Psychology in action at DZG

A group of 37 Stourbridge students examined how DZG helps people overcome their fear of spiders during a workshop with a difference.

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Rather than taking part in one of our hugely successful arachnophobia sessions, the 17 and 18-year-olds from Old Swinford Hospital School came to our Rainforest Room to learn about the psychology of spider fears.

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This is the fourth consecutive year the pupils and their psychology tutor Dr Jane McGee have visited our education block to learn how we deliver a hands-on approach to overcoming spider fears for members of the public.

DZG Presenter Langan Turner spent the hour-long session talking the students through the powerpoint we use in our arachnophobia workshops.

The pupils then had chance to get their hands on spider paperweights and shed spider skins, as shown left, before finally meeting Larry, our docile curly haired tarantula. Some of them (including the student pictured below) even let Larry walk across their hands.

arachoshweb

Langan said: “It was an interesting workshop as these students were coming to it from a different angle.

“Instead of the spider phobia workshop itself, the students examined what we do in these sessions, how we handle and relax our clients and why we tackle certain subjects before others.

“They were a lively and engaging group and asked many pertinent and relevant questions.”

Langan also helped the pupils put together a ‘teacher’s pack’ including recent scare stories from newspapers, coping strategies and an arachnophobia certificate of achievement.

He added: “The biggest challenge was getting everything to fit into an hour, since the students had a very tight schedule. If we’d been running the full workshop, it wouldn’t have been possible.

“Luckily, analysing and discussing a presentation is very different to correctly delivering it to a room of frightened people!”

Following the school’s first visit to the zoo, Old Swinford Hospital School’s Subject Leader for Psychology, Dr Jane McGee, was inspired to pen two charity children’s book called The Spider That Came in From the Cold and its sequel, One Small Step for Spiders, as well as publishing a collection of short stories called Cobweb Capers, which all aim to help children develop a positive view of the eight-legged creatures.

She said: “These sessions are ideal for allowing the students to see psychology in action, as Langan explained how staff deal with real arachnophobia from a gradual build up to actual contact of spiders.”