hypervigilance

Hypervigilance

Hypervigilant client

I had an interesting client today with Hypervigilance. Even though I have done thousands of hypnotherapy  sessions I find there is always something new to learn.

This client was a man in his late twenties. He said "I lack the confidence to assert myself. My wife says I always gives in too easily. It is costing me salary and promotion. I just cannot stand up for myself". In the interview I learned that he will do anything to avoid aggression. He feels he has to keep people happy and never put forward his own views in case he causes aggression. He has to tell people what he thinks they want to hear.

It was obvious that he was afraid of confrontation but I couldn't find anything in his life that caused him to want to avoid aggression. Like many people he feared rejection and wants to be liked. But I noticed that every time I asked him about how he feels, he tells me what he thinks. This is the typical behaviour of the over-analytical person.

Symptoms of hypervigilance

One probing further I found that he has many symptoms of hypervigilance. Hypervigilance starts when a child feels that their environment is unpredictable and they become afraid of what is happening to them. The child then withdraws and puts up barriers to intimacy. The child's reasoning is that if they don't feel anything they can't be hurt. This client confirmed that he has no real feelings about anyone.

The client said he felt that he had a shell around him. That is the cue to start using a metaphor therapy technique. When I started with this client it did not work. He would not open up to his emotion. Instead he kept talking about what he thought of it.

Hypervigilant clients are hard to hypnotize because they analyse everything you say to them. Instead of reacting to your suggestions, they analyse the structure of the sentences or wonder about why you used that particular word. They are so busy analysing that you can't get through their defences.

Hypnotizing Hypervigilance

I thought that he would be hard to hypnotize and he agreed.
So I started the session with a rapid induction, he started smiling, and the impression I got was that he was feeling the induction but refusing to follow what his body was telling him. I then did a breathing induction and to my surprise his head started to nod, an indication of trance. I then did a deepener with a staircase induction, and he was in trance. Surprised me greatly. Tested with eye catalepsy. Worked.

So I learned that this hypervigilant client, at least, could be hypnotised. I think the key to it was using a kinesthetic induction to get him to focus on a feeling he had never before noticed, the feeling of the air inside his head as he breathed in.

The therapy was a long metaphor session.

Did the standard RIVERWALK with embelishments.
When he was looking at the town he saw someone like him at a table with friends doing all the things he wanted to do.
Had people following along the other bank.
Had him and his wife walking towards the town. Started with everything around stale and tired.
Then the little bridge where he says aloud what his problem is.
Then DROPPING THE STONES
CLOAK OF POWER
BRIDGE TO FREEDOM
DIRECT SUGGESTION
CONGRATULATE the mind.
FINGER LIFT CONFIRMATION

good session. What I learned from this is that even a therapy I have used many times can still surprise me. My own unconscious mind came up with a new twist to suit this particular client.

So what I ended up with is a new way of treating lack of confidence.

The power of the unconscious mind never ceases to amaze.

David Mason

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