One step at a time – an unusual phobia is beaten…

It’s very easy for those who are lucky enough never to have experienced a genuine phobia to demean or even find amusement in those who do. When Louise Wilson came to see me, her phobia was real, it was heart-breaking, it was ruling her life and she’d suffered for almost four decades.

She took the challenge of overcoming her phobia ‘one step at a time’. And finally Louise says she has beaten her life-long phobia of stairs. She used to be petrified of going up and down steps and had to turn down countless jobs opportunities in offices without elevators. Even teachers would have to meet her on the ground floor at her son’s parents’ evenings.

In one of her most trying episodes she had to actually go down a flight of stairs on her bottom after an escalator broke down in the shop she was visiting.

She said 'I remember going into a large store in my 20s, and just about being able to get upstairs on an escalator. But to my horror, I realised there was only a huge flight of stairs to go down. I completely panicked, and to my shame, had to sit on the steps on slide down one by one while clinging onto the rail. I think people thought I was unwell, or insane, but to me the embarrassment was nothing compared to my fear.'

The phobia progressed, as she got older to the stage where she could no longer cope with slatted and open-sided stairs. Finally, she sought my help.

She said 'I would get panicky and full of adrenaline - I didn't know what it's like to not be frightened. It was a true phobia - I would just freeze when faced with stairs, specially open-slatted and open sided staircases. I'd feel dizzy and sick, and just want to grip the floor or the walls.'

A couple of weeks into the treatment, we discovered a suppressed memory Louise had of falling off the top of a slide when she was a young child. Her parents told her the incident had happened, and we believe that is where her fear stemmed from. We used a combination of hypnotherapy and life coaching to tackle her phobia.

Unless you had seen how genuinely frightened Louise was when she came to me, it's difficult to appreciate how well she has done. She worked really hard, and we've subsequently visited "scary" stairs together. It just goes to show that however long you have been suffering with phobias for, it's never too late to seek help.

Russell Hemmings
'It was mortifying, but I thought there was nothing I could do to get rid of this irrational fear. But after the hypnotherapy I finally feel as though I can live my life properly now. It's so nice to know that I am able to go out with my family and not have to fret about where we're going and how I'll be able to avoid the stairs. It’s a fear I can control now - and in time, I’m sure I won't be bothered by them at all.’

Thank you Russell.
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