Clearing Childhood Anxiety
I saw a client last week who was always nervous and frightened. It clearly has something to do with her childhood anxiety. She could not identify anything in particular that she might feel anxious about. In fact she really couldn't remember much about her childhood at all. I hypnotized her and used a metaphor designed to help remove generalized anxiety. I told her to let me know how she felt in a week or so.
One morning this week she woke up suddenly with a great fear. She had no idea what was causing this, and began to go into a panic. Then she recognized it. It was something she has had all her life. But it was only after last week's session that she could isolate it from all the other things going on in her life.
She came to see me, still a little disturbed by the memory. I got her to relax and breathe deeply. She went into trance easily. In trance I encouraged her to be open to that feeling of 'great fear'. It was a feeling she now recognized, that she had had many times, so she quickly recalled it.
Transforming Childhood anxiety
When I was sure that she was experiencing the fear, I began the process to get her to transform the feeling into a object. I asked her "where are you feeling it?" This is the first stage of establishing the feeling as a 'thing' separate from herself. "What shape is it?" to get her to think about the nature of her 'thing'. Then I asked, "what object does this 'thing' most resemble? What is it like?". Once the client can think of it as an object, she can begin to make changes to it.
She told me that the feeling was "In my chest. like a black jelly fish". I got her to describe her jelly fish in more and more detail. It was " Sticky. And filled with terror". Now that the fear was transformed into something else, she could think about the something else as something that could go away. If the feeling is part of you, you can't fix it. But if the feeling is separate from you, you can think of fixing it.
I asked her, " What do you want to have happen to that jelly fish?" She told me she "Want it to go away". I asked "And can it go away?" "I don't think so". When the client cannot do what they want to do with the object, you need to help them. I asked "Can you imagine holding that jelly fish in your hands?" "No, it just slips through my fingers". So to help her get it out of her body I suggested that she could put in a box. That worked. Then I suggested she might put the box with the jelly fish in chair in front of her. This suggestion is designed to make her externalize the object completely.
Externalizing her Childhood Anxiety
She put the box in the chair. I asked "What do you think will happen to that jelly fish in the box?" This was to get her to think about ways to change the feeling. She said "I can't get it to do anything. It won't die". I asked "What might you use to kill it?" She said "I can stab it with knitting needles". She tried that, but said "it ate them". Then I asked "what happens to things that eat knitting needles?"
By thinking about what would be different she triggered a resource in her mind. She said it had turned into a paua (abalone) stuck to the side of the box. Paua are large shellfish that stick immovably to rocks. In this kind of therapy, the client represents aspects of themselves as the metaphor objects. So the paua was her. It has a strong shell, and cannot be budged from where it is anchored. I asked her "what do you think that shellfish is thinking?" This was to get her to say what the paua represented for her. "It is for death". I told her "Ask the paua what it wants to do". "It is trying to run away".
Regression for her Childhood anxiety
I felt that if the paua was about her sheltering, hiding from something, then probably I shouldn't mess with it. This suggested that it might a job for regression. I asked her to think about what the paua might be feeling. She said it was fear. I developed the feeling of fear. "Think of the first time you ever had that fear". She came out with a memory where she was a little child running away from people trying to kill her. She had to hide away from the light.
I did INNER CHILD work with her. We found that frightened little girl and comforted her. Eventually I got her back to adult. She said that she felt the little girl merging with her, but just before that happened she and the girl, called Grace, smashed the paua with hammers.
Afterwards, we discussed what it all meant. She thought it was all about hiding in fear in a wardrobe when her dad was on a rampage.
She realized that it was real memory. Things at home changed. But she never let go of that fear. That was the basis of her lifetime anxiety.
He is highly regarded in the hypnotherapy community. He is Vice President of the New Zealand Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (NZAPH).
He is regularly consulted for advice by other hypnotherapists around the world. He is known for the quality of his published scripts. He presents at international conferences and has published on hypnosis and advanced hypnotherapy.
He lives in Wellington New Zealand with his wife Trish and a cat called Parsnip.