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difficult client

Hypnotizing a difficult client

It is said that there are no difficult clients, only unprepared therapists. Well I had a difficult client today.

She presented with social anxiety. She had the usual feelings of getting panic attacks when talking in company, embarrassment when she thinks people are looking at her. In addition she complained of getting a pain in the neck when she thinks people might see her. Clear evidence of psychosomatic reaction.
She blames it on bullying at school. Everything was good in primary school but when she went secondary school she felt not as good as the other girls and shy and got bullied.

Try the standard approach

The obvious way forward was regression to deal with the old bullying. Started to get her into trance. No way. I decided to be subtle and tried to teach her self hypnosis.
We had to stop because she said the light was too bright.
So I tried hypnosis. Said she didn't feel anything with a countdown.
Shw said she couldn't visualize anything at all.
Then I did a kinesthetic induction, since she couldn't visualize.
I succeeded in getting eye closure.
I took her into regression but she said she couldn't get any feeling and couldn't remember anything.

She couldn't visualize anything. Nothing at all.
I tried talking to her unconscious mind. From her answers it was clean that she was not in trance.

Clients don't come more difficult than this. She gave absolutely no cooperation, no visualization, no feelings, no memories. I was baffled.

So try something else

I wasn't going to give up. I tried eyes open non-trance Metaphor Therapy. Still said she said she couldn't feel anything. Nothing came to mind no matter how much I tried to prompt her. Then got her to talk about what was worrying her. Finally we got it down to the cause. She is over critical of herself and thinks that everyone else will be critical too. Tried to work with that. Then started going round in circles.

Finally, the truth

Then she said she had very high standards.
And procrastination.
After two hours I finally realized: she has depression.
I tested for depression and confirmed that she has it.

That is why nothing worked. She has all the symptoms, but doesn't have an emotional problem. She is one of the millions of people with undiagnosed depression who have no idea of the real root of their problems.

I wonder how many other 'difficult clients' are actually just not aware of their real problem?

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hypnotize stoned

Can you hypnotize someone who is stoned?

A client asked: Can you hypnotize someone who is stoned?

Cannabis as pain relief

In this case, my  friend is a stoner [cannabis]. He suffers something akin to restless leg syndrome. The grass is not the problem. Lol. He has a condition where his muscles, especially his thighs/quads, are drum tight, permanently pumped full of anxiety and tense to the point that they are literally sore to touch 24/7.  It certainly detracts from his enjoyment of life.

He's been to doctors, osteopaths and acupuncturists, et al. However, not one of them can find anything outwardly wrong with him. I'm figuring it is psychosomatic, though that makes his 'condition' no less serious. It's a major problem. Anyway, I'm going to work with him using relaxation scripts. Getting back to the cannabis use. Is it silly to attempt to hypnotise him while he's a bit stoned? I'm figuring it's what he uses to relax and obviously I need him to relax. I mainly use progressive relaxation induction, but if you stop to think about it, he's unable to relax his muscles. I know there are other inductions, but he's still unable to relax, by and large. I figure the grass might take the edge off, so to speak.

Can he take cannabis before hypnosis?

Can you think of any reason he can't have a puff or two before our session? If a person has restless leg syndrome (which is the closest malady to the one he seems to have), then it might actually be useful to tell them to imagine they are a little stoned whenever they consciously think that they want to stop the painful sensation. Grass is obviously what he uses to remedy his pain. But he wants to cut down or even stop using. I think that my approach is a stab in the dark, but I just wanted your expert opinion. Can you think of a better script than one simply for relaxation, please? Of course, I will use metaphors and the likes, but in the end it's just about relaxing and masking pain, right?

How to hypnotize someone who is stoned

I replied: There is no problem at all in inducing trance when the client is stoned. Give it a try. I regularly induce people who are on Prozac and other prescription drugs.
However, I don't think a relaxation induction is the right way to go about it.
I would try a breathing induction. Get him to dissociate by focusing on his breathing. Just be aware of the breathing. When you have him breathing gently and rhythmically then suggest he thinks of a word. Any word will do. Or suggest a word, like 'eagle' or 'dolphin' or something he might associate with free-ness and might prompt his imagination to go into a visualization. Then tell him to silently repeat the word on every out breath. As he breathes and repeats the word he will start to go into a light trance. He should start visualizing something without you telling him to. Then tell him he is in the first stage of trance. Tell him the next stage is to welcome his own inner mind. Tell him as he breathes his mind is opening, letting go of something, and he can get in touch with that mind. Suggest he might be feeling different.

Self convincing in hypnosis

Then tell him that this inner mind is powerful, looks after him, controls his mind and body. Tell him to ask that mind to demonstrate its power by focussing on his eyes. Tell him that mind can take over his eye muscles, can show the power by making it impossible for him to open his eyes. That his eyes feel as if they belong to someone else and he just cannot open those eyes. Then invite him to test that his inner mind has achieved this.  When he can't open his eyes, he is in trance. Job done. No mention of relaxing; and using his own tendency to clamp down.
So once he is in trance what are you going to do? Just relaxing isn't enough. Presumably he does that on his own when he goes to sleep.
I think you should get him, in trance, to visualize his tense muscles, or the whole business of tension, how he feels it, does it. Then get him to verbalize what image comes to mind. Get him to expand and detail that image. Then get him to experience the thing changing, gradually, in subtle ways to become something else. Gently lead him by oblique suggestions to get the thing to shrink, or corrode or gradually decay and disappear via some other process.
Should work.
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Life coach

Life coach may not be what they say they are

Beware of the life coach 

I had a call today from someone asking if I could refer them to a life coach. I had to tell them that I did not know any life coach that I would inflict on anybody. All the ones I had ever met were losers trying to tell other people how to live their lives. There might be genuinely useful ones out there, but I have never met them.

I was once a member of the local Chamber of Commerce and it seemed to me that most of the membership was made up of Life Coaches and Personal Finance Advisors. They appeared to be there for the sole purpose of marketing to each other. It also seemed to me that not one of them knew the slightest bit about what they were talking about. When I asked those 'Life Coaches" how much money they had in the bank, or what kind of car they drove, it was immediately obvious that they were complete amateurs. In fact most them had taken up these 'professions' because they had lost their jobs in the downturn. They had to do something to make money so this seemed like a good way to make a living.

Your Life Coach and the Management Sciences Paradox

It reminds me about what is known as the Management Sciences paradox. This says that the people who go into professions are the ones who should never be in that profession. The basis of the paradox is that people are attracted to study the things they feel weakest about. For example, when I was doing my psychology degree it was clear that most of the students were secretly hoping to find out what they feared what is wrong with them. And in my estimation all of the staff had psychological issues of their own.

People who are chronically disorganized, for example, realize they have a problem and begin to search for ways to not be so disorganized. So they learn more and more about what makes people disorganized and how to be less disorganized. They end up knowing more about disorganization than anyone else, but they are still disorganized. But when it comes to selecting people to teach about disorganization, who gets the job? The person who has studied it most - the person who is in fact fundamentally disorganized.

In this way you end up with Behavioural Scientists who alienate everyone they meet, time managers who are always late, therapists who secretly believe they are no good, and life coaches who are hopeless losers.

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Body parts therapy

Body Parts Therapy for smoking

Body Parts Therapy for smoking is an unusual but effective form of hypnosis treatment. While in trance you invite each part of the body to speak and say what it wants.

The theory is that you can separate the unconscious mind and its connections to the body, from the conscious mind. Therapists who employ this technique believe that each part of the body, each organ, has its own awareness. Each part works with every other part in order for the whole organism to function correctly. If one part is functioning badly then this affects all the other parts. This will cause dissatisfaction in all the parts that depend on it. Those parts will want to voice their disapproval.

Listen to your body

Therefore, the way to get all your parts working in harmony is to listen to them. To listen to them you have to get them to talk. And that is exactly what the therapist does. The therapist puts the person into trance and then asks the subconscious mind to allow each part to speak. This

So in the case of a smoker, for example, the lungs are being affected by the smoker's behaviour. Allowing the lungs to talk will allow them to complain about how they're being treated. And if the lungs aren't working properly then the heart isn't working properly, and other parts of the body aren't working properly either. Each of these parts has its own agenda, its own opinion, and they need to let the unconscious mind know how they feel.

How to use body parts therapy

You get the client to listen to his lungs. Then to listen to his heart. You tell the client to repeat what these organs are saying. Ask the client to listen and see if there are any other organs, or any other parts, that want to have a say about smoking. It is also quite common to have a dialogue between the various organs. Once the organs have voiced their complaints, get the client to apologize for abusing them. Tell the client to ask forgiveness of the organs. Wait until the organs have replied. Then get the client to promise that he will never abuse them again by smoking.

Once that has been negotiated tell the client to listen again to the organs. The organs will be cheering and applauding and encouraging. Use this to make the client feel good about stopping smoking. The client knows that every part of him is rejecting smoking. All of his organs are telling him that smoking is killing him.  (This is a variation on Spiegel's stop smoking method). The client now knows that every part of him is supporting his efforts to stop.

Through suggestion build up the client's belief in his own ability to succeed. And then suggest that every part of him will revolt against him if he ever starts smoking again. Tell him that his organs will make him feel sick if he even thinks about smoking.

This is usually enough to turn off even the most determined smoker.



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spontaneous hypnotic regression

Spontaneous hypnotic regression

I had an interesting client at the weekend. This man had a very powerful job in a major company. He gave presentations as part of his job. He is confident about how to do them, he has never had a problem with one, he is good at them. Yet he gets anxiety about them. He has had this anxiety for years.

Logically he knows that there is nothing that he fears about giving presentations. Logically he knows that even if it all turned out wrong he could still recover and do a good job. And yet he is struck with chronic anxiety.

Looking for the initial sensitizing event

I put him in trance and got him to focus on the anxiety. I asked him to imagine he was about to give a presentation and to allow the feeling he gets to come into his body.

He had difficulty getting a strong feeling. The feeling was there but very diffuse.

I decided to deepen him to get down to a really profound level of trance. I used a new deepener I have developed. You imagine that as you relax yourself a cloud in the sky gets thinner, and keep relaxing more deeply until the cloud has gone.
A few iterations of that process got him very deep. I told him to look for the feeling and turn it into an object. He struggled to sense anything but then became aware of a cloud. I tried to get him to develop the cloud, but it was just a cloud. And then he said, 'I sense there is something else'. I followed that idea and then said he was getting a feeling of something detaching. I encouraged him to let that happen, to just let go and allow it to progress any way it wanted. At this point, I was very careful not to pressure him or suggest anything that he might do or see or feel. I used careful clean language all the way.

Finding the initial sensitizing event

Then he got various images. He couldn't quite make then out, like a gallery of photographs. I suggested he just let them go and see what happens next.
Then he got a feeling of a picture of himself as a boy in school uniform and a cap. We allowed this to develop for a while. He couldn't determine whether it was a feeling or a picture. Then he got a memory a teacher, of being hit with a ruler by the teacher for using his left hand. He is left-handed and he remembered being hit on his left hand to encourage him to use his right hand. He then went into this memory and felt the fear of that child, the unfairness of it, the feeling of not being able to get away, or to able to do anything about it. And the anxiety. He hated going to school after that. He had a memory, or maybe it wasn't, of his parents talking to the teacher, but he could not see the teacher's face, or anything else about it, so he wasn't sure if it was a real memory or not.

Spontaneous Hypnotic Regression

He had developed spontaneous hypnotic regression. It was never suggested to him that he go back in time to find the source; this arose completely from his own mind. He had found the source of his anxiety.

He was clearly in a regressed state, so I used the standard method of dealing with it. I asked him to find some way to make it right for that child, to make the child triumph in the situation. "Find some way that the child can get out of that situation and be a winner". Again spontaneously, he put himself into the situation as an adult, helped his own child-self deal with the problem, effectively did the INNER CHILD work himself by going back and making it right.

I then added a part of leading the child out of there and growing him up the current age with that success in place and that was it. Problem fixed.

I had heard of spontaneous regression to the initial sensitizing event but I have never seen one before. This was probably how the technique was discovered originally.

Accidental links to spontaneous hypnotic regression.

This case shows that many of the problems that arise in later life are actually caused by accidental linkages back to unresolved problems earlier in life. Fear of Flying clients usually know that there is no real danger in a flight, but at some point they felt afraid in an aircraft and that linked back to an earlier unresolved fear. From then on every flight triggers, not the fear of flying itself, but the original childhood fear.

I think this client was the same with his presentations phobia. At some point in some presentation he had felt a tremor of fear, and that had triggered the school room fear, and from then every presentation linked back to the childhood fear. I believe that clearing the childhood fear will have cleared his adult fear.


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Hypervigilant client

I had an interesting client today with Hypervigilance. Even though I have done thousands of hypnotherapy  sessions I find there is always something new to learn.

This client was a man in his late twenties. He said "I lack the confidence to assert myself. My wife says I always gives in too easily. It is costing me salary and promotion. I just cannot stand up for myself". In the interview I learned that he will do anything to avoid aggression. He feels he has to keep people happy and never put forward his own views in case he causes aggression. He has to tell people what he thinks they want to hear.

It was obvious that he was afraid of confrontation but I couldn't find anything in his life that caused him to want to avoid aggression. Like many people he feared rejection and wants to be liked. But I noticed that every time I asked him about how he feels, he tells me what he thinks. This is the typical behaviour of the over-analytical person.

Symptoms of hypervigilance

One probing further I found that he has many symptoms of hypervigilance. Hypervigilance starts when a child feels that their environment is unpredictable and they become afraid of what is happening to them. The child then withdraws and puts up barriers to intimacy. The child's reasoning is that if they don't feel anything they can't be hurt. This client confirmed that he has no real feelings about anyone.

The client said he felt that he had a shell around him. That is the cue to start using a metaphor therapy technique. When I started with this client it did not work. He would not open up to his emotion. Instead he kept talking about what he thought of it.

Hypervigilant clients are hard to hypnotize because they analyse everything you say to them. Instead of reacting to your suggestions, they analyse the structure of the sentences or wonder about why you used that particular word. They are so busy analysing that you can't get through their defences.

Hypnotizing Hypervigilance

I thought that he would be hard to hypnotize and he agreed.
So I started the session with a rapid induction, he started smiling, and the impression I got was that he was feeling the induction but refusing to follow what his body was telling him. I then did a breathing induction and to my surprise his head started to nod, an indication of trance. I then did a deepener with a staircase induction, and he was in trance. Surprised me greatly. Tested with eye catalepsy. Worked.

So I learned that this hypervigilant client, at least, could be hypnotised. I think the key to it was using a kinesthetic induction to get him to focus on a feeling he had never before noticed, the feeling of the air inside his head as he breathed in.

The therapy was a long metaphor session.

Did the standard RIVERWALK with embelishments.
When he was looking at the town he saw someone like him at a table with friends doing all the things he wanted to do.
Had people following along the other bank.
Had him and his wife walking towards the town. Started with everything around stale and tired.
Then the little bridge where he says aloud what his problem is.

good session. What I learned from this is that even a therapy I have used many times can still surprise me. My own unconscious mind came up with a new twist to suit this particular client.

So what I ended up with is a new way of treating lack of confidence.

The power of the unconscious mind never ceases to amaze.

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Bird phobia

Bird phobia Fear of birds

Bird Phobia

 I had an enquiry from a hypnotherapist in the UK. 
I have a client (child aged eleven), with a very bad bird phobia.
We have had one session, which worked for a while, but the fear is back.  Do you have any scripts that may help?  We did cinema screen reframe last time.
For your child with bird phobia, you will find that NLP methods do not really work very well. Neither will a script. The best way to deal with a phobia is with simple regression.

Bird Phobia with regression

You need to get the child to get the feeling of the fear of the birds while she is in your office. This may be difficult and/or distressing. However it is the only way to get a result.
There are two methods. The standard method is to use the Affect Bridge. The child will give you a memory of when she was first frightened by the bird. You then find some resource to help her either chase away the bird or make friends with it. Reframing could be useful here. Make such changes to her memory of the event as well leave her feeling in control of it.

Bird phobia with Gestalt

Since the child is so young, there may not be a clear memory to work with. In that case use Gestalt Therapy. What you do in this case is to find a way for the child to be in the feeling, just as you do with simple regression. But do not attempt to find the memory. While the child is in the feeling, ask her what "thing" does that feeling most resemble. She will describe some thing, some object, that represents the feeling.
Then get her to make changes to the object. She can change the size, the colour, the shape, anything at all. As she makes changes, at some point it will transform into something quite different. Then encourage her to find a way to get rid of, to destroy, whatever it is that is left. The phobia will be gone.
For a longer description of clearing bird phobia with Gestalt click here. 
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Freudian slip

Freudian slip: Calling your current partner by your ex-partner’s name

 Calling your current partner by your ex-partner's name

Today I saw a client with a Freudian slip. He called his current partner, Rachel, by his ex-partner's name, Rebecca.

A very decent man, he worries deeply about whether he is doing the right thing for his partner. He divorced his wife, Rebecca some years ago. Now he's started a relationship with a new partner, Rachel. Last week they invited a valuer to their home as the first step to setting up a financial basis for their new relationship. David inadvertently introduced his current partner as Rebecca.

Rachel was upset. However, she got over it. Until he did it again the following day. He called her Rebecca again.

Rachel got upset again. She continues to be upset. She has accused David of wanting to reignite the relationship with his ex-wife. She refuses to be consoled. Rachel is now talking about breaking up the relationship.

And to top it all, David called her Rebecca for a third time.

David is distraught. He desperately wants this relationship to work. He will do anything to make it work. But he is now terrified that he is going to use the wrong name again. The very last thing he wants is to have anything to do with his ex-wife. He just cannot understand why her name keeps coming up.

What to do about a Freudian slip?

Most people would just laugh it off. However David isn't that lucky. Rachel has also been through a messy divorce herself. She has little confidence in relationships. She desperately wants this relationship to work but is always looking out for signs that might be another disaster like the last one. So being called the wrong name just confirms this to her.

What is actually happening is the result of a simple psychological process. When David was married to Rebecca he got used to having a woman in his life. That woman was always called "Rebecca". He called her "Rebecca" thousands of times. If there was a woman there, he unconsciously identified her as Rebecca, and use that name. After thousands of repetitions it became automatic.

Getting a divorce does not wipe your mind clean. David is so used to using the word "Rebecca", that when there is a woman nearby that he feels comfortable with, his mind automatically brings up the word "Rebecca". It doesn't mean anything. It is just an unconscious shorthand process. It may actually persist for many years in certain situations. But it still doesn't mean anything, except his mind is taking a shortcut.

Both he and his partner are going to have to dig deep into their store of compassion and understanding to get over this. But it is definitely not grounds for separation.



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Earliest memory Recall

Earliest memory Recall – How old were you?

Earliest memory Recall

Can you recall your earliest memory? Research suggests that the average age of a single first memory is three and a half years old. The few memories you have from an early age are scattered and unrelated until much older. This has been known for over a century, but still is not appreciated by the general public.

Many people still believe that memory is like a streaming recording. That everything that happens to you, everything you see and hear, is permanently held somewhere in your mind. They think that with the right technique you can recall your earliest memory. This is just not true.

Clients often think their memory is deteriorating, or they worry because they don't remember anything before age six. In particular, people worry that if they don't remember anything from their early childhood, then they must be suppressing something. Something bad must have happened. I have had clients worried that they had been sexually molested. They could not think of any other reason why they had no memories of being that age.

Don't trust your earliest memory recall

The age at which memory becomes more or less continuous varies greatly. Women in general have earlier memories than men. Your chance of having an early memory depends on how startling or emotional the event was. The more dramatic, the more you are likely to recall something, although it may only be a fragment. About one in thirty of people claim to have a memory going back to age one. And about one in thirty have no memories at all before age six or seven, or even eight.

All memory is very plastic, changeable. Research suggests that many memories are in fact false. This applies in particular early memories. For most people, what you think is a genuine memory is actually the result of visualizing what relatives have told you happened, or you manufactured after seeing photographs of the time. Even the real memories that we have are being constantly revised. Almost every time you think of something, you're actually mixing it in with other incidents. You basically remanufacture your memories continuously.

All of these are normal and of no consequence.

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mind body connection

Mind body connection reveals feelings in your body

Recent research into mind-body connection has identified that people from countries all round the world feel various emotions in the same parts of their body. This is to say, if a person in Algeria feels anger, then they feel it in their stomach. People in Argentina would feel anger in their stomach too. The theory is that the link between your body and your emotions is the same for everyone, everywhere.

Mind body connection

People were asked to shade in part of a body outline to show where in their body they felt anger, or sadness or happiness, etc. There were two interesting results. One, that so many people actually noticed a part of their body responding to a feeling. And two, that the same feeling was mostly associated with the same area of the body. So cold feet or an itchy nose may be reflecting your emotions.

In the West, mind and body were regarded as being separate. This research is just another piece of evidence that supports the Eastern view that the mind and body are intimately connected. The European view that your body and mind are separate is actually quite recent. Before the discovery of bacteria and viruses doctors recommended increasing your general well-being in order to increase your health. This led to the popularity of spas and seaside holidays. 

Today, thinking about body and mind has come full circle. It is now widely recognized that there is a link between stress, anxiety and physical illness. A belief in the mind-body connection is no longer considered strange or New Age. People with clear physical illnesses are now regularly prescribed meditation, relaxation, and hypnosis as ways of getting better.

One reason why the link between mind and body is not more commonly recognised, is because it differs in individuals. Some people show a clear link, some people show no link.

I wonder if you have noticed the mapping between emotions and physical responses in yourself? Or like me, you don’t seem to see any response from your body to different moods?

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