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automatic writing

Automatic drawing for hypnotherapy

Automatic drawing as hypnotherapy

This is an unusual way of using hypnosis to explore your own unconscious mind. Automatic drawing hypnotherapy is fun and creative. Sometimes you get nothing much from it. Oftentimes what  you draw will surprise you and give you an insight into what is happening in your unconscious mind.

The setup

Decide where you want to do the drawing. You will need something to draw with, a pencil, a ballpoint pen, a crayon – it really doesn't matter, whatever you feel comfortable with. And then you need something to draw on. This can be a notebook, some printer paper, a whiteboard, – again, whatever you feel comfortable with and is readily available.

Most people like to be sitting when you do the drawing, but you can also do standing up. I will assume you are sitting down. Get yourself comfortable in the seat. Get your paper on your lap or on the tabletop or whatever, ready to use.

First get yourself grounded

Now get yourself grounded. Take three breaths slowly and deeply. Consciously tense and release all of your muscles. Start with your facial muscles, then your neck muscles, then your shoulders, and then your arms. Just tense and release them and allow them to feel heavy and soft and relaxed. Do the same with all the other major muscle groups. Tense and release your chest, your waist, your hips, your legs.

When you feel that your body is heavy and relaxed in your breathing gently, focus your attention on your feet. Just imagine all that weight going into your feet. Imagine your own power and awareness going out through your feet into the ground, like the roots of a tree. Take a few moments and really become aware of the connection between your body and the ground beneath your feet. Then imagine each of your problems, issues, worries, beginning to drain away. Draining out through your feet. Allow each one to let go from wherever they are and flow out of your body through your feet and into the earth below.

Start the automatic drawing hypnotherapy

When you feel you are really relaxed, when there is no noise in your mind, when it has all drained out of you, then you can start drawing. Allow your mind to choose where on the paper you want to place the pen or pencil. Don't force it, or think about it, just allow that you hand decide where to start.

Then, start moving the pencil in whatever way seems right to you. You're basically doodling thoughtlessly. Look at the paper, watching as the pen moves, and just being curious as to what it wants to do next. You might find yourself drawing straight lines like a fan, or drawing circles. You might find yourself shading in things, thickening lines, or filling spaces with dots. Some lines might just be tiny strokes, some will be long and sweeping. All of these should be automatic, something produced by your mind. You might keep drawing continuously, or your mind might want to lift the pen and start doodling somewhere else. All you have to do is be curious about what your hand wants to do next. Just let it happen, and be an observer.

Using automatic drawing as hypnotherapy

As you watch the page will begin to fill up with your random doodles, circles, lines and curves, boxes or whatever. And even while your hand is drawing them you will begin to recognise in those doodles areas that look like faces or arms or sunsets or something else.

Don't try to interfere, just allow your hand to keep moving, making loops and lines, expressing whatever it wants to express.

At some point you will know that it's time to stop. Stay in your relaxed state and just absorb whatever your hand has created. Parts of the drawing will suggest things to you. Close your eyes and allow your mind to expand on those things. You can also turn the page on its side and see what that suggests. Keep doing that until you feel that you have extracted whatever meaning the automatic drawing might be trying to tell you.

 

 

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false consensus effect

False Consensus Effect

False consensus effect

the false consensus effect is a cognitive bias that leads you to assume that other people think the same way that you do. It is natural, and inevitable, and leads to problems in therapy.

It is both good and bad. It is bad when extremists of any sort find confirmation of their own views in the general population. It is good when it allows you to feel more comfortable in a social group.

The self reinforcing effect

The false consensus effect causes you to overestimate the extent to which other people share your own beliefs, values, morals and behaviors. Once you believe this, you stop noticing evidence that doesn't support that, and you tend to reinforce your own view of the world.

You can test this quite easily. Simply ask someone to do something a bit strange, a bit out of the ordinary, something that you might think that would be socially unacceptable or potentially embarrassing. For example, ask your friend if they would dye their hair green. Note whether your friend says yes or no. People who say no, will say that the majority of people would also say no. People who say yes, will tell you that the majority of people would also say yes. They are projecting their own feelings onto the general population. Regardless of what the actual numbers are, people always overestimate in the direction that agrees with how they feel.

False consensus effect and therapy

What does this have to do with therapy? It is important because the way that you deal with your clients reflects your personal beliefs. Your personal beliefs about therapy were determined by how you were trained. How you were trained is determined by the beliefs of the trainer. So once you have these beliefs about how to do therapy, they tend to be reinforced by speaking to other therapist trained in the same therapy. You reinforce them, and they reinforce you.

The problem is that this process prevents you from being open to new ideas, to different modalities, to better ways of doing things. Unless you deliberately set out to challenge yourself, to talk to people from different backgrounds, two experiments with new techniques, you will tend to get stuck in a rut. You will tend to allow your techniques to fossilize, to become more and more embedded in your theory of psychology.

Avoiding the false consensus effect

This is one of the reasons why most therapy associations insist on annual professional development. Going to conferences gives you the opportunity to see a different view of the world. Getting trained in a different modality might well change your perspective on what you are doing, and why you are doing it.

It is something that we all need to be aware of, and something we should all try to avoid.

 

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hypnosis for dating

Hypnosis for dating Fear of Commitment

Hypnosis for Dating

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

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

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

Fear of Dating

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

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

Regression Hypnosis for dating

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

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

Origin of her dating problems

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

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

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

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metaphor in therapy

Metaphor in hypnotherapy

The role of metaphor in hypnotherapy

Sometimes it happens in therapy that you just don't know what to do next. For me, it is usually when I ask a client to try to access the feelings about their behavior, or perhaps about things that happened earlier in their life, and they're can't find an emotion for me to work with. When that happens, I always use Metaphor in Hypnotherapy.

If your client cannot find an emotion then your options are fairly limited. You cannot go for a regression to the Initial Sensitizing Event, because you need an emotion to link to the original event. Or you can focus on the surface problem and use Direct Suggestion hypnotherapy. Another option, is to put your client into trance and either just give them a very relaxing experience, or teach them how to do self hypnosis. This often reduces the stress that underlies their problem, and gives them a temporary relief.

Metaphor in hypnotherapy

Sometimes your client cannot find an emotion, or is too frightened of the emotion. In that case, metaphor therapy is the best way. You can use behavior-centred metaphors, or you can opt for using a generalised metaphor.

What I mean by behavior-centered metaphor is something that is specific to this client and their particular behavior. When you first talk to your client you are trying to find out what their problem is, and how they see it. If the problem is  procrastination, then you can narrow it down to a phrase your client uses to define their problem. They might say "I feel like I'm stuck". Or "I just cannot get started, and I'm easily distracted". For each of these  you can invent a vivid story about someone just like them, who does some action which is metaphorically identical to what they need to do.

Generalized Metaphor in hypnotherapy

Alternatively, you can ignore the specific problem the client has brought to you. In almost every case, your client's problem is actually connected to some issue they had when growing up. You can use a generalised metaphor as a non-specific therapeutic approach. Put your client into trance. Then tell them a long metaphor story about how they can let go of whatever it is that is causing the anxiety. The traditional method is about "dropping the stones". In that metaphor you suggest in trance that they are carrying a backpack. The backpack is full of bricks. They can take the backpack off and tip out the bricks. The basic metaphor is usually dressed up in some fancy location, with added details that relate directly to the client's personal experience. If you are not good at making up stories, then there are many collections of healing metaphors you can use.

But there is never any reason to feel "stuck" yourself when you don't know what to do next in therapy.

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collateral damage

Collateral damage from childhood

Collateral damage

It is said that "nobody escapes childhood unscathed". My client today told me about a very bad childhood. His mother was unemotional, withdrawn, and seldom showed him any affection. His father was erratic. The only real interaction with his father was constant criticism and being told that he was not good enough. Nothing he did was ever right. He grew up feeling empty and alone and alienated.

His parents were not just abusive to him. They were constantly fighting, throwing things and insulting each other. Each of them moved out at various times and came back. The family atmosphere was a constant battleground of tension and occasional violence.

I would not have been surprised if the client came to me to deal with the fallout of this emotional abuse. What he actually came to me for was something quite different.

The real cause of the collateral damage

He has recently learned that his father is autistic. This explains the erratic behavior and the irrational parenting style. It doesn't make the emotional abuse any less damaging, but it does put a different perspective on it.

My client was struggling with this part of his life. He resented, even hated his father for what he had done to him. But now he realizes that his father was actually ill. In some ways his father really couldn't avoid his behavior.

My client is now conflicted. He hated his father, and sort of felt comfortable with that. But now he has to reassess everything he ever thought about his father. He still has to suffer from the emotional damage he got as a child. But now he also has to suffer again as an adult, and try to see his upbringing as something that he should forgive and understand. And this comes very hard to him. He still feels angry, but now he feels guilt about feeling angry.

Damaged parents cause damaged children

In our society we are familiar with the idea that parents can be very disappointed by their children. Some children have ADD, or other behavioral problems and make life hell for their parents. But we don't seem to have any kind of ready-made response about abusive parents.

As we grow up, those are the only parents we know, and we assume that they are perfect. In fact, society expects all parents to be perfect.  In this case, after talking to the client, I'm fairly sure that his mother has some form of depression. It seems likely that his mother and his father got together because they both recognized a damaged person in each other. And were willing to start a relationship because they probably felt they weren't going to get a better deal anywhere else.

The effect on my client was basically just collateral damage. Maybe we should get clients to bring their parents to therapy?

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Permission to stop smoking

Permission to stop smoking

Permission to stop smoking from beyond the grave

My client today was a farmer's wife from Middleton. She wants to stop smoking. In the past, she has been able to stop for short periods but always starts again. She is on medication for depression. She shows many symptoms of lassitude, indifference and inability to let go.

Although she has depression,  she does not show the typical busy mind or black and white thinking. I think the medication is protecting her from these things. She said she smokes because of stress and lack of willpower. When she stops she starts overeating. She needs to stop because she has emphysema. But she has this whole depressive "what's the point?" attitude to things, including her own health.

Cause of her depression and smoking

She has felt this way for seven years. Her daughter died after a long illness of cancer. She partly feels guilt because she might've been able to do more, but mostly it is just depression and grief as far as I can see. I suggested to her that she needs to get a goal in order to give her something to live for.

She said that every night when she closes her eyes she sees her daughter. She finds this very distressing.

Stop Smoking Visualization Therapy

So I first tried metaphor replacement therapy on the grief. She could not get the feeling. I did notice that her eye lids were flickering. She said her basic problem is that "I cannot let go". I could not get her to visualize any feeling, so I stopped that therapy. It was obvious that I needed to do something to resolve the issue about her daughter.

I then did a visualization of walking along a river bank, and coming to a bridge to the other side. In the visualization there is a person standing on the bridge.  I suggested that the person on the bridge was female by constantly using the pronouns "she" and "her" but I did not suggest it was any particular person.

The person on the bridge said 'I have been waiting a long time for you to come here." And the person on the bridge encourages the client to shed any guilt or regret. Then that person gives a form of power to the client.

Permission to stop smoking from the Other Side

Finally, there was a long dialogue between her and the person on the bridge. The talk was of forgiveness and acceptance and moving on. I then had the two of them hug, and whisper a special message between them that no one else could hear.

After she came out trance, she said "It was my daughter waiting on the bridge!" "We said goodbye, and I won't be seeing her again at night. I can rest now."

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altenativetherapies for phobias

Alternative Therapies for Phobias

Alternative Therapies for Phobias

My client was a young woman who I saw previously about her problem with public speaking and dealing with authority. This week she said she had a problem with dating. Friends want to set her up on a date with a nice man. And she cannot bring herself to meet him. So we started talking about her reluctance to go on a date.

She hates the idea of being forced to do something. I began to explore this idea. "Why do you hate being forced to do something?" "I hate feeling judged." She then told me that her sister once said "I know exactly why you are shy in public".

Creating the phobia of authority

When she was 10 or 11 years old my client went with her school class to the swimming bath. The teacher asked "Can anyone swim a whole length of this pool?". My client tentatively put up her hand. The teacher told her to go ahead and try to swim it. She swam about halfway, then got tired, and pulled herself the rest of the way along the side rail.

The teacher said to her "No, you didn't swim the whole length. Go back and do it again". My client protested that she had done the  length. But to no avail. The teacher made her get in again and try to swim the whole length again. She tried and tried, and then said she wouldn't do it. The teacher then said "well, no one else is going to go swimming until you have completed a length."

By this time the whole class was standing around the pool looking at her. All the kids wanted to swim. She was stopping them having fun. My client felt awful. No one else would be allowed to go swimming until she had completed a length unaided. So she tried again, and again, and finally was able to complete the whole length of the pool without touching the side or the bottom.

She got out of the pool and went to the changing room and just felt that she wanted to disappear. She felt humiliated. The teacher came along afterwards and said "Now, don't you feel much better knowing that you have done the length?" All my client felt was resentment.

One incident many phobias

This story perfectly illustrates how incidents in childhood can get converted into adult phobias. It explains the reluctance to go on a date. It also explains the fear of public speaking, and the fear of speaking to people in authority.

Her three problem behaviors are all metaphoric to the swimming pool incident. In the swimming pool incident there was an authority figure telling her to do things that she didn't want to. There was a whole group of people looking at her, and in her mind, judging her. She was under intense pressure, if she could not complete the length, no one in her group could go swimming. And in her mind, they would all blame her. She couldn't complete the length, she couldn't not complete the length. She was being judged by a teacher, and being judged by all her classmates. This is a perfect example of a psychological bind.

One incident, many therapies

What I thought was most interesting about this case is that we had already cleared most of her issues before we knew the actual cause. I had seen this client previously. I had used metaphor replacement therapy to deal with the feeling she had about speaking up in a room full of work colleagues. She had reported back the following week that the feeling of dread had disappeared and she was able to speak freely at a meeting that she had organised. At the second session, she wanted to get rid of a fear of speaking to people in authority. This was cleared by metaphor parts therapy. After the second session, she reported back that she felt entirely comfortable talking to her bosses now.

If I had known about the story of the swimming pool I would have used some form of regression most likely. I am fairly sure that regression would have worked just as well as the metaphor therapies.

Reframing as therapy

Just to make sure, I told my client to close her eyes and think about being back in that swimming pool. I told her to imagine that she is in the water looking up at the teacher. I told her to imagine the teacher is saying "You're not getting out until you do another length!". And then I told her to imagine reaching up, grabbing the teacher by the ankles, and tumbling her into the water, while saying "Now you do the length, bitch!".

My client laughed at this. And I told her that she would never be able to un-see that incident again. This seemed to afford her no end of amusement.

She later emailed me:  "Over the weekend I traveled for a birthday weekend with friends. We visited a beautiful waterfall near Napa. As you know, I'm not the most confident swimmer and will avoid swimming over my head. At the waterfall, it had a giant rope swing for the public to do 'bombs'.

I walked up to take a look at the view (its very high). I decided I was going to do  the cliff jump. This is by far one of the most terrifying things I've done. Particularly, as the water was well over my head below.

It took me a few minutes to compose myself, but my final words before jumping into the murky green waters were "take that *teachers name*" (or words along those lines). I was with a group of 5 friends who all cheered me on. It was an exhilarating feeling. Now, when ever I reflect back to that terrible instance at school, I'll be thinking of the new (more positive) experience I had."

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clearing childhood abuse

Clearing Childhood Abuse

Clearing Childhood Abuse

My client today told me that he had three things wrong with him. Fear of spiders. Loss of memory. And he couldn't remember the third thing (!). Later on he said the third thing was frightening dreams.

He was carrying a red-and-white tea-towel. He kept pushing it into his mouth and rubbing it around and pulling it out again. I had extreme difficulty understanding what he said.

I thought that he said that he had no tongue. But I thought that can't be right because how could he speak at all if he had no tongue?

He later told me that he had tongue cancer and eventually had to have his tongue removed. He showed me a patch on his forearm where surgeons had removed some skin and sewed it onto the stump of his tongue. To everyone's amazement he was able to speak after a fashion. It took a while to get my ear attuned to what he was saying. But eventually I could understand him quite well.

He has had a terrible life and what is most remarkable is that he is still quite cheerful about the whole thing. He said that he had a very bad childhood. His step father constantly beat him, terrorized him, made him fear for his life. Even though her father had died 20 years ago, he was still terrified by the thought of him.

Clearing Fear of Spiders

I really didn't know what to do with him. He had so many things going on, and he was so bad at speaking that I decided to go with the original thing, the fear of spiders. He wasn't just afraid of them, he was terrified of them.

"I have a memory that I think has  something to do with my fear of spiders." I told him to think about that fear of spiders that he gets. He immediately began to get a feeling. It was filling his chest. "What  is it like?" "Like a lot of spikes." It was black, rough, heavy, and hot. It seemed to be made of hard metal. He said that if it was put away he could be happy and he could do anything.

I got to think about what happens to metal over time. He said "it rusts". I developed the idea of rust and eventually the thing began to crumble. I got him to imagine stamping on it, and breaking it down into a pile of rust and he just swept that away.

Clearing Childhood Abuse

He was already in trance so I decided to keep going. I told him to remember his father's abuse. And how he felt about that. He immediately started exhibiting extreme distress. He was moving around in the chair, obviously frightened of getting a beating. I asked him what that feeling was like. He said "a ball of fire". This ball of fire was so troubling to him, so terrifying that he couldn't go near it, he couldn't see it, couldn't touch it, couldn't do anything.

Because he couldn't get near it, I told him to imagine a chair in front of him, and to put the ball of fire in the chair. He said it was black. A ball filled with much anger. It was red and black. It was hot. I suggested to him that there might be something else there something that he could use. Some asset. He said "my mother is there".

I asked him to imagine his mother standing next to a sink. My idea there was that she could use some water to put the burning ball out. I developed this idea and he was able to see his mother putting water on the ball  to get rid of the ball. She put it out. After that it became a fairly simple process to clear it. I gradually got him to allow the ball of fire to cool down and he started blowing it out. Eventually it was on the floor and it turned into a pile of ashes. He then scattered them into the water somewhere.

Outcome

He was very impressed by the process. He sat there almost stunned for a few minutes. And then he said "I don't know what it is, but something has changed. Something has really changed. For the first time in years I think we have got to the heart of it. All those other counselors and therapists were just going round the edges. You really got to it."

I had trouble getting him to leave.

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past life regression hypnotherapy

Past Life Regression Hypnotherapy

Past Life Regression Hypnotherapy

A client booked in with me writing "I would like to have a past life regression hypnosis. I feel a bit unhappy, like I am not fulfilling my purpose. I feel a bit lost." Past life regression hypnotherapy requests are fairly common but I always wonder what prompts the client to ask for one.

The client was a young primary teacher. She told me "I feel totally confused about my feelings, and my own life. I was going to resign my job because I couldn't really understand how I was feeling. My friends tell me it must be something I did in a past life."

Different assumptions

It became obvious fairly quickly that she really was not in touch with their own feelings. I gave her the dysthymia questionnaire. She identified with most of the areas, particularly with circular thinking. We discussed how rumination was affecting her. On looking at the the other aspects of dysthymia,  it became clear that she also has black and white thinking. This is defined by high expectations and distress at not achieving them. The rumination and failed expectations were driving her  lack of feeling, of disconnection.

It had never occurred to her that she had depression, despite the fact that her sister has depression, and her mother shows every sign of it as well.

I outlined what she has to do to fix her own depression, emphasizing exercise, but not going into detail or suggesting that she should come back.

We agreed that all of her symptoms were consistent with depression, and there was no point in doing past life regression.

There was not a lot of time left, so I had to do something fairly quick to end the session.

Metaphor therapy

She came to my office convinced there was something hidden inside that was making her act and  feel this way. So I decided to use metaphor therapy to clear that thing. I did a short induction. I suggested there was something lodged in her unconscious mind. Her own mind searched for it, found it, and ripped it out. Then it turned to liquid and drained out through her feet.

She was one of those clients who do a lot of moving in trance. I was concerned that she was not deep enough, so I deepened her by going down some steps into a garden. I didn't know what to do next. So I just let my unconscious mind take over. I noticed a potted plant on my windowsill. So I took her to a large glass house. The glasshouse was hot and steamy and everything was growing. I led her to a bench where there was a flower pot with rich earth in it.

Grow your answer Therapy 

There was a packet with her name on it. She felt it, and it appeared to have a seed inside. There was a sign that said 'open me'. I got her to plant the seed. Then someone appeared and said "I have been waiting for you to plant that seed. Now I will look after it for you. The seed will grow into a plant with many beneficial properties. It will continue to grow throughout your life. Who who knows what it will produce?".

I then got her to go outside and had her sit on a bench. She fell asleep on the bench and began to dream of a woman sitting on a bench. She dreamed of a woman sitting on a bench dreaming about a woman sitting on a bench and hearing these words. I continued with the multiple levels of dissociation until even I got lost in it.  This could be a good way of doing multiple embedded metaphors?

Feedback on this Past Life Regression Hypnotherapy

I was a little concerned that she had not really been in trance, due to the amount of wriggling around that she did. So I asked her what she remembered about the hidden object. She said it was that one of those things that suck blood, a leech. So, I was happy that she actually had been utilizing her own unconscious mind.

At then, at the end, saying goodbye, she said "and I really liked the whole plant thing, and this thing growing".

What I learned from this is that it is quite amazing how people can misinterpret their own symptoms. This woman was being encouraged to go down the path of New Age spirituality, and who knows where it might have led her. She just did not recognize the source of her own problems.

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hypnoanalysis

Hypnoanalysis Hypnotherapy

Hypnoanalysis and Hypnotherapy

As part of my professional self-development I am reading books based on other therapies. I am interested in what I might learn about my assumptions in how I do therapy, and about hypnoanalysis. I chose to read The Examined Life because I wanted a perspective from psychoanalytical therapy. The book is a collection of stories about patients by a well-known American psychoanalyst based in London.

Differences in approach

One of the most striking things to me is the basic psychoanalysis approach to therapy. I see most of my clients for one hour and never see them again. His clients see him five times a week, and continue seeing him every day for years and years. There is no expectation of making any immediate change.

The type of client he treats is also very different. Only seriously wealthy people can afford to pay for therapy five hours a week for years. Therefore, his approach to them is quite different. It is an approach of almost diffidence, doing nothing to upset or alienate the client, and the income stream.

Another curious aspect of psychoanalysis practice arises out of the limitless number of hours available. Grosz recounts several patients where neither he nor the patient said anything for an hour. They both sat there in total silence, waiting for something to happen. I doubt any hypnotherapist has ever done that.

Applying psychoanalytic principles to hypnoanalysis

It seems to me that psychoanalysis is basically a form of Reframing. The object is to get the patient to recognize some key element of their behavior, and understand that behavior as representing something else. That last sentence is actually the definition of 'metaphor'. It seems to me that he was constantly seeking a metaphor to explain his clients' behavior. And just like reframing, the theory is that realizing that you can see things in different way, to have different explanation, is all you need to cure you.

For me, the strangest part concerns the relationship between the Analyst and the Patient. For Grosz, the analysis can not make progress until a proper relationship is established. It is not friendship, it is not advisory, it is something unique to psychoanalytic training. There is nothing like that in hypnotherapy.

Freud and hypnoanalysis

Grosz is a Freudian psychoanalyst. His therapeutic approach is therefore based on Freudian theory and thinking. It only comes up incidentally in the stories about his patients, but I found the Freudian worldview both startling and alien. Nothing is ever accepted for what it is. Everything is interpreted through the lens of Freudian theory. Everything is a hidden message about your mother or father.

And I found a very different approach to therapy. In the stories about his patients Grosz seems to give very little value to non-psychological causes. He often mentions in passing that his patients have an alcoholic father, or a brother in psychiatric care, or a history of depression in the family, but never seems to give any weight to the possibility that his patient's behavior may have a genetic basis. There seems to be no role for physiology.

He does not use anything from behavioral psychology, or CBT, or guided visualization, or any other direct intervention. Everything is about getting the patient to speak aloud, and then helping the patient to interpret what they just said. It is a passive approach to therapy. In some aspects psychoanalysis seems very close to non-interventionist counseling.

Overall impression

There is a lot in this book that is good. There is a lot I disagree with. It is challenging and interesting. But it is actually a very bleak book. I felt quite disturbed by the time I had reached the end of it. His underlying theme is about change and loss. He says there can be no change without loss. Whether this reflects his own personality, or the result of a lifetime spent talking to unhappy people, is impossible to say.

There are many thought provoking phrases used in the book.

"Behavior is the language we use when we have no words to express how we feel".

"My job is not to find a solution. My job is to find a useful question".

Some of his patients were deeply disturbed. And disturbing. I found it very hard to get one story out of my mind. He described working with a woman whose husband had a terminal illness. She could not cope with living with someone who is dying. In particular she was horrified by what she felt was having to have sex with a corpse.

Reflections on Hypnoanalysis

The main reason for reading this book was to challenge my own assumptions about how I do therapy. When questioning why other people do therapy the way they do, it challenges you to justify why you do therapy the way you do.

It seems to me that the principles of psychoanalysis do not transfer well to hypnoanalysis. I will not be using Freudian principles in my daily work.

However, this book has made me question my assumptions. If psychoanalysis believes that telling your story is how you make sense of your life, why don't I believe that? And what do I believe? How do I know what I am doing is right?

 

The examined life
How we lose and find ourselves
by Stephen Grosz
London: Chatto and Windus. 2013
ISBN 978-070–18535–0

 

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