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developing vague therapy

Developing Vague Therapy

Sometimes you develop new routines by accident. In this case it was developing Vague Therapy A client came to me that I had seen the week before. I had worked with her to erase her feeling of inadequacy in group situations. I asked her about the results from our previous session.

She said she felt much better. "For example, at lunch on a training course I felt open and talked to everyone. I contributed all the way through. My previous problem of feeling shy in company and being unable to speak has just gone away completely."

She told me that she is now OK in groups, but she still feels inadequate on dealing with senior people one-on-one. It's like she is in awe of these people. "I hate being in the spotlight. I feel as though I'm been put on the spot and I don't know what to say."

She told another story. "I was in my office building waiting for the lift when this older man started speaking to me. He jokingly said he had ordered the lift for me. He asked me how I felt et cetera, et cetera. I chatted back very comfortably. Until I asked him if he was looking for someone in particular in the building."

He replied "No, I am a member of the Board".

"I immediately felt tongue-tied and embarrassed. It is this feeling I want to deal with."

Repeating the same therapy probably won't work

I was running out of time because I had a wedding to go to later on. I had to do something within the hour. So I opted for a parts therapy. I did a very short induction on her.

As soon as I started on the parts routine I got this horrible feeling that I had done exactly the same thing with her last week. Usually I consult my notes before a client, but in the rush getting ready for the wedding, I had forgotten. I started panicking. But there was no going back. I felt very nervous, I am sure you could hear it in my voice.

Developing Vague Therapy

I usually suggest a detailed intro to get to some specific place that represents her unconscious mind. Usually I lead the person into a magic cave. Then they meet someone who discusses at length what behavior to change. This time I didn't have time for any of that. I had come up with something different. This time I just suggested a very large space. There was no suggestion of caves or cathedrals or anything else. I told her she was sinking into a big chair. Instead of trying to address the specific behavior, I just told her that she was getting the feeling that she had when she was talking to the man outside the lift. Immediately it was clear that she was in the feeling. Her chin was wobbling, her face was moving, she was very distressed.

I was then committed to continuing some sort of parts therapy, so I just pressed on. I was sure that I had done the same routine  with her the previous week, and I was desperate not to duplicate it. So I did a very short version of the usual routine. Basically it was the same parts routine, but using as vague words and ideas as I could think up. I stripped out all the detail of what was happening and tried to avoid any imagery of the previous week's session. I had no idea what she would think of getting the same thing twice.

The outcome of developing Vague Therapy

When I got her to count herself out, she said that she was amazed at how vivid and real it was. She described in great detail what she saw and felt. "I felt really moved by all the forces I encountered." "I want to come back and do more of this!"

In fact, I had not done the parts therapy with this client. I had done it with a different client a few days before.  The two clients looked remarkably similar. That's why I thought that I had done the same routine with her previously.

What was interesting was that the vaguest instructions actually worked better that my usual, carefully constructed routine.

What do you think?

Have you ever had to make it up as go along? What were the results?

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learn in your sleep

Can you learn in your sleep?

It is too easy to convince yourself that a quiet client is a good client. But when the client is lying there with his eyes closed and you are talking away at him, how do you know that your client hasn't just gone to sleep? And does it matter? Can you learn in your sleep?

Can you learn in your sleep?

Many hypnotists have been persuaded that even if the client is asleep, their unconscious mind is still awake, and is still taking in whatever is being said. This is based on analogies with the 'cocktail party effect'. This says that even if you are talking to someone at a party, and focusing on what is being said, if your name is mentioned at another table, you will instantly recognize this. The belief is that your unconscious mind is monitoring your environment all the time and never shuts down.

I am convinced that this is nonsense. If it was true, then all we would have to do is to record textbooks and play them to students while they were sleeping and we could close all the universities tomorrow. The fact is that there is no evidence whatsoever that people can learn while they are asleep. It has been tested hundreds of times and the outcome is always nil. You cannot learn while you are sleeping.

Therefore trying to do therapy while the client is asleep is also a waste of time. If your client is sleeping then you are just talking to yourself. No one else is listening.

The difference between trance and sleeping

So how do you tell the difference between a sleeping client and a hypnotized client?

This is all part of the philosophy of constantly interacting with your client in hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is not a one way process, the client has to be actively engaged all during the session. If you are constantly engaging with your client, he won't go to sleep.

The easiest way to test whether the client is still listening to you is to ask for a response. At the end of each section I say to the client 'Now take a deep breath, and allow your mind to clear'. If you get a deep breath, then your client is still responding, if not they are either deep in trance, or asleep.

If I don't get a response I repeat the instruction, a little more firmly 'Now I want you to take a deep breath, take a deep breath now and let it out... Ahhhh'. This usually produces a definite deep breath and I know I can carry on.

If it doesn't, then I have to wake the client. The first thing I try is to get them to move. 'I want you now to move into a more comfortable position, move your body so you are more comfortable'. I will repeat this possibly several times more forcefully and louder until the client moves and I know I am getting through.

If the request to move doesn't work then I say in a loud voice... 'I am going to count from Five up to One, when you get to one your eyes will open'. Even in deep somnambulism this will rouse the client. If the client is very tired then I might have to repeat it, almost shouting until the client responds. I never, never touch or shake the client.

Ensure trance by re-induction

When the client opens his eyes, I act as if this is a normal part of the session. I say something like 'That's very good. You are a very good subject. Now I want you to close your eyes again, and then try to open them. As you try to open them you will find it gets harder and harder to open those eyes. Try it now and you might be able to open them a bit, but the harder you try the harder they will want to stay closed, until you just can't open them at all'.

That will put them right back into trance and they are ready to continue. You might have to repeat parts of what you covered already, but that's OK. Repetition leads to a more definite effect anyway, and the client won't know the difference.

Then as you progress through the session keep testing with deep breath instructions, or asking the client to describe what he is experiencing and you will be sure that his unconscious mind really is listening.

What do you think?

What do you say after hypnosis? Have you developed something to say that makes a difference? Or is it quite unnecessary?

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Follow up after hypnosis

Follow up after hypnosis session

What to say after coming out of trance

Follow up after hypnosis is important. When the client is brought back out of trance it is usual to ask something like 'How was that?' or 'How do you feel?'. Neither is particularly helpful. What is better is to use the fact that the client is still partly in trance. Saying something like 'I think your mind knows you are a non-smoker now' is much more useful.

Igor Ledichowski has a useful tag line. He recommends saying to the client as soon as they open their eyes 'You were great!'. This immediately banishes any lingering doubts in the client that they might not have been responding well.

Andrew Newton suggests hustling the client out of the door as quickly as possible, but I think that is disrespectful. I like to send the client on their way in a good frame of mind. Very often the client needs to talk about what they have just been through and to ask questions about the therapy or how they are feeling. Spending a few minutes on that is worthwhile.

One thing that Newton recommends is that as the client leaves, to say 'Let me know how well you are getting on'. This uses the supposition that they will be doing well.

Follow up after hypnosis

But the session isn't really ended when the client departs. What distinguishes the average hypnotherapist from the outstanding hypnotherapist is follow up. You will never get any better unless you can measure how well what you are doing actually works.

Follow up simply consists of an email or phone to the client a week or ten days later to see how they are getting on. It should be a genuine enquiry showing concern for the client's wellbeing. Most therapists don't do this. I think it is because they are afraid they might learn that it didn't work. But without a fearless attitude to feedback it is very difficult to improve your work

What do you think?

What do you say after hypnosis? Have you developed something to say that makes a difference? Or is it quite unnecessary?

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Mental Health Helpline

Mental Health Holidays Helpline

Mental Health Helpline

"Hello, and welcome to the mental health helpline. For service over the holiday break please follow the instructions:

"If you are dyslexic, press 9696969696969.

"If you are an obsessive-compulsive, press 1,2,3  repeatedly.

"If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.

"If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5 and 7.

"If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, be careful not to press 5, or any numbers near it.

"If you are suffering from procrastination, press 1 or 5 or maybe 6 would be better. Depends."

"If you are delusional, press 666 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship.

"If you have amnesia press 8 and state your name, address, phone number, date of birth, your file number, and who you spoke to the time before last.

"If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.

"If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully to the voice and you will know which number to press.

"If you are paranoid, it doesn’t matter what number you press, we already know who you are and what you want. You know this call is being traced, don’t you?

"If you have depression, there’s no point in pressing any of them, no one will want to listen to you, so you might as well hang up now.

"If you are suicidal, please leave a message and we will get back to you after the holidays."

"If you have low self-esteem, please hang up now. Our operators have better things to do."

Happy Holidays!

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client sexual attraction

Client Therapist Sexual Attraction

Client sexual attraction 

Hypnotherapy is a very intimate profession. Two people spend many hours talking about deeply personal things in a secluded, private location. It is inevitable that issues of client sexual attraction will arise. This is especially the case when the hypnotist is in control and is working with the other person's subconscious mind.

Issues of sexual attraction between clients and hypnotists have been around for as long as hypnosis has been around. Before Freud developed psychoanalysis, he was a hypnotist. One day the maid unexpectedly entered his office when he was hypnotizing a young female patient. It was reported that the patient had her breasts exposed. Freud claimed that she had come on to him while in trance. The exact circumstances will never be known, but he never used hypnosis again after that.

Research on client sexual attraction

There have been a few surveys looking at the issue of sexual attraction client interaction. It appears that about 4% of therapists of various sorts have admitted to having sexual contact with current or previous clients. Around a fifth of therapists reported that some of their clients had admitted to a sexual relationship with other therapists. About 40% of therapists said they had heard of other therapists getting into a sexual relationship with one or more clients.

Some research tried to predict the risk factors. Gay therapists were more likely to have sexual contact with their clients. Therapists who themselves had an affair with their supervisor in training were more likely. Therapists who spend the most time in a training or mentoring relationship were also more likely to stray with their own clients. However, the numbers surveyed were small, and you should not give too much reliance to these indicators. 

How to deal with client sexual attraction

Some of the therapists in the survey felt that client sexual attraction was not something to avoid. They took the view that both parties were adults and both parties got something out of it. More than one well-known hypnotherapist has said that it is good for the client. According to him, a sexual relationship was exactly what they needed.

However most therapists said that they avoided client sexual contact for ethical reasons. They believed that the therapist client relationship is always one of power. Therefore it is never acceptable for the therapist to take sexual advantage, no matter how willing the other party might be.

Most therapists also thought that if such a relationship by another therapist was to come to their notice, then they were duty-bound to report it to their professional Association.

The same considerations apply in the supervisor-student relationships.

What do you do about sexually attractive clients?

I personally have had many clients who I would happily have had a relationship with, if I wasn't their therapist. I have actually had two clients who hinted heavily that they were very interested in pursuing something outside the office. However, I believe that such a relationship is always inappropriate. So I just ignore these overtures. 

I have also heard of two local hypnotists who have pursued relationships with current clients. And I have had quite a few clients tell me that they came to me after refusing to go back to a different therapist who they described as "creepy".

What has your experience been?

Have you heard of sexual relationships in your area? What would you do if a client suggested a different type or relationship. 

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Who do you blame when things go wrong?

Why blame yourself?

Most people blame themselves for everything that goes wrong. It is a very human tendency. Your client can describe in great detail everything they do wrong. But they seldom consider whether their failings are actually their fault. Maybe the problem belongs to someone else?

I sometimes wonder if there any need to diagnose the client at all. With some clients you can almost predict what their problem is from examining their family.  I had a client today who told me about her alcoholic mother, a father who was away at sea for one month on and one month off. And a brother with a temper problem and alcoholic binges. Add to that a sister with a permanent negative attitude to everything, and a grandmother who was strict religious.

People tend to personalize their failings

You could predict that she would be withdrawn, lonely, depressive. And of course she was. The problem she brought was lack of motivation and a life long history of weight problems. She told me that she never seems to be able to keep the weight off. She sabotages herself constantly, has relationship issues, her life is a mess. And it's all her fault.

The strange thing is, that even with that cast of characters in her background, she still blames herself. She blames her own personal weakness for her condition. I have endless sympathy for people brought up in dysfunctional families ( I am one myself). But I never understand how people invariably see the problem as a personal one, and not a family one. They should consider whether their problems might be from something done to them, not something they have done?

Maybe therapists should get family health training?

I wonder if the curriculum of hypnotherapy training shouldn't include sections on recognizing the origins of disorders. Not just how to treat the symptoms.  Lessons in how to correlate clinical problems with family situations. That would be a major aid to accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment, in my opinion.

What do you think?

I wonder what examples other people can remember? Does having a dysfunctional family always mean you will be affected psychologically? Should we ask about family history first?

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can be hypnotized

How do you know if your client can be hypnotized?

How do you know if your client can be hypnotized?

Previous experience

There are questions that you can ask to establish whether or not your client can be hypnotized or not.

The first question to ask is "Have you ever been hypnotized?". I find that quite a high proportion of people who come to me for hypnosis have already had some experience of hypnosis. Some will have been hypnotized at a stage show. Others may have consulted a hypnotherapist at some point in the past.

It is always useful to ask "and how did that go?". Very often my client will say "I don't think I was hypnotized". This opens up the way to a discussion about what the client expects from hypnosis, and why it didn't work at the time.

If the client has been successfully hypnotized in the past it is often useful to ask "What induction method did the other hypnotist use?".  The answers are always interesting, and may give you some pointers as to which method to use.

Establish their expectations about if they can be hypnotized

You can also ask "do you think you'll be easy to hypnotize?". A "Yes" answer suggests that you should go straight on with your simplest induction. A "No" answer should lead to a discussion of why the client feels that way. It will very often bring out one or more false beliefs about hypnosis. Clearing these away will make your induction much easier. Then you can ask questions about how close they are to their subconscious anyway.

Establish how open they are to their own subconscious

If the client has never been hypnotized, then there are several ways to establish how susceptible they will be.

  1. Are you the kind of person who daydreams?
  2. Have you sometimes driven home, and realize you can't remember anything about the journey?
  3. Do you find that you can lose yourself in a book, or a computer game, or a movie, and forget about time and everything else?
  4. Do you often find yourself thinking in pictures instead of in words?
  5. When someone is talking to you, or you're watching TV, do you sometimes "zone out" and you can't remember what they said?
  6. Do certain events trigger vivid memories for you? So strong you feel like you're there?

A "yes" answer to most of these will indicate that you have a client who is highly susceptible.

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hypnosis conversation

Hypnosis Conversation in trance

I recently finished a script about Fear of Sexual Intercourse. As usual I got someone to look it over to check for typos and bad logic. They could not work out where the 'yes' and 'OK' were coming from until I used different colors to identify who was speaking.

You need Hypnosis Conversation to succeed

I was suddenly struck by the fact that in all thousands of hypnosis scripts I have read, only a handful have any interaction with the client. Almost never is there any conversation in trace with the client. In virtually all of the scripts I have seen, there is no hypnosis conversation, the only talking done is by the therapist.

I think that in therapy, the client is the one with all the answers. If you need to know what is going wrong and why, you must have a hypnosis conversation with the client. If you don't interact with the client, if you are not getting the client talking back to you, you are wasting the main resource you have.

Using a one-size-fits-all approach based on scripts will only produce second best results. I remember when I was beginning to do hypnosis I felt very uneasy. Part of me was afraid of asking for a reply and not getting one. The other part of knew that there was no other way to know what they were experiencing, and I had to ask.

The advantages of Hypnosis Conversation

I soon got into the habit of asking for confirmation of trance. Then I started asking them what they felt. Finally, I was able to have a full in hypnosis conversation about what was going on in their minds.

Conversing with their unconscious minds later enabled me to understand Clean Language skills and to develop some expertise in metaphor.

But it does seem to me that too many hypnotherapists keep on talking at their client, instead of having a hypnosis conversation with their client. If you do all the talking, you will have no way of knowing how effective your words are, or what the client is actually getting from it.

I suspect that many new hypnotists are too afraid ask, just in case the client isn't really in trance. And then get into the habit of one-way hypnosis.

The best way to check how you are doing is to have an in-trance hypnosis conversation.

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hypnosis 100% success

Hypnosis 100% success

Who get hypnosis 100% success?

It was originally believed that anyone could be hypnotized, and then that only a few could be, and later most could be, and to today we are back to thinking that everyone can be. But how realistic is that? Who gets hypnosis 100% success rate?

The first issue has be - what do we mean by 'everybody'?

The original Stanford Hypnotizability Scales were mostly used on students. They sat student volunteers in a chair and played the same taped induction to all of them. Some were hypnotized, some fell asleep, some thought about their lunch... and from this it was concluded that only a third of people can be hypnotized. Not very good science in my view.

As far as hypnotherapists are concerned, it really doesn't matter whether the general public can be hypnotized or not. What is important is whether the people who come to our offices are getting hypnotized. The people who come into my office have self selected. They expect to get hypnotized, they are happy to be hypnotized, they have come precisely for that reason.

Can your clients be hypnotized?

The question then is 'Can the people who expect and want to be hypnotized, be hypnotized'? The Stanford type experiments insisted that every person be treated exactly the same, which is why the inductions were done in the same chair, in the same room, with the same taped message. In our offices we have no such restriction, so we should get 100% success.

And in fact I find that I do get almost 100% success. I certainly don't expect any client not to go into trance, and I test each one to be sure that they are actually in trance. It might take me several goes at it, and I might have to try several different styles of induction before I get a result, but hypnosis what they want, and hypnosis is what I try to give them.

Clients who can't be hypnotized

However there are a few clients who I just cannot get into trance. I am talking here about maybe two or three a year. With some of these I have tried for up to three hours, and still never got them into trance. The common factor seems to be a terrible deep seated anxiety. Some of them have depression, but most are just hyper anxious. They tell me that they can feel themselves going into trance, but then panic and snap back out of it again. Even with instant inductions such people go into trance for a fraction of time and then snap back into control.

At the moment, my strategy is to give such clients three CDs to listen to in their own time. By playing them over and over, at some point they drop their guard and the next thing they remember is my voice counting them out, and they realise that they actually were in trance. After that they can go into trance as easily as anyone else. But I would like to find a better way of getting to them, so that I can have that elusive 100% success.

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Google Diagnosis

Google Diagnosis

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

I had a client come in last weekend who  reminded me of the dangers of Google Diagnosis. He told me he had OCD and wanted me to cure it. I asked him "How do you know you have OCD?" He said "I started making a list of my symptoms, and then I looked them up on Google". He went to lots of different sites and the more he read the more he was sure that he had OCD. And now he wanted rid of it.

I started asking about his symptoms. He told me what they were. I pointed out that in fact there are many things that could be causing them. And some of the symptoms he was listing were contradictory. But he was adamant. He had OCD. Here was here to get me to fix his OCD. He wouldn't hear of anything else. OCD was it. He wanted cured. My job was to get on with it.

Don't do Google Diagnosis

It took a lot of patience and counselling and persuasion to get him to consider that perhaps he did not have OCD. What he actually has is a form of depression. When we went over that, he found that all of the symptoms were better explained by that. And just as importantly, there were other symptoms he had been ignoring that were predicted by the depression.

We then sorted out a plan for him.

But it is just too easy to get information from the Internet and half understand it, and then base your life on that. How many other people have convinced themselves that they are suffering from this thing or that thing, and are self medicating themselves into ill health?

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.

Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744). An Essay on Criticism, 1709

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