By Dr. Marilyn Deak, PhD
When I met ‘Johnny’, I learned that he was limited intellectually, with an IQ below 80.
A favorite activity of his was mowing lawns, and his dog phobia seriously interfered with that activity since he tended to work in neighborhoods where there were many dogs, some restrained and some not.
He was so afraid of dogs that he had broken his arm twice, running away from dogs he saw. He had never been attacked by a dog.
‘Johnny’ understood why he had been brought to see me and was very motivated to be less afraid of dogs so that he could be outside more comfortably.
I introduced EFT to him, and to his mother, and we did it several sessions in the office, with some progress outside of the office (in the presence of dogs).
Even though I am afraid of dogs, I am OK and I deeply and completely accept myself.
I had the impression that, as with many other youngsters, it was difficult for him to maintain the focus when we worked on the fear in the office.
So we added several other activities:
1) Johnny started keeping a list of dogs that he could pet without being afraid. He would write out the list and any additions, each time he came in. At this point, we are up to eleven, and I just received a postcard from him on his vacation, telling me about a new dog he could pet.
2) I had him take photographs of dogs he had contact with so he could have a visual stimuli when he talked about his dog encounters. His parents were very cooperative with this project.
3) and we started cutting out pictures of dogs from magazines, making a scrapbook of dog pictures, and tapping for the fear as he held the pictures.
At this point, a number of months into treatment, ‘Johnny’ still has some fear of dogs but no longer panics around them.
He can go up to neighbors and ask to take their dogs for walks; he can calmly ask people to restrain dogs that frighten him; he can distinguish between fearsome and friendly dogs, and he’s aware of his progress, and extremely proud of himself, and the very thick picture folder that we have amassed.
I keep in mind a stress on persistence, and recognize that many of our successes require it.