Hypnotizing Controlling Clients
Controlling Clients are always difficult. Today I saw what was perhaps the most difficult client I have ever had. She was not being deliberately difficult, but every techniques I tried just didn't seem to work. I first saw her last August. At that time I could not hypnotize her. She was constantly internally challenging everything I said. She analysed every word, doing everything except doing what I wanted her to. My policy in those cases is to send her home with some hypnotic CDs to listen to. Then come back when she has learned to let go enough to go into trance reliably.
Today she said the CDs annoyed her. The imagery did not suit her. She was constantly analyzing why I used certain words, and frankly the whole recording irritated her. The recordings might have made her a little more physically relaxed. But she was never hypnotized.
Anxiety and the need for control
She clearly has anxiety and hypervigilance but she was still unable to tell me what trauma she had. She said that there is nothing there to find. Her problem was a fear of earthquakes in high buildings. The obvious approach is to use regression. I thought that she might have had some effect from the CDs. So I again tried to hypnotize her, going very slowly and carefully. But as I approached the feeling the fear part she smugly told me that she wasn't feeling anything.
However, I saw clear signs of trance. It seemed to me that she actually was going into trance, but as soon as she felt herself losing control she popped right out again. She could not reduce the rate of her breathing during the induction. She was breathing very shallow. This was to me another indicator that she has some sort of chronic anxiety.
Controlling Clients means giving them control
So decided to approach hypnosis indirectly. We talked about our options and how I didn't have any. I told her I really didn't know what else to do. I explained the theory of hypnosis. The best I could do was to teach her self hypnosis, but I warned her there was a danger of an abreaction.
She asked me how she would do that . So I proceeded to show her. I told her that I was going to take her through the steps of self hypnosis. She should pay close attention because she needed to control the stages. That way she would be able to do it herself when she gets home.
I therefore started on physical relaxation, then breathing focus, then finding a safe place. Then told her to empty her mind, stack any stray thoughts over to one side, treat them like puppies and shoo them out the door. Then I suggested that now her body was relaxed and her mind was empty, she need to practice controlling her mind. I did a long series of suggestions about finding a color and shrinking it down to a point of light. Then I suggested she might find herself floating inside that light. Her head started to nod, and her eyes were moving under hey eyelids in response to my suggestions. She was clearly in trance.
Getting a Controlling Client into trance
I then led on a metaphoric journey with lots of symbolic interactions as a form of therapy. Then I got her to count herself out. The moment I suggested that she opened eyes she told me she hadn't been in trance!
Now she obviously had been, so I asked her to tell me what I had talked about. At that point she realized that in fact large chunks were missing. What she had done was to go deep into trance in some parts, and then start to come out of trance before I deepened her again. She was remembering only the times when she was in light trance. The times when she was in deep trance she had no memory of. She finally agreed that she had indeed been in trance.
The technique for hypnotizing controlling clients is to let them think that they are in control. Telling her that I was going to teach her self hypnosis by-passed all her defences. As she followed along with my instructions she naturally led herself down into trance. All the same, I was very relieved when she finally did succumb.
What do you think?
I wonder what other hypnotists do to deal with clients who won't give up control? What do you think is the best technique?
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.