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Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

Any experience of dealing with phobias through CAMHS?

(32 Posts)
TinfoilHattie Wed 01-Mar-17 21:09:25

I have a daughter with a sever phobia of dogs. We know exactly what caused this - a useless owner allowing a spaniel to jump up, put its paws on her shoulders and lick her face when she was 3. She is now almost 12. Terrified of dogs, irrespective of size and breed. She won't go to the park with her friends - there might be a dog. She won't walk to the local cafe with her friends - there might be a dog. She won't go on days out with the family unless forced - there might be a dog. Her teacher brought her new puppy in to school to see the kids and she couldn't even be in the room with it. She is letting this rule her life and is really not happy about it. She wants to not be scared of dogs, but is all "what's the point, no-one can help, it's just the way I am".

A friend who is a clinical psychologist has suggested a referral to CAMHS as they work with specially trained therapy dogs and can gradually work with her to get used to dogs. Has anyone had experience of treating a phobia in this way? We would be prepared to pay privately for treatment but having spoken to the pet therapy man this isn't an option - has to be done through NHS.

Please don't suggest getting a "soppy" dog round to cure her. She needs proper treatment with this as it's only getting worse and a dog which growls, jumps, barks, or even looks at her will set her back even further.

BlackMirror Wed 01-Mar-17 21:24:44

She needs cbt through her gp

OhTheRoses Wed 01-Mar-17 21:29:44

Well, my local CAMHS isn't dealing with:

Moderate anorexia

Is doing nothing to help young people deal with their MH issues. Not sure how far up the list dog phobias should be TBH even though I'm sorry this is affecting your DD badly x

SealSong Wed 01-Mar-17 21:40:16

I work in CAMHS and yes we deal with phobias, but ones at the severe end of the scale. The best treatment is CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) which does involve gradual exposure to dogs.
Discuss with your GP, they can consider referral. There may be other services however in your area that work with 'first presentation' of mental health problems in children, your GP should know.
There is often a wait for CAMHS input are very overstretched. If you can afford private CBT that would be faster, but make sure you choose an accredited CBT practitioner who is experienced in working with dog phobia in children.
Good luck, and I'm sorry to hear that your DD is struggling in this way.

TinfoilHattie Wed 01-Mar-17 21:40:43

We are in Scotland - no idea what is and is not being dealt with. If NHS referral is a problem I would be prepared to pay for CBT privately, as long it was specialist paediatric CBT. Will see GP and discuss.

Cupandball Wed 01-Mar-17 21:44:54

That sounds really hard OP. I am in a similar situation. My child is suffering from a dog phobia and we were discouraged from trying for CAMHS by the GP. There are so many more desperate cases requiring CAMHS that we came very, very far down the list and I totally accept why.
I contacted Pets as therapy myself who were lovely but said they weren't able to help without a referral from professionals. I also met with the community nursing team. They have a lot of leaflets on anxiety but they say the same as GP.

My dc phobia is worse if they're worrying/stressing about something else as well. In the lead up to Xmas they were terrible. All the excitement and tiredness exacerbated her phobia. It's calmed down a lot but we're seeing a private therapist soon as there is no help here for her.
It's hard to watch them going through it, isn't it. Could you manage private therapy? We are just about scraping the money together.

Cupandball Wed 01-Mar-17 21:46:29

Oh, I see you are.
Very best of luck with it. flowers

Nospringflower Wed 01-Mar-17 21:51:55

Where about are you in Scotland? In Edinburgh you will be seen by CAMHS for a dog phobia. Phobias are generally easy to treat so it is worth getting a referral from
Your GP or you could go private if you prefer. Either would be fine.

TinfoilHattie Wed 01-Mar-17 21:54:28

Yes I contacted pet therapy directly too and they won't see us privately. I could pay privately but I;m more concerned about finding someone who really knows what they are doing - I trust the NHS to have properly trained psychologists experienced with children, but wouldn't know where to start with finding a private therapist who has the same skills and experience.

She has cried all evening about it. She thinks her friends are laughing at her and they're not, but many just can't get her head around why she is so scared of a puppy. I;m not a huge dog fan but I'm not phobic, both her siblings are fine and DH grew up with dogs and would love to have another one. I'm not trying to turn her into a dog lover - just someone who can live a normal life and do normal things without this overriding fear. I really thought she would have grown out of it by now, but she's still struggling badly.

TinfoilHattie Wed 01-Mar-17 21:56:04

We're in Glasgow Nospringflower. Will make GP appointment and take it from there. I know we have a large centre not far from us with a CAMHS centre, but don't know what they treat and deal with.

SealSong Wed 01-Mar-17 22:03:38

If you do want to look into a private CBT practitioner make sure they are registered with the BABPC - website here
If you look under the 'public' tab on that site, there is a 'find a therapist' section....all of the therapists listed on there will be properly trained and registered with the BABPC. I just did a search on there and there are at least 20 therapists listed in Glasgow. You can then look at their individual websites to see if they work with children, and any of them will be happy to talk with you over the phone to tell you more.
Hope that helps.

ReginaGeorgeinSheepsClothing Wed 01-Mar-17 22:08:33

OP have you had a look at the Glasgow Centre for Cognitive Therapy? They may be able to direct you.

TinfoilHattie Thu 02-Mar-17 14:46:42

Appointment made with sympathetic GP for early next week. Only issue now is getting daughter to open up to her - she is embarrassed about her fears and is convinced the GP will laugh at her.

Will see what the GP advises before we start to look at potentially paying for private therapy. Would definitely want a paediatric specialist to help her.

OhTheRoses Thu 02-Mar-17 15:36:23

Hopefully the GP will be able to advise. The BACP advice is disingenuous. All doctors are members of the GMC but doesn't mean all doctors are good doctors.

CAMHS knows full well that young people whom they refuse to help due to thresholds but who are actively harming or who have underlying neurological disorders are declined by the very best counsellors because they are the ones who know they need specialist help. And so it goes round and round.

I suspect your DD won't get effective help unless you get a referral via a psychiatrist for which you will have to pay about £450 up front to start go.

The excuse I hear is that CAMHS can't refer because it's unsafe if they don't know outcomes. Well, may be so but that doesn't make it safe for parents to find people off the internet.

What is required is a CAMHS/CCG validated panel of therapists that parents can turn to. Possibly people who already work for the NHS and take on private work.

TinfoilHattie Wed 15-Mar-17 22:40:00

We have heard today that she has been refused treatment on the NHS as she does not meet the thresholds. They sent us a sheet advising on strategies such as making her a reward chart with gold stars - she's almost 12. hmm

Have arranged to see a friend who works in clinical psychology but with adults tomorrow for a coffee, will pick his brains about the next steps and I'm sure he'll have advice or know someone who may be able to guide us through the CBT.

SuperRainbows Wed 15-Mar-17 23:05:44

So sorry your dd is going through this. How frustrating that she doesn't meet the threshold for NHS help.

Ask your psychologist friend what he thinks of EMDR. This is a therapy used in cases of post traumatic stress. Don't know much about it, but I think the basic idea is that the emotions associated with a traumatic incident are stored and not processed properly at the time. The emotional memory is triggered every time a reminder of the event is experienced. The psychologist gently encourages the patient to remember the event and helps to process and store the memory without the trauma of the incident.

The reason I mention this is I remember hearing that in cases of trauma, CBT is not always the best therapy.

Flyinggeese Wed 15-Mar-17 23:09:51

Hi OP, my son's phobia (not figs, but that doesn't matter) was treated very successfully, and quickly with EMDR therapy. May be worth looking into? It was booked privately though, not GP referral.

Flyinggeese Wed 15-Mar-17 23:10:08

Dogs not figs FGS!

Flyinggeese Wed 15-Mar-17 23:17:24

My understanding is as Super describes. EMDR can be used for PTSD but in the case of phobias the trigger for the phobia is the traumatic event for the purpose of the therapy.

It worked (looking back, like magic!) for my son even though we didn't know the cause of the phobia, so I imagine in a case like your daughter's where you have identified the trigger it may be even more suitable. Like I say it was really successful for us. I would happily recommend the therapist but we are in NW England so nowhere near you. There must be other practitioners.

Really hope you get some success for your daughter, OP.

OhTheRoses Thu 16-Mar-17 06:49:24

OP, the only way to get a reliable referral is via a psychiatrist. They will do a full assessment and refer to the right people. The benefit over CAMHS of doing it this way is that a specialist doctor will be involved. They will know what they are doing and who to go to.

wickerlampshade Thu 16-Mar-17 11:39:17

CAMHS won't have the resources for this - it'll have to be private.

OP, the only way to get a reliable referral is via a psychiatrist. and the only way to access a psychiatrist on the NHS is via CAMHS - for which the threshold hasn't been met.

Flyinggeese Thu 16-Mar-17 12:34:27

We took our son to the GP thinking is would be a therapy referral of some sort. The GP seemed really ill equipped to know what to do for a phobia without any other mental health (e.g. oCD) traits. It was a straightforward phobia of an everyday thing. Sorted by private therapy (4 sessions!).

Th GP did writ for a referral the the MH team but by the time the letter arrived it had been sorted.

Flyinggeese Thu 16-Mar-17 12:36:45

In short, based on our experience, MH team referral by the GP could well be a sledgehammer to crack a nut scenario.

wickerlampshade Thu 16-Mar-17 13:56:20

CAMHS can take four months to see adolescents who are actively self-harming or suicidal.

does that put their resources into perspective?

DionFortune Thu 16-Mar-17 14:08:50

Hypnotherapy, EFT and EMDR can all sort phobias pretty quickly. Search for a therapist who specialises in working with children.

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