Germ Phobia: Michael's Walls - Part 2
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Anyone with phobia's can face them and defeat them. Michael does it with Mr. Jenkins' help.
Michael's Walls (Part Two)
Robert Davies © 2019
Mr. Jenkins and Michael had designed a Fear Ladder for exposing Michael to his irrational fears.
“Mr. Jenkins, one of the walls bothers me more than the others.”
“It is red and aggressive looking.”
“Is it more dangerous?”
“It sure is!”
“Okay, Michael, if the red wall is more aggressive than the yellow ones, we will go slower with that one.”
“By the way, what colour are valentines?”
“What does red mean there?”
“How about red in food?”
“Like in red sweet peppers?”
“Well, they look great. They taste great, but I don’t know what they mean?”
“It sounds like they mean ‘great’ and ‘sweet’ to you, right?”
“That’s right. So, red doesn’t have to be aggressive does it Mr. Jenkins?”
“Well, personally I love red hot chili peppers. Let’s work on the Fear Ladder, okay?”
Classical Exposure – Technique of Using Gradual Exposure Fear Ladder
Describe your fear: _____________________________________________________________________
List the least frightening activity as Level 1 and the most frightening as Level 10.
Step One: Try to make the anxiety as bad as you can for as long as you can at each step on your Fear Hierarchy. In most cases, the anxiety will eventually diminish and disappear.
Step Two: Touch the yellow wall to my left as I enter my bedroom for 3 Mississippi’s.
Step Three: Touch the yellow wall straight ahead behind my bed for 4 Mississippi’s.
Step Four: Touch the yellow wall to the right of my bed for 5 Mississippi’s.
Step Five: Skip the red wall
Step Six: Touch the yellow wall again to my left as I enter my bedroom but now for 6 Mississippi’s.
Step Seven: Touch once more the yellow wall straight ahead behind my bed but now for 7 Mississippi’s.
Step Eight: Touch the yellow wall to the left of my bed for 10 Mississippi’s.
Step Nine: Touch red wall for 3 Mississippi’s.
Step Ten: Touch red wall again but this time for 6 Mississippi’s.
Hold both hands on the red wall for 60 Mississippi’s.
“Okay, Michael, I will give your Dad a copy and you will start tonight. We will talk about how it went next time.”
“Okay, Mr. Jenkins.”
“But right now, we will do it just in your head. What we want, Michael, is for you to get your anxiety up as high as we can. Then I will get you to hold on to your anxiety at that high level until it burns away. You will see. It will go up slowly and then when we get it there, we will hold it as high as possible. Are we ready?”
Michael nodded “Yes.”
“Step One: Okay, close your eyes if you can. The important thing is to visualize being in your room. Are you in your room now?”
“Yes, Mr. Jenkins.”
“Step Two: Okay, lets go to the first yellow wall. Touch it. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Next wall. Ready?”
“Step Three: Yellow wall two! Here goes. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four Mississippi. How high is it now?”
“Great, but we need it higher!”
“Step Four: Yellow wall three! One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four Mississippi. Five Mississippi.”
“How high is it now?”
“Good work! Keep going.”
“Step Five: Skip the red wall. We are back at the first yellow wall. Ready?”
“Step Six: One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four Mississippi. Five Mississippi. Six Mississippi.”
“How high is the anxiety?”
“Great stuff! But we need it higher.”
“Step Seven: Back to wall two. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four Mississippi. Five Mississippi. Six Mississippi. Seven Mississippi.”
“How high is the anxiety?”
Step Eight: Back to wall three. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four Mississippi. Five Mississippi. Six Mississippi. Seven Mississippi. Eight Mississippi”
“Step Nine: Okay, the red wall. Put both hands on the red wall. Now, don’t take your hands off the wall. Keep them there. How high is your anxiety now?”
“Hold it, Michael. Hold it. Don’t let your hands go. Keep feeling that anxiety. It’ll burn off. Keep pressing. Keep them on.”
A few minutes later …
“It’s going down, Mr. Jenkins!”
“What is it now?”
Michael was squirming in his chair making uncomfortable sounds even though he wasn't really in his room. He was visualizing being in his room.
“Keep it there. Tell me when it gets to 50%.”
“A few minutes later …
“It’s at 50%, Mr. Jenkins.”
“Good work, Michael. Tell me when you are at 20%”
A few minutes later …
“I am there now!”
“Good. Tell me when you are at zero percent.”
“I am there now, Mr. Jenkins.”
“Good work, Michael. You did it. Now practice with your Dad for the week."
"Thank you, Mr. Jenkins.”
“Your welcome, Michael. You’re welcome.”
Working with his father on his fear ladder, Michael found it hard to get his anxiety past 50% touching any of the walls even the red one that Michael had found to be so aggressive . By the end of the week, he was unable to get his anxiety up at all by touching the walls.”
Of course, if another phobia pops up or if anxiety appears under any other form, it would mean more work. It would definitely mean that Michael has a hidden emotion that he is hiding or might be totally unaware of. Of course, the problem is always right there in his personal life as big as an elephant. It takes a little change in perception to see these elephants in order to bring them into focus so that we can discover what is REALLY bothering us. Then we just face them again with our anxiety really high and burn it way to nothing.
Mr. Jenkins was always amazed at fortitude of his clients, both young and old.
About the Stories
Most people like stories, and therapy is all about stories. Telling stories about powerful techniques used in TEAM CBT therapy demystify this therapy one story at a time.
Yet, confidentiality is a cornerstone of all counselling. Without confidentiality, clients wouldn’t feel safe going to therapy to divulge the most painful areas of their lives. To safeguard clients while illustrating TEAM CBT techniques, confidentiality is kept by either having the client’s consent or by distorting the facts, making the client unrecognizable .