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developing vague therapy

Developing Vague Therapy

Sometimes you develop new routines by accident. In this case it was developing Vague Therapy A client came to me that I had seen the week before. I had worked with her to erase her feeling of inadequacy in group situations. I asked her about the results from our previous session.

She said she felt much better. She said for example at lunch on a training course she felt open and talked to everyone and contributed all the way through. Her previous problem of feeling shy in company and being unable to speak has just gone away completely.

She told me that she is now OK in groups, but she still feels inadequate on dealing with senior people one-on-one. It's like she is in awe of these people. She hates being in the spotlight. She feels as though she's been put on the spot and doesn't know what to say.

She told another story. She was in her office building waiting for the lift when this older man started speaking to her. He jokingly said he had ordered the lift for her and asked her how she felt et cetera, et cetera. She chattered back very comfortably. Until she asked him if he was looking for someone in particular in the building. He replied "No, I am a member of the Board". She immediately felt tongue-tied and embarrassed. It was this that she wanted to deal with.

Repeating the same therapy probably won't work

I was running out of time because I had a wedding to go to. I had to do something within the hour. I decided on a parts therapy. So I did a very short induction on her.

As soon as I started on the parts routine I got this horrible feeling that I had done exactly the same thing with her last week. I usually consult my notes before a client, but with getting ready for the wedding, I had forgot. I started panicking. But there was no going back. I felt very nervous, I am sure you could hear it in my voice.

Developing Vague Therapy

I usually suggest a detailed intro to get to some specific place that represents her unconscious mind. Usually I lead the person into a magic cave. Then they meet someone who discusses at length what behavior to change. This time I didn't have time for any of that. I had come up with something different. This time I just suggested a very large space. There was no suggestion of caves or cathedrals or anything else. I told her she was sinking into a big chair. Instead of trying to address the specific behavior, I just told her that she was getting the feeling that she had when she was talking to the man outside the lift. Immediately it was clear that she was in the feeling. Her chin was wobbling, her face was moving, she was very distressed.

I was then committed to continuing some sort of parts therapy, so I just pressed on. I was sure that I had done the same routine the previous week, and I was desperate not to duplicate it. So I did a very short version of the usual routine. Basically it was the same parts routine, but using as vague words and ideas as I could think up. I stripped out all the detail of what was happening and trying to avoid any imagery of the previous week's session. I had no idea what she would think of getting the same thing twice.

The outcome of developing Vague Therapy

When I got her to count herself out, she said that she was amazed at how vivid and real it was. She described in great detail what she saw and felt. She said she felt really moved by all the forces she had encountered. She said "I want to come back and do more of this!"

In fact, I have not done the parts therapy with this client. I had done it with a previous client a few days before.  The two clients looked remarkably similar. That's why I thought that I had done the same routine with her previously.

What was interesting was that the vaguest instructions actually worked better that my usual, carefully constructed routine.

What do you think?

Have you ever had to make it up as go along? What were the results?

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Fear of Dating

Fear of Dating, not being good enough

A client wrote to me about a Fear of Dating:
 
Once again I'd like to thank you for your assistance with the hypnotherapy. I can honestly say I've noticed a difference in my confidence, not just public speaking, but in my everyday life.
 
I have another query, in which I may require your services if possible. I've been out of the dating game for quite some time. (mostly down to the confidence issue I had) along with a few other things. Its been quite some time now. I've recently met a lovely gentleman. Through a friend, we touched base with one another. I've been told he's great by most people I know that know him yet, I'm putting off going for coffee or catching up at all.
 
Part of me thinks its because its been so long since I last dated, but the more I think about it the more I think its to do with these 'expectation issues' I have always had. I know I definitely have an issue with trying to meet peoples expectations. I tend to thrive in situations where there is no expectation put on me (such as being on my current career path - as I have no experience its almost as if they don't expect anything of me so I can really fail) and also why I played rugby growing up, because the expectation of a female doing well in a 'mans' sport was so low I didn't feel any pressure to succeed.
 
If there is anything in life where there is some sort of expectation its a fight or flight response. I'll either not do it at all at the risk of failing, or aim far above the bar set.
 
And with the prospect of this date, because its an organized 'thing' to me, it feels contrived which I know is a weird for me to think this. I feel like not only do I need to live up to my expectation, but his as well. I'm at the point where Id rather just not go ahead with it at the risk of 'failing'
 
Which is even more strange because I'm 100% confident with who I am as a person and I don't really fear if he (or anyone) doesn't like me for who I am (which somewhat contradicts the 'expectations' issue.)
 
Do you think hypnosis would help alleviate or fix this issue, or do you have any thoughts on the matter?
 
Appreciate your advice.
 

What do you think?

What are your thoughts on the matter? What would you do for a Fear of Dating situation?

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Clean Language Opening Question

Clean Language Opening Question in hypnotherapy

I was re-reading Grove and Panzer's book Resolving Traumatic Memories recently. This got me thinking about the clean language opening question. David Grove invented Clean Language. I like to think I use clean language well. But it was good to be reminded of how Grove saw the need for clean language in absolutely everything.

He talks about the need to use clean language from the moment you meet your client.

Clean Language Opening Question

He says that the phrase 'How can I help you today?' is one of the least useful ways of starting a session. His core idea is that the therapist should become invisible, and allow the client to express their own feelings, memories, symbols and semantics without any interference. If you want to learn the exact contents of the client's inner experience, if you want to really know why they smoke, then you need to avoid putting your own assumptions in there. Asking how you can help implies that the client needs help, and forces the client to think about what kind of help they need from the therapist, and therefore is not clean language. In starting the therapist needs to 'slide in gently, to be unsure and undefined' (p15)

The first question to the client is important because 'it is like the first move in chess'. Everything flows on from that first move. Questions are used to shape the interaction between client and therapist. The first question should do as little as possible to influence the client's inner environment. By asking 'and what brings you here' you imply that there is problem driving them, and they will focus on identifying a problem for you. 'What can I do for you?' implies that they need something from you that they do not already have. 'What seems to be the matter?' implies that they do not know their own mind, and assumes the therapist must have some better insight than the client has. 'What is your problem?' assumes there is one problem. And so on.

Getting the Opening Question right

According to Groves, the correct way to begin a session is to ask 'What is it that you want?'. This focusses the client on the outcome they desire, and lets them respond with an abstraction that is located in the future.

I have fallen into the habit of asking 'What would you like to have happen?', which according to Groves is cleanish, but restricts the client. I am going to start with 'What it is that you want?' and see if it does lead me to a better understanding of the client's needs.

What do you think?

is clean language important to you? Do you think Groves was right about the first question? 

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simple tests to stop

Two Simple Tests to Stop Smokers Smoking

Do you want to give up smoking Test

Every smoker is different. Every smoker needs a therapy matched to their unique particular needs.  But knowing which therapy to use can be a problem. I start by using two simple tests to stop. I ask them to rate themselves on a scale of one to ten on how much they want to give up smoking. Then separately on a scale of one to ten on how much they think that they can give up smoking.

I find these two simple tests very effective sometimes. Most people give an eight or a nine to both. It is the ones who are at the extreme ends of the scales who are most interesting. People who are a ten on motivation to give up only need to be given hypnotic suggestions that they have the ability. Then they are pretty much done.

However, you also need to probe as to why they have not already given up. Usually you find they have a history of good intentions, but deep psychological problems about self esteem and self regard. People on the low end of the motivation need to be questioned about why they are in my office at all if they really don't want to give up. Their answers are always revealing. It may be that they have had a health scare, or they want to please somebody else. But it does let you know where to start probing and how to design your therapy.

Can you  give up Smoking Test 

The same applies to the can-you-give-up scale. People who score a ten are ready to give up on their own. They only need a little bit of hypnotic convincing. People who score low are telling you something very important. If they don't believe they can give up, but haven't really tried very hard, then you need to work on their belief system.

Other people have given up many times but always start again. I find this type of smoker needs the most attention, so this gives me an opening to talk about why they start again, what their motivation is, what is underlying their smoking behavior.

These two simple tests are an excellent way to get your stop smoking sessions going.

What do you think?

Have you used these tests? Do they give a good indication of how to deal with a smoker with hypnosis?

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mind goes black hypnotherapy

Mind goes blank hypnotherapy

Mind goes blank hypnotherapy

A reader emailed me and said: Sometimes when people ask me questions that I do know the answer for, my mind goes blank, for no reason. I know I know the answer, but I just cannot get the words out.

This is quite common of course, most people suffer from it from time to time. But if it happens a lot, or in specific situations then you need some therapy. What is happening is that you are being asked a question, you know the answer, but before you say it, a bit of doubt creeps in, either that you might be wrong, or that the answer will not please the other person. This sets off a mini panic attack, in which your mind goes into fight-or-flight mode and everything else is cleared away so that you can make a break for safety. That is why you get the feeling of 'blank' - your conscious mind has been pushed away and you are operating directly in your unconscious mind.

Fight or flight response

Of course another part of your mind knows that there is no need to run away. So you end stuck, you have no access to your conscious mind that knows what to say, and you are ready to run but rooted to the spot. The result is you end up tongue tied, unable to speak and feeling stupid. Exactly the situation you feared.

The basic problem is low esteem or low self confidence. The recommended treatment is to provide therapy to increase the person's self confidence.

Mind goes blank hypnotherapy

This can be done in several ways:

a) Regression to cause. Find the first time that the client felt really unsure of what to say, some situation that made them doubt what to do, and clear that by inner child work

b) Scripts. Use an 'ego strengthening' script to make the client feel confident about their abilities in all situations.

c) Self Hypnosis. Teach the client how to relax, and how to access their own resources. Applied relaxation techniques will stop the panic attacks as they start. By squishing them right away the person can stay in control of the situation.

What do you think?

Do you suffer from going blank? What works for you? How do you fix it for other people?

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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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