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fear of flying

Fear of Flying Metaphor Therapy

Fear of Flying therapy

I had a client with  an absolute fear of flying. The idea terrifies him. He gets sick for weeks before it.  He gets night sweats, tremors, complete wreck. Hates being on a plane. He is now applying for a job where he will have to fly at least twice a week. It seems to be the movement and particularly the fear of a drop is what causes his panic. He could not think of any reason why he had this fear of flying.

It seemed to me this was an ideal case for metaphor replacement therapy.  We talked about his feelings for a while, and then straight into the therapy.

When I started to lead him into trance I got a big surprise. This guy seemed to me to be one of the most hypnotisable people I've ever come across. He just fell into trance almost instantly.  I think his basic problem is that he is hypnotising himself into the fear of flying.

Fear of Flying metaphor therapy

To get  him to relax, I did a brief breathing induction. I asked him to think about getting on a plane. I walked him through getting the tickets, going to the airport, going to check-in, waiting for the boarding call, and then walking across the bridge and into the plane and taking his seat. Then I talked him through the plane taking off and a lot of shaking and shuddering and called up his feeling that the plane was going to drop suddenly. He was clearly agitated and in the feeling.

Visualize Fear of Flying as an object

I therefore got him to visualise what the feeling was like. He said "It is like a rock". I asked him what size it was and he said "about the size of a soccer ball". I then asked him to describe the rock in as much detail as he could. He said "it's pretty jagged, black, and there is a horrible feeling around it". More probing revealed that it was terrifying, the outside was hard and rough and it had no particular temperature. What was interesting was that while I was asking him what it would be like if he touched it and felt it, he was using his hand as if he was feeling this soccer ball rock. And then I asked him what temperature it was, he was using both hands as if they were on each side of the rock. He was totally living the experience of that metaphor.

Establish the link

The next stage of Metaphor Replacement Therapy is to find out what the link is between that rock and their feelings. I asked, "what would you like to have happen to that rock?". He said "disappear". I asked, "what would that mean for you if that rock disappeared?". He said, "relief". So I asked, and what can you do then". He said, "I could relax". I didn't want him to learn how to relax. So I asked the further question "when you have that 'relax', what can you do then, what about flying?". He then said, "I could enjoy flying". I had now established the link between the rock, the metaphor, and the feelings he wanted to get rid of.

Get ownership of the metaphor object

I then started asking him questions that would allow him to alter that rock. "What happens to rocks over time?" He said, "they get smaller". It seemed to me that he was comfortable with changing the size of his rock. So I said to him "can you imagine that rock a little bit bigger?". He said, "yes". "And can you imagine a little bit bigger still?". "Yes." So he could make it bigger. Most people with anxiety problems can easily make their problem seem bigger. So I said to him, "Now put it back the way it was. Now just make it a little bit smaller. Can you make it a little bit smaller?" I then asked him to make it bigger and smaller, and he was able to do that. Then I said, "do you realize that that means that you have control of this thing?" That changed his whole perspective of it.

Destroy the metaphor object

I then got him to think about what might happen to that rock. And very quickly, he described it as cracking and crumbling, and the whole thing just fell apart. I then got him to get rid of all of the bits that were left and he confirmed that it had disappeared.

Replace the Fear of Flying object

The next stage then is to replace the old metaphor with a new metaphor. I then suggested that he focus on the place without rock had been. "Your mind will find something you could put in there, something you would like, something useful." I suggested "some people like to use a sunny day, some people a  child's smile, some people the feeling of triumph when they won something". "I wonder what your mind will want to put in there?"

And then I encouraged him to put his special thing in that place. I told him that once it got there he would experience a colour, a vibration, or a sound,orsomething quite special. It would fill that place. It would overflow that place. He would fill the whole of his body with that wonderful feeling.

Out of trance

I then told him to count himself out of trance and back into the present."

And how does that whole fear of flying business seem to you now?

He said with excitement, "it feels like nothing nothing at all".

I asked him how he was feeling. He said, "I am wonderfully relaxed, and I love that blue feeling that I'm feeling inside".

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Jealousy hypnosis therapy

Jealousy Hypnosis Therapy Regression

Jealousy Hypnosis  Therapy Regression

I had a client yesterday who told me she had a jealousy issue and she wanted jealousy hypnosis therapy. She was a very young woman. Jealousy is not unusual in young women. What was unusual about this client is that she was not jealous about a boyfriend or some other girl. 

In this case it is actually that when she is with a friend and that friend goes to talk to someone else she gets anxious. It is the fear of losing that other person. She gets a sick feeling inside. She doesn't seem to have anything else in her life that is wrong. Just this thing about always fearing that the her friend has gone off and won't come back. 

Choosing Regression Therapy

This behavior was so specific, so emotionally charged, that I thought that Hypnotic Regression would be the best approach.  I suspected that at some point in her childhood she had been abandoned. That caused a fear in her.  This fear was likely being triggered by any observed behavior that might lead to her feeling abandoned again. 

I did a simple breathing induction. Young people are generally more susceptible to hypnosis so I shortened the induction because of her age. As I thought, she turned out to be very susceptible. I could clearly see all the stages of hypnosis in her face as she went under.

Jealousy Hypnosis therapy procedure

I gently took her back to the feeling that she has when she thinks someone is going away to talk to someone else. "Allow yourself to get into that feeling. Feel that feeling. Allow that feeling to come out, that feeling you get when you think that someone is going away to talk to someone else and leaving you." "When you have the feeling, just say the word 'yes'". 

When she told me that she had the feeling, she was feeling it right now, I then asked her to go back to the first time she had ever felt that way. I said "allow your mind to go back in time, to the first time you ever felt that feeling. When you get that first feeling your mind will give you a memory, a picture, something about what you are doing and what was going on at that time."

She immediately went back to a specific moment in time.  Her mother was telling her that her father had died.  "You will never see him again." The feeling that my client had was a deep sadness that she would never get to know him. She said she was aged five or six at the time.

I asked her gently how that child felt. She said "scared, lonely, anger at not getting to know him more." "Confusion".

Inner child work

I then got her to go back to that child, as herself as an adult. I got her to introduce herself to that child. "Tell the child who you are. Tell the child that you are there for her. Let that child know that you love her and you will always be there for her. She will never be lonely again. Hold that child. Put your arms around her. Feel her little fragile body. Feel the fear and anger and loneliness."

"Now take the fear from her. Tell her it is okay. Tell she did not do anything wrong. Say to her that she is a beautiful little girl. And that you love her. Make it right for her."

"Now make that little girl smile. You know how to make little girls smile. Now get her to laugh. Now take her out of that place, take  her outside somewhere nice. Some place where she can play."

"Then watch as she grows." I then suggested that my client, the adult, could watch over that little girl. "You can be there as she grows. When she falls down you can pick up. You can kiss it better. Watch as she becomes six and seven years old, a child. Then she becomes nine and 10, a girl. Then 11 and 13, a teenager. And you are there with her every step of the way. Helping her, showing her what to do, telling her that she is beautiful and strong and you love her totally."

"Then she becomes 15 and 16 are young woman. Then 19 and 20. An adult. Strong, resilient,  outgoing,  exactly the kind of person you want to be."

Reintegrate the inner child

"And then that young girl grows to be exactly the same age as you are now. And you put your arms out and she puts her arms out. You embrace each other. As you become one person. You are her and she is you. She is in you and you are in her."

"You can become aware of that little girl deep inside. And every now and again, this little laugh bubbles up from nowhere that lets you know she is there. To remind you that there is a happy , laughing, playing girl inside. And you love her. She is beautiful. She is now part of you."

"So take a deep breath now. Take a deep breath and just relax everything."

"Now go around your body and check to see if there's anything left of that old feeling."

She she said the feeling had gone away completely. She said she felt so relaxed now.

We spent some time discussing what she had experienced. She said that her father had died when she was a child. He died of a heart attack very suddenly.

And it appears that she never got over it. Until now.

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unconscious mind experiment

Unconscious mind experiment

Unconscious mind experiment

As an unconscious mind experiment, I decided to put myself into a gentle trance. The object was to ask my unconscious mind what the subject of my next blog would be. I settled down in the chair, and just willed myself to go into trance. Within a few seconds I got a twitch in my hand. This is my personal indication that I'm going into trance. I got various images, none of which stayed very long, or led to anything much. I was actually sitting quite uncomfortably. As I felt myself relaxing deeper into trance I was worried I would fall out of the chair. So I brought myself out of trance. Maybe I just wasn't ready for it at this time.

And that got me thinking about how deep I had gone. That made me think of how would I know how deep a client had gone. It is always a problem to know how deep a client is. How can I get the client to tell me how deeply relaxed they are? 

How to measure hypnotic depth

There is no point in just asking them. The client would have no way of knowing, would have nothing to measure it against. Which made me think of using a ruler. I could tell the client to visualize a ruler. Tell them that one end was zero, fully awake, and the other end was ten,  deeply relaxed. Then ask the client to visualize where they were on that ruler.

This led me to the idea of an ever extending ruler. I immediately thought about a measuring tape. One of those things where you pull the tape out from a case. This would have the advantage of going far beyond ten. The client could envisage the tape being as long as they want. Even endless.

A new induction from my unconscious mind experiment?

And from that, the germ of a new idea arose from somewhere. If I could get the client to imagine where they were on the tape, then I could get them to imagine moving further along the tape. And if the tape went on forever, then I could suggest to the client that as they went along the tape they got deeper and deeper, more and more relaxed. And so the idea for a new and original induction emerged.

So perhaps my unconscious mind experiment worked. It is strange how the unconscious mind works. My unconscious mind experiment did allow me to find something totally new and unexpected to write about.

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hypnotic visualization skills

Hypnotic visualization skills in inductions

Hypnotic visualization skills are used in most hypnosis inductions.  But they don't have to be. You can use a breathing induction and avoid most visualization issues.

The problem is that most hypnosis inductions rely on visual imagery. If the client can't visualize, then they will have difficulty getting hypnotized. Inductions such as watching the sun going down, or waves on a beach, depend on a degree of visualization ability.

Test for Hypnotic Visualization Skills

It is easy to test for visualization skills. All you have to do is to ask the client 'can you imagine a horse?' Then ask them what color their horse is. Most people say 'brown'. Then ask then what direction the horse's head is facing. Most people say it is facing to their left. Then ask them to imagine their horse as a different color, or being smaller or larger. This will let you judge very accurately how good their visualization skills are.

However concerns about hypnotic visualization skills is probably over emphasized. People can imagine waves on a beach without actually needing to visualize the waves going in and out.  You  can be induced into trance by thinking about waves in general. The idea of waves is what is important, and most people can manage that. It helps if the therapist suggests 'imagining' the waves, rather saying 'now see the blue waves rolling up the golden sand and the white foam hissing as it spreads out. Now see the water rippling canyons through the soft sand as it withdraws...'. Putting too much detail into your suggested images is always a mistake.

Avoid the need for hypnotic visualization skills

The best way however, is to avoid the need for any visualization at all. You can use an induction that does not rely on imagery at all. Then it doesn't matter whether the client can visualize or not. I now always use a breathing induction. Everyone knows how to breathe. You link that to a physical relaxation induction, and then deepen  it  with a staircase countdown induction. This works reliably with 99% of people. It puts them into trance in about three minutes.

In hypnotherapy sessions, it is best to avoid problems rather than solve them.

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Body Language

Body Language for Hypnosis Rapport

Body Language is what your client is telling you before they speak

Body Language is important for hypnotherapy. When I meet a client for the first time, I hand them my clipboard. I ask them to write down their name and email address. And while they are doing that I inspect them minutely and try to figure out what their body language is telling me. I look at their fingernails, bitten nails are a  sign of chronic anxiety; their hair, poor grooming suggests depression; how they are dressed, all dark colors suggest lack of confidence; their jewelry, loud or excessive jewelry suggests low self esteem - and so on.

Body Language - you cannot not communicate

People are signalling how they feel all the time. If you choose to pay attention you will learn that body language doesn't lie. NLP teaches that even when you are silent, you are communicating. How you stand, how you dress, how you arrange your feet, are saying something, whether you are aware of it or not.

I have had a fascination with body language most of my life. I get as much practice as I can, and not just with clients. Every time I am in a public place - on a bus, a hotel foyer, waiting in a shop - I spent the time studying someone. I am trying to learn what their actions, posture, clothes, expression, interactions with others is signalling to the world. Sometimes you get nothing much. But now and again their body language gives you a sudden insight into that person's life, what they feel, how they see the world. It is endlessly fascinating and when it is done right you get total rapport with the other person, you really understand how they feel.

After a while, you get a sense of general categories. I can now watch people go by, and think 'Depression', or 'Anxiety' or 'Unhappy marriage' just from the signals they are giving off. After a while it becomes automatic. It also gives you a much richer understanding of what is going on around you.

I recommend studying body language as a way to increase your rapport building skill with clients.

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hypnosis conversation

Hypnosis Conversation in trance

I recently finished a script about Fear of Sexual Intercourse. As usual I got someone to look it over to check for typos and bad logic. They could not work out where the 'yes' and 'OK' were coming from until I used different colors to identify who was speaking.

You need Hypnosis Conversation to succeed

I was suddenly struck by the fact that in all thousands of hypnosis scripts I have read, only a handful have any interaction with the client. Almost never is there any conversation in trace with the client. In virtually all of the scripts I have seen, there is no hypnosis conversation, the only talking done is by the therapist. I think that in therapy, the client is the one with all the answers. If you need to know what is going wrong and why, you must have a hypnosis conversation with the client. If you don't interact with the client, if you are not getting the client talking back to you, you are wasting the main resource you have. Using a one-size-fits-all approach based on scripts will only produce second best results. I remember when I was beginning to do hypnosis I felt very uneasy. Part of me was afraid of asking for a reply and not getting one. The other part of knew that there was no other way to know what they were experiencing, and I had to ask.

The advantages of Hypnosis Conversation

I soon got into the habit of asking for confirmation of trance. Then I started asking them what they felt. Finally, I was able to have a full in hypnosis conversation about what was going on in their minds. Conversing with their unconscious minds later enabled me to understand Clean Language skills and to develop some expertise in metaphor.

But it does seem to me that too many hypnotherapists keep on talking at their client, instead of having a hypnosis conversation with their client. If you do all the talking, you will have no way of knowing how effective your words are, or what the client is actually getting from it. I suspect that many new hypnotists are too afraid ask, just in case the client isn't really in trance. And then get into the habit of one-way hypnosis.

The best way to check how you are doing is to have an in-trance hypnosis conversation.

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fear of public speaking

Fear of Public Speaking therapy

Fear of public speaking

Today's client was very nervous and fidgety when she sat down.  She told me she's got a new job, and hates it when they all sit around and everyone has to introduce themselves and say who they are. So it seems that she has a simple  fear of public speaking. That is usually easy to clear, and very quick.

Finding a feeling to work with

I explained about metaphor replacement therapy and how it works. I told her what I was going to do. Because I expected this to be a very short session, I treated this is a bit of an experiment in getting people to go into trance without formal induction. I used a breathing induction to settle her down. Got her to take two big deep breaths and then on the third told her to close her eyes. I told her to think about being in a large room with many people  It was slowly coming round to her turn to speak. The start of the sort of therapy is to try to get the client to move into the feeling. Once the client is fully experiencing the feeling, they are pretty much in trance. It is then easy to manipulate images in the unconscious mind.

In this case she said she was feeling the anxiety. But it was very difficult to get her to say anything. I kept prompting her about the introduction ceremony, checking that she was feeling the anxiety and she just wasn't speaking at all. I wasn't getting any feedback from her.

Finding a different scenario to recreate her fear of public speaking

So I decided to offer her a different scenario that would generate her fear of public speaking. I asked her to imagine being the bridesmaid at a wedding. She had to stand up and address the whole audience. To increase the fear I said "everyone is looking at you". "You are the center of attention, the success of the whole wedding depends on you getting it right". "It will be remembered forever".

I asked what she was feeling. She said "a little nervousness, tenseness". I asked her where she was feeling it, and she indicated it was in her chest. So I went on with that and after a lot of prodding, persuasion and encouragement, she finally said "it's like a cloud".

I asked her what she would like to have happen to the cloud and she said "go away". Then I asked "what would that mean for you", and she replied "no fear". And finally, I asked her "what could you do then?" And she replied "anything". This set up the logical link between her actions and the outcome.

Reluctance to speak = reluctance to change?

I tried to get her to make the cloud bigger. After a lot of prodding she could get it to become a little bigger, but she could not get it to go any smaller. I explored the properties of the cloud with her. It was a black cloud, heavy, floating in front of her, it was round. I asked her to look at it from the back. After a long, long silence she said " it is just the same". I asked if she could move it to one side of the other. "No." I suggested the cloud might rain. it might shrink. it might get thinner, it might change colour. all the things I could think of. Still she sat there absolutely silent. Eventually in desperation I said just imagine that you could push that cloud. That seemed to work. She eventually said, it's much further away. I kept persuading her to push it away more, but was getting no response. "How are you experiencing that cloud now?" "What it look like now?" After another long silence she finally said "It's disappeared".

Clearing her fear of public speaking

Something that usually takes two minutes took over forty. This woman seriously did not want to talk about her problem even in the metaphor. However, I tested her by making her think about the whole wedding thing again, and she said "the feeling has gone, just not there". I tested her again later on, and she said "no is definitely gone". "I usually get the feeling of tension in my chest. That just isn't happening now".

My feeling is that the fear of public speaking was actually linked to a much earlier fear from somewhere deep in her childhood. I think that she was afraid of something very much deeper, and was not going to allow me to get anywhere near that feeling. When I put that to her, she agreed. She couldn't say how she knew, she just felt that that felt right.

Her experience of trance was interesting

That would have been the end of the session, but I was anxious that she did not leave with the idea that she had not been hypnotized. So I told her that what we had done was a form of hypnosis.  And she said something very interesting. She said "when we were getting rid of the cloud I felt that I had gone inside myself. That I was very small and my body was very large. In particular I felt my hands were huge".

I commented "you're a very unusual client, this usually doesn't take very long, and the client talks all the way through it. You seemed very reluctant to speak?" She said that she wasn't speaking because she felt she was not sure what to say or what was wanted. I wonder if that had anything to do with her reluctance to speak in public. Although I did not pursue it.

Given that I was trying out ways of inducing trance without a formal induction, her reaction was very interesting.

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improve hypnotherapy

Simplest way to improve Hypnotherapy?

A simple way to Improve Hypnotherapy?

What is the easiest way to improve your hypnotherapy results? I asked this in a discussion recently.  The group agreed the simplest way to improve hypnotherapy was avoid talking too much.

We all do it. We are supposed to find out what the client really needs so we can plan the session. But the therapist's enthusiasm often results in talking instead of listening.

True, hypnosis is one of the talking therapies.  You are supposed to talk. But talking therapies are based on getting the client to talk, not the therapist. Counselling is about making the client feel heard and understood. Psychoanalysis is about allowing the client to talk about their thoughts by free associating. Clean language is about removing the therapist from the conversation as far as possible. Therapists desperately want to help. But they are human too. Therapists get nervous and flustered. So the tendency is to jabber on. It is very tempting to talk about what you think instead of listening to what your client thinks. 

Silence improves hypnotherapy

Asking the right question is a key skill. Listening to the answer is a more important skill. Sometimes saying too much is the wrong thing. Silences can tell you a lot. But too often the therapist jumps in because they don't like the silence, and feel that have to be doing something. Although some therapists feel uncomfortable with silence, silence is a very effective technique to allow the client to collect their thoughts. And if it goes on too long, the right thing to do is to ask 'and what are you experiencing now?' and let the client tell you what is going in their mind.

Rule 1. Don't be the next person to speak after you ask a question. When you ask a question, and the client does not answer immediately, the silence can be deafening. Many therapists feel uncomfortable with prolonged silences. They panic, thinking that the question was badly worded, or the client has and understood it. So they say "What I mean is…" and either answer the question themselves or dilute the power of the original question.

Rule 2. After a brief reply to an open-ended question, wait a few seconds before saying anything. Very often, this will prompt your client to expand on the question, to tell you things that were being held back, to open up about their worries and reservations. Clients are also uncomfortable with silences. They will usually blurt out something that they were keeping back just to fill the silence. This technique can be very useful, but don't turn it into an interrogation method.

Rule 3. Allow some silence after you have delivered  bad news. When the therapist has to deliver some bad news, sometimes it is the therapist who feels nervous, and talks too much. If you have to tell a client for example, "you have depression", it is better to say nothing more and give the client time to process this information.

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hard case smoker

The hard case smoker

Last weekend I had the kind of client we all dread. The hard case smoker: Someone who didn't believe that he could give up, ever. He had tried everything. He was only coming to hypnosis because it was the last thing on the list of all the things he had tried that didn’t work. Now he wanted to be able to  show that he done everything possible and nobody could get him to stop smoking.

He started smoking at 15. As a teenager, he was rebellious and resentful at home. He didn’t get on with his dad. He reckoned that as the youngest child his parents had expended all their energies on the older kids and he was of no interest to them. Smoking started when he joined the rugby team. He loved being part of the team, of feeling he belonged and was part of a group. He left home and joined the army. The Army made him feel included, somebody, a tough guy, always loved the camaraderie, the inclusiveness.

He later returned home and from the moment his father picked him up from the airport they began to reconcile. As time went on they became closer, and then his father got throat cancer and died suddenly. He was devastated by this. It was in 1982 but he still feels it keenly.

He is scared of dying and convinced that he cannot stop smoking and that the smoking will kill him, but he is powerless to stop.

Finding a metaphor for the hard case smoker

 I ask my clients a question to establish their feelings about smoking. I say what comes to mind when I say ‘You will never have another cigarette as long as you live’?  When I asked him what he felt he said "dubious".

I asked what smoking looked like and he said a group: him and all the group smoking. Then I decided to develop this and got him to describe the feeling he got with the group. He said the feeling was of being at peace, happy, not wanting it to end. I asked what colour that feeling was and he said red, and square. I asked if he was inside that square. He said, Yes, with all the group. Then I asked if he could drop his cigarettes and get everyone else do that too. He said he could. What has changed? He said nothing.

So I developed that in metaphor. I got him to imagine that they all dropped all the tobacco and lighters and stuff and there was everything on the floor, ash, ashtrays, cigs etc. I asked if he could sweep it up and throw it out of the red square. He said no. So I used incrementalism and got him to put one shovel-full out and if that was OK. He said that would be OK. And then another shovel, and then more shovels, and then all the group were helping and cheering on and he was a leader and the most popular guy in the red square. He eventually cleared out all the smoking stuff and still had all his friends with him in the red square room.

Anchoring the hard case smoker

What was particularly interested about this process is that he had gone into trance with no induction. I notice that when I get a client to focus on a feeling, and follow that feeling they normally go into trance. As long as I do nothing to break the spell, they will stay in trace and not even notice. In NLP this is called revivification. NLP asks the client to think about a memory and get into the memory so as to anchor the feeling. Then when you fire the anchor the client goes into the feeling, in effect goes into trance. This method just starts with the feeling. 

To finish the session I  got this client to go on a journey where he met his dad. His father released him from the smoking and told him that he could live a long and healthy life. I finished off with my standard stop smoking direct suggestions.

It remains to be seen if this client has in fact stopped for ever, but at the end of the session he said ‘It is weird, but I feel different. When I left that square room it had changed color!’

 

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Nervous Bowels

Nervous Bowels

Many people have Nervous Bowels. This client was a lovely woman, elegant, composed, and with a terrible secret. She gets immediate diarrhea every time she has to meet someone.

It is not uncommon for people to get shaky bowels whenever they think they're going to be judged. It happens to sportspeople just before they have to perform. Entertainers get it before they go onto the stage. Most people feel some sort of unpleasantness in their gut in the face of a stressful situation.

Living with nervous bowels

In this case the client had been pretending for years. She had a high level position in education and was widely respected for her skills. But she had been hiding the need to rush to the toilet every time she was introduced to someone. After some questioning, it became clear that this was not a normal case of stress induced diarrhoea. This woman could happily address the groups of people. She  had no problem with public speaking. She could facilitate small group meetings, and do it very well. Interacting with two people was OK also. But the prospect of talking to just one person sent her running for the bathroom.

After some investigation I discovered it was really about the fear that she would have to leave the other person alone. In her mind, this was unacceptably rude. So her fear was that she would be called away to something else and have to leave the other person on their own. It was really about what that other person would think of her for doing that.

I tried to get to the cause of this. She said she had a great childhood. She could find no reason for this anxiety. The only worry she could find was that she was very nervous about her own parenting skills. However I could not find any direct cause for why leaving one person alone should generate these feelings.

Treating nervous bowels

I decided to use metaphor therapy on her feelings of anxiety. I asked her to put yourself into the position of being forced to speak with one person. The objective was to get her to go into the state so that I could work directly on the feeling. She tried and could not get into the feeling without being there.

So I put her into trance. I did a simple metaphor therapy about allowing her unconscious mind to search for the source of the feeling. Her unconscious mind found the source of the feeling and pulled it out of its hiding place. Then her mind took that thing and broke it open. The contents turns to liquid. I told her the liquid was pouring down inside and leaking out through the soles of her feet until it was gone.

Clearing the problem

This metaphor triggered something, because she started crying. I use that to associate into her feeling of distress. I then asked her to focus on the feeling and describe what object it most resembled. She told me it was like a brown ball full of moving clouds of black. I worked on this representation and got her to shrink it. She was able to shrink it until it was the size of a golf ball. But she was completely unable to get it to go any smaller.

From experience, I know that this is her unconscious mind resisting my attempts to get rid of it. So I changed the metaphor.  I asked her if she had ever sliced a tomato. Slicing a tomato is something that everyone has done. It is easy and familiar. The moment that I said it, she was no longer stuck. She told me that she was now able to slice the golf ball. I then told her to think about dicing vegetables or something like that, as she got rid of the thing completely and she got rid of the thing completely.

I have no idea what the origin of the problem was, and neither does she. But by using metaphor therapy we were able to get rid of it completely.

The origin of her nervous bowels

After talking about the process and the outcome for a while, I asked again about her upbringing. Now that her unconscious mind had removed whatever it was, she told me a different story about growing up. It turned out that she had a not so good childhood. She had an adopted older brother who caused problems in the family and bullied my client. Her mother expected perfection, that my client felt she could never deliver. Her mother was into Guiding, and loved rules, and discipline, and expected nothing else from her children. I suggested that she didn't have to look very far to find the source of her anxiety, and she agreed.

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