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losing weight and mental health

Losing weight and mental health

Losing weight and mental health

How much overlap is there between losing weight and mental health? Put it another way, should hypnotherapists focus on the weight, or look to improve mental health? There doesn't seem to be any quick fix when it comes to losing weight. Perhaps we should be looking at the reasons why people eat rather than worrying about how the eat or what they eat?

Most nutritionists agree that effective weight loss comes about because of a permanent change in thinking and behavior. The weight loss is actually a byproduct of these changes.

Eating and beliefs

I am not thinking here about anorexia, or bulimia or other eating disorders which clearly are clinical anxiety problems. I am thinking about people with normal lives who just cannot lose weight.

In my practice, I believe that behavior and belief is the thing to change when addressing weight issues. Focusing on losing weight instead of focusing on becoming healthy inevitably leads to putting the weight right back on again. In simple terms, even if all you do is to instill better habits and a positive attitude towards exercise, that still benefits them even if they don't lose any weight.

People who over eat seem to have built up a pattern of eating as a response to stress. If you take away the comfort and reward of eating, then this can just increase their distress. This triggers even more eating. Hypnotherapists should focus on teaching the client ways to deal with the stress.

Deal with the whole client and their lifestyle

We need to deal with the client, their environment, and their history, at the same time. This multidimensional approach will give better results than focusing purely on one one behavior. Eating involves a mixture of biological and psychological and social triggers and rewards. We need to address all of these simultaneously.

Laboratory studies have shown that drug addicts can get a high just by thinking about taking drugs to get a high. The habits and rituals associated with taking the drugs are an essential part of the high. It is likely that the same thing happens with people who use food as a distraction or a comfort. If you remove the eating and the associated preliminary behaviours then you are likely to over sensitize the person to environmental triggers. Changing their pattern of eating requires you to find substitutes for these emotional rewards.

If your client tells you that "maintaining weight is a constant struggle" or something like that, then it shows that you are dealing with a psychological problem. Look for the origin of that psychological problem and you will be on the way to helping your client take it off and keep it off.

 

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emotional abuse

Emotional Abuse Hypnotherapy

Shame and emotional abuse

This client feels guilty about her body size. Her pattern is feeling bad about herself, eating, then feeling guilt, shame and anger about eating and food choices. And it all stems from emotional abuse.

"I feel ashamed of my body, and what I am doing to myself. I eat because I feel worthless." "Every day, I meet people I went to university with, who knew me then, and I know they remember my behaviour. People are still judging me for what I was then".

"And what were you?" "At Uni, I was the party girl, the girl who got drunk at the student bar most nights,  and went off with anybody. I was always first up for the wet tee-shirt competition, the one who struggled with every assignment. A loser. A waste of time. An embarrassment."

History of emotional abuse

We discussed her upbringing at some length. I wanted to try to identify where these feelings came from. Her mother was mentally unstable, a prescription drug addict, only focused on herself.

She told one story of when she was eight years old. Playing with her brother and a knife, she cut her finger badly. She preferred to let it bleed rather than risk another outburst from her mother. Eventually her brother made her go and tell her mother. The mother immediately screamed, "Look what you have done to me, my day is ruined, now I have to take you to the hospital!"

All her life, she was told "Stop crying, get on with it, harden up". She was not allowed to show emotion growing up, and now she can't. My client grew up feeling not wanted or valued. She always felt not good enough.

Reacting to emotional abuse

After a while she began to realize that how she feels is the result of the emotional abuse she went through. She is now examining the effect it had on that child's beliefs about her self. It explains why she was the class drunk at uni. She wanted love and affection and would do anything to get it, including throwing herself at anyone.  I  told her there is no basis for guilt about that, "You were merely trying to get what you never got at home".

Reversing feelings of emotional abuse

She said she feels angry all the time. I did the WHY-WHY-WHY exercise on why she resents her mother. She was not able to get any image or memory but liked the exercise. I told her to do it when she gets some spare time.

Then I did Metaphor Replacement Therapy MRT on her feelings of anger. She got a feeling of boiling lava. Seething, red, constrained in something. She said it was like in a beaker. Then she said "there is more, much more, huge outside as well".

I decided to do the therapy in stages. I got her to change the smaller flow of lave, the one in the beaker. After guided suggestions, the lava in the beaker got dark, and solid. Then she broke the chilled rock into pieces with a hammer.

Then I turned her attention to the massive lava flow. After a lot of persuasion, she got it to shrink and cool and go dark. Again she broke it up into pieces with a hammer.

It is early days yet, but she said afterwards, "I am feeling that I have made progress and I understand my own feelings better now."

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smoking for attention

Smoking for attention

Smoking for attention

This client could not stop smoking. She went into hospital recently with some sort of pulmonary obstruction. She did not smoke or even feel like smoking when she was in hospital. But the moment she left hospital she started back smoking.

Clearing the need to smoke

I got her to think of a picture of her feelings about smoking. She said "It is a huge cigarette rammed into my gob". I used this as material for a Metaphor Replacement Therapy. I got her to describe the cigarette she was picturing. "It is black and brown. It is being pushed down into my throat." "I can't breathe." I asked her "What would you like to have happen to that huge cigarette rammed into you gob?" She said "blow it up. Or shred it." I asked "which do you prefer?" "Blow it up" So we did. She blew it up in a great explosion. Bits were floating through the air and she could breathe.

I then asked her to check if there was anything left of those feelings of smoking. She said "there are still some cravings."

Working on her cravings 

MRT on her feelings of cravings. So I asked her what the cravings looked like. She said they were there in her chest. They were "black with a bit of yellow. Not that big." I encouraged her to start making changes to the images she was getting. "Getting more yellow." The yellow was getting stronger, but she could change the image more than that.

I was thinking of lungs and the image of balloons came to my mind. I used this imagery to convert the cravings into black and yellow balloons and get them to rise up into the sky. She was comfortable doing this. They shrank and went up and popped in the air.

I finished with some direct suggestion about "feeling good, capable, worthwhile, having a role in the family and so much to look forward to, etc."

Then I gave her images of flicking a switch, going through a closed door, changing clothes, and suggested she would find the right thing to represent how she was changed.

Smoking for attention

We started talking about her upbringing and why she felt bad about herself.

Her mother was a total slut, she went out drinking, fighting, totally ignored her children,  but brought her daughters up to be complete prudes. She mentioned that her mother and other men were into voyeur sex and all sorts of things. She mentioned a rumor that her supposed father might not be, and her grandfather was the real father. Nobody knows.

We talked about smoking. She smoked since she was fourteen. "It was surprising that I kept at it, because is made me really sick. So sick my grandmother had to nurse me. It was lovely."

I then suggested that perhaps she kept on with the smoking because that was the only way she ever got any attention? She thought about that and said "You know, I think you are right". She then told me about moving to a new school and pretending to be sick so that she could have time with her mother. "Maybe I am smoking for attention". "I have felt rejection all my life."

This client hated smoking when she started, they made her sick. But being sick meant she got attention.

Smoking for attention maybe a common reason for smoking.

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Eating is out of control

Eating is out of control

Eating is out of control

My client today was a huge obese woman.  She told me "I can't stop putting on weight. My eating is out of control".   looking after son's kids

She said that she had always battled with weight and issues of control. Right now she feels she is out of control. She said "It got worse six months ago. Before that I had lost 15 kg. Now I have put it all back on again, plus more". This is a common story with people to come to hypnotherapy for weight loss. In my experience, issues with weight are always emotional issues. When you trace it back to the origin it is usually rooted in how the client was treated in childhood. In this case, the issue was emotional, but was actually rooted in the recent past.

Why eating is out of control

Six months ago, one of her children dumped her four children on her because they couldn't cope. Her child and the partner are into drugs and alcohol. They can't cope with life, can't cope with their children, and abandoned them with their grandmother. It was supposed to be for two weeks. But the parents went off and gave everything over to their drug habit.

My client now feels that imposed upon, but cannot do anything about it. She feels that this is so unfair. She brought up her own children, launched them into adulthood, and was looking forward to spending the next 10 years as an indulgent grandma to her grandchildren. And now she's back having a full-time job looking after for young children. She sees no way out of it and no one else in the family is offering to help.

Longing for an empty nest

She is beginning to resent the children and acting grumpy with them.  She cannot sent the children back to their parents. Social security will not take them, because they are not in danger where they are. Her other children reject the parents as losers who need to front up to their responsibilities, and won't help.

There is no way out.  Her expectations of a lovely retirement hasn't happened.  She expected things to be perfect, but it has all turned out wrong. It's all getting too much for her and she sinking into despair.

This a classic case of late onset depression. She has just given up and eats to comfort herself.

How to treat eating is out of control

I talked about how to deal with her depression. The first thing is to recognize that it is not her responsibility. I told her to have some compassion for herself and her situation. She feels guilt over resenting the children, and somehow having failed her own daughter. I am not a counselor, but I suggested various ways that she could seek help. Together we agreed a goal to get these children looked after by someone else within six weeks.

Then to help her get the energy and confidence to reach that goal, I used hypnosis. I took her into trance and did an extended parts metaphor therapy to identify the parts she needed, and to get those parts energized.

Afterwards, she said 'I can find a way forward now. I am not going to put up with this any longer. Thank you."

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food aversion

Food Aversion removed in one session

Food Aversion

I had an interesting client this week, and a great result. The client was a young man with food aversion. He could only eat a limited range of foods, and hated trying anything new. The idea of eating something different raised powerful negative feelings and made him feel sick inside.

He had been like this for as long as he could remember. His mother told him that up to age two or thereabouts he would eat anything, but then one day he refused to eat something and it all got worse from there on. Now he is embarrassed to go out to a restaurant. If he does force himself to eat something new, even if he quietly spits it out, he feels sick for the rest of the meal and usually can't eat anything.

Indicators of Food Aversion

He had been dragged round nutritionists and doctors for most of his childhood, and nothing worked. He came to see me because his girlfriend was tired of uncomfortable social situations and thought that trying a hypnotist could not do any harm, and might possibly do some good.

When I saw him he was embarrassed and nervous, but open to new ideas and willing to give it a go. He described his condition to me and how he was trying to extend the range of things he could eat, with little success. He felt it was the texture in his mouth that he hated, rather than the flavor. I got him to describe in detail how he felt when he was faced with having to eat something different. He was a bit hesitant but said that he felt strong discomfort in his stomach at the thought of it.

I wanted to get as strong a feeling as possible for me to work with. My wife had been given a present of  halva, a middle eastern dessert. I got a piece of that, and placed it in front of him. It was unlikely that he would have eaten it before and it looked like an unappetizing lump of greyish stodge. I asked him to look at it and then asked him to eat it. He looked panicked and wanting to get away. I used this feeling to get him to explore his own reactions to it.

Working with his feelings

I asked him to close his eyes. Then I got him to describe out loud what he was feeling inside. It took quite a bit of encouraging and cajoling to get him start describing what he was feeling. He overcome his reluctance and described his feelings about it first as a big, messy bundle. On further pressing he said it was "darky, purply, gray" in color. Then that it felt light and not heavy. And round like a big round ball. It was made of stringy stuff all tied up together.

This was perfect material for Metaphor Replacement, so I tried getting him to imagine it shrinking. He couldn't do that. Then I asked him to imagine holding it in his hands, and to bring to mind the image of a potter moulding clay. He could do this, but the original big messy bundle just kept coming back.

That obviously wasn't working so I switched to the Attribute Reversal. I got him to name the opposite of big, the opposite or messy, the opposite of "darky purply gray", and so on. In a few minutes he had reversed every aspect of his feeling.

Removing the Food Aversion

I then tested him and asked what feeling he was getting now when he thought of eating the halva. He said 'Nothing much'.

This was exactly what I was looking for, so I asked him to open his eyes again. I asked him to look at the halva. I said "what do you feel about eating that now?" He said, 'Nothing'. Then I asked him to take a bite of the halva. To his surprise he picked it and ate a bit. He said he didn't like it, and wouldn't be eating it again, but there was no phobic reaction whatsoever.

I then called his girlfriend into the office and got him to demonstrate his new ability. He took another bite of the halva - and got a great big hug from the girlfriend.

An excellent result, no formal hypnosis at all, and the whole thing took less than thirty minutes.

A few days later I got this:

Hi David,

 I just want to thank you again for how you helped Bryan.  

After the session we went out for lunch and he had venison and red wine sausages, and has tried something new every day! Its amazing what you do 🙂

 Many thanks

It very gratifying to be able to help people get over their problems.  What do you feel when you know that you have helped someone? Or when you can't help? 

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overeating loss of control

Overeating loss of control

Overeating loss of control

Many of my clients come for weight loss. The seem to be as many reasons for overeating as there are people who want to lose weight. This client was obese. She told me that she had  battled with weight all her life. The problem seems to center around issues of control. Right now she feels she is out of control. She just feels compelled to get into the cookie tin, even though she knows she shouldn't.

I asked her when all this had started. She said that it got worse six months ago. Previous to that she had lost 15 kg. Now she has put it all on again, plus more. I asked her "what happened six months ago?"

"Six months ago, one of my children dumped their four young children on me because they couldn't cope with them." I asked her why the children's parents couldn't cope. She said "The pair of them are into drugs and alcohol and just can't cope with the children."

The cause of the overeating

The result is that my client now feels imposed upon, but cannot do anything about it. She feels that this is so unfair. She brought up her own children and was looking forward to spending the next 10 years as an indulgent grandma to her grandchildren. And now she's back having a full-time job and looking after for young children. She sees no way out of it and no one else is offering to help.

She is beginning to resent the children and acting grumpy with them. These are classic depression symptoms.  I asked her how she felt about the children. She told me she loves them, but they're not her children. She is done with children. Her own children are all grown up and gone. She had 18 years of motherhood and all the hard work that goes along with that. As soon as they got married she expected to have a lovely retirement, and it hasn't happened.

Overeating, loss of control and resentment

She feels at everything she planned for and worked for has gone wrong. The dream was of taking the grandchildren to the park on a Sunday and buying them ice cream, having a lovely time, and then handing them back. But instead she is now feeding and dressing four young children full-time.

She feels resentful of the children and their parents. She feels helpless. The children can't just be put out on the street. Somehow, she has ended up being responsible for them. She feels that there is nothing she can do about it. No one is helping her. Social Security will not intervene because the children are in a safe environment as far as they are concerned. None of her sisters are lining up to help. It has all spiraled out of control.

Getting your weight under control

The classic response to lack of control is either anger or despair. In her case she has just given up.  She eats for comfort. And as soon as she's eaten it, she feels unhappy at putting on weight, gets resentful, and the whole cycle starts again. It's all getting too much for her and she is rapidly sinking into despair.

I investigated a bit more and confirmed that she has had symptoms of depression on and off most of her life. What was most apparent is that she has Categorical Thinking. People with categorical thinking believe that things should be a certain way, and if they are not then they reject them totally. In this case, her expectation was of an easy relaxed retirement, with the bonus of grand kids to play with. What she actually got was an endless amount of work, dealing with someone else's responsibility, and no way out of it. That triggered her categorical thinking, and so she has just given up. The weight gain is a direct consequence of the feeling of losing control.

She said that her weight had yo-yo'd up and down throughout her life. I think that a great many other people are similarly affected by loss of control issues.

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treating fussy eaters

Fussy eaters are created, not born

Fussy eaters are created, not born

Fussy eaters can be a problem. Kids are always making comments on their food and declaring that they don't like this or they don't like that, but by the next time they see that food they have forgotten all about it. Except where an overanxious mother feels she needs to try to please the child all the time. The basic anxiety in this situation is the mother's fear that the child will not love her if she forces the child to eat something. The child then uses food to start controlling the mother. Then a tussle of wills begins with the child always the winner.

Most mothers recognize this behavior for what it is and distract the child and the matter is forgotten. Some mothers go in for the 'you will eat this or won't leave the table till you do!' style of management and set the child up for eating disorders in adulthood.

And some mothers give in to every demand, and then reinforce it by constantly reminding the child 'Oh you don't like beans do you?' The mother tells anyone who will listen 'No, he can't eat ...' whatever it is. This sets up a reinforcing cycle in which the child is brainwashed into believing that they can't eat certain foods and so they don't get offered them, so they don't eat them and so on. In one reported case the child would only eat orange juice and crackers.

Satisfying fussy eaters

The solution is to work on the child's psychology. A good approach is to use every child's belief in magic to convince the fussy eater that they can eat something new. Hypnotize the child and tell them a story about a boy who ate a special soup. Describe the magic soup as being some particular color, or having some noticeable ingredient like corn kernels. Then get the mother to make a soup that matches the description of the magic soup.This gets the child eating whatever it is that is missing for their health. The hypnotist can suggest that once the boy drank the soup he was able to eat anything at all.

Then the mother can reinforce the idea of the magic soup to empower the child to try new things. As soon as the child has tried a new food the mother can use this to give the child  a unique sense of importance.

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Comfort eating

Comfort eating and teenage anxiety

I had a new client yesterday who came to me about weight loss. To start with, I really could not understand what was motivating her to overeat. Depression is the most common source of being overweight, but this client showed no signs of it. She seemed bright and cheerful, although she was clearly well overweight.

I asked her what she got from eating. Like most clients, she said she has no idea why she ate. "I eat when I'm bored". "I just like chocolate and snacks". "If there is a snack in my desk, I eat it". "So why do you buy the snacks?", I asked. "I don't know. I just love eating."

Sports career ruined

I asked her if she had always been overweight. "No", she said. "Up until about age 16 I was really skinny, really fit. And then I injured my knee. I loved playing softball, it was my life, and then it was all over. Soon after that I started putting weight on and have battled with it ever since".

I have heard this before from athletes. They put their whole heart and soul into becoming good at the sport. They become really good, and hope to make a living as a player. And then they get injured, and their sporting career is over. It is a devastating blow for young person, and many athletes go through a period of despair and resentment. After that the athlete feels they have nothing to lose, nothing to live for, so they get into smoking, drinking, drugs and whatever else they want to do. And then they find they can't stop it.

I suspected that might be the case for this client. "How did you feel when you could no longer play softball?" She said "Oh, it wasn't just the softball. I got a terrible attack of asthma immediately after that as well."

A perfect childhood

It has been my experience that asthma is usually associated with stress. Asthma in children is usually associated with stress with the parents, and at home. So I asked her how she got on with her parents. "I had a wonderful childhood. I really loved my parents. We got on really well". Usually when a client says they had a wonderful childhood, I suspect they're hiding something. So I probed a bit more.

It turned out that my client was the middle child. Her older sister bullied her, but no more than sisters normally do. For some reason her parents were very hard on her older sister, but really indulged my client. "I remember going away for six or eight weeks in the summer on holiday with my parents camping and having a wonderful time with them. On my birthday I always got cakes and presents and chocolate. Really, I could have anything I wanted."

And then it all went wrong

So, summarizing I said "So you injured your knee and got asthma". "Yes" she said, "and then I went away to live with relatives in a different town." Because of her intense asthma she was advised to leave her home town and go to a much drier atmosphere. So she moved away from home and lived with some distant cousins. They were cold and distant and not very happy getting a teenager forced on them. And thus started a period of intense unhappiness for her. And this was when she began to eat.

It was now clear why she was addicted to eating. At the time she was living in a cold, unhappy place. She had lost all her friends. The passion of her life, softball, was over. She was no longer the golden girl who was indulged by her parents. Her life was empty, and turned to comfort eating.
Part of her unconscious mind was trying to get back to those wonderful days of holidays and Christmas when she was given whatever she wanted. It was her sad attempt to get back some happiness. And that was what her eating behaviour was all about. And she had been eating ever since, for more than 20 years she had been overweight. Since then she had got married and her parents had died.

Choosing the therapy

It seemed to me that my client was stuck in the past. She was trying to get back to a golden time, and had to be helped to move on from there. Thinking about psychological resources, using her mother as a resource seemed like the most promising approach.

I decided to use a script called Bridge to Freedom. This includes leading the client in trance to a bridge. On the bridge there is a Figure of Power who helps the client to get rid of whatever it is that is holding them back. I took her through the script, adjusting it to her own particular circumstances. I fully expected that she would see the Figure of Power as her mother.

Then I used the shortened version of another script called Cathedral of Parts. In this script the client is taken into something that represents their own inner mind. Then all the parts that make up the person's personality are brought out. One of them that is not doing what it should is singled out and changed. Normally the client says that they saw all different parts of themselves in various forms.

Coming out of trance

When I brought the client out of trance, we talked for a while about what she had experienced. She said "I feel completely different about eating now". I asked who the figure on the bridge was. She said "I think it was me". This meant that she had been using her own resources on the bridge. Using your own resources is much more powerful than getting resources from somewhere else.

I asked what the parts look like. And to my great surprise, she said "they were all foods". It seems that, in this particular case, it was actually particular foods that were her problem. It really was chocolate and snacks that were the culprits. So in her mind, she has changed her relationship with them.

And that should be the end of her comfort eating problem.

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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.

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Surprise Easter egg

A surprise Easter egg

I had a client today who reminded me of the deep and complex psychology that our clients bring to us. When I went looking for the origin of this client's problems, I had no idea what I would find. This one brought me a surprise Easter egg.

This client came to me several months ago, and at that time I treated her for the anxiety she felt during meetings at work. She felt unable to speak up and was afraid of conflict. She said that she felt a tremendous change after the last session and felt it was time to change some more.

I asked what her problem was today, and she said that she has a knot of anxiety in her stomach all the time. Her constant anxiety means she overeats and drinks too much to deal with the stress inside her. She also eats too much when she is "bored".

Visualising the problem

The problem seemed simple enough. I got her to close her eyes and become aware of the feeling inside her body. She identified it quite easily and said that it was located in her abdomen. I asked to describe what it seemed like. To my surprise he said it is like a huge oblong egg. I asked her to describe it and she told me that it had a shell, with a mottled black and dusky gold surface.

When I asked her to describe it in more detail it told me that it was womblike, that there was something like a foetus inside it. This really surprised me. I have never come across anything like this before. It clearly had deep significance to her. It is not often that a client gives you such a powerful and direct metaphor.

Chair therapy

I decided that the best therapeutic technique would be to use the Chair method. I told her to imagine a chair in front of her. Then I told her to imagine taking that egg and placing it in the chair. She said she had done that:that was the most critical part of the therapy done.

I then told her to just regard it. Look at it, be curious about it, to think about what she felt about it. She said there was something inside it. I asked her what she thought it was, and she told me that the thing inside was the true essence of her. She felt that this thing inside the egg shell had been trying to get out for a very long time.

Breaking open the surprise Easter egg

The next job than for me was to help get this thing out of the shell. I told her to imagine leaning forward and putting her hands on the shell. Then I suggested that the contact of her hands would begin to transmit heat into the egg. I asked her what the thing inside the egg wanted. She told me that it wanted to come out.

I then asked what was happening in the egg, and she said that it was now warm inside. Then I told her to move her hands around on the surface of the egg to see if thing inside would begin to follow the movement. After some time she said that it was moving and that it was ready. I told her to move her hands closer together at one point in the egg and to leave a space between them. I suggested that between her hands she would begin to feel bumps and tremors and little cracks begin. Quite quickly she said that yes it's happening. Then with out any more input from me she said "it's out".

Keep the change

At this point there were tears in her eyes, so I decided to consolidate the experience. I told her to take this thing (and at no point did I ask her to describe it) and hold it the way she would hold a new baby. I told her to love this thing and allow it to love her, to open herself up to it, to allow it into her body.

This brought more tears, and I spent some time getting her to take it into her body, to feel it spreading to every part of her.

She needed to have this change impressed into her unconscious mind so I did a kinaesthetic confirmation. This consisted of suggesting to her that she send a message of gratitude to her own mind for having allowed this to happen.  I suggested that she might get a message back. I told her to focus attention on her hands, and that she might feel a need, a compulsion to move a finger or perhaps the hand would move. She got a motor response in her hand. I told her that that was her guarantee that her mind had heard and would be applying the changes.

Visualise the outcome

I finished the session with lots of suggestions of her new ability to stand up for herself in meetings, ( the original thing she came for) and that she would no longer have any problems with eating or drinking.

She came out of the session saying that she felt completely changed. She said "I feel like I can do anything today".

I gently suggested that she would feel like that every day from now on.

 

 

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