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Jul 23, 2007

Hypno/therapy

I've been seeing a hypnotherapist for past couple of months, and it is helping with some of my anxiety and ADD issues, though it hasn't been the magic bullet I might have been dreaming of.

Among the messages in our prep and in our trance time: 

avoiding challenges is often much more costly than dealing with them.  And when I begin to deal with them, they often turn out to be much less painful than I thought they might be.  And even when they are as painful as I feared, the work of dealing with them actually gives me a shot at making them go away.

Depending on the day, this message can be my locomotive, my sag wagon, or my life preserver.  And other days, it sits by itself while I immerse myself in six to ten hours of avoidance.  Today was a sag wagon day.  I'm appreciative.

11:42 PM in Misc.Blog 2007 | Permalink

Comments

That resonates with me.

Posted by: Stew | Jul 24, 2007 10:35:51 AM

What does a hypnotherapist do, Phil?

Posted by: Lisa | Jul 24, 2007 11:38:58 PM

Lisa --

In my 45-minute sessions, the hypnotherapist (a PhD clinical psychologist) does two things.

First, we talk about various issues related to my anxiety and ADD (e.g., What anxiety-causing incidents did I have in the last week? How did I deal with them? What worked and should be reinforced? What might work better for next time? Or: what work routines do I want to adopt that will help me deal with ADD issues, and that will let me relax when it's time to turn "off" the idea that I need to be getting something done?).

Then we spend ~20 minutes in a relaxed/meditative/trance state during which she speaks from a script we've developed to help suggest/anchor positive images, beliefs, and behaviors.

The routine goes something like this, with me lying in a cushy recliner:

1. Eyes closed, breathing, body relaxing.
2. Messages about the body being naturally equipped to be healthy, heal itself, and adjust itself.
3. Messages about my ability to be aware of my intentions and to move toward them.
4. Messages about my intended daily schedule of waking, easing into the day, working for some concentrated hours, enjoying the evening, doing some end-of-day work, relaxing, then sleeping restfully.
5. Affirmations about my ability to "begin, stick with, and complete tasks".
6. Reminders (such as the one from this blog) that I can deal with challenges, and that avoidance is the lesser option.
7. More imagery about the mind/body being infused with good energy, and the ability to heal itself.
8. More breathing and a relaxed re-emergence into regular consciousness.

According to my hypnotherapist, it typically takes ~3 months of regular visits for the hypnotherapy work to really kick in. I've been going semi-steadily for about 3 months, and I can see how some things from our talk-time are definitely working (e.g., my improved reactions when I get into situations where people might judge and/or get mad at me). I also have been leaning on a new daily meditation that goes something like this:

1. I'm not in this alone. God's strength moves my hands, my heart, my mind, and my breathing.
2. There is no judge but God, and maybe not even him.
3. I will ask for God's leadings daily and more.

[my faith life is often in question, but I go with the "I believe it's worth trying, so try believing in it" approach]

I also have two important visualizations that help me get my body and head back into (or at least toward) some kind of peacefulness when they start going haywire. One of the most important messages I lean on from the hypnotherapist is "our mind's ability to heal itself".

As to whether the hypnotherapy part of what we're doing is kicking in yet, I'm really not sure. But I'm willing to keep trying for a while. If it returns even one or two healthy work hours a week to my life, it will be more than worth the effort and expense.

As to how hypnotherapy actually works, here are a few sort-of-descriptive words from the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.

From the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis:

"Recent research supports the view that hypnotic communication and suggestions effectively changes aspects of the persons physiological and neurological functions.

Practitioners use clinical hypnosis in three main ways. First, they encourage the use of imagination. Mental imagery is very powerful, especially in a focused state of attention. The mind seems capable of using imagery, even if it is only symbolic, to assist us in bringing about the things we are imagining. For example, a patient with ulcerative colitis may be asked to imagine what his/her distressed colon looks like. If she imagines it as being like a tunnel, with very red, inflamed walls that are rough in texture, the patient may be encouraged in hypnosis (and in self-hypnosis) to imagine this image changing to a healthy one.

A second basic hypnotic method is to present ideas or suggestions to the patient. In a state of concentrated attention, ideas and suggestions that are compatible with what the patient wants seem to have a more powerful impact on the mind.

Finally, hypnosis may be used for unconscious exploration, to better understand underlying motivations or identify whether past events or experiences are associated with causing a problem. Hypnosis avoids the critical censor of the conscious mind, which often defeats what we know to be in our best interests. The effectiveness of hypnosis appears to lie in the way in which it bypasses the critical observation and interference of the conscious mind, allowing the client's intentions for change to take effect"

Posted by: Phil | Jul 25, 2007 12:14:31 AM

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Phil. That's really interesting and I may have to check it out here in Dallas!

Posted by: Lisa | Jul 25, 2007 8:43:34 AM

I am immune to hypnotism. I'm too wound up. But it sounds like it could be a good thing for some folks!

Posted by: Elrond Hubbard | Jul 28, 2007 4:24:30 PM