A 12-year-old school boy, who was stranded in Abu Dhabi for over a year, because he feared flying, finally made his journey home to the UK on Monday after being treated through hypnotherapy.
Joe Thompson, who had moved to the UAE in 2009, was struggling to fly back home as he was gripped with an acute phobia that left him grounded.
Despite four attempts to fly, the boy’s journey didn’t take-off. His family even attempted travel through road and sea, but both didn’t materialise due to “visa complications”.
Joe’s family had reportedly shelled Dh235,000 in an attempt to cure his condition, which he had developed a year and a half ago.
At the end of his seven-and-a-half hour flight, during which he had undergone hypnotherapy sessions, he landed at the Heathrow airport safely.
He was reunited with his mother Pauline and sister Chloe, who had moved back without him.
His family, after spending many years in Al Ain, had decided to move back to Somerset in July 2012. Joe’s mother and sister travelled to the UK, while his father stayed behind to help him.
Over the last three months, Joe underwent hypnotherapy through Russell Hemmings, who also travelled with the boy.
Talking to the British media, the boy claimed he was happy to be home . “I just want to get home and see my dog. I haven't seen him for two years and I just want to give him a big hug,” he told them.
The boy had showed signs of discomfort in March, when he was returning to Abu Dhabi after a trip to the UK.
According to media reports, the same month he suffered a panic attack while boarding a flight to Sri Lanka. His condition was so bad, that he had to get off the flight.
Talking to the British media, Hemmings said, “On board I was able to bring him down, calm him using hypnosis techniques. The results were amazing.
“Only in the most extreme cases of flying phobia would an accompanied flight be needed but Joe's anxiety and panic was off the scale, this case was very complex and challenging, but I said it was possible to get him home and I'm thrilled I did it.”