little by little

Teddi Mellencamp's Son Is Using Exposure Therapy To Treat His Elevator Phobia

The treatment involves gradually building up tolerance to your child’s fear.

Cruz Arroyave, who is now in exposure therapy for his elevator phobia, with his mom Teddi Mellencamp...
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Whether it’s monsters under the bed, darkness, spiders, or some other creepy-crawlies, most kids have one or two things that send a jolt of fear through them. Of course, there are a few things that you want them to have a healthy fear of, to keep them safe: heights, traffic, fire. But if your child is so afraid of something innocuous that it’s starting to have a negative impact on their life, perhaps preventing them from being able to function at home or at school, then you’re no longer dealing with a regular fear, but a phobia.

For example, it’s normal to feel some nerves when you hear thunder, but if your child is so afraid of storms that they won’t go outside when there are clouds in the sky, it’s time to enlist the help of a mental health professional.

Phobias are the most common anxiety disorders, and they good news is that they’re treatable.

Teddi Mellencamp, 40, of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, is sharing her son’s journey conquering his elevator phobia and teaching others about an evidence-based way to vanquish their fears.

Most phobias originate in a real-life experience, and grow out of proportion from there. This was the experience of Mellencamp’s son, Cruz, 7, who she says “until this week hasn’t gone into an elevator since he saw a power ranger get stuck in one at age 5.”

Mellencamp goes on to describe exposure therapy, the go-to treatment for many phobias.

“We are on day 4 of 7 for Cruz exposure therapy and he is crushing it. Everyday a new elevator and he earns rewards.”

Exposure therapy, according to the Mayo Clinic, involves “gradual, repeated exposure to the source of your specific phobia and the related thoughts, feelings and sensations.” Someone with a fear of elevators, like Cruz, might start by looking at a picture of an elevator or imagining getting into one, and progress to approaching, entering, and finally taking a ride in an elevator. A therapist will often accompany a patient during these exposures.

“Watching how proud he is fills me up,” Mellencamp wrote on her Instagram post.

Mellencamp is also mom to daughters Slate, 9, and Dove, 2, with husband Edwin Arroyave. She has an older daughter, Isabella, 12, from a previous relationship.

In a previous post to her Instagram story, Mellencamp shared a video of Cruz standing in an elevator.

“Day 4 of 7. Brand new elevator. Let’s go Buddy!!!” she wrote.