Open post
Smoking blindness

Smoking blindness

My local health district has proudly announced a new smoke-free effort to help people to cut down smoking. It is the result of years of planning and the combined efforts of seven area health boards. The initiative is "employing expert staff dedicated to helping people across the regions to become Smokefree".

The new service offers face-to-face coaching and 24-hour phone support. "The quick coaches will support you through a six-week program and provide free nicotine patches, lozenges and/or gum."
The service is embracing all the latest in technology. As well as weekly face-to-face meetings, they are using texting, videoing, Skyping, and emails to keep constantly in touch with the smokers. And it costs nothing. People wanting to quit get any combination of nicotine replacement therapy patches, nicotine gum, and lozenges free and unlimited.
The government has said publicly that it intends to make the whole country smoke-free by 2025. This initiative is part of that policy. And I applaud anything that is being done to help people stop smoking.

Smoking Blindness

However, this looks like another case of smoking blindness. Everything in this new initiative is based on a model of smoking which regards smoking as a purely physical or biomedical affliction. This reflects the widespread view in medicine that smoking is the result of physical addiction. If you believe that smoking is the result of addiction to tobacco then of course the correct response is to help eliminate the addiction. This is done with pharmaceuticals and encouragement. In my view this is just official smoking blindness.

It is surprising to me that this entire multimillion dollar initiative seems to give no weight at all to the psychological side of smoking. Hypnotherapy is very successful at stopping smoking. It does not use pharmaceuticals, and does not offer ongoing multiweek support. This is because you don't need them.

Smoking is at least as much about the psychology of the smoker as it is about the physical side. In fact I believe that smoking is almost entirely a psychological issue. It is rather disheartening to see yet another instance of smoking blindness by the medical profession. I wish the initiative well, but I really think that they are working on a flawed model.

Open post
brain scans

Are brain scans about to revolutionise hypnosis?

Brain scans are establishing if there is a link between suggestibility and the tendency to be easily hypnotised. Everyone is suggestive. If we were not suggestible the entire advertising industry would grind to a halt. The science of advertising has been the subject of intense psychological research almost since the beginning of advertising. Advertisers now know all the tips and techniques for getting and keeping your attention.  The aim is of course, to persuade you to buy their products. But on the way researchers have learned a great deal about suggestion, and flow, and states of mind.

Previous studies have been hampered by a lack of direct hard data. Knowing whether an advert worked or not has mostly been a matter of statistics and inferences. But no scientists can actually watch the brain at work as it is exposed to different stimuli.
Psychology researchers are now expanding their studies beyond advertising exposure and into the area of hypnosis. The driver behind this is quite surprising. Advances in neuroimaging (brain scans) is allowing scientists to look directly into the living brain. This means that scientists can tell which parts of the brain are being activated at any particular moment.
The importance of this is that finally, you can tell whether someone is actually hypnotised, or is faking it. And the result is that there is not absolutely no doubt that hypnosis is a real state that can be seen as a distinct configuration in the brain.

This means that almost everything that is known or believed about hypnosis must be reassessed. All the research published in the 20th century was really based on anecdote and theory and supposition. Live brain scans mean we now have the opportunity to study hypnosis objectively. It is now possible to measure the exact effect of different wordings and different techniques. 

This means that for the first time controlled experiments can be made that will establish exactly what works and what doesn't, and why. This new approach to research may end up revolutionising hypnotherapy. Maybe hypnosis will finally turn into a hard science.

Open post
client refunds

Should you give client refunds?

I got this email about client refunds:

I just want your opinion re this situation that came up today
Group session of 6 for smoking cessation.
45 mins later got a message that it hadn’t worked and it was my fault because I didn’t do stage hypnosis induction etc. she could have done the session herself.
So I replied answering her points. Now she has come back wanting her money back.  Paid 1/2 price as it was a group session and I travelled about an hour to get to the venue.
She was told it was a group session but she complained that there were others there.
Given her strong belief in what she thought I should be doing and saying and clearly not following my suggestions and her complete denial that it worked within 45 mins would you offer a refund? 
Your thoughts please.

 

My attitude to client refunds:

You get customers like this. Everyone does. You cannot avoid them.

You do your best and they throw it back in your face. Unfortunately, that is just the business we are in. We deal with people with mental health problems, and they do not act rationally.

If it was me, I would give her the money back immediately.

Life is too short to let these people upset you. There is nothing you can do. In our business the clients hold all the aces. When it comes to a dispute the client will always win. Even if you succeed in not refunding her payment, she will gleefully spend the next 10 years telling everyone who will listen what a crap hypnotist you are, and how she was right all along and you just could not help her.

You don’t need that kind of publicity. Refund her money and write it off to experience. Send her a nice little note saying you are sorry that it didn’t work out for her and you hope that she will find someone who can help her.

She has probably been to every health professional in the area and dismissed them all as useless. You were just the next in line. It doesn’t mean anything. And she is not worth spending time on.

All you can do is think back to see if you can identify any indicators that you can use to identify this kind of person in the future. And refuse to deal with them.

Open post
Fear of dentists

Fear of dentists

A client phoned me and asked if I was able to help overcome a fear of dentists. This client has totally rotten teeth but just cannot bring himself to go near a dentist. Fear of dentists is basically a simple phobia. Phobias are created when something dramatic happens to you, that makes you experience a deep and sudden fear.

Your unconscious mind creates a powerful association between the event and that fear. And forever thereafter your unconscious mind does everything possible to keep you away from that situation, or anything that is similar to that situation. If it means that your unconscious gives you a terrifying fear of dentists, then that keeps you away from them, and your unconscious mind has done what it should do – it has kept you safe.

I have dealt successfully with many people with the fear of dentists. It is usually not a needle phobia, it is a generalised fear of being near a dentist at all. When I questioned the client about the origin of this fear in every case it can be traced back to a specific time in childhood. For some reason, the client was taken to the dentist and got spooked. The child did not want some stranger poking round his mouth, sticking needles in, giving him pain, whatever. The child just wanted to get out of there and go home with his mother.

The origin of the phobia

What actually happened next was that the child is forcibly restrained, held down and operated on. The result was a child who is frightened of a strange situation, by strange people, and a link to pain and the knowledge that he can't get away. It is the "can't get away" part which is most important. The phobia is a combination of feeling trapped and knowing that you are going to get hurt. Your mind knows that this is going to happen, and so does everything possible to stop you getting into that situation again.

It is no different from a fear of public speaking. Fear of public speaking can usually be traced back to an incident at school. The child was suddenly asked to say something, said what they thought was right, and then got humiliated by the teacher. The humiliation was totally unexpected, and undeserved, and every other member of the class laughed at them. It's the same combination of pain, unexpected, and being unable to get out of the situation.

The way to deal with the fear of dentists is to go back to the source. Using regression, or other techniques, you get the client to experience the fear in your chair. Then you lead the client through the situation again. But this time you allow the client to feel that they are in charge, that they can control it, that they decide what happens.
When you do that you get rid of the unconscious association and allow the client to react naturally and rationally. The phobia is then instantly cured.

Nothing to it really, when you know how to deal with it.

Open post
Prevent heart attacks

Prevent heart attacks with hypnosis

Recent research  suggests that hypnosis has a role to play as a front line treatment to prevent heart attacks. Doctors have known for a long time that stress is associated with increased risk of heart attack. However there was only a correlation, and no direct proof that stress caused heart attacks. It was just as likely that the factors that lead to heart attacks also lead to stress.

Two new studies show that stress actually has a direct effect on the brain. The brain responds as if to a threat. It orders the body to produce new white cells. The increased blood cells then cause inflammation in the walls of the blood vessels. And this leads to narrowing of the arteries and  a higher chance of being blocked by blood clots. Blockages lead to heart attacks, angina and strokes. According to the study, this is the first time that a direct link between stress and cardiovascular disease has been proved.

Using hypnosis to prevent heart attacks

What the study shows is that stress is just as important as diet and smoking. Hypnotherapists have an excellent record on stopping people smoking, and also help people to lose weight. These two outcomes both reduce the risk of heart problems. It seems that we can now play another role in keeping people healthy.

Hypnosis and relaxation therapy are very good ways of reducing stress. It now appears that teaching our clients how to relax, or how to go into self hypnosis, can have direct effects on their cardiovascular health.

This is something that hypnotherapists should develop. Perhaps we should emphasis stress reduction in advertising and when talking to clients. Perhaps one day we will have clients coming to hypnosis as the treatment of choice  to deal with their general feelings of stress.

 

Source:

Tawakol, A., et al.  (2017) Relation between resting amygdalar activity and cardiovascular events: a longitudinal and cohort study. The Lancet

Open post
Initial consultation

Is the initial consultation a scam?

Do you need to spend an hour with your client before you can start doing hypnosis? Or is insisting on an initial consultation a scam?
Many hypnotherapists make an initial consultation part of their business model. Their treatment plan consists of the initial meeting, and then one or more sessions of hypnosis. Clients sometimes refuse to go along with this, and often feel that the initial consultation, is a con, a waste of their time and money.

Those therapists who use an initial paid consultation put forward the arguments:
a) hypnosis is more successful when it is aimed at a precise and specific target. They say that without an extensive consultation you cannot identify exactly what the problem is. Until you know exactly what is wanted and what is causing it, you cannot fix it.
b) the initial meeting build rapport. The better the connection between the client and the therapist, the better the outcome is likely to be.
c) sometimes the client needs to talk to someone, to get their feelings out in the open, to know that somebody cares. Hearing themselves describe their problems sometimes helps them to put their problems into perspective.

I can see that there are merits in these arguments.

Analysing the arguments for an initial consultation

But do you actually need a whole hour to find out what the client's problem is?
If the client wants to stop nail biting, what else is there to know?

It seems to me that a competent therapist should be able to nail down exactly what the issue is within 15 minutes so. That leaves plenty of time to do some actual therapy. And if not, at least learn enough to be able to suggest some different type of therapy based on what was learned.
I suspect that the desire to know about the specific target is actually an outcome of NLP training. NLP practitioners try to know exactly how you do the behaviour, exactly what you feel when you do the behaviour, exactly how you will feel when you have stopped doing the behaviour. Without knowing this you cannot really apply NLP principles and expect to have much success. If your practice is based on NLP, and I think you need to be upfront with the client and explain that this is part of the process. It is a little deceiving to call it a consultation when you are really exploring whether they can identify feelings and not.

The second reason given is about building rapport. This is another principle of NLP. Having rapport is good, but not essential, in my view. If rapport was essential, then recorded CDs would never work. If you never meet the client, the person listening to the CD, then you cannot possibly have rapport. And yet CDs do work.

The third reason, that the client needs to talk to someone is perfectly valid. But if you're actually offering counselling, then you should tell the client that it is a counselling session, and do proper counselling.

My experience with initial consultation

When I first started doing hypnosis professionally, I had just come out of a training school. As part of the training I was taught basically NLP with a bit of hypnosis. The basic instruction was to get a client and then invite them to come to your office to discuss what it is you might do in some future session. I actually started off offering hypnosis sessions for free. And I quickly discovered, even if it was free, clients hated spending the first session without either getting hypnotised, or getting some explicit therapy. I therefore quickly adopted the strategy of finding out what the client wanted, agreeing what we would be able to do, and getting on with it. Over time I was able to work out ways of finding exactly what I needed to do in just a few minutes, or extending the session, at my cost, until I did know exactly what the problem was and felt confident I could fix it.

As far as I'm concerned, I am not prepared to waste the client's time, or more importantly, their money, just to indulge my own need to have a plan. Hypnotherapy involves a great deal of uncertainty. The therapist needs to be prepared to let things develop organically. I often start a client into hypnosis when I really don't have a clear idea of where it's going, and just allow my unconscious mind to interact with their unconscious mind until something new and powerful emerges. This process has never let me down.

If you think that for your own comfort you need an hour from every client, then I suppose if the client is willing to waste an hour and get nothing done, then that's okay. But I really don't think you should be charging for it.

Open post
Think about eating

I think about food all the time

I had a client today who was overweight, but certainly not obese. We talked about her eating habits, and she told me that she doesn't overeat. She doesn't snack, or binge or eat over-large portions. On the other hand, she said "I think about food all the time".
She told me "on the way to your office I was thinking that afterwards I would have a lamb chop breaded with pesto and some nice vegetables". "In fact" she said, "when am eating breakfast I'm thinking about what to prepare for lunch". "I think about food all the time".

I listen carefully to what clients tell me. I also listen to what they don't tell me. One thing I have learnt over the years is that when a client is doing something all the time, they are not doing something else. I said to the client "if you're thinking about food all the time, what is it that you're not thinking about?". She had no idea what I was talking about.

I explained that if someone is thinking about food all day, I always suspect that they are doing it to avoid thinking about something else. They are filling their mind with some acceptable subject, so that they do not have to examine their own feelings and emotions.

Origin of the overeating

I started to explore this client's emotional background. I was trying to nail down what it was that was so terrible in her early life that she could not bear thinking about it now.
She told me that she had been brought up in Australia. Her mother had severe depression, had attempted suicide, and was constantly threatening to do it again. Her father was angry and distant. The wider family resented the marriage and constantly told my client that she was an outsider. The result was that my client came home from school every day dreading that she would find her mother hanging. Even as a little girl she stayed away from home as often as she could to avoid her father's sudden rages. She never felt she belonged there. The constant criticism from the family wore her down, and she escaped into daydreaming.

She grew up with a terrible feeling that something awful was going to happen, that whatever she did she was never going to be good enough. It was this feeling that she was trying to avoid by thinking about food all the time.

The treatment

I put the client into a light trance. I asked her to think about the place she had grown up in, how she had felt in that place. After a while, with repeated reminders from me based on what she had said, her eyes began to fill with tears. She was now back in the feeling, not reliving  a specific memory, but connecting to her feelings about growing up there.
I asked her to think about the feeling, to become aware of the feeling even more, and to think about the feeling as if it wasn't object. I asked her to describe the object. She told me it was like a purple diamond. This purple diamond was rotating so fast that she couldn't think. Then she said the purple diamond was turning into a swirl of cloud and then back to the purple diamond. She told me that the spinning of the purple diamond was always putting her on edge. When it was spinning she felt overwhelmed and her throat closed up. Its constant relentless spinning made her angry, and she lashed out at other people.
I asked her what she would like to have happen to it. She said she wanted it to stop spinning. She said when it stopped the sun could come out and its glow would give her strength.

Using her own resources

I then asked what would have to happen to make the diamond slow down a little. She mumbled something I didn't hear about "water". I suggested that the spinning diamond could meet water. Then I asked her "what happened with the water?" She said "it has stopped now". I asked her to look at it carefully now that had stopped. She said, surprised, "it's actually an oval". The change in shape indicated that the transformation of emotions had started. I continue to develop the oval by suggesting various things that could happen to it. Then she told me it's turned into a balloon. I tried to develop the balloon by suggesting that it could get bigger and bigger. She told me "it's inflating, and then deflating, and then inflating again". This indicated to me that she does not have the resources to clear it unaided.

I needed to get her to destroy the balloon. So I suggested that she allow it to get bigger and bigger. This worked for a while and then she said "I'm afraid it will pop". I said to her "that's exactly what needs to happen". Again I suggested inflating the balloon until she said "I can't get it to go any bigger". At this point she needs more resources. I then suggested that she inflate that balloon with her own energy, with her own refusal to accept what was going on, what was being done to her. I was trying to get her to summon her own energy and resources.
She then said "it's popped".
I got her to confirm that there was nothing left of the balloon. By destroying the object, she has removed the negative feelings.

I brought her out of trance, and asked her to go back inside to check how she felt. She said "it feels calm in there. And I can feel that sun come out now". I got her  to check how she felt about her parents and the whole situation. She said "it all feels calm there now". That feeling and the theory generated has now gone forever.

It really does not take a lot of therapy to deal with even the most debilitating feelings. I hope this client is now able to get on with her life free of anxiety. And I predict that she will be able to lose weight now.

Open post
Ending compulsive gambling

Ending compulsive gambling

Gambling is reaching epidemic proportions in Australia. There are pokey machines (slot machines) everywhere. It is becoming a major social problem. There is a constant need for ending compulsive gambling.
I saw a client today who feels that her gambling is out of control. Even on the way to my office she passed the local pub and thought to herself "I wonder if it's open", so that she could go in and play the pokey machine. Last week she put the entire household shopping budget, over $400, into a pokey machine.
When we started talking about it, she told me that the noise, the lights, the high she gets just puts her into a zone. As long as she has money, she just keeps putting it in to stay in the zone. She said that she feels she is spiralling out of control.

Source of the compulsive gambling

In my experience gambling is always an aspect of anxiety.
I started asking her what it was that she was trying to avoid by gambling, and she told me that she was having troubles with her job, her marriage, and felt that she was failing her daughter. I asked her if she had always been anxious. She told me that since she was 11 she has been pulling her eyelashes, and goes through periods of trichotillomania. And to my surprise, took off her hat, to show that she was near bald.

She was clearly unhappy. So I asked her about her childhood. She told me that she grew up on a farm. She said that she had a very happy childhood. When someone tells me that a happy childhood, my heart fails, because usually they are deluding themselves. They would not be sitting in my chair if they had had a happy childhood.

I started asking about growing up, and it turned out that for her mother she was never good enough. Her mother was a perfectionist, her father was always working. Her sister was always academically bright. So she never felt good enough.
When she was 15 years old her father lost his job, and that was when the anxiety started.

To me the suggested that her mother had anxiety, and her father had some sort of need to be always busy. I asked her she had ever been diagnosed with depression and she said she'd been on pills for 20 years.
Digging deeper revealed a history of failed relationships, single mom, unsuitable relationships with married men. All of these suggested to me that her basic problem was insecurity.

I think that her gambling puts her into the zone where she can forget all her worries. Her unconscious mind is driving her to do that because it doesn't have any other way of dealing with her overwhelming feeling of not being good enough.
Her gambling binge had only been going on for six months.

Six months ago, she and her husband went to a bar, for no particular reason put some money into a pokey machine, and won $900. This was a godsend and got them out of a financial problem. In her unconscious mind, she associated ending her problems with winning on the pokies. She started using them occasionally, and then continuously.

The solution to compulsive gambling

The solution was to deal with the anxiety. I asked her to relax, and breathe deeply. Then I got her to focus on her own feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and inadequacy. It was immediately obvious that she had found the feeling so I began to develop it as a metaphor. I helped her to develop it into an object. It was a grey object like a brain. I encouraged her to think about how it might change, and gave her suggestions as to how to do that.

She transformed into a very small green thing that she felt good about. I got her to take that somewhere outside where it could grow and flourish. Then I got her to fill the space where the brain thing had been with something nice. She chose her daughters smile to fill it with.
I use that feeling to fill the whole of her mind with a feeling of contentment. Then I use that new feeling to go fishing for the anxiety deep inside. I suggested that her mind had found the source of the anxiety, lifted it out of where it had been hiding, and destroyed it.
I then brought her back to the present.
She said to me that she felt as though she had been asleep for hours. She said she felt such a relief. And she was now ready to go back and get her life back on track.

Open post
stop smoking metaphor

Using a personalised embodied metaphor to stop smoking

Occasionally I get a client who gives me a wonderful example of how people naturally use embodied metaphor. In hypnotherapy, metaphors are usually discussed only as parts of speech. Metaphors are seldom discussed when they represents an embodied feeling. This is a case of using a personalised embodied metaphor to stop smoking.

I had a smoking client this morning who told me that she can stop smoking OK, but something always makes her start again. It's like this thing on her shoulder constantly egging her on to smoke. As the days and weeks go by of not smoking, it gets stronger and stronger until she just has to give in and have a smoke.
This kind of personalised embodied metaphor has always intrigued me. For some reason, I have always been attracted to metaphor therapy. I like the visual element to it, and I like the way metaphor therapy can remove even the most stubborn unconscious behaviour. In this case I did not have a client after this one, so I felt I had some spare time to experiment.

Developing a personalised embodied metaphor

I began the induction by asking the client to take three deep breaths. Then I stopped the induction and asked her to become aware of the thing on her shoulder. I got her to think about this feeling of smoking, this thing that was always on her shoulder when she stopped. I talked about noticing its colour, size, and how it felt physically on her shoulder.
Even after only three deep breaths, she was clearly in a light trance. She began to describe the thing that appeared on her shoulder. She described it as being a brown mass. Then she said there was white. She said it is tall. I asked how big it was. She told me "about the size of my finger". I asked what it looked like. She said "it's a cigarette", like I was an idiot.

This completely surprised me. Metaphors are usually just that, a metaphor. In other words, something that represents something else. This woman was experiencing it as the thing itself. Usually when I do this exercise I find an imp, or something like a gargoyle, something that represents an evil spirit of some sort. This woman was visualizing just a cigarette with a filter tip.

Using the personalised embodied metaphor to stop smoking

However, a metaphor is a metaphor, so I just went with what she gave me. I asked her to confirm that this represented her feeling of needing to smoke, of having to smoke. She said, "Yes, that's what it is". So I asked her what she would like to have happen to it.

She said "I want to break it up into little bits". I told her to do that. I then asked "And what is happening now to that thing?". She said "It is scattered on the ground". I then encouraged her to squish it all into the ground, to utterly destroy the cigarette.
Then I went over it all again. I used the suggestion that any time in the future when she might feel like starting smoking again, she would become immediately aware of this thing on her shoulder. She would reach up, break it into little pieces, scatter it on the ground, and utterly destroy it.
I brought her back out of trance, and we discussed it. She said "I don't quite know why, but I feel that I'm in control of it now".

Metaphor therapy can be quite amazing. Fast, flexible and powerful.

Open post
anxiety making ill

Is anxiety making you ill?

Anxiety doesn’t just affect the mind

Does worry cause physical illness?

Is anxiety making you ill? Anxiety is linked to physical illness. Recent research has shown that anxiety doesn’t just affect the mind, it may also make you physically ill. To be specific, anxiety is associated more than would be expected with a wide range of physical health problems.

The DSM lists several common types of anxiety disorder: general anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic attacks, simple phobias, OCD and PTSD. It is not surprising that anxiety is the most common problem presented to hypnotherapists.

A recently published review of 48 high-quality academic research articles has confirmed that anxiety is the most common psychological problem. Around 4% of people experience some sort of anxiety disorder. Women are twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder than men. Surprisingly, young people are more affected than older groups.

Common anxiety types

The most common form of anxiety reported was generalised anxiety order (GAD). Other common forms found were simple phobias, and the least common was full panic disorder. People with long-term health conditions such as cancer, heart problems, heart and lung diseases all show a consistently high level of anxiety. It is not clear which one causes the other, but anxiety is almost always present.

Anxiety is also very common with some mental health conditions, particularly bipolar depression and schizophrenia. Anxiety is also commonly found with various types of addictions, such as substance abuse, uncontrollable gambling and various types of obsessions.

The review found that people with an anxiety disorder are at increased risk for the development of other anxiety and mood disorders. Anxiety is also a predictor of addictive behaviour.

This backs up the assertions by many hypnotherapists that teaching people how to reduce their own  anxiety by self-hypnosis can have a positive effect on the quality of life.

 

Source:

O. Remes, C. Brayne, R. van der Linde, L. Lafortune. A systematic review of reviews on the prevalence of anxiety disorders in adult populations, Brain and Behavior, 2016; 6(7). doi: 10.1002/brb3.497

 

Posts navigation

1 2 3 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Scroll to top

Enjoying this site? Share it around,