This morning I had just finished a client, and I was working at my computer waiting for the next client. I heard a message arrive on my cell phone. Having nothing better to do I checked the message. The message said that the sender was on a train and needed to see me urgently.
The message said something like "I am coming into SilverStream station and will be there within the next 10 minutes. I am shaking with fear. At one of the previous stations the doors opened, and a pigeon flew in. It was under the bench seat next to me, walking around, and I could see his head going back and forward as it walked. I have a bird phobia. I saw hypnotherapist several years ago, and that moderated most of my fear. But this incident today has shaken me badly and I need to see somebody right now to get this fixed."
I texted back to say that I had my next client at 1 o'clock, but I would be happy to see her either before then or afterwards.
She immediately texted back to say that she would be at my place in 10 minutes time.
She duly arrived. And she did look shocked and frightened. She seemed very relieved to see me.
I only had 20 minutes or so to deal with her before the next client arrived. There was no need to spend any time finding out what the problem was, it was completely obvious. She was still highly emotional, so I used this this to start the therapy.
Treatment for fear of birds
I got her to focus on her feelings. She really didn't want to, but I got her to associate into her feelings of fear and anxiety. As soon as I was sure that she was experiencing the actual feeling that the bird had generated I asked her to describe the feeling in terms of an object. "If that feeling was an object, what object would it most resembles?"
She said "A triangle." She described it as a grey triangle, with smooth sides, that was just sitting there. I asked "what would you like to have happen to that triangle?" She said "I would like it to fade into the background." "And if it faded into the background what could you do then?" "I would be able to walk past it, and I wouldn't be looking for the triangle everywhere I went."
So I started to develop the metaphor object. I asked her "can you make it a little bit bigger". She said she could. "And can you make it a little bit bigger still?" "Yes", she said. Then I asked her "now can you make it a little smaller?" And she immediately said "it's become black." This meant that she had changed the metaphor object. Changing is the first step to clearing the emotion.
So I asked her "and how does that seem to you now, that whole bird thing?" She said "I can walk past it, I don't have to look out for it any more."
And that was the fear of birds phobia banished.
The whole thing was done in less than five minutes.