COVID Tales…. Overcoming extreme fear of COVID

He is a psychologist in his early thirties – and entire COVID period he has managed to stay stuck in his home with his parents for 9 months. The fear of COVID was so much that he wouldn’t let his parents leave the house and also wouldn’t allow any visitors to come in including family members. He was so scared of getting COVID that he would not touch or allow anyone to touch the groceries for 3 weeks after they had ordered and arrived! He had tried counselling and other psychotherapy techniques earlier but didn’t see much change. For entire 9 months he would not go to a doctor also if there was any physical health concern. His family and parents were extremely worried and hassled because of this behavior and approached us for help.

  • The confidence level (as a result of all this) was 4/10. The WHO wellbeing score was 44%
  • GAD (Anxiety) was 14 (moderate)
  • MDI (Depression) was 13 (Low)
  • Fear and Anger related to this fear was at all time high of 10/10 (he mentioned 15/10!!)

We asked him to attend our workshop ‘The Journey Within” before he starts therapy so he can learn some techniques to self-manage his situation also.

We started working with him using Inner Child Integration techniques – working on childhood issues that he had faced from 0-18 yrs. First, we addressed his anger that he had bottled up for various family members and also healed a few childhood parts/memories that were stuck in fear and anger.

After the first session itself (which was a guided imagery with anchoring for confidence) he was able to go visit his sister and his message to me was:

“Hello maam

I genuinely thank you for the 1st therapy session, after which I am able to stay relaxed & calm. I went at my sister’s place & was able to enjoy there. It was a small step being at sister’s place, earlier I use to feel forceful to go anywhere but now willingly going out. SEE protocol also helped. Thank you so much.”

Subsequent sessions were focused on addressing various childhood events that had troubled him – mostly related to fear or anger or discomfort- using regression techniques as well as Release Reframe techniques. His subsequent messages over 3 weeks were as under:

“Hello Sir,

I am still at my sister’s place, but this time I am much relaxed & calm than earlier I use to be & able to enjoy. Today also there is a change I went out to buy milk, went downstairs with parents & niece. Had a walk outside.

Thank you”

“Hello Sir,

Today again I went out to buy grocery. The more I am going out my fear is getting less & less, I am getting more confident day by day. I am very thankful to you & ma’am for the journey which I am going through, for being there with me & hand holding such beautifully.”

“Today is 3rd day back to back in a row which I am going out & buying things.”

After 4 session he expressed a desire to come to our center personally for a session. When he came in, he was quite anxious and nervous – but eventually we ended up doing our therapy nevertheless and here is his message later in the day:

“Hello ma’am

There are few improvements in me. After coming to center I was much better than I thought of. After that I went to buy few things for myself. Today I went to my nana’s place with mom, stayed there for 5 hours & had dinner over there. Now I am feeling as if my barriers are breaking up & coming out as I wanted to. Earlier I use to feeling as if I was buried deep down the earth. Thank you.”Covid fear and anxiety

As it is seen in the visual, over 5 session this client was able to overcome his fears and improve his confidence.

The graph shows the changes in WHO, GAD, MDI and ISI scores. The confidence after the sessions was 9/10 and Anger reduced to 3/10

This progress would continue because now the body is used to the new behavior! People often ask – how can we go back and change the past? How can we change what is already programmed in our mind? Well, the brain has neuroplasticity – means its constantly changing! How we change it, will affect how we behave and react. In therapy we change the associations, the beliefs, perceptions and the connections and correlations that are causing a dysfunctional response/behavior and once that is done, the new association, belief, behavior starts showing up. If the client is committed to change, it continues to now grow in the new direction – with the new neural pathways – thereby permanently changing the persons behavior and responses to external environment. If the client is not willing to change, or is getting some benefit/payoff from the condition (excuse to be in certain way, reason to blame others or getting extra attention) then the change may not be as significant or permanent. In which case the client needs to be counselled or made aware of this also.

We have worked with so many clients during the COVID lockdown and even after that – the ones who have developed extreme anxiety and fear about getting infected, being hospitalised or dying or fears of losing family member to Covid. We believe these fears are not the problem – they are the manifestations of an already existing imbalance/tension in the system and COVID has merely been the trigger for those to now emerge! We have to work on the peripheral issues before we can see a change in these fears!

We still continue to work on other issues that are not addressed and hope the Wellbeing goes above 80% and the GAD and MDI scores go down to 0 or 1

Will share another case related to COVID in the next post/article

Riri G Trivedi ([email protected])

Additional points:

Classic case of anxiety triggered by Covid.  The fear was not related to Covid but there were other situations that precipitated the extreme response.

Interventions used:

Release Reframe Technique (Regression Therapy), Guided Imagery, The Rewind Technique, Inner Child and Parts Integration.