Australia for Exposure Therapy

My Cousins; Jackie and Julie, who are Aussies, told me that everything is really upside-down in Australia.  This was where they came from, so who was I to argue?  This was back in the late 1970’s when they were, themselves, still kids and I was just six years old.  This is a photo of us, back in the day; late 1977 – early 1978.  The quality of the photo isn’t great, but this is a very old picture; at the date of writing this Blog post, I am not far short of forty-five years of age:

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From that moment on, I knew that I would one day visit Australia which, by all accounts, would be a truly bizarre place!  As it turned out,  when I visited Australia some nineteen years later, the reality of the country was in many ways stranger than the idea that everything was upside-down!

How so?  Well, pretty much every animal can kill you and if the animals don’t get you on the land, there are plenty more that will attempt to sting you, bite you or eat you in the rivers and in the sea!  Failing even all of that, then watch out for the plants, for many of those can make you ill, poison you or kill you!  If all of these things don’t get you, then the harmless Huntsman Spider, which is pretty enormous by English standards, will likely cause you to crash your car or have a heart attack just at the sight of it scurrying towards you!  Seeing one of those reminded me of the film ‘Alien’, in which a spider-like creature would launch itself onto your face and impregnate you with a baby alien that later bursts through your ribs and out of your exploding body, where it goes on to grow quickly and systematically kill everyone around you!

Well, perhaps the Alien part is just a manifestation of my fear of spiders but, despite my humour, the Huntsman is pretty huge and more people die as a result of the panic they go into when they meet a Huntsman, than those who die from spider bites out in Australia.

Then you have all manner of strange creatures that bounce and hop and the Aussie postcards even show how clever these strange creatures really are:

So, if the idea of all manner of creepy-crawly-long-legged-hairy-scaley-croc-shark-snakey-spidery-killer-plant type of fate was going to befall me; it did not.  Yes, I saw many spiders and even a Huntsman,  and even a certain type of spider that lived underneath the rim of my Cousin Jackie’s outdoor dunny (you are allowed to shriek at this point!), but it wasn’t that bad.  Well, except for the cockroaches that were the size of small dogs and which fly about and land on your back as you take an evening walk!!

I was in Australia for seven weeks and I can honestly say that I got used to it.  How so…?

In my line of work, as a Counsellor and Psychotherapist, ‘Exposure Therapy’ is all about getting the phobic person to come into contact with the thing they fear, so that the repeated experience gradually de-sensitises the person and the fear reduces.  I amazed myself at how used to all things that creep and crawl I became while in Australia.  It just became my new normal, so to speak.  For those that struggle with phobias, Counselling and Psychotherapy can be a great way to overcome fears and anxieties.  Exposure Therapy, if supported by a trained professional, can truly free you of your phobic responses.

Having got used to the dangers that nature might present, I went with Julie to see her Granny Duffy (known also to me as Granny Duffy), who lived beyond one hundred years of age, eventually.  She lived in a street in Redfern; a slightly run down area but full of Victorian architecture.  That all seemed great.  What problems could we meet en-route?  Well, we had to laugh (which was probably not appropriate) when, on our journey to see Granny Duffy, we happened upon this:

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I’m actually rather proud of this photo.  Well, it’s not something you see very day!  I took this in February 1996.

Despite my tongue-in-cheek memories of Australia in this Blog post, I had an amazing time in Sydney and I will write more about my seven weeks there, in future Blog posts.  If you would like support in overcoming a phobia, contact me for an appointment.

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