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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

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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.

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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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hypnosis personal fail

Clients who want to fail

Some clients want to fail. Some clients are afraid of failure, others are afraid of success. Being a therapist you have to deal with whatever the client brings. You put yourself under constant pressure to get the right result. We worry about whether we have enough knowledge, enough training and whether we are good enough at all. And we are very disappointed when we fail.

We always assume the client  wants to succeed too. But there are also clients who want to fail. I was reminded of this by a client I saw recently. She has a long history of drug abuse, emotional outbursts, destructive behavior and failed relationships. She is clearly unhappy, her life is out of control and she is afraid that she will attempt suicide again. 

And yet I got the distinct impression that she does not want the therapy to succeed. She is willing to go through the motions, to say the right things, to pretend to go along with what other people want for her. But deep down inside she is afraid of not being able to cope if she does change.

She feels that if she gets cleaned up from drugs then she will be on her own again. She does not believe that she has the strength to survive without drugs. Stopped taking them before has always left her feeling awful. That feeling just  got worse and worse over time until she no choice but to go back on the drugs and ended up more dependent than ever. She knows that stopping is not the answer for her. So she is not going to stop. 

This attitude is entirely understandable. She is simply protecting herself from future pain. 

What can you do when the client wants to fail?

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Hypnosis epilepsy

Hypnosis and Epilepsy

Hypnosis and epilepsy worries some people, and believe that epileptics should not be hypnotized . This is not true. There is no reason why an epileptic should not benefit from hypnotherapy. There is nothing in hypnosis that would cause the onset of an attack, so there is no reason to avoid it.

There is no special procedure to use, just the normal approach. It is sensible to talk to the person about their epilepsy. Most epileptics already have their condition under control and know what to expect and what to do. All that is necessary is for the hypnotist to learn what to do in case an attack comes on during the office visit. The simplest way is to simply ask the client how to tell if they are having an attack, and what they would like you to do if one happens to strike while you are there.

Epileptics know exactly what they need and have been through it many times, so there is no great mystery: it is just something that happens occasionally in their life. The hypnotist just needs to accept that there is a remote possibility of an onset, and be ready if one happens. 

It is just an illness, it has to be treated with understanding, and can be worked around. Hypnosis and epilepsy is really not a problem. 

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dream interpretation

Dream Interpretation with hypnosis

Have you ever considered Dream Interpretation as part of your hypnotherapy?

I love hearing about dreams, because I believe they are the subconscious mind is revealing what is going on inside the brain. It is often difficult to know if your hypnotherapy has actually been helping your client. This is especially the case when you are using Metaphor Therapy or Gestalt Therapy techniques. These indirect methods are designed to make subtle long term changes, sometimes so subtle that even the client doesn't realize they are happening.

I always ask the client what changes they have experienced since our last session. Usually the client can say what has or has not worked, and how they know that. But quite often the client will say that they haven't feel any change, even though I know that I have done some powerful work  with them, and they should have noticed some changes.

In that case I always ask if they have been having any dreams. Dream interpretation often gives deep insights into changes in the unconscious.

One of my recent clients said that she felt that something was happening but she couldn't really say what, exactly. So I asked about dreams, and she told me the following vivid dream.

In my  dream I was laboring up a steep hill and there were other people going up as well. At the top was an airplane and we were going towards it. As I got closer the plane began to slip, and then it started sliding down towards me. I got frightened of being squashed and looked around for help, but I could only see two people, men, and when the men turned towards me I could see that they were unreal, with faces like cardboard cutouts from old cartoon comic strips. I realized that they were no help. The plane was sliding down towards me, so I put out my hands and was surprised that  the plane was pushed out of the way and passed by me harmlessly. That was the end of the dream.

I gave her my interpretation of the dream. Understanding dreams is simple. Everything in the dream is you. Other people are parts of you. Objects are metaphors for what you want to happen.

Using these rules, the going up the hill is a metaphor for struggling to change. The plane at the top of the hill is a metaphor for a means of escape. The other people on the hill are various parts of who she is. Metaphorically she want to get on the plane and fly out of there,  but is afraid of it, afraid of what might happen after the change. So that fear is translated into the plane turning into a threat. She seeks help from other parts, but sees that they in fact are cardboard cutouts, not real and not of any use any longer. So she gets the courage to deal with the threat, and deflects the plane and realizes that it actually can not harm her.

This was a perfect summary of her situation. She wants to change, but part of her is afraid to, so her mind shows her resolving this problem in dream. After the dream turns out OK, her mind can accept that she can change, and she starts the process of change on her own.

Later sessions actually confirmed this. She told me she no longer cared what she wore, or how she looked, because in fact 'Nobody cares what I look like. I have been obsessing for years over something that is not real'.

So her mind has now released the constant worry of having to look perfect, to be perfect. At some point she got on that plane.

Another case of dream interpretation helping with hypnosis.

Problem Client

toxic client

Problem clients are inevitable. Therapists have to be ready to deal with whatever comes through the door. However sometimes is is not just have the behavior. Occasionally it is the person who is the problem.
I had a woman come to see me yesterday. She gave no indication on the online booking of what her problem was. She came in and sat down. I said 'I will just turn off my cellphone', as an indirect suggestion that she might want to do the same. And I got a glare as if I should have done that before she arrived.
My custom is to get the client to write their name and email address on my clipboard so that I have a reminder of the name during the session and doing a little task often gives a nervous client time to settle down. This client challenged me and said 'You already have that!'.
We moved on and I asked her 'Is is OK if I record this session?'. And I got an instant 'No, it isn't'. When I asked why not she replied 'I don't want anyone else listening to what I say'. Very forceful, and very aggressive.
It has been my experience that I get about two clients a year who don't want the session recorded. Occasionally the client wants to talk about delicate sexual matters, and that's OK. It is also my experience that every problem client I have ever had has refused to allow the session to be recorded. Refusal is now an instant warning flag to me.
I considered terminating the session right then, but decided to continue with the session to see whether I could retrieve the situation. I asked what her problem was and she said 'Drinking. It is ruining my relationship'. I then asked her whey she just didn't stop. Answer 'I don't know'. Why do you think you drink? Answer 'I don't know'. What do you get out of it? 'I don't know'. And so it went on. Every attempt to access her feelings was blocked. As I started to explore her behavior and how and when she drank I kept pointing out inconsistencies. For example, 'I can't stop drinking' and 'I only drink at weekends'. Pushing further into why she was drinking, total aggressive defensiveness came out. Then I got to what harm her drinking was doing to her relationship if her partner also drank, the real reason emerged. 'I snap at him when I am drinking and say things that I wouldn't say when I am sober'.
This began to sound to me like an extreme case of Black and White thinking. I gently probed for evidence of depressive behavior. She immediately went into defensive mode. Every attempt to suggest that she might have some aspect or other was strongly denied. And mot just denied: it was refuted in a way that made it clear that she thought I was an idiot. Every question was thrown back at me, and I began to realize exactly what was happening in the relationship.
And I also realized that my first instinct was right: it was time to get her out of my office. Even though I recognized that it was simply her subconscious defending her psyche against any attempt by me to get near whatever the real cause was, the way she was doing it was affecting my psyche as well.
Traditional psychoanalysis warns against something called Transference. This is the tendency of the analyst to take on the personality and mimic the issues of their patients. The degree of transference depends on the strength of the personality of both parties. A strong patient and weak analyst will transfer in one direction, a strong analyst and week patient will transfer in the other direction.
This is not normally a problem in hypnotherapy because hypnotherapists usually only see clients once or twice, whereas psychoanalysts could see their patients for hundreds of sessions. However it is the strength of the personality that matters. In this case the woman was so emotionally aggressive that I found myself reacting to her words and attitude, and I could feel myself tightening up inside as she hooked into my own archaic triggers. If I had let the session continue we both would have continued giving stronger and stronger responses to what the other said.
So I terminated the session and wished her success in finding someone else to help.

I hope she does find a way out of it.

Hypnosis Ethics Code of Practice

Code of Ethics

I was reading an offer to me to sign up for a Gastric Band Hypnotherapy Treatment Workshop. This is for practicing hypnotists and insists that they be experienced. It also insists that they already adhere to a recognized code of practice.
I think that everyone should follow a code of practice. They are very good things. However all the ones I see are primarily concerned with practices that protect the therapist. They are all about how the therapist will behave in order that certifying organisation does not get sued. They usually outlaw sexual impropriety, disrespect for the client, criticizing other therapists, and other good things. No harm in that.
However, there is seldom much in the way of protection for the client. It seems to me that what is missing in most Codes is protection from exploitation of the client. There is nothing wrong with hypnotizing someone to believe that they have had Gastric Band surgery - if it works. But if it doesn't work, or if only a tiny percentage of clients benefit, then it surely becomes an Ethics issue. Is it not unethical to advertise and encourage clients to undergo hypnotherapy if it is usually a waste of money?
I have yet to see a Code of Ethics that says that the therapist agrees to do a follow up with every client, and requires the therapist to stop doing the procedure if it doesn't work.
The counter argument is that if a client wants some procedure and believes that it will help them, then provided it actually isn't going to do any harm, the client is entitled to get whatever treatment they ask for.
A further argument is that most therapy is actually placebo, and it doesn't matter what you do. Provided the client believes in it, the therapist doesn't have to believe in it. If the effectiveness of a treatment is actually dependent on the client's belief system, then aromatherapy, fortune telling and homeopathy are all valid, and do not need any scientific validation.
Personally, I feel very uncomfortable with this position.

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hypnosis appointment

How do you deal with a Missed Appointment?

missed appointment

Missed hypnosis appointment

When hypnotherapists get together it always comes round to talking about appointment cancellations and no-shows and what to do about it. Some therapists want their clients to sign legal agreements with various penalties for not turning up for their appointment, or with rules for how much notice they have to give. I think the bad feeling that comes from trying to enforce appointments outweighs any benefit. I don't do it.

I have no-shows just like everybody else, but I just accept it as part of normal business. You will have cancellations, missed appointments, and bad payers in every business. You are especially likely to have them when your clients are mostly people with psychological problems that they need help with.
So if missed appointment is always going to be a problem, what is the right policy?

For no shows, my policy is to try to minimize it occurring, and then to just accept it when it happens. I use a commercial online booking service that lets the client select the appointment time they want from a show of available times. The process collects their email address and sends them online stuff to read about hypnosis, what they have to do before the session, answers to common questions, and instructions on how to get there, parking etc. The software sends them a reminder the day before or on the Friday for a weekend appointment. I find that the reminder is the most effective way of avoiding no-shows.

Cancellation is a deliberate action by the client. The service I use allows the client to reschedule appointments or to cancel bookings altogether. They can change their bookings as often as they want. I think the best policy is to be flexible and to allow the client to select the time that is best for them, accepting that sometimes they have to cancel at short notice.

When I client doesn't turn up I usually have lots of paperwork I have to do anyway, and I can do it during the free time that suddenly appears, instead of after I have seen the last client. I don't see a missed appointment as a big deal.