I had an interesting client at the weekend. This man had a very powerful job in a major company. He gave presentations as part of his job. He is confident about how to do them, he has never had a problem with one, he is good at them. Yet he gets anxiety about them. He has had this anxiety for years.
Logically he knows that there is nothing that he fears about giving presentations. Logically he knows that even if it all turned out wrong he could still recover and do a good job. And yet he is struck with chronic anxiety.
Looking for the initial sensitizing event
I put him in trance and got him to focus on the anxiety. I asked him to imagine he was about to give a presentation and to allow the feeling he gets to come into his body.
He had difficulty getting a strong feeling. The feeling was there but very diffuse.
I decided to deepen him to get down to a really profound level of trance. I used a new deepener I have developed. You imagine that as you relax yourself a cloud in the sky gets thinner, and keep relaxing more deeply until the cloud has gone.
A few iterations of that process got him very deep. I told him to look for the feeling and turn it into an object. He struggled to sense anything but then became aware of a cloud. I tried to get him to develop the cloud, but it was just a cloud. And then he said, 'I sense there is something else'. I followed that idea and then said he was getting a feeling of something detaching. I encouraged him to let that happen, to just let go and allow it to progress any way it wanted. At this point, I was very careful not to pressure him or suggest anything that he might do or see or feel. I used careful clean language all the way.
Finding the initial sensitizing event
Then he got various images. He couldn't quite make then out, like a gallery of photographs. I suggested he just let them go and see what happens next.
Then he got a feeling of a picture of himself as a boy in school uniform and a cap. We allowed this to develop for a while. He couldn't determine whether it was a feeling or a picture. Then he got a memory a teacher, of being hit with a ruler by the teacher for using his left hand. He is left-handed and he remembered being hit on his left hand to encourage him to use his right hand. He then went into this memory and felt the fear of that child, the unfairness of it, the feeling of not being able to get away, or to able to do anything about it. And the anxiety. He hated going to school after that. He had a memory, or maybe it wasn't, of his parents talking to the teacher, but he could not see the teacher's face, or anything else about it, so he wasn't sure if it was a real memory or not.
Spontaneous Hypnotic Regression
He had developed spontaneous hypnotic regression. It was never suggested to him that he go back in time to find the source; this arose completely from his own mind. He had found the source of his anxiety.
He was clearly in a regressed state, so I used the standard method of dealing with it. I asked him to find some way to make it right for that child, to make the child triumph in the situation. "Find some way that the child can get out of that situation and be a winner". Again spontaneously, he put himself into the situation as an adult, helped his own child-self deal with the problem, effectively did the INNER CHILD work himself by going back and making it right.
I then added a part of leading the child out of there and growing him up the current age with that success in place and that was it. Problem fixed.
I had heard of spontaneous regression to the initial sensitizing event but I have never seen one before. This was probably how the technique was discovered originally.
Accidental links to spontaneous hypnotic regression.
This case shows that many of the problems that arise in later life are actually caused by accidental linkages back to unresolved problems earlier in life. Fear of Flying clients usually know that there is no real danger in a flight, but at some point they felt afraid in an aircraft and that linked back to an earlier unresolved fear. From then on every flight triggers, not the fear of flying itself, but the original childhood fear.
I think this client was the same with his presentations phobia. At some point in some presentation he had felt a tremor of fear, and that had triggered the school room fear, and from then every presentation linked back to the childhood fear. I believe that clearing the childhood fear will have cleared his adult fear.
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.