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anxiety and weight gain

Anxiety and weight gain

Today I got this email:

I am studying hypnotherapy and was hoping that I could use hypnosis to help with my own weight problem. I have listened to various weight loss CD's but it seems to have little effect. I was wondering if you had a script that I could record and listen to myself for weight loss?

If you are new to therapy the first thing you need to realize is that people seldom recognize the source of their own problems. People don’t have weight problems: they actually have a self esteem or anxiety problem. The reasons for weight gain are well known – eat too much and you put on weight. Simple. Continue eating too much and it stays on. There is no mystery about why people are fat. The mystery is why they don't regulate what they eat.

Anxiety and weight gain

In my experience weight problems are always emotional problems. Anxiety and weight gain are closely connected. People eat because their thoughts make them feel anxious. Eating gives them something to do to distract the thoughts. Then they get overweight and that makes them feel bad, so they get negative about themselves, and the cycle continues. The right approach is to find the source of the anxiety.

What you need to find out is why you eat, and what it is doing for you. Since you are a hypnotherapy student the best thing to do is to hook up with one of the other students.  Together you can explore why you are continuing to eat when you know you shouldn’t. This will benefit both of you.

Then get the other student to choose one of the scripts and personalize that script to suit your particular needs. Ask the other student to put you into trance and follow the script outline. Self recording seldom works.

What do you think?

How do you deal with weight loss? Should aim at the weight or the emotions?

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brief therapy

Brief Therapy hypnosis

I met a client today with travel anxiety problems.  He told me that he had been seeing another therapist for almost a year. This therapist had charged him thousands of dollars without creating any change in how he felt.

I find it astonishing that a client can continue charging someone week after week even though the client is getting no benefit. I find it even more disturbing that there are therapists who are so unprofessional as to encourage that. To my mind, applying the same therapy technique over and over, and producing no a significant change, is verging on fraud.

Hypnotherapy is brief therapy. In my practice, if I cannot make a definite, obvious difference in two session, then I advise the client that they may be better to find a different treatment.

Hypnotherapy is brief therapy

Hypnotherapy should be a brief therapy. The common distinguishing features of brief therapies of all types are:

1. Typically between one and twenty sessions.

2. Uses a rapid assessment to identify a core issue

3. Establishes and agrees  a specific therapeutic goal.

4. Focuses each session on that therapeutic goal

5. Active and direct interventions from the therapist.

Most common number of sessions = one

Research on therapy effectiveness investigated how many psychotherapy sessions clients actually attended (Talmon, 1990). It was found that:

(1) the modal length of therapy for every one of the therapists monitored was a single session;

(2) 30% of all clients chose to come for only one session in a given twelve month period; and

(3) there was essentially no correlation in a follow-up study between what the client stated helped them, and what the therapist thought was helpful in that session:

‘in most of the single-session therapy cases where patients reported particularly successful outcomes, the therapist appeared to have conducted a rather simple, almost dull session. In fact, in many successful single sessions, it is the patient who appears in control and sets the pace for change’ (p111).

This truth needs to be made clear to most hypnotherapists: you will probably only see the client for one session, whether you are successful or not. So you better get better at brief therapy.

 

What do you think of brief therapy? Would you go on seeing a client for years? 

 

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hypnosis blogs

Hypnosis Blogs Website Update

Blog and website Developments

Several good things have happened this week.

Relaunch of personal hypnotherapy website.

I have revamped my old personal hypnotherapy site wellingtonhypnosis.co.nz

The old website was in need of a complete rebuild. It had served me well for more than eight years. But it reflected an old Internet paradigm. It had been built in HTML and CSS using Dreamweaver. However it could not cope with the demands of being viewed on cell phones on tiny screens.

Statistics suggest that more than 60% of all websites are exclusively accessed through mobile devices. The old website also really could not cope with multimedia. The new version will have video and sound files embedded. I moved hosts and so the new website is basically a skeleton at this point but will get up to full strength over the next few days.

My office is now in the Hutt Valley. I have a new custom-built office in SilverStream which will be able to serve people all the way from Upper Hutt to Wellington. As well as a new office, there are extensive gardens, beautiful views, and a meditation retreat.

Blog Features in the top 100 list

The second notable thing is that the besthypnosisscripts.com blog has been chosen to be listed in the top 100 hypnosis blogs. Head on over to https://blog.feedspot.com/hypnosis_blogs/ to see the listing. Many thanks to Anuj Agarwal, the founder of Feedspot.   There are dozens and dozens of really great hypnosis blogs. You might want to check it out.

 

 

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home invasion anxiety

Home invasion anxiety removed

I had a client yesterday who told me she needed help with anxiety. She said she had been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. She said she had been on anti-anxiety medication for five years. Five years ago her marriage was on the rocks, she was being made redundant at work, and a parent was seriously ill. In her own words 'she went into meltdown' and had to be put on anxiety medication. This is a fairly normal description of a cluster of life events that triggers anxiety. However, I wondered why she was still anxious five years later.

Home invasion anxiety

I asked her what she thought the cause was. She immediately said "it is all about a home invasion I had when I was a kid. I woke up to find some man sitting on my bed". She was convinced that she had dealt with that. However, her current anxiety focussed on night-time, on being left alone, and on a fear of someone harming her.

I recently read a book by Peter Levine 'In an unspoken voice'.  His belief is that almost all anxiety comes from being in a situation that you feel powerless to escape from. Not dealing with the situation properly at the time leaves you trapped in that feeling for ever. The symptoms of this client fitted that description completely.

I thought this might be an ideal opportunity to try out the therapy recommended by Levine. This treatment basically involves muscle memory. You get the client to remember the incident, if possible to get into the fear. Then you get the client to use their muscles as they would have if they had made their escape. His theory is that the fear is 'frozen' into the victim's muscles, and needs to be released.

Releasing the home invasion anxiety 

He does not mention hypnosis at all but his recommendations lend themselves ideally to application in trance. I therefore put her into trance used a modified form of regression. I took her back to the home invasion, but instead of getting her to relive it, I suggested that she focus on the feeling. Then I told her to tense and release the muscles in her shoulders, and then her chest, and so on down her body.

I then suggested that she focus on her hands, and to become aware of what her hands wanted to do. I encouraged her to make micromovements as she thought about what she wanted to do. Then I asked her to imagine what muscle movements she would do if she was to fight the intruder, or she quickly got out of the bed, or if she pushed an alarm button. I took her through various scenarios that I thought might be appropriate ways of dealing with the situation. I tried to get her to talk through what she might have done, but she was unwilling or unable to hold a conversation while in trance.

After that, I brought her out of trance, and showed her how to go back into trance by herself using self hypnosis. I did this to teach her a technique that would allow her to turn off her chronic anxiety by resetting her feelings back to a calm level.

Clearing the Home Invasion anxiety

At the end of the session I asked her what she felt about the micromovements. She told me that had felt a tingling all over her body as she tensed and relaxed. She then said that the feeling of 'waiting for something to happen' that she always had, was gone.

I wonder to what extent the 'cures' that are credited to hypnosis are actually the result of the induction that most therapists use, the Progressive Muscle Relaxation Induction? It may be that it is the progressive tensing and relaxing that are doing the work, and all the 'patter' is actually irrelevent. It is maybe something to think about?

 

What do you think of this technique? Do we hold fear in our muscles for years? Share your ideas below.

 

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smoking procrastination

Smoking Procrastination Fear of doing it wrong

You never stop learning in this business. My smoking client today said she loved smoking but had to give up because it was affecting her health. I asked what she loved about it and she told me that it calmed her down. It turned out that she had anxiety all the time. Smoking was how she self medicated. She actually had smoking procrastination.

Smoking Procrastination

I discovered that she came from an alcoholic family. This led me to suspect that she would have some form of depression and I started probing gently about that. When we got to the questions about Black and White thinking she said that she was a procrastinator. She would stay in bed in the morning and her husband would bring her cups of tea. And with every cup she would have a cigarette. She said that sometimes she would stand in front of her clothes closet and not know what to put on, so she would have a cigarette and think about it.

I traced this to the perfectionism associated with B & W thinking. She agreed that rather than take a decision that might be wrong she would put it off: smoking gave her an excuse to drag it out by another ten minutes. I think that she was fearing the wrath of her parent and wanted not to commit to anything in case it was the wrong action. In childhood when she got things wrong  she would get shouted at, and an argument would ensue.

It seemed that she was mainly smoking to avoid taking action. If she didn't do anything then there was no danger of anything that would trigger those old feelings of fear. This fear of doing things wrong was also the source of her ongoing lifelong anxiety.

Have you dealt with procrastination? How can it be overcome? Share your ideas below.

 

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supernatural ability

Everyone has a supernatural ability

Would you like to learn a supernatural ability? The hypnotist Milton Erickson was famous for his powers of observation. People believed he had some supernatural ability. He seemed to be able to tell what a person was thinking and feeling just by looking at them.

Forced to observe 

He explained that he got this power because he had polio as a child. After his illness he was almost totally paralyzed and could only observe. He was left in chair all day and his large family went about their daily business around him. After a while, since he didn't speak or move, they forgot he was there. Silently, day after day he passively observed. And then he began to notice that what his sisters said did not agree with their actions. Somehow, he could tell how they felt by how they dressed and moved. He realized his sisters were communicating by more than words.

This was the skill that he brought to his therapy sessions as a psychiatrist. For many years, people assumed that it was something that was unique to him because of the special circumstances of his upbringing.

Everyone can get a supernatural ability

However, a book by Oliver Sachs shows that this is not so. Sachs is neurologist who studies the effects of damage to the brain. Some damage knocks out  parts of the brain but leaves other parts working. In some cases it affects speech, or motor skills, or the ability to recall concepts but not words.

In the book, Sachs describes how strokes cause some people to lose the power of speech and writing but otherwise are completely lucid. Some of these people made a full recovery and were able to describe what was going on in their minds while they were partly disabled. What is interesting from a therapy point of view is how being unable to communicate affected the rest of their thinking.

Several patients reported that after some weeks of total frustration, to the point of wanting to scream but being unable to, they gradually began to acquire different skills. By being unable to talk, but being able to play cards, they began to notice facial expressions, body posture, clusters of movement. They knew what people coming towards them were going to say even before they got within talking distance. And they reported that as their isolation went on, they got better and better at it.

After recover the common message was 'I realized that I never really listened before'. The interesting thing to me is that apparently everyone can learn this skill.

Why wait until you have a stroke?

What do you think is the key to listening? Share it below.

 

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switching to vaping

Should smokers be switching to vaping?

Many smokers are switching to vaping. Most assume that the change will be beneficial. By switching to vaping they are trying to avoid the well-known health problems of smoking tobacco. But is vaping actually better for you? And how exactly?

A recent pilot study looked into what effects vaping has compared to smoking. It only investigated a small number of people but it is the first research into smokers versus vapers. It suggests that vaping actually is better for you. But for a very surprising reason.

Switching to vaping

The study looked at the bacteria living in the gut of people who used vaporizers and people who smoke tobacco. The study found that participants who used vaporizers have the same gut bacteria as non-smokers. But the tobacco smokers had a significantly altered gut biome.

The term "gut biome" refers to the total collection of bacteria, viruses and fungi living in your gut. We all have trillions of bacteria working away inside us. Most of them are harmless, some of them are potentially hazardous, and a very large proportion of them are actually essential for good health.

Scientists are realising more and more that we have a symbiotic relationship with all the critters that make their home in our intestines. It is becoming clear that the gut biome can have significant health effects. Gut bacteria have been shown to influence obesity, depression, confidence, and even some quite severe mental health issues. So a healthy biome is of critical importance to everyone.

More research will have to be done but the initial results are intriguing. Who knew that smoking could adversely affect the bacteria living inside you?

How many of your clients are switching to vaping? Share it below.

Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/nu-van042718.php

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weirdest reason for smoking

Weirdest reason for smoking

Today I had what I thought was a very ordinary, normal client. But she actually had the weirdest reason for smoking ever.

She wanted to stop smoking. Then she gave me a long list of all the things that were going wrong in her life. This was all delivered in a quiet monotonous voice. She sat there with her head down, avoiding eye contact and radiating unhappiness.

Smoking to respect grandma

She knows that she has depression but chooses to do nothing about it. Her mother died a few years ago. The issues she had with her mother were never resolved. She loved her grandmother. Her grandmother was the best and brightest thing in her life. And all her memories about her grandmother include her grandmother smoking. The client said that part of the reason why she smokes is to honor the memory of her grandmother. Somehow, if she stops smoking, this disrespects her grandmother.

She wants to have a child, so she thinks it would be best if she stopped smoking. On the other hand she fears that she might be too old to have a child. Overall, I felt this client's despair. I really wanted to help her.

There was no point in trying to address the depression, because she's already said that she is not going to do a thing about it. So I did what I could with standard stop smoking therapy. To my surprise, she went into trance quite easily. I later learned that she had done a lot of meditation in the past, which would explain it.

Different realities

I took her through a series of hypnotic metaphors and visualizations. In trance I got her to look at her own reflection in a pool of water. I encouraged her to look at the reflection as if she was someone else. I encouraged her mind to consider different perspectives, alternative realities and to re-evaluate her own role in life. She was taken to a place where all her friends and relatives were assembled. There she proclaimed that she was changing, that she was stopping smoking, improving her lifestyle. And she outlined what her goal was and how she was going to get there. Among the people gathered there were people who had been a bad influence on her life in various ways. She identified those and banished them from the place.

Ego strengthening

I then did a series of ego strengthening statements. I sought out her personal beliefs and tried to establish a connection between her body, and her soul, and her mind. By the end of it, I had really pulled out all the stops and done everything I could to get this woman to a good place.

I brought her out of trance, and asked her how she felt. She told me that she felt relaxed and clearheaded and was seeing everything differently. And that was a problem.

Weirdest reason for smoking

She then told me one of the most extraordinary reasons I've ever heard why someone smokes. She said that she smokes because it "fogs her mind". When she doesn't smoke, she has "a sharp mind". Having a sharp mind, seeing everything clearly, means that she sees all the faults of others. Noticing those faults makes her angry at them. So she becomes unpleasant, and unsocial. And that's why she smokes, so that she can get on with people.

So my work with her was the exact opposite of what she wanted!

 

What is the weirdest reason for smoking you have heard of? Share it below.

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smoking and mindfulness

Smoking and Mindfulness

I have been reading Alan Wells' excellent book on metacognition and depression.  It is perhaps a  bit hard for the lay person to follow. But with the academic jargon stripped out it makes a lot of sense.

He introduces the idea of Detached Mindfulness; a state of being able to observe thoughts without acting on them. He differentiates between able to experience a thought from the point of view of an observer, and experiencing a thought as some thing that fuses together reality, belief and behavior  into one unbreakable unit.

Smoking and Mindfulness

I was thinking about this in the context of how to use it to get people to stop smoking. Smoking and Mindfulness are not often linked but there may be a way to combine them in therapy. I got to wondering about how it fits into the classical psychology conditioning model. That model sees learned behavior as the result of conditioning: stimulus →  response → reward.

However all these studies were originally based on non-sentient being like clams and worms. Humans are different in that they don't have to respond instinctively to everything. If you blow a puff of air into a person's eye, they will  blink. No matter how often you do it, they never unlearn it, and they cannot not do it.

But many stimuli cause different responses in different people, so perhaps the model needs another element: stimulus → thought → response → reward.

If that is a better model of how people actually respond to stimulus then it suggests that intervention based on changing the thought should work just as well as intervention based on changing the reward.

What do you think? Share your ideas below.

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shape shifter

Shape shifter hypnotherapy technique

I had this enquiry from a therapist today:

I have a young man coming in who believes he’s a shape shifter and who has had a kind of paranormal experience with a green lizard/Shapeshifter. He wants me to regress him to that experience so that he can understand and remember more about it. He also has a lot of anger at this father, mother and grandfather. Today is the first session and I’ll simply be trying to understand more about this experience and having him experience hypnosis. I wonder if you have any suggestions that will help me at this point be the support he needs.

I replied:

It sounds like you have a very interesting client. It seems to me that he has two issues. He has fairly standard resentment and anger towards certain people, and he separately has experienced some sort of hallucination that he doesn't understand. The two may well be connected.

I would approach this by suggesting to your client that we treat it as an exploration. It would be useful to find out the exact circumstances of when he had this experience. He may have been having them for quite a long time. I suspect that if you put him into trance, and deepen him into somnambulism, he will spontaneously regress. When he is in the state of experiencing his shape shifting then you can guide him to a place in his mind where he can safely observe what is going on. The shape shifter imagery will most likely be a metaphor for his basic fears. You can use any of the metaphor transformation therapies as a way of getting rid of the shape shifter thing. Or if he wants to keep them, then you can suggest that he is able to transform them into a source of personal power.

I would go on with exploring his shape shifter experiences until he has either resolved them or come to some sort of understanding about what they mean for him.

I think you then have to address the issues of anger and resentment against his family. I'm sure you know how to deal with them so I won't comment further on that.

I think you have a very interesting case there. I wonder what will come out at future sessions?

 

How would you deal with this ? Share your ideas below.

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