Success Stories: How Our Phobia Treatment Helped Clients

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A 22 year old graduate student sought treatment for recurrent fainting episodes when she witnessed blood tests or merely had a thought about any kind of sharp object penetrating beneath the skin. In addition to the syncope episodes, she experienced anticipatory panic about passing out since it caused her extreme embarrassment . She was a graduate student in a Child Life program and obtained her clinical training in a pediatric cancer ward of a local hospital. When witnessing the chemotherapy treatments and blood tests, she would sit paralyzed with fear, her eyes closed tight and an inability to talk or keep her head up. In order to graduate the program, she needed to desensitize to her fears. Within 12 sessions, her anxiety was reduced to a subclinical level. She was able to watch blood draws, see chemotherapy administered through a port beneath the skin, and watch intravenous needles inserted and taken out of veins in the neck.

A 55 year old man who owned his own carpet mill came to us with a driving phobia after being involved in an automobile accident. His business required him to do extensive driving and though he continued to drive, he became too fearful to leave the slow lane or go any faster than 50 mph. He avoided driving at night, in inclement weather, and on certain highways. After a handful of sessions, he learned how to relax behind the wheel and desensitize to his fears.

A 32 year old woman wanted to face her lifelong fear of riding elevators. In one session she was able to take the elevator to the highest floor by herself with minimal anxiety.

A 29 year old man was ready to conquer his fear of vomiting. He never left home without his Pepto Bismal, abstained from eating certain foods that increased his risk of food poisoning, and avoided planes, boats and amusement rides that could make him motion sick. He responded quickly to treatment and took many more “risks” without his Pepto crutch.

A 24 year old graduate student experienced intense anxiety during test taking. Heart palpitations, blurred vision, nausea, dizziness, clammy hands, dry mouth and a self-defeating dialogue caused her mind to go blank on questions. She would remember the correct answers immediately after test was over. She quickly learned to manage her nervousness after a course of CBT and exhibited marked improvement in exam performance.

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