by David Mason
Get her parents to take her to self defense classes, judo, boxing, te kwan do, etc.
Then get her to beat the shit out of the next one who tries it.
I am serious.
The bully won't try it again, and the child will get a huge dollop of self esteem that will last all her life. The depression and anxiety will go away immediately. Depression comes from a feeling of being unable to escape bad circumstances. Learning that you can stand up for yourself is a wonderful antidote.
by David Mason
Sometimes it is difficult to get a client to begin talking about what they want, especially if it involves strong emotions about family members. One way round this is to use a simple technique from art therapy.
Give the person a piece of paper and something to draw with. Then ask them to create a composition for a picture. The picture has to include a sun, a house, some water, a tree, a snake, a path and flowers. Tell them to think about how they would arrange these different things into an attractive composition, and then get them to draw it. It does not have to be fancy or artistic, just whatever they would like to draw.
Give them a few minutes to draw it. Don't watch them while they are drawing, and don't offer any suggestion. Then look at what they have produced. You can start analysing the picture as representing how they see the world. Each of the seven items is a psychological element, a symbol of the unconscious mind.
1) the house represents the client
2) the sun represents their father
3) the tree represents their mother
4) the snake represents sexuality
5) the water represents your emotions
6) the path represents how they relate to others.
7) the flowers represent friends
First look at the distribution of the symbols, how they relate to each other on the page, how close or far they are from each other. Also look at whether in the composition the symbols are overlapping or separate, or partly hidden by clouds or hills. This will tell you how your client sees the relationship between these things.
Then, examine each symbol.
The HOUSE represents how the person sees themselves. Big, small, tumbledown... look at how open and accessible the house is - are there windows, a door, are they open or closed. Is there a fence round it, is there a path leading to the door?
The TREE represents the client's mother. Look at the state of the tree, the type of tree. Is there fruit on it, is it short or big, how close is it to the house? Is it open and branching like an oak tree or narrow and prickly like a pine tree?
The SUN represents the client's father. The higher the sun the more dominant the father is in the family. Is the sun half hidden behind hills, or obscured by clouds: these represent the relationship with the father. Is the sun close to the house, to the tree. or distant and isolated? Has the sun been drawn warm and friendly with rays and a smiley face?
The SNAKE represents sexuality. How big is the snake? Is it hidden or out in the open. It wrapped round something, is it standing up or slinking away? How close is it to the house?
The WATER is emotions, fears, worries. Is the water a stream or river that flows through the picture? Is there a waterfall or boats or ducks: all these represent active happy associations. Is the water a pond that is isolated? That represents keeping things to yourself, deep issues. Is the water a barrier to other parts?
The PATH shows how well feelings and relationships are integrated, how they link. If the path wanders through the picture and leads to the front door, and the door is open, the person is open to love and welcomes people. If the path avoids other symbols in the picture then the person wants people to stay away.
The FLOWERS represent the friends in your life. If there is just one big flower, then it is probably you. If there are many flowers this represents many friends, and everything in between. The distribution shows how friends are scattered around your life.
Then ask the client to start talking about the picture, knowing now what the symbols mean.
The symbols are often very accurate, but even if they are not, they are a way of opening up the client to explore their emotions. Because the client is being asked to comment on something outside of themself they are less likely to feel threatened by criticising family relationships so they can be more open in talking about how they feel.
It is also fun to do at a dinner party to get people to open up and get to know each other.
by David Mason
I had a client yesterday who had the yips. In golf this is something that affects players and makes them go to pieces whenever they play in front of other people. They can perform beautifully when practising on their own, but the moment it becomes a real game, they get the shakes, their hands won't do what they want, and they lose every hole.
In this case, she said she gets the yips whenever she needs to play a short put. She begins to feel nervous as they approach the green and the feeling increases as it gets time to put. However, she has no problem with driving, and no real problem with long puts: it is just the short puts that are the problem. Anything under two feet and she misses the hole.
She used to have a six handicap, and now it is up at 19. She loves the game and doesn't want to have to give up.
The problem started about six months ago. I asked what happened six months ago but she couldn't remember anything in particular. Questioning her about exactly what she felt we established that the nervousness all was around
fear of missing the put
being centre stage
everybody focussing on me
In other words it was a phobia of failing and being judged by other people.
She said that she had been to a hypnotist eight weeks ago and didn't think she was hypnotized. So part of the therapy had to ensure that she got convinced that she was hypnotized. Otherwise whatever I did would not match her expectations.
The induction was simple: breathing, limbs heavy, down the stairs. Tested with eye catalepsy. The eye catalepsy was to prove to her that she was in trance.
Got her to focus on the feeling she got when she approached the green. Took quite a while to get her to feel anything, and to start speaking. After every question she took a minute or more to answer. This often happens, over time I have come to the conclusion that some people just have a slow unconscious.
Eventually she said she had the felling of 'nervousness'. I asked here where in her body it was, what thing it was most like but got very little response. I kept fishing for shapes, location, etc. Eventually she said it was blue. Then round, quite big, but not the same all the way round, a bit jiggeledy. Sort of soft. Felt like a sponge.
This was material I could work with so I got her to imagine it bigger, then smaller. Told her that being able to change it any way gave her control. But she didn't really believe that, and she still couldn't get rid of it.
In cases like this, where the client can be aware of the feeling, and describe it clearly, but is unable to change it, I use a technique called attribute reversal. I asked her what was the opposite of 'blue': she said 'yellow'. I asked for the opposite of round, she said 'square' and so on. With every new word I went through the list of descriptive words and substituted the new word for the old. Doing that gradually builds up a different image, and at some point its nature changes in the client's mind. That happened in this case. I asked the client how she felt about the yellow, square, even, solid thing now, and she said it made want to go and play golf.
However, I could not get her to destroy it. Unless it is altered drastically, whetever the fear is that is represented by the metaphoric object will not be cleared. I tried changing the thing into something that would be useful to her. She ignored that suggestion.
Then she said she could still see it. A yellow square thing.
I worked on this to suggest that it could get round, and then added dimples to it.
Then suggested it could roll, be hit by a club, imagine it rolling around the green, being tickled, imagine a big smile on it so it became a smiley face. Then to imagine the ball having fun on the green enjoying going into the hole.
Anchored fun on the idea of picking the ball out of the cup, looking down and seeing a yellow smiley face laughing and winking. She was smiling in trance at this idea.
Then built on it with future pacing seeing herself on the practice course doing well, and then joining friends for a game, and as she approaches the green she sees the yellow ball with the big smile on it.
Then more direct suggestion about having fun and rapidly reducing her handicap figure until she is back in the clubhouse with her name on the champions shield, cups etc.
Asked her how she thought about the putting now, said she was really looking forward to a game.
I finished the session by getting her to thank her subconscious for clearing the problem. Then I suggested that a finger might move. When I did move, I suggested that this was her mind signalling to her, guaranteeing that it was now working to remove the yips. This was done as reinforcement and to convince her that she was in trance.
I then counted her out to end the session.
I think this is the first time that I have really felt confident that I had developed the right technique to clear the yips.
We shall have to wait and see.
by David Mason
The psychology of addiction and habits is all about disrupting the CUE-BEHAVIOUR-REWARD cycle. Hypnotherapists have actually be using this for a long time, without perhaps being aware of how they were addressing it.
One common technique, for example used in the NLP six step reframe method, is to get the person to focus on the outcome they want, and to ask their unconscious mind to come up with three ways of achieving that outcome, three ways that are different from the behaviour they are currently doing. The process then usually adds in future pacing, where the client sees themself having the reward with the new behaviour.
This allows them to replace the behaviour but keep the reward, which is exactly what the theory recommends.
by David Mason
According to the latest psychology research our habits are made up of a cycle of trigger-behavior-reward. In order to change a habit what you have to do is to keep the reward, but link it to a different behavior.
In order to end a habit what you have to do is to identify the trigger and then do a different behavior until the original trigger-behavior link is broken.
Triggers almost always are one of these categories
Straight after doing something
(source: Duhigg, C. (2012) The power of habit. 978-1-4000-6928-6 page 283)
So if you want to find out what triggers smoking for example, ask the client to record each time they get the urge to smoke and write down
Where were you at time?
What time was it ?
What state were you in emotionally?
Who was there?
What had you just done?
From examining the answers, a pattern should emerge that will suggest a strategy for disrupting the habit cycle.
by David Mason
Therapists are regularly accused of many things: of implanting false memories, of turning ordinary feelings into illnesses, of making people dependent on them, of making weak people into permanent victims.
A court case in the UK has produced something new to accuse therapists of. In that court case a music teacher was accused of sexually abusing a female student. The now adult student testified in court, was vilified by the defence in an attempt to discredit her, and she subsequently committed suicide.
The prosecution is now speculating about the role that therapy played in the case. The victim sought help from therapy and by all accounts the therapy years later helped her to cope with the feelings generated by the abuse. But questions are now being asked about whether having therapy makes the victim more capable of dealing with the memories of the abuse. If that is the case then, it is argued, the victim will not feel the pain so much, and will be less inclined to go after those who abused them. Therefore therapy should not be done.
A bizzare way of looking at things, in my view.
by David Mason
When attempting to make therapeutic changes in clients hypnotists often try to establish anchors to desired states. This is usually done by giving the client a word that they can say when they need to get into the state of confidence or calm or whatever the therapist is trying to achieve. The problem with this is that words come with previous associations, and unless the therapist chooses a word that is very unusual, the trigger word is quite likely to be heard in normal conversation and the effect gets diluted.
The other common method is to get the client to pinch the back of their hand, or press their finger and thumb together. This also has issues to do with over use and quickly fades.
One solution is to use an internal trigger. Get the client to experience something by thinking about it, and then anchor that to the desired state. For example you can get the client to think about a color. Huxley used to meditate on the colour green, and put himself into a receptive state with that. It is easy to get the client to think of the colour of a mandarin orange, or an olive, and use that as the basis for the anchor. If the client is prefers to think of an object you can get them to visualize say, a golden egg or blue seastar. If the client is not visual then you can try a smell or a taste as the trigger. Clients often get a particular sense when they enter the problem situation so that can be utilized. If the client is very kinesthetic you ask them to image the feeling of both arms rising up at the same time, without actually lifting them, and use that.
The possibilities are endless. The more you let the client choose the trigger, the better the anchoring will be.