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funeral depression

Funeral Depression Case Study

Funeral Depression

I had an interesting client this morning. An older woman who came to see me because she feels that she has no motivation to go out. She has lost interest in life. In fact she is afraid to go out.  She is afraid of seeing old friends and feels that nobody likes her.

Over the last year she has had to go to funeral after funeral as all the people of her generation and her mother's generation are dying. She  got so tired of going to funerals that she just didn't want to go to any more. So she made excuses to not go. And now she is afraid to face the people who did go to the funerals. She thinks that they will all think badly of her. They might not say anything to her face, but she just knows that they think that she is putting herself above them. They will think that she is arrogant and won’t want to be with her.

I spent a long time talking with her, about her feelings, about her beliefs of what other people think of her. She is really driving herself to stay home because she's afraid that if she goes out she could meet one of her friends, one of her friends who went to the funerals. Her fear is that that friend will reject her because she didn't go to the funeral.

I tried to explore around this irrational belief and finally realized that she is actually suffering from black and white thinking. She has a form of depression. She has allowed her thoughts to run away with her. Her black and white thinking is dictating to her that people will either accept her totally reject her totally. And because she has guilt about not going to the funerals, it can only be that they would reject her.

Finding the caused of her funeral depression

I therefore spent the rest of the session exploring how she can change her thinking. We discussed rational emotive therapy, challenging her thinking, and other forms of cognitive behavioral therapy.

I think she has now come to appreciate that what she believes about her friends is just not true. The reality is that her friends understand perfectly why she didn't go to the funerals and they do not think less of her because of that. I think it is also likely that the reason she didn’t go the funerals in the first place had nothing to do with being tired of them. It was actually the onset of her funeral depression.

The job now is to get her to accept that and to change how she thinks. Then she can begin to live life again and get back to a healthy relationship with her friends.

 

How would you deal with a case like this? Leave a comment. 

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chinese restaurant phobia

Chinese Restaurant Phobia

Chinese Restaurant Phobia

I saw a client today with Chinese Restaurant phobia. This is one of the more unusual phobias I have come across. My client went to a Thai restaurant about two weeks ago and was enjoying the meal. But something in the ingredients set off an extreme allergic reaction. He ended up being stretchered out of the restaurant barely breathing and into hospital dangerously ill.

He was discharged two days later and swore to avoid Thai restaurants in future. However this week, when he went into a Chinese restaurant he immediately felt dizzy and frightened and had to go outside again. After ten minutes we went back in to join his friends. But again he was seized with an overwhelming fear and actually vomited when he ran outside.

It is interesting to see so clearly the process of how a phobia forms.  His unconscious mind has identified something in the Thai restaurant as being associated with the sudden onset of a dangerous illness. It is therefore primed to protect him  by forcing him out of any place where he might get harmed. It is now in the process of broadening out the possible indicators to include other types of Asian 'things'.  Over time, if left untreated, his unconscious will start to include an ever wider range of possible indicators. It may eventually end up as a full size fear of any restaurant, or even of food.

Treating the phobia

I like to treat phobias by going directly for the feeling. I ask the client to think about the feared situation and feel the fear. If they can get the fear as a feeling in their body I can clear it immediately using Gestalt Metaphor Therapy.

In this case the client could not summon up the feeling, probably because it has not had time to create a strong repeatable feeling.

So I put him into trance and tested to make sure he was under. Then I suggested he think about the Thai restaurant and the Chinese restaurant and the feeling that he got there. The client turned to be one of these people who go corpse-like in trance, and give no indication of what is going on inside. I therefore could not do a question and answer session with him.

All I could do then was assume he had the feeling and try to remodel it without feedback. I suggested that the feeling could become an object, that it  had a shape, a size, a color and so on. Then in several different ways I suggested  that the object was changing, shrinking, changing color and transforming itself in ways it wanted to. I really had no idea what was going in his mind or whether he was experiencing anything at all.

I brought him out of trance and asked, a bit nervously, what object had looked like. "Oh, a big concrete square," he said, "and I crushed it".

Looks like the job got done.

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Bored

Bored – a special word in hypnotherapy

Bored is a special word in hypnotherapy. When a client says to me "I  [do something] when I am bored" this immediately sets off a warning signal in my mind. Then I know I am dealing with a case of anxiety.

Boredom is better defined as a lack of stimulation. When you lack stimulation one of two things happens. You either get up and seek external stimulation, or you allow your inner thoughts to come out. Both of these alternatives have good and bad aspects.

Seeking external stimulation is least bad of the outcomes. Some people get motivated to do useful things. Others just go aimlessly looking for something, anything, to do. The old saying 'the devil finds work for idle hands' applies here. Much petty crime is the result of too much time and not enough planned activity.

Allowing inner thoughts to intrude also has several outcomes. Some client are so afraid of their inner thoughts that they spend their life in frantic activity, keeping busy all the time. Other people so hate the thoughts that they play music all day and keep the radio on all night. Having an external noise drowns out the the disturbing internal thoughts.

Most people do not go to such extremes. But the fact that they are having these thoughts is disturbing, and makes them feel anxious. So they do something to fill the void. When things get quiet is often when people start on their bad habits. Snacking is a classic response to boredom. Smoking is another. As is hair pulling.

So when the client tells me that they do it when they are bored, I start seeking the cause of their anxiety.  Fix that and you fix the behavior.

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ethical

Is it ethical to give the customer what they want?

Is it ethical to do what the client needs, rather than what they came for? The customer is not always right, especially in the hypnotherapy business. In fact, in hypnotherapy, the customer is usually wrong. When a client comes in and asks for say, Gastric Band Hypnotherapy, or Past Life Regression, that is what they want, but it is not usually what they need.

The fact is, if the client knew what they actually needed, they would do it themselves, and they wouldn't need a therapist at all. The client therefore seeks  a solution based on faulty reasoning. They decide what it is that will cure them, and demand that you do it. They know what outcome they want, but usually how they want to go about getting it is wrong.

As a therapist, is it ethical to do what the client asks for?

You can always outright refuse to do the procedure. But what is the Ethical position if you recognize that the client is showing symptoms of depression, or childhood trauma? Do you give them what they want, or what they actually need?

Suppose a clients says they want to explore a Past Life. Some friend told them they are being punished for some bad thing they did in a previous life. Do you just do the Past Life Regression as they ask, or should you first explore what is going on in this life? And if it becomes clear that their problems are all caused by something in this life, should you persuade the client to accept a different procedure?

Or should you agree and then do what they need? It is quite easy to do anything you want, within limits, when the client is in trance. You can disguise your therapy in a metaphor, or you can 'accidentally' go back to an early trauma and clear it with Regression to Cause. The client probably would never realise that what they got was not what they asked for.

But if it works, is that ethical? Equally, is it ethical do what they ask for, when you know it won't work?

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Lucid Dreaming

Lucid Dreaming

Lucid dreaming is being aware that you’re dreaming while you’re dreaming. Some people claim to be able to do it, others claim it doesn’t exist.
Most of us have had the experience of realizing we were dreaming in the dream. Usually you just wake up and that’s it.
Lucid dreaming tries to do more. In a lucid dream, the dreamer interacts with elements of the dream. Really skilled lucid dreamers can bring other characters into the dream, such as famous power figures such as Einstein. Or they can create resources out of nothing, such as chain saws. They then use these to create changes in the dream. So if you are in a dream being pursued by some faceless monster, you create a flame thrower and destroy it.

The whole idea of lucid dreaming is intriguing. There is a minor industry claiming to teach people how to do it. Various psychologists are now investigating it as well. The attraction is that it might offer a way to deal with the thousands of service people suffering from PTSD. Every war produces thousands of cases, and they are very hard to treat.

I was reading about the latest research in this area and it struck me that lucid dreaming might be nothing more than a form of trance. The parallels are very close. They both involve REM thinking, and they both allow people to dissociate and enter states of imagination.

In fact many hypnosis techniques use exactly the same techniques. NLP has comedy transformation routines. These get the person to think of what they fear and get them to change more and more parts of it until it becomes ridiculous. Gestalt therapy uses metaphor transformation in a similar way. Symbolic Modeling and Clean Language get the client to visualize their issues as symbols and then change them.

So perhaps there is already a whole area of knowledge in existence.
If you want to try it yourself you can try ‘dream incubation’ to start you off. What you do is to rehearse some scene in your mind during the day in order to prime your mind for the night. You might want to think of an upcoming interview that you are worried about, or an exam. Go over it several times before bedtime, and then think of some symbol or object that sums it up. Then when you fall asleep your mind should create a dream about the situation. You will know you are dreaming when the symbol or object appear in the dream. You can then take charge and dream it into a successful conclusion

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Loose Bowels and stress

In hypnotherapy you never know what you are going to meet next. Today I had a case of loose bowels. The client was a lovely woman with a terrible secret. She has to go to the toilet every time she has to meet with another person. Her job involved constant meetings and briefings, so this really is a major problem.

She gets the squitters with stress.  I dug into the cause of the stress and discovered it was really about the fear that she would have to leave the other person alone. In her mind this is unforgivably rude. If she was called away or something then the other person would be thinking bad thoughts about her due to her behavior. She had no problem with three people. She could meet three people, because if she had to leave then there would still be two people to talk to each other, and they would not condemn her for being rude.
I discussed this with her looking for the source. She said she had a great childhood. There was no reason for the anxiety.

Therapy

When dealing with a specific stress like this my normal approach is relax the client. Then I get her to imagine the exact situation and feel the feeling she gets. The idea is to use the feelings as a bridge to the original event that was causing the stress.  She tried but could not get the feeling without being there.

I therefor put her into trance. I did a general exploration of her subconscious using the Leaky Shoes script and she started crying. Crying is always an an indication of an emotion coming to the surface. She was now in the feeling that she said she could not find.

I got her to express the feeling as a metaphor.  The feeling transformed into a brown ball full of moving clouds of black.  I worked on changing this and got her to shrink it. It gradually got smaller and when it was a golf ball size she stopped. She couldn't shrink it any more. This kind of halt is common in metaphor therapy. So I asked her if she had ever sliced a tomato and that did it, the image of the tomato allowed her to start cutting into the ball. Then I got her to think of  dicing something and she got rid of the thing completely.

Outcome

Whatever the source of her stress was, it was now gone. I brought her out of trance and talked about what she had just done in her mind. The result was that she started talking about her upbringing. Somehow it was now something she could talk about. It turned that she in fact had not had a good childhood. 
She had been bought up with an adopted older brother, her mother expected perfection, and there were constant arguments that she escaped by joining a girls' organisation and spending as much time as possible out of the house. Somewhere in all that mess was the source of her unique fear.

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secret hypnosis resource

Finding your secret hypnosis resource

Sometimes when you are doing hypnosis for smoking you need to utilize a secret hypnosis resource. You need to be always on the look out for things the client says that you can use. It comes down to really listening to your client. If you listen to your client the client will tell you exactly what they need.

I had a client come back to me several months after I had hypnotized her to stop smoking. She had started again and wanted me to fix it again. She told me that there had been a big family bust up. Her father had died and all sorts of unpleasantness between family members had come out. My client just couldn't take the arguing and spite and got stressed and started smoking again.

It is a mistake to just take things the client tells you at face value. When I started probing about why the arguing had upset her so much I found the real reason. She loved her father and missed him desperately. With the family clashes and the loss of her dad she just couldn't cope. So she went back to the thing she had always relied on in times of stress: smoking.

She was sitting in the chair weeping and it was clear that was not even near being over his death. As long as she felt that way she was not going to be able to stop smoking. So that became my secret hypnosis resource.

I put her into trance and changed my standard stop smoking routine to include the secret resource. In trance I had her imagine a journey where she is going up a mountain path. The path gets steeper and harder and she can't go back and she can't go forward. Then along the path comes a person. This person is not described but it become obvious who it is. The person then tells her that he knows she is carrying some awful burden. He helps her let it go and it tumbles down the mountainside. Then he asks her to do something for him. He asks her if she will give up smoking for his sake.

By this time my client was in floods of tears and promising to do anything for him. I then let the two of them reconcile and he told her it was time for him to go. He told her that he was happy where he was and it was time to let go. They embraced and then he continued down the path and she continued upwards.

She me afterward that she felt such a feeling of relief. The path was exactly how she felt. And nothing would ever make her betray her father. She would never smoke again.

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hypnosis suggestions

Can’t be hypnotized

Hello,I am looking for advice.
I have used a number of self hypnosis CD’s and paid for hypnosis 1-1.
I keep trying but they seem to have little or no effect on me.
Is there something I am doing wrong? Is there something wrong with me?
Can you advise if there is some thing I could do which would remedy this?
Many Thanks

What if I can't be hypnotized? The short answer is that everyone can be hypnotised. It is simply a matter of finding the right method.

Client centered issues.

What you get is not what you expect

Part of the problem may be that you are expecting something different from what you are getting. Everyone reacts differently to hypnosis. Some people expect to get fireworks and cosmic enlightenment.  Others expect to wake up totally blank and remember nothing. Some people feel weightless while others feel their limbs so heavy that they can't move. Still others jerk and twist in trance and are convinced that they can't have been in trance because they can move.

The fact is that everyone's experience is different. I know I am going into trance when my right hand twitches. I know I am going into somnambulism when I get a tingle on my upper lip. But I can also have a conversation when I am in trance.

Issues of control

As a hypnotherapist I get clients from all parts of the hypnotizability spectrum. The ones who do not go into hypnosis easily are usually people who fear losing control. They want to go into trance but when they feel themselves slipping away they instantly snap out of it.

This is often mixed in with or a part of mental anxiety. In some people their mind is always busy. They are so filled with constant thoughts, worries and panics that they  cannot focus on the process. Some just drown out the words of the therapist. Others over analyse what the therapist is saying. They are both ways of protecting their mind from what will happen if they lose control.

Hypnotist centered issues

Competence

Some hypnotists just aren't very good. It takes a lot of experience to know when someone is going into trance, and when they are not. Anyone can read a script, and most people will go under. But some people need a different approach or multiple approaches to let go.

Matching the induction to the client

A hypnosis recording is a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. There is nothing wrong with recordings, but they have limitations. NLP says that people are either visual, auditory or kinesthetic. There is some truth in that. So I have to match my induction to the client. I sometimes do two or even three inductions if I don't see the signs of trance I expect to see. And in every case, I test to make sure the client is in trance before I continue with the therapy.   Of you course, you can't be tested if you are listening to a recording.

How to deal with it.

The client can't do anything wrong in hypnosis. There is nothing wrong with you or your mind. You are a human being, therefore you can be hypnotized.  If you don't go into trance then it is the hypnotist's fault. Everyone can be hypnotised. It might take a while, it might take several goes, but it can be done. Whether the hypnotist has the skills or the patience is another matter.

I suspect that if you have dealt with a competent hypnotist, and you have listened to multiple CDs, and you still can't go into trance, then the issue is one of control. Your mind just won't accept losing control. The test is if you have difficulty with sleep.

A good hypnotist can work with you and find a way of bypassing your loss-of-control fears. However, this might take a lot of time and a lot of money. What I suggest you do is practice a simple form of self hypnosis. This will let you experience the feeling of trance in a safe environment and under your own control. Once you mind learns that you can give up control and not die, you will be able to go into trance easily.

Self hypnosis exercise

All you have to do is to find some quiet place and do the exercise. Start by counting your breaths. On each breath out count from ten down to one until your breathing is soft and regular. Repeat it if you have to. Then count from ten down to one and think to yourself "body relaxing" on each out breath.  Repeat if you have to.

Then on each out breath gently whisper or think a word. Any word. The word 'one' is fine. Or 'success' or 'trance' or anything else. The word is not important, the repetition is. Keep repeating the word until you dissociate. This means that the word will lose all meaning, will seem strange, disconnected. When you dissociate you are in the first stage of hypnosis.

Notice what the state feels like. Then practice finding that state again some other time. Practice with your word again and again if you have to. Eventually you will able to think yourself into that state without the exercise. When you have achieved that, you are successfully going in and out of trance. You can then develop from there. The CDs will begin to work and you will begin your path to change.

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Smoking for dstraction

Smoking for distraction

Smoking for distraction is a way for people to avoid worries and bad feelings. Smoking is often a substitute for something else. My client today was unusual. He smoked fifteen cigarettes a day every day, except weekends. He doesn't smoke at all on the weekends, but he cannot give up the weekday smokes.

It is quite common to find people who only smoke at night, or only at weekends, or never when there are other people around. Many smokers can go without for long periods of time depending on the situation they are in.

This client smokes in the van on the way to work. He is a business owner in charge of several jobs where tradesmen are working independently at different work sites. All day he worries about the job, progress and what has to be done next. And that is the key to his smoking.

He is in fact catastrophizing about what could go wrong with each job. On the way there he winds himself up by imagining what he will find when he gets there, and uses smoking as a way to relieve the pressure. He is smoking for distraction. That is why he doesn't need to smoke on weekends: he doesn't have to go talk to workmen about progress on weekends.

Previous Therapy Fails

He had been to a hypnotist before many years ago. And he lit up on the way home from that session. I believe that people find it easier to modify their behavior when they understand what is driving it. In this case I found that he also had aspects of depression. His mind is always busy and he is a bit of perfectionist.

This combination means that he worries that things are going wrong when he is not there, this causes anxiety and the smoking given hem something to do to break the cycle. Now that he knows why he smokes and what he gets from it, it will be easier for him to come up with different strategies to get the same result.

In this case he decided that he would chew a pencil instead, and take a ten minute brisk walk after each site visit. That, combined with the stop-smoking trance I did with him should allow him to stop immediately.

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cream of tartar smoking

Stop Smoking with cream of tartar?

Yesterday I was dealing with a stop smoking client. I saw her last week. I explained  to her the psychology of why she smokes in order to motivate her to stop. This seems to have worked.   Last week she thought she wanted  to stop smoking: this week she is determined to stop smoking.  And apparently,  is willing to try anything and is in fact is trying everything all at once. She is using nicotine patches, affirmations, hypnotherapy and cream of tartar.

Cream of Tartar? She told me she had read on the Internet that taking a teaspoon of cream of tartar mixed with orange juice would remove all the nicotine from her body.

I had never heard of this so I decided to find out about it. After all, if it worked then I need to start telling clients about it. I quickly found a source on-line, in fact several sites described it. On examining the sites it became clear that there was just one site that all the others were using as their source. On checking that site, it became clear that there is no scientific study cited as evidence for doing this. In fact none of the websites offered any sort of proof at all. Most sites said something like 'it is said that' with no attribution and my conclusion is that they are all relying on each other.

How likely is it that Cream of Tartar might work?

It is actually Tartaric Acid, potassium bitartrate,  a mild acid commonly used in baking. In very large quantities it is poisonous, but a teaspoon a day will do no more damage than altering the acid balance of your stomach perhaps and giving an incredibly sour taste to the orange juice. The sour taste is probably what influences the people who say it works. The strange taste will act as a placebo and will remind the smoker about how much they want to stop and could well have an effect. The orange juice contains citric acid, and ascorbic acid as vitamin C. And lots of sugar, so it is probably not a good mixture for most people.

I won't be advising my stop smoking clients to start drinking it.

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