Dr Walker has an admirable depth and breadth of knowledge and experience in this field. Lindsey Williams, Family Court Assessment Service
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David is a nine-year-old boy who was in the back seat of his car when it was involved in a collision 18 months ago. The collision had been caused by a male motorist whom David recalled never having left his car to see if he, his father or younger sister were unharmed. David never seemed to settle after this collision and he had suffered from nightmares since. In addition, David had become fearful of traveling in the family car and when he did, he would seem anxious and very tense, constantly reminding his parents to watch out for other cars. The situation had recently reached crisis point as David had become increasingly reluctant to go to school, reporting he had an upset stomach or was otherwise ill, all of which had been investigated by medical experts, who concluded that there was no biological explanation for these symptoms.
David was referred for a psychological assessment with the view to providing a therapeutic intervention. David was initially seen with his mother for an assessment appointment where he was able to speak about his angry feelings about the man who never checked that he and his family were unharmed. David’s nightmares appeared to centre around the man in the other car ‘staring ahead of him with an evil look on his face’ and he had also had disturbing dreams about this man appearing at their front door and teaching him in class. David suggested that he would like to stop having these nightmares but he believed that his stomach problems were ‘real’ and that nobody believed him when he spoke of them. Despite this, David appeared more receptive when the Psychologist assured him that the symptoms were real and that they could work together to understand them and manage them.
David was seen for seven further sessions, with parts of the session working with the therapist alone and other parts with the therapist and the accompanying parent. David was able to work through his thoughts and feelings about the other driver, allowing full expression of his anger before starting to consider alternative explanations for the other driver’s behaviour, such as him being in shock or frightened. David’s nightmares reduced when he was able to consider the other driver to be ‘just an ordinary man who made a mistake’. With some teaching of relaxation skills, David was also able to learn how to relax while being a passenger in the car and he learned to translate his stomach symptoms as a sign for nervousness. David started to talk to his parents about what was worrying him instead of insisting that he stay home from school.
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