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caffeine addiction

Caffeine Addiction and Stress

Caffeine Addiction and Stress

I had a client today with a caffeine addiction. This man is driven, intense, and stressed out at work. He runs a cleaning business. He says he must be addicted because he can't stop drinking V, a strong caffeinated drink. Actually, he can give up V, but then he starts drinking Coke or Pepsi. But those don't give him the same satisfaction, so he always goes back to drinking V.

He drinks V when he is stressed. He gets stressed by work, by family matters, by staff problems, by irate customers.  It is a  a physical need to drink it. He does not get any mental distress about not having it. He has become a bit of a connoisseur of V. It has be V, it has to be cold, and freshly bottled, it has to have the right taste (apparently batches are different sometimes), it has to be from a bottle and not a can.

I could not find any mechanism causing this behavior. I was thinking of sending him home with no charge.

Caffeine Addiction is like smoking addiction

But it struck me that this was exactly how smokers behave when they can't give up. So I tested for depression. He had all symptoms. But when I discussed it, he was very reluctant to even consider the idea.

When he has to go to a cleaning job because one of the staff has failed to turn up, he has to motivate himself. He needs to  get over the feeling of frustration and annoyance with being let down. So even before he starts the job,  he is thinking of a cold bottle of V as his reward.

And this is the key to his problem. He has set up a problem-reward cycle where he can do anything provided he knows that he is getting his reward. But it has to be exactly right: cold, bottle, V brand only, correct taste. When he gets that, everything gets reset back to normal. But then the stress builds up again and he can't stand it until he has to have another V experience. The V is what motivates him.

Treat the stress and not the caffeine addiction 

When we went over the reasons for that it became obvious that his problem was black and white thinking. Once that was established it was clear that the right approach was to forget about the caffeine, and deal with the stress. Finally, he then revealed that his brother is bi-polar. He didn't want to hear about depression because he does not want to think he has a mental illness like his brother.

I spent some time outlining what depression is, and how he could manage it.  He left a much happier man.

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workplace bullying

Workplace Bullying Hypnosis

Workplace bullying

I had a client today who came in complaining of stress. She said that she was grinding her teeth at night. And much more worrying to her she had got into the habit of drinking a bottle of wine each night when she got home from work.

She said that she had an unhappy childhood. She could never do anything right, according to her mother. Her mother always made her feel like a failure. For most of her life she had low self esteem. But after she got out of her home situation and began working as an engineer, her life took a better turn, and she felt on top of things.

Workplace bullying and Stress

After some discussion it became clear that these feelings had really only come back in the last three years. It coincided with the appointment of a particular man in her consultancy group. This guy was loud, boisterous, domineering and bullied anyone he could. My client is the only female engineer in the company. And he set out to diminish her at every opportunity.

The company is aware of this guy's behavior. But her immediate boss is afraid to take any action in case he upsets the overseas controlling company who appointed this guy in the first place.

Workplace bullying and emotional stress

The result is that she goes home and feels bad, and can't see any way out of this. So she opens up her bottle of wine, and once started on that, she can't stop. A real fear is that she will end up like her father, an alcoholic.

So she is locked in this cycle of being constantly bullied at work, which opens up feelings of childhood abuse, which gives her stress, and she drinks to alleviate the stress.

The obvious answer is to get rid of the bully. She is not in a position to do that. She said that her current boss is due to be replaced in a few weeks with a female manager. She has met this woman, and feels that together they can address the problem of the bully.

Workplace bullying and self-hypnosis

We discussed various options but the best one seemed to be to just stick it out until the new manager arrives. In the meantime, I taught her self-hypnosis. By using self-hypnosis she would be able to prevent the stress from building up during the day. So that when she came home at night she wasn't totally stressed out. Even if she did feel stressed on getting home, she would be able to go into trance rather than disappearing into a bottle.

Too many times I see clients who are suffering because of someone else's actions. As in this case, usually there is very little that the therapist can do except try to stop the situation getting worse.

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indicators of trance

Indicators of Trance

Indicators of Trance

I help out in training people interested in hypnosis from time to time. It is often useful to think back on how I used to feel about going into hypnosis, and how strange it can be for people doing it for the first time. It helps if you can recognize the indicators of trance.

Indicators of trance: Increased heartbeat

One newbie said to me "I was listening to a hypnosis CD the other night. I often find it quite difficult to get into trance, and I wonder if I'm doing it right. With this recording, I found myself sinking into what I thought was a trance, and feeling very pleased about it, when I noticed a sudden increase in my heartbeat. I don't know if it was excitement or alarm, but whatever it was, it pulled me right out of trance again."

In fact, this is one of the quite common indicators of trance. When you feel that increase in heartbeat it means that you are actually going into trance.  It is quite normal, nothing to worry about. If you find it bothers you during other inductions, then add in slow breathing to the induction. That should fix it.

Indicator of trance: eyelids flickering

Another physical symptom that people often complain about is that "my eyes start flickering uncontrollably". This is another one of these indicators of trance. It is quite normal, and harmless, and usually passes after a few minutes.

Indicators of trance: giggling with embarrassment

"I get the giggles when going into trance". This is another physical reaction and an indicator of trance. This happens with people who are anxious or analytic. As the induction proceeds, their breathing slows down, the muscles begin to relax, and at that point they start entering trance. But for this type of person, relaxing equals losing control. As the start to feel themselves losing control, the feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, and the embarrassment comes out as giggling or laughing. It normally only happens once or twice. Once the person is comfortable with going into trance and realises that nothing bad happens, then they don't feel that same embarrassment and they don't get the giggles.

Indicators of trance: muscle jerk jerking

if you people find that when they feel themselves going into trance, and arm, or a leg, will start jerking. Sometimes quite violently. This is often enough to pull them out of trance completely. Some people just cannot get into trance because it happens every time.

What is happening is that as their body relaxes, their unconscious mind feels that it is losing control. This control is usually manifested as a tension in the muscles. As that tension releases, the muscle will spasm. This impediment to trance is actually quite difficult to get rid of. It normally means that the person has quite deep-seated anxieties. And of course the hypnotherapy is for getting rid of those anxieties. But those anxieties are stopping the person getting into trance. So you have a circular problem. All they can do is to go through a long, slow induction and give themselves time to relax every muscle completely.

But everyone can be hypnotised eventually. It is simply a matter of repetition and practice.

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CBT therapy

CBT therapy is older than you think

The origins of CBT therapy

I was reminded today that nothing is really new in therapy. Paul Dubois was a Swiss neurologist who worked in the late 19th century and the early 20th century.

He introduced what is known as "persuasion therapy". This was a forerunner of CBT and rational therapy. He developed a way of treating "nervous disorders" by using a Socratic method of questioning. He challenged his patients to justify why they were feeling the way they are. This used the patient's own intellect and logic to challenge and eliminate negative thoughts and feelings.

His method was based on getting his patient to realize that their thoughts were irrational and could therefore be dismissed. His method was very popular in the early 20th century. It competed head-on with Freud's psychoanalytical treatment at the time. Dubois was also one of the earliest people to write about the importance of "mind over matter". His work is almost forgotten today.

Psychotherapy in classical times

Dubois's approach to psychotherapy was largely a response to the failings of the other popular psychotherapy, hypnosis. In the early 20th century hypnosis was thoroughly discredited after the scandal of Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–1893) and his fakery of hysteria treatments. Dubois also regarded Freudian theory as of little value. (Incidentally, Freud learned hypnotism from Charcot in the early 1890's)

Dubois was familiar with the writings of classical Greek authors such as Socrates, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. He realised that that the advice that they were giving 2000 years ago in teaching philosophy was almost identical to what he was doing in current psychotherapy.

Stoic Philosophy

In particular, he admired the work of the Stoics. Modern readers think of the Stoics as philosophers. But they thought of themselves as offering a sort of medicine for the mind. The Stoics believed that everyone has to take responsibility for their own actions. And at the same time accept that things happen by chance, and have no personal meaning.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Albert Ellis developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy based largely on this ancient philosophy. One of his central ideas was that emotional disturbances and associated behavior are not caused by external events, but are caused by our own irrational beliefs about these events. “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them.” (Epictetus, 80 BCE) Ellis went on to influence Aaron Beck and the CBT movement started from there. But basically it all goes back more than 2000 years to the Stoic philosophers.

Maybe we should be encouraging our clients to read philosophy?

 

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hypnosis for dating

Hypnosis for dating Fear of Commitment

Hypnosis for Dating

This client was a gorgeous young woman who had not had a romantic relationship for seven years. Many guys showed interest, but there was always a reason to not respond. Recently she went to the USA on holiday and met this guy. She felt free of any pressure because she was going home on a given date. Therefore she could just be herself without fear of consequences. They got on champion, and now he wants to see her again.

However, the idea of making contact again is terrifying. She just cannot bring herself to book a call to him. What if I run out of things to say in the 20 minute call? What if I dry up? He will think I am stupid. What if I babble on talking nonsense to fill the silence?

She is afraid that she won't be able to perform at the level she thinks he expects for that length of time. If he calls her, and it is spontaneous, like maybe she  is out on her bike at the time, then fine, she can talk to him. She could always say "Sorry, I have to go, traffic!" And she stays in control.

Fear of Dating

Her basic problem is that she is afraid that she will not live up to his expectations. That if he knew her well, he would see her as she really is, and she would not be good enough. So he would reject her. And she cannot accept that risk.

This is a sort of phobia. She is afraid of rejection and failure, and the feeling she gets when she is rejected. It is actually quite common. A lot of males have this fear too. It is one of the reasons why at party, a girl might just sort of fall into bed with a guy. Once they have sex, the fear of rejection is gone.

Regression Hypnosis for dating

So I had to work out how to deal with her current crisis. I took her into trance and then started on regression. We went back to the first time she felt rejected. She couldn't find a first time, so I asked for a memory to do with it.  She told the story of asking her mother for a hug. Her mother was with some female friends, talking. In front of her friends, her mother rejected her. Her mother told her to go away, and of course, she felt awful. This is likely the origin of her fear of rejection. She felt not loved, rejected, humiliated in front of all these women.

This was probably not the origin of her fear, it  most likely happened many times over many years. So I could not do Inner Child work. Instead I decided to lead her through a visualization. I got her to imagine her self as an angry little girl, kicking her mother in the shins. Then she told her mother off for being selfish and uncaring. This was something she dared not do at the time. Then I got her to visualize all the other other women scooping her up and comforting her, then rounding on her mother and shaming her for behaving so badly to a small child.  I worked on getting them to give her the love she never got.

Origin of her dating problems

She went on to tell me that her mother had poor parenting skills. Her mother never valued her, and taught her that whatever she tried she would always fail. So she spent her childhood trying to be good all the time to get loved. But her efforts were never accepted. She learned that whatever she did, she would be rejected, and came to fear that rejection.

Throughout most of hypnosis session, her lower lip was trembling, she was weeping and clearly very upset, but she was brave enough to  keep on developing and changing the memory.

I hope she has changed enough to call the guy, and maybe change her life.

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secret drinking

Secret Drinking Causes Fixes

Secret Drinking

My client today was a tiny Spanish woman who runs a day spa. She was beautifully made up, well dressed and clearly looks after herself. Anyone looking at her would say that she was totally in control. In fact, she is a secret drinker.

Her problem is that she has gradually got into the habit of drinking too much. She drinks a bottle of wine every night, sometimes two bottles of wine. She believes it's because she has stress from her business.

It started two years ago when she had particular issue at business. But later on she said "it's been much longer than that". She has actually been secretly drinking for many years.

Her husband is now noticing the drinking and disapproves of it. "I have tried to give up. Usually I am able to stop for three to four days. But then something just makes me start again."

Finding the real cause of secret drinking

This "something" suggested to me that she is not dealing with her feelings. I suspected that she is drinking as a way of medicating herself. My first step was to test for any basic psychological issues.

I asked "Would you say your mind is always busy?"

"Yes".

"Do you keep going over and over the same things in your mind?"

"Yes."

These strongly suggested that she might have some form of depression.

So I then showed her my diagram of the symptoms of dysthymia. She was quiet for a long time. Then she pointed to the top part, and said "I have both of these!"

She was pointing to the Circular Thinking part, and the Fixed Thinking part. On further discussion she realized that she also was in the part with the Social Withdrawal symptoms.

A plan to stop secret drinking

I then briefly went through some basic dysthymia counselling. I emphasized that she had to get exercise. It was ironic that someone who was in the health business actually did virtually no exercise.

She also needed to learn how to deal with her thinking patterns. I got her to do a simple NLP thinking exercise to show how she could control her own thoughts. This was very successful. But I noticed while doing it, that her eye lids were obviously flickering. From this I deduced that she would be easy to hypnotize. It turned out to be the case.

I took her into trance and did a Metaphor Parts Therapy. This involved letting her experience her need to drink as a defective part. I then gave her a visualization where she was able to repair the defective part and turn it into a source of strength to deal with stress.

Outcome

Previously, a psychologist in London had told her to go back to Spain. She did that and moving back to Spain took her away from the stress. She felt much better. But going back to running her business brought it all on again.

This was another case where bad news is good news. It was bad news that she had depression. The good news was that she now understood why she drank, and why she kept starting again. She seemed really relieved to know the origin of her problems. And that at last she could see a way out of her secret drinking.

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porn addiction

Porn Addiction is it real?

Porn Addiction

I received the following message “I’m not sure if my problem would be in your areas of treatment. I am very addicted to masturbation/porn/adultery. I don’t have control of myself. I try to stop but whenever I am left alone at home or in my day off I am just wasting my time into such. I have positive approaches to life and I have many skills, but due to this addiction and feeling guilty about the energy wasted and leading to a waste of my day and weeks and months leaving the unproductive. I’m not sure that my problem is something you can deal with, but maybe you can help me come out and live life in a more productive way.”

Porn addiction has been in the news ever since the Internet made porn available to everyone. I have never been happy with the explanations I have read for porn addiction.

Is porn addictive? Most of the writing about porn addiction assumes that it is real. But can you actually be addicted to porn? And if so, how?

Theories of Porn Addiction

This is an important question, because the type of treatment to offer depends on your theory of why people watch porn. Most assume that because watching porn and masturbating is enjoyable, then it must be like substance abuse. This is a behavioral model. You enjoy porn, and therefore do it more, and build pleasure pathways in your brain. The more you do it, the more want to do it. And that is what your addiction is.

However, there are several models of addiction. I wanted to meet this man and find out why he felt addicted. He turned out to be a young married man with a good job and no obvious reasons to do this. I asked him about his life and quite quickly realized that he was showing signs of depression. He had low self esteem, lack of motivation, no goals, and felt no emotional connection to anyone.

Cause of addiction to porn

He had recently left university so was too young to recognize the cycles in his own behavior. But going over the symptoms showed clearly that he did have depression.

This actually explained his ‘porn addiction’. He wasn’t attracted to porn particularly. He was doing it because it was enjoyable, and took his mind off the depressive thoughts he was having. He was doing porn because he felt he was worthless, and empty and he had no goals in life. So why not? But then his critical voice started up for doing it, and made him feel bad again. Until he did more porn to get away from it.

So it wasn’t so much that he was attracted to porn. It more that he was self medicating with porn. He was trying to use porn to get temporary relief from his negative feelings.

In the session, I helped him see what was really going on. Then I gave him some guidance on how to manage his condition, and how hypnotize himself to reduce his anxiety. Once has learned to manage his depressive tendencies, he won't need the porn to feel better. 

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avoiding thoughts

Are you just avoiding thoughts?

Avoiding thoughts 

In hypnotherapy, I see many different types of behavior. People often tell me stories about why they behave the way they do. The reasons are usually something that was done to them. They offer this as the excuse for why they behave the way they do, and why they are unable to change their own behavior.

It is a very human tendency to try to find explanations and excuses for your behavior. This is perfectly understandable. However, most people do not really understand what is driving their own behavior.

Rationalizing behavior

I was reminded of this today. I had a client come to see me who felt that she was always thinking of all the worst things that could happen. For example, if her husband was late coming home she would think "I know he's not dead, he's just a bit late, isn't he? I would have heard of that had been an accident". She would catastrophize endlessly about almost anything. Her explanation was because she was the third child of four. She had an elaborate theory of how the first child acted a certain way, and the second child acted a different way, and the third child acted in yet another way. And that was why she was behaving the way she was. In fact, she had an undiagnosed case of depression.

It is not uncommon for people to totally miss the real reason for why they do what they do. In therapy, I am more often interested in what people are not doing, than in what they are doing. I often tell my clients, "every coin has two sides".

Doing something to avoid doing something else

People will tell you for example that there are workaholics, that they have to be at work all the time, that they can't let go of the details. When I hear a story like this I always think to myself "and what are you trying to get away from?" A person who is a workaholic is not attracted to work. There are not simply trying to get a job done. What they are trying to do is to get away from emotional problems they have with their family. Being at work and gives them a reason for not dealing with their own emotional inadequacies. They are avoiding thoughts.

Many years ago I had a client who was a motorcycle racing champion. He told me that when he was a teenager, he would go for long rides on his motorbike. He said that when he was riding, and was coming up to a corner at speed, he had to focus totally on getting round the corner. There was no space in his mind for any other thought. He used the dangers of motorcycling to get his mind clear. It was not that he was attracted to motorcycling, it was the only way he knew to stop the constant nagging in his mind.

Marathon Mind

I also spoke to someone who had been a marathon runner. He told me that one of the attractions of marathon running was that at some point you get so tired that you have to focus totally on just getting through the next mile and the next mile. This forces you to concentrate on just getting one foot in front of the other. And it drives out any unwanted thoughts. The attraction is not the running or the winning. The attraction is having a break from the relentless feeling of emptiness, or doubt, or self-hatred.

I know a bridge player who has something similar. When she is sitting down to play bridge, she has to focus totally on the cards. Every hand is challenging, every hand is difficult and intricate. When she is playing in a tournament there is no space in her  head for any other thoughts. That is why people become bridge addicts.

So think about what you do. Think about your own behaviors. And then think about the other side of the coin. Are you doing something not because you like it, but because it lets you avoid something else?

 

 

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Clearing childhood anxiety

Clearing Childhood Anxiety

Clearing Childhood Anxiety

I saw a client last week who was always nervous and frightened. It clearly has something to do with her childhood anxiety. She could not identify anything in particular that she might feel anxious about. In fact she really couldn't remember much about her childhood at all. I hypnotized her and used a metaphor designed to help remove generalized anxiety. I told her to let me know how she felt in a week or so.

One morning this week she woke up suddenly with a great fear. She had no idea what was causing this, and began to go into a panic. Then she recognized it. It was something she has had all her life. But it was only after last week's session that she could isolate it from all the other things going on in her life.

She came to see me, still a little disturbed by the memory. I got her to relax and breathe deeply. She went into trance easily. In trance I encouraged her to be open to that feeling of 'great fear'. It was a feeling she now recognized, that she had had many times, so she quickly recalled it.

Transforming Childhood anxiety

When I was sure that she was experiencing the fear, I began the process to get her to transform the feeling into a object. I asked her "where are you feeling it?" This is the first stage of establishing the feeling as a 'thing' separate from herself. "What shape is it?" to get her to think about the nature of her 'thing'. Then I asked, "what object does this 'thing' most resemble? What is it like?". Once the client can think of it as an object, she can begin to make changes to it.

She told me that the feeling was "In my chest. like a black jelly fish". I got her to describe her jelly fish in more and more detail. It was " Sticky.  And filled with terror". Now that the fear was transformed into something else, she could think about the something else as something that could go away. If the feeling is part of you, you can't fix it. But if the feeling is separate from you, you can think of fixing it.

I asked her, " What do you want to have happen to that jelly fish?" She told me she "Want it to go away". I asked "And can it go away?"  "I don't think so". When the client cannot do what they want to do with the object, you need to help them. I asked "Can you imagine holding that jelly fish in your hands?" "No, it  just slips through my fingers". So to help her get it out of her body I suggested that she could put in a box. That worked. Then I suggested she might put the box with the jelly fish in  chair in front of her. This suggestion is designed to make her externalize the object completely.

Externalizing her Childhood Anxiety

She put the box in the chair. I asked "What do you think will happen to that jelly fish in the box?" This was to get her to think about ways to change the feeling. She said "I can't get it to do anything. It won't die". I asked "What might you use to kill it?" She said "I can stab it with knitting needles". She tried that, but said "it ate them". Then I asked "what happens to things that eat knitting needles?"

By thinking about what would be different she triggered a resource in her mind. She said it had turned into a paua (abalone)  stuck to the side of the box. Paua are large shellfish that stick immovably to rocks. In this kind of therapy, the client represents aspects of themselves as the metaphor objects. So the paua was her. It has a strong shell, and cannot be budged from where it is anchored. I asked her "what do you think that shellfish is thinking?" This was to get her to say what the paua represented for her. "It is for death". I told her "Ask the paua what it wants to do".  "It is trying to run away".

Regression for her Childhood anxiety

I felt that if the paua was about her sheltering, hiding from something, then  probably I shouldn't mess with it. This suggested that it might a job for regression. I asked her to think about what the paua might be feeling. She said it was fear. I developed the feeling of fear. "Think of the first time you ever had that fear". She came out with a memory where she was a little child running away from people trying to kill her. She had to hide away from the light.

I did INNER CHILD work with her. We found that frightened little girl and comforted her. Eventually I got her back to adult. She said that she felt the little girl merging with her, but just before that happened she and the girl, called Grace, smashed the paua with hammers.

Afterwards, we discussed what it all meant. She thought it was all about hiding in fear in a wardrobe when her dad was on a rampage.

She realized that it was real memory. Things at home changed. But she never let go of that fear. That was the basis of her lifetime anxiety.

 

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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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