I had a phone call out of the blue today from a boy I saw when he was in Year 11. It was just before Christmas and he was very worried that he was increasingly struggling with crowds or groups of people. He found it very hard to go into Assembly, had had to walk miles because he couldnt cope with the school bus, had long hair because the barber’s had clients when he went etc. He was a very nice boy, bright, alert, curious about his problems and very distressed by the limitations he was finding in his life. Ben was an only child with supportive parents and had no idea why this had started. All he knew was that it was ruining his life and he could see no way out. So we sorted it.
It was actually quite easy. We practised a number of techniques at the same time. We discussed the actual problem and the mechanics of it so that Ben understood precisely what was happening. Then we practised relaxation techniques and enabled Ben to experience and overcome the situation theoretically. then we gave him various empowering techniques to give him the strength to deal with situations that occurred Hey presto, after four sessions, all was well. Anyway, Ben had phoned to let me know how comfortable he felt about his AS levels. At present he would like to study medicine and has plans about how and where and how and why. It should be possible. We talked also about trips he had taken abroad with friends, in trains and planes. I was interested but not surprised. And then Ben explained that he had thought his problem was so awful he would never overcome it. He had thought he would have to go through life like that, and it just wouldnt have been worth it. I hadn’t realised how fearful he had been – he had seemed such an ordinary sensible-boy-with-a-problem. I had lost sight of the fact that many people suffer for ages before coming for help. And many never quite get here. There are many reasons why people don’t come for help – often they feel that no-one has ever had a problem like this before. Not true. If you have a friend like that, remember: there is nothing new under the sun. Variations, perhaps, but nothing new.’