My client today was a tiny Spanish woman who runs a day spa. She was beautifully made up, well dressed and clearly looks after herself. Anyone looking at her would say that she was totally in control. In fact, she is a secret drinker.
Her problem is that she has gradually got into the habit of drinking too much. She drinks a bottle of wine every night, sometimes two bottles of wine. She believes it's because she has stress from her business.
It started two years ago when she had particular issue at business. But later on she said "it's been much longer than that". She has actually been secretly drinking for many years.
Her husband is now noticing the drinking and disapproves of it. "I have tried to give up. Usually I am able to stop for three to four days. But then something just makes me start again."
Finding the real cause of secret drinking
This "something" suggested to me that she is not dealing with her feelings. I suspected that she is drinking as a way of medicating herself. My first step was to test for any basic psychological issues.
I asked "Would you say your mind is always busy?"
"Do you keep going over and over the same things in your mind?"
These strongly suggested that she might have some form of depression.
So I then showed her my diagram of the symptoms of dysthymia. She was quiet for a long time. Then she pointed to the top part, and said "I have both of these!"
She was pointing to the Circular Thinking part, and the Fixed Thinking part. On further discussion she realized that she also was in the part with the Social Withdrawal symptoms.
A plan to stop secret drinking
I then briefly went through some basic dysthymia counselling. I emphasized that she had to get exercise. It was ironic that someone who was in the health business actually did virtually no exercise.
She also needed to learn how to deal with her thinking patterns. I got her to do a simple NLP thinking exercise to show how she could control her own thoughts. This was very successful. But I noticed while doing it, that her eye lids were obviously flickering. From this I deduced that she would be easy to hypnotize. It turned out to be the case.
I took her into trance and did a Metaphor Parts Therapy. This involved letting her experience her need to drink as a defective part. I then gave her a visualization where she was able to repair the defective part and turn it into a source of strength to deal with stress.
Previously, a psychologist in London had told her to go back to Spain. She did that and moving back to Spain took her away from the stress. She felt much better. But going back to running her business brought it all on again.
This was another case where bad news is good news. It was bad news that she had depression. The good news was that she now understood why she drank, and why she kept starting again. She seemed really relieved to know the origin of her problems. And that at last she could see a way out of her secret drinking.
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.