5 year old Suha, whose mum Marianne has a rather unusual concern.
What are you worried about with her?
She’s scared of going into the toilet because of the shower curtain. She doesn’t like the shower curtain at all. We changed the curtain to something that’s got butterflies on it, and kind of insects, and she is scared of butterflies and one case she got constipated because she did not want to go in there.
Ok, so do you think it’s the insects that are really the problem.
That’s what I assume, yeah. Well, that’s how it started.
Suha has joined the ten million people in the UK with a phobia. It’s a learned response, usually from a parent, if a young child sees a parent in a vulnerable position this can translate as a phobia. The most common phobias are having vaccinations, animals and insects.
We don’t need to do anything dramatic, I can send you off to see someone that can just help her work through this idea that curtains aren’t scary, and they aren’t anything that’s going to harm her or attack her, because that’s usually what the fear is. Alright? Well, we’ll arrange that for you ok.
Ok, thank you very much.
Dr Christian has organised for Suha to meet Nancy Secchi, a child mental health specialist who ought to be able to rationalise Suha’s fear of insects through play.
These insects are so precious, so precious that I have touch them really carefully in case they just break. Do you want to put one of them down?
Nancy also uses puppets in a pretend bathroom, with even a pretend shower curtain, to act out Suha’s good and bad experiences of going to the toilet.
Mummy, mummy I’m going to go to the toilet, mummy? The curtain’s down. In you go.
5 sessions in and Suha is showing remarkable signs of improvement. Some kids grow out of phobias, others have them for life and like Suha will need therapy to overcome them. For now though, it seems that Suha and insects are off to a flying start.
Suha is one of 10 million people in the Uk that suffer from a phobia. Mum Marianne thinks it’s the creepy crawly insects and butterflies on that shower curtain that scare Suha. Insects are one of the most common phobias, along with animals and injections. Suha is sent to see child mental health specialist, Nancy Secchi, to treat her phobia through therapy and play.
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