had a cup of tea and I talked through the conscious and unconscious mind and explained the prime directives of the unconscious mind. I explained how memories are stored and retrieved and that specific memories can become ‘walled off’ for her protection if there is unresolved negative emotion within them. I explained that her fight or flight response was there to protect her, and pointed out how well hers works so she can be comfortable releasing any old trapped emotions. I asked her to remember some things, like her telephone number and a favourite toy from her childhood so that her conscious mind knew that her unconscious mind was storing and retrieving memories perfectly. We asked her unconscious mind if it would support us in removing this phobia today, which got a big yes.
I asked how long she had had that phobia and it was for as long as she could remember. She naturally started to tell me about three instances in her childhood that stood out in her memory, aged around 6, 8 and 12 years old. Her earliest memory was of a boy chasing her saying he had a spider. We did a bit of perceptual positions from above, as the boy with the spider and as if she was her adult self now observing the situation. I asked her what did she know now that little Client didn’t know? Little Client hadn’t known that if she was not enjoying a game she didn’t have to play it, she could remove herself from the situation, in this case she could have told a teacher.
Then we went to the Fast Phobia Model. I explained what we were doing and we started slowly. As we were speeding up I realised that I had forgotten to scramble the phobia. I continued, in rapport with the intention that the phobia would go anyway. After about 3 minutes I checked in and we were at 90%. I asked her if the baby had a favourite TV programme and did Client know the theme tune. She knows the theme tune to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and could replay it in her mind perfectly. I asked her unconscious mind to now be in charge of the movie and her conscious mind to play the theme tune as a soundtrack.
We continued the Fast Phobia Model with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme tune for another 5 minutes or so until Client told me that the memory from when she was 8 kept popping into her mind even though she was doing her best to focus on the theme tune. We checked how we were doing and were now at 70% but the playground memory now had no emotion on it. She could remember that she was scared but didn’t feel scared considering it anymore and could associate in the memory and feel indifferent.
We then used the Fast Phobia Model on the memory from when she was 8 years old with the theme tune. After a few minutes I realised I was doing the hand gesture and sound quickly and to the rhythm of the theme tune. I took this to mean that I could sense/hear her thoughts so I silently checked in where we were (while continuing with the noises and hand gestures). I got that we were at about 40% so I silently used commanding tone and language to tell Clients unconscious mind to ‘Release now to 30%…… release to 20%….. then to 10, 9, 8’ until we were at zero. I stopped and asked Client where we were now.
She didn’t answer but picked up her phone and said, I wonder if I can look at a picture of a spider, then looked slightly worried. I suggested perhaps starting with a picture of a cartoon spider. As she was typing she said ‘Oh that’s weird, I can type the word spider and I’m calm’. She looked at some cartoon spiders, noticing the ones with sharp angled legs looked less friendly than the ones with smoothly curved legs. She then decided to look at some photographs of spiders and was surprised she could touch a picture of a spider to scroll her screen. I asked her if it was time for us to go on a spider hunt. She agreed that it was.
Just outside the front door was a plant that had a spider on it. Client stood about a foot away and looked at the spider. I asked how she was, she was fine. I asked what was happening in her body and she said everything was completely normal, which she was a bit weirded out about. I asked her if it was Ok for me to touch the leaf to see if I could get the spider to move, she agreed that it was. I moved the leaf and the spider ran and hid. Client was still fine. I pointed out that now she couldn’t see the spider and didn’t know where it was but it was right by her front door which was open and asked her how she felt about that. She said if she had seen the spider before we started the work she would have had to have got her husband (who was working from home to look after the baby while we did the work) to come and kill it, but actually, now it was fine and it could stay where it was. Then she said, let’s go and see if we can find some more.
We walked up and down her road and although there were loads of spider webs there were no spiders. I said they have all probably moved because now her phobia had disappeared completely (commanding tone) she wasn’t any fun for them anymore. We went into her back garden to look for a spider. Client found one and I couldn’t see it so she pointed it out to me. I commented that her fingertip had been about 10cm from the spider when she pointed it out, to which she replied “I know. I can’t really believe it”.
We went back inside and talked about what she would be able to do now if she was home alone with the baby and found a spider in the house. She said she could comfortably shut the door to the room it was in and get one of the kids to sort it out when they got home. I asked if she’d be able to put a cup or a bowl over a spider before shutting the door. She surprised herself when she said yes. I asked her what would she do if there was a spider in her kitchen, would she be able to get the baby a bottle or food etc. She said if it was below eye height she would be able to put a cup over it and use the kitchen although she may not hang around in there any longer than she had to. If it was above eye height she would still be worried that it might fall on her. I asked if she’d be able to hoover it up and then put the hoover away. She said she would although she wouldn’t want to empty it afterwards, someone else could do that when they got home.
Client found the whole notion of being calm whilst looking at real spiders and talking about the possibility of spiders in her house very strange. I pointed out that it was normal for it to feel strange because it was the first time she had experienced spiders and calmness at the same time. I asked her if when she was learning to drive and even as a new driver if she had felt calm – she didn’t. I asked her if she was calm when driving now, she agreed she does it without even thinking about it. I pointed out the very soon, within an hour or maybe two the feeling of calmness and spiders together would be as normal as calmness and driving is now, which she agreed she could imagine. Client then said that although she was sure her phobia had gone, what should she do if she did start to feel nervous around spiders again. I told her that yes, her phobia has gone now and in any situation where she might feel nervous she can use deep breathing. Breathe in her favourite colour (orange) and breathe out the colour of fear (which she said was red). I gave her the suggestion that the deep breathing would keep her heart beating at a normal rate and the colour would keep her mind calm. We practiced breathing for a few minutes.
The whole process of the work from start to finish took 1 hour and 15 minutes.