Anxiety Case Study

Jacqui Fowler from Harold Hill came to see me in November 2012 because she was having, as she put it. "claustrophobia symptoms when commuting to and from London on the train on a daily basis."

Jacqui explained "When the carriage starts to get crowded I worry there won’t be enough air and we will suffocate and feel hemmed in. If the train doesn’t move within a minute or so of being at a station or stops in between stations I start to feel anxious that we are going to be stuck on the train and can’t get off."

The majority of clients who come to see me for help with claustrophobic issues are those who, like Jacqui, find the panic manifests itself very often when travelling.

Jacqui was leaving for work early in the morning to avoid the crowds and each afternoon she would start to get anxious about her journey home. She had booked to see a concert at the O2 and dearly wanted to be able to travel to and from the venue without panicking – the thought of going on the Jubilee Line was a real fear for her.

I started Jacqui’s treatment with a session of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, where I challenged her beliefs about her fears and gave her some techniques to help her to challenge her irrational thoughts and promote calmer, more rational thoughts and feelings. Jacqui play her part in overcoming her fears so she readily took on board all the suggestions I gave her and put into practice the strategies we had discussed.

I also used hypnotherapy to help Jacqui to mentally rehearse a positive experience of travelling by train and gave her suggestions of how calm and relaxed she would be, even if the train became crowded, or was stationary for any time. Jacqui responded well to treatment and found that she was calmer when travelling, but as the date of the concert drew nearer, her old fears began to resurface. So, I decided to conclude Jacqui’s treatment by discovering, using hypnosis, the root cause of her fear

Jacqui had told me that she recalled first experiencing these feelings when, as a younger adult, she was in an enclosed water slide. Experience told me that the root cause was much more likely to be a much earlier incident that Jacqui had forgotten all about, or never linked to her claustrophobia.

Hypno-Analysis is used to hone in on the anxious feelings and emotions that are experienced and to allow the subconscious mind to bring into consciousness the first time these feelings were experienced – in other words what caused the fear in the first place. During analysis, Jacqui recalled the exact same panicky feelings when she had been stuck in a lift with her family when she was 6 years old. Now that we had unearthed the origin of her fears, we were able to release all the anxiety that she had subconsciously carried with her since that episode as a young child, which was manifesting itself when she was travelling by train.

A week later Jacqui attended the concert at the O2 and reported "there were no problems getting there and I was comfortable on the Jubilee line both there and back. On the way home on the C2C line we were stuck at a red signal for over 20 minutes, my nightmare! But I remained calm and focused and got through it fine without panicking."

Jacqui had been faced with her very worst nightmare of being stuck on a train and had coped admirably and I couldn’t be happier for her.

Jacqui agreed to share her story in the hope that it may help others to realise that they too could overcome their anxieties. I should like to thank Jacqui for being kind enough to share her experience with you.

Click to return to Phobias page or Stress page