The mom of 9-year-old Leah said she had arrived at the end of her rope. She had not been able to go to school for two entire months. The list of attempted therapies and visited physicians and psychologists was painfully long.
When she came for her first session, a drama unfolded. With both hands, she clung tightly to the door frame. Her mother worked like an Olympian to get her through the entrance.
The first minutes with this girl were very difficult. She completely withdrew and sat there completely motionless, ignoring all efforts. She scribbled on a sheet of paper, “I don’t want to watch TV in my mind.”
So, the goal for these first 30 minutes was to find something she had a genuine interest in. After some digging, the name of a boy came up. That topic sparked something and she began opening little by little. Would he think her fear of school is cool? No, she said. We left it at that for the first session.
The second session started completely different. Ok, let’s go, she said eagerly. She felt respect, gained trust and was happy, no one had forced her to do anything.
Before we focused on her fear, we set up a Safe Place in Her World. Her Safe Place was a field full of flowers and a few horses. She loved nature.
Then she saw herself on the way to school. As she got closer, her fear grew stronger. She described her fear as a black shadow in the left thigh. Her breathing became faster. She saw lots of children. It was noisy. The hallways were tight. She got to her classroom and the door closed. Leah felt like she was suffocating. Claustrophobia!
Everyone had concentrated on the fear of school, no one had found the real reason. Stuck in this busy environment, Leah felt constricted and needed more space.
As session went on, she began realizing, how unnecessary her claustrophobia was. With the power of her mind, she pushed the walls farther apart. In her control room, we turned down the noise sensitivity. Her breathing normalized.
She replaced the fear with a strong feeling of being loved. As a single child, she occasionally felt lonely. Because of her story, it was not easy for her to make friendships.
The very next day, Leah returned to school.