Can't Let go of what she said
My client today discovered that his female partner was texting someone in Australia boasting that she was having sex with some other man. She explained to my client that she was actually winding up the other guy. He has accepted this explanation but cannot let it go. Every time they have an argument or disagreement he brings it up. She is now telling him to get over it, move on, or find somebody else.
He keeps thinking about the incident and can't let it go. The suggested to me that he has depression. I showed him my dysthymia check sheet and he agreed that he is all over it. He told me that his sister is bipolar. I decided to teach him some thinking exercises.
I started on the Tiger exercise. He immediately told me that he cannot visualise aTiger. In fact he cannot visualise anything. I tested with various things. He couldn't even visualise a circle. He said that when he thought about the Tiger what came to mind was his own cat. A fat and lazy cat. But he wasn't seeing the cat. He was experiencing the cat. He had no visual ability at all. I therefore could not use the thinking exercises. I didn't really know what to do.
Hypnosis for people who cannot visualize
I asked him what he gets when he thinks about the texting incident. He told me that he can remember the car, and her leaving her phone on charge, and him thinking there's something odd about the text he'd seen, and then checking again later. He could not visualise any of it. He was quite astonished that I could visualise things easily and clearly. He appeared quite worried by this as if there was some sort of deficit in him. But when he was talking about the incident he said "I can feel it now". I therefore decided to do metaphor replacement therapy on it.
I got him to think himself back to the incident and he quite quickly got the feeling. When he confirmed he had the feeling I asked him how big it was. "Massive". I asked them what colour it was. He said "maybe black?". He was not visualising it. I asked him "is it hot or cold?". He said it's cold. I asked him "what shape is it?". He said it's like the shape of a person, and outlined shoulders and a waist in the torso.
I asked him "can you make it a little bigger". He immediately said "no". I asked him if he could make a little bit smaller?. He immediately said "yes". Very quickly he made it so small it could fit in his hand. I asked him what would happen when it goes away. He said he could be free he could have a chance of getting her back again. He would be able to make good decisions again.
I then asked him what he wanted to happen to that thing. He said he wanted to throw it away. He imagined himself standing on a cliff and throwing this thing down. I then talked him through this thing going into the soil and rusting and turning into earth and being washed away.
I then tested him to go back to the incident and see if there was any feeling left. He could find no feeling. But he still wasn't convinced that it had gone. I talked about the process for a while and explained how it all worked.
Cannot visualize his second issue either
Eventually he said that he's got another issue. He has jealousy about an ex-partner of his wife's who in his opinion stands too close to her and is trying to upset him. He gets angry and jealous whenever he is near his wife. I asked him to go back into the feeling. He got that. I asked him "and what is it like?". He said "is like a sheet, a sheet enveloping me".
He then said that he could pull the sheet off and I got him to do that in detail. He said that he'd thrown the sheet down on the ground. I asked him to pick it up. He had it between his hands. And I then got him to do something to it. I suggested he could tear or shred it or set fire to it. He decided to set fire to it. It ended up as a small pile of ash very quickly. I got him to blow it away and sweep up whatever was left and it was over.
He agreed that the feelings had gone but was still quite skeptical about whether it would stay gone.
What I realized from this client is that I have found a way to deal with people who cannot visualize. I was really surprised at how well metaphor replacement therapy worked for someone who could not visualize at all.
How do you deal with non-visualizers?
He is highly regarded in the hypnotherapy community. He is Vice President of the New Zealand Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (NZAPH).
He is regularly consulted for advice by other hypnotherapists around the world. He is known for the quality of his published scripts. He presents at international conferences and has published on hypnosis and advanced hypnotherapy.
He lives in Wellington New Zealand with his wife Trish and a cat called Parsnip.
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