When I am working with a client, I am often not sure what to do next. Clients come to me with all sorts of problems, and expect me to know how to fix them. Quite often I don't know. Over the years I have come to realise that there are two sources you can go to for help. They both involve asking the expert. So who is this expert? Actually there are two. One is your own unconscious mind, and the other is the client.
Asking the expert - the client
Always bear in mind that the client comes to for a reason, and knows exactly what they want, even if you don't. And the client is the expert. Nobody knows more about their problem than they do. So I ask the expert what to do.
The way I do this is to use the equivalent of the My Friend John induction as hypnotherapy.
I ask the client to tell me what they would do if they were in my seat.
I ask them 'How would you go about dealing with this problem?'. 'What would you able to try to make you feel better?'. 'How could the situation be seen differently if you took different perspectives?'
You can also ask the client the Miracle Question 'If everything you wanted happened to you overnight, what would be different when you woke up? What would see, what would you feel, how would you know that it had happened?'.
You will be surprised at how inventive your client can be. Even if they don't come up with a complete solution, they will often suggest a way forward that you haven't thought of.
Ask the expert - Your own subconscious
The other expert is you. At least the part of you that holds all your expertise and intuition. Part of hypnotherapy professional practice is being comfortable with ambiguity, and uncertainty. Therapists don't have all the answers. You sometimes have to wing it. And that is exactly what I do.
I listen to the client describe what they want, what they feel, what they have tried. Even if I'm not aware of it, my unconscious mind is thinking about this and assessing various possibilities. As the client talks, various words and phrases will strike you as being of particular interest and importance. When I consider how to go about the therapy part, I read over my notes. And I take a moment to think about those words and phrases. This primes my unconscious mind, and sets up images and associations at the unconscious level.
Then I start on the induction. I guide the client into trance, deepen, and tester make sure the client is somnambulistic. I find that by the time I put the client into trance, there is always something that occurs to me as a way forward. Something will suggest itself to me from the workings of my unconscious mind. It may be an image, and I was start describing the image. Usually this turns into a metaphor that I develop for the client. Sometimes I would just repeat the word or phrase, and again something will resonate with me and my unconscious mind will guide me in what to do.
It's always good to ask the expert in the room.
A client phoned me and asked if I was able to help overcome a fear of dentists. This client has totally rotten teeth but just cannot bring himself to go near a dentist. Fear of dentists is basically a simple phobia. Phobias are created when something dramatic happens to you, that makes you experience a deep and sudden fear.
Your unconscious mind creates a powerful association between the event and that fear. And forever thereafter your unconscious mind does everything possible to keep you away from that situation, or anything that is similar to that situation. If it means that your unconscious gives you a terrifying fear of dentists, then that keeps you away from them, and your unconscious mind has done what it should do – it has kept you safe.
I have dealt successfully with many people with the fear of dentists. It is usually not a needle phobia, it is a generalised fear of being near a dentist at all. When I questioned the client about the origin of this fear in every case it can be traced back to a specific time in childhood. For some reason, the client was taken to the dentist and got spooked. The child did not want some stranger poking round his mouth, sticking needles in, giving him pain, whatever. The child just wanted to get out of there and go home with his mother.
The origin of the phobia
What actually happened next was that the child is forcibly restrained, held down and operated on. The result was a child who is frightened of a strange situation, by strange people, and a link to pain and the knowledge that he can't get away. It is the "can't get away" part which is most important. The phobia is a combination of feeling trapped and knowing that you are going to get hurt. Your mind knows that this is going to happen, and so does everything possible to stop you getting into that situation again.
It is no different from a fear of public speaking. Fear of public speaking can usually be traced back to an incident at school. The child was suddenly asked to say something, said what they thought was right, and then got humiliated by the teacher. The humiliation was totally unexpected, and undeserved, and every other member of the class laughed at them. It's the same combination of pain, unexpected, and being unable to get out of the situation.
The way to deal with the fear of dentists is to go back to the source. Using regression, or other techniques, you get the client to experience the fear in your chair. Then you lead the client through the situation again. But this time you allow the client to feel that they are in charge, that they can control it, that they decide what happens.
When you do that you get rid of the unconscious association and allow the client to react naturally and rationally. The phobia is then instantly cured.
Nothing to it really, when you know how to deal with it.