by David Mason
However, the problem has been around for a long time. The client probably has many ways of triggering the behaviour associated with that problem. If you leave a remnant of the image, then that remnant can later be reinvigorated and the problem will come back. That is why you must get rid of the image.
There are many ways to get rid of the image. If the client doesn't want to get rid of the dragon, or feels some sympathy for it, then it is most likely that the problem actually contains something that is useful to the client. At some level the client is aware that if they clear away the dragon, they will also clear away some asset they have been relying upon in the past.
Therefore, what you should do is to ask the client if they would like to transform whatever remains into something that would be useful to them, and gently encourage them to let the thing change in whatever way it wants to. Keep changing it until it is some stable thing that they can store safely or carry around with them. That way they will always have the asset when they need it and they can let the rest of the dragon fade away.
The client didn't know what the original problem was and won't know what it is they want to hold on to either.
by David Mason
It is quite normal for clients to cry. In fact I regard it as a help to diagnosis and a sign that the emotions must be near the surface and gives a potential feeling to target for regression therapy.
However a recent academic article has looked into the issue of therapists crying. When I started out in this business I was as damaged as any of my clients and I frequently heard stuff that echoed my own upbringing. I could listen to it quite dispassionately, and I think the closeness to my own experience helped my understand more. Listening was no problem. Following a script of mostly direct suggestion was no problem either. But when it came to designing a metaphor to suit their situation, the closer it was to my own issues the more it resonated with me, and I found myself getting emotional along with the client.
I was quite startled by this at first, but I later realised that it was doing me good: and it if was doing me good then it was probably doing good for the client as well. Then I deliberately started designing metaphors that would cause me to cry, because that way I knew they were good powerful metaphors, and by listening to my own emotions I got better at designing them.
As I got more experienced I realized that in order to get into the client's mind, I first had to imagine what they were feeling in my mind, and the metaphors were what I thought might work for me. And then as I said the metphor I had to imagine the images in my mind, and of course my mind was being affected by them at the same time as the client's mind was being affected. This set up a feedback loop that I thought greatly increased the depth of empathy between us.
As I progressed, by fixing other people's problems in this way, I fixed more and more of own problems. I no longer feel that same raw emotion to the same extent. But I think that I do in fact come close to tears with more clients, rather than fewer. Healing myself has let me open up to more empathy with other people and I feel the sadness of an abusive childhood probably more keenly than I ever did years ago.
The article says that more than half of therapists reporting tearing up in the last four weeks, and I think that this about right. Only one percent of therapists thought that they had disadvantaged their clients by showing emotion. In my case I only get emotional while delivering the words, and so the client does not see me, since they have their eyes closed by that point. But I often remark to them that they were not the only ones crying during that session, and I think that the client appreciates sincere emotional contact.
by David Mason
The British Psychological Society has issued a statement saying that in their opinion it is time to re-assess the medical model of mental health. This model has been the leading way of thinking about how to deal with mental health issues for more than sixty years. What they are saying is that it is time to question the validity and usefulness of the idea that all mental problems can be treated by drugs, and that every mental or behavioural problem is now automatically assumed to need some pharmaceutical treatment.
It is very brave of BPS to come out with this statement. There will huge opposition to this idea. There is no coincidence in its timing: it comes shortly before the American Psychiatry Association is about to issue the latest update of the DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This has been accused of inventing illnesses so that they can then be treated. In the US, insurers will only pay for treatment if it is classified in the DSM. If it is not there, then it cannot be treated under health care plans. It is also accused of leading to uneccessary diagnoses: caregivers note symptoms, and then search the DSM until they find something that matches, and the patient is thereafter labelled with that disorder, whether they have it or not. It is also not incidental that the DSM is the major source of income for the APA, so they can be expected to respond robustly to any challenge to their model of treatment. The pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to be pleased either.
It will be interesting to watch what develops.
by David Mason
A lot of clients find it hard to say No. They end up overburdened with work, harassed and feeling resentful at others for asking, and at themselves for agreeing. Usually ten minutes after agreeing they find themselves boiling with anger at their own stupidity, or depressed about letting themselves be bullied again.
There are no good ways of learning to say No: but there are good ways of learning to not say Yes.
a) buy yourself time to think. Tell the person asking that you will need to consult your diary / your husband / your schedule - or something else first before you will be able to agree. Tell the person you agree that it is important, that it needs done, but you cannot commit to it right now without information from somewhere else.
b) Put off answering until you can reply in a different format. Many people are embarrassed by saying No face to face. It is much easier to Not-to-say-Yes by email or a written note. Or get someone else to tell them. It is much easier to give an excuse when you don't have to talk to them directly.
c) Invent a boss. Tell the person that you need to get agreement from someone else. It can be a purely fictitious person. Tell the door to door salesman that you need to consult your aged mother who has all the money. Tell a difficult customer that you need to talk to your supervisor first, and they are not in. Email back to a request by including a false email from your 'boss' quoting that you are not allowed to do what they are asking.
d) Make up a rule. Tell them 'I never make a decision without sleeping on it first. Your idea sounds really good. I will get back to you tomorrow'.
e) Put the onus back on them. Tell them that you will do it: but they have to do something first.
f) Give them alternatives. Saythat the best time to do what they want is this afternoon at three, but you have something planned for then. Could they find someone to take over that task first?
g) Promise to delegate it. Tell them that you will ask someone else to do it for them. But that you will get back to them later to say whether that other person agreed or not.
h) Suggest someone else. Deflect the person by saying that you think some other person would be a much better choice, and say why. And then make them ask the person first before coming back to you, and if they do, suggest someone different.
There is no limit in how creative you can be in Learning-to-not-say-Yes.
by David Mason
Every hypnotist has to deal with procrastination. It can be very hard to clear. Many procrastinators are really skilled at putting things off and come up with wonderfully inventive reasons for not getting on with it. But the underlying reason is fear.
One common fear is fear of being criticised for not doing well enough. The most common way out of this is to handicap yourself, usually by restricting the amount of time available to complete the task. A common strategy to get round this is put off and put off starting until five minutes past the last possible minute, and then slamming into the work and getting something out of the door by the deadline. The rationale is that you can't then be criticised for not living up what is expected because you didn't have enough time to do it properly. So in your mind, you are safe from the pain of being found not good enough.
Some people have taken this to extremes, making it a part of their life. The world chess master of the early nineteenth century from 1800 to 1820, Alexandre Deschapelles, used to take the pressure off his chess matches by giving away one or two pieces before each game. That way he handicapped himself: his opponent had eight pawns and he only had six. So if he lost it was not because of his lack of ability, it was because he had fewer pieces than his opponent. And if he won, well it just showed how good he was, but he avoided the pain of not measuring up, and therefore did not have to procrastinate about playing a match.
Eventually he became recognised as the best player in the world at the time. But then someone else came along, who beat him consistently. Deschapelles realised that he would always be beaten, so he gave up chess completely, never played another game, and took up the card game whist, later known as Bridge.
And once again he handicapped himself by wasting his highest card. He went on to be an outstanding card player but always only after imposing a handicap on himself.
This habit is remembered today in the Bridge technique known as Deschapelles Coup, beating your opponent by deliberately sacrificing a high card in order to spoil their planned strategy.
by David Mason
Here's a way to find out what your own internal critic is doing to you.
Get a bit of paper and write down four things you want to be, things that you are trying be, and not getting.
Then write out an affirmation that includes all the things you want to achieve. For example if you want to be making a living at hypnotherapy; and want to be a great hypnotist; and want to help people; and want to be famous at what you do; then write out an affirmation that goes something like this...
I am [your name].. I am a brilliant talented hypnotist, I am the best there is, I am going to become wealthy by helping other people.
Then write it out again, and again, over and over, about ten times.
And as you do, your mind will become bored by the repetitive task, and you will find a voice comes into your mind that starts sneering at you, or putting you down.... a great hypnotist... yeah... like you could ever become anything.... becoming wealthy..... yeah... this from someone who can't make it to the end of the week... Help others.... who are you to be helping anybody? ... and so on.
By doing this little exercise you can bring out your own inner critic so that you can examine it, what it is saying, what specific things it is focussing on...
And then you can use self hypnosis to meditate on one of the phrases. For example if you got 'like you could ever become anything' then you can focus on that one phrase, challenge it, ask for a memory, allow your mind to dredge up the original incident that is behind that self belief. And once you have identified it, you can make a start on changing it.
by David Mason
Smokers are always interesting. I had one today who said he had stopped smoking for six or seven months, but started again about a year ago. He had stopped smoking when he was living in Australia, after seeing a hypnotist in Sydney. He started again when he came back home and was involved in stressful family matters and everyone smoked.
I was thinking that this was another case of someone reacting to old family feelings so I asked when he had started smoking. He said he started on and off at 15 as an act of rebellion and teenage defiance, but he really started more or less full time when he went to Germany to live with his father at 16. He went to school there and was the centre of attention as being some exotic person from the other side of the world. And because he spoke fluent English he was sought out. He also hung out with the smoking group and for eighteen months had a really good time.
He then came back to NZ and a dysfunctional family situation. I surmised that his smoking was all associated with being the super star of the school, and that he unconsciously was seeking to go back to the that feeling every time he felt things were not going so well here.
He confirmed this analysis, and I was happy that I knew why he smoked. But I still felt that the issue of starting again needed to be investigated. And it turned out that his family had a history of alcoholism, violence, lawbreaking and people who generally couldn't get on with each other.
I tested for symptoms of depression and they confirmed. I explained to him how depression was partly inhertible and how it affected behaviour and how his feelings that things were not going right made him then plunge into self defeating habits. He agreed that that was exactly what he had done.
We therefore had discovered what he was getting from smoking, and why he had started again after successfully quitting.
However, there was one more twist. He said that the hypnotist in Sydney had said that if he took one cigarette, then he would almost inevitably start up again. I am sure the hypnotist's intentions were good. However, tThis had been in his mind in the period when he was just taking one cigarette from relatives but not yet smoking full on. It became a self fulfilling prophecy, and he acted on the belief that taking one meant he was hooked again, and that justified him starting to become a smoker again.
It just goes to show how careful hypnotists need to be in their sessions. Even the most throwaway statement can become embedded in the client's mind and be triggered years later.
Knowing his full background I could now design a session that addressed all the issues he had.
I used a metaphor that suggested that he would be able to walk away from the people who were making him feel bad by laying family responsibilities on him.
I put him in a group visualization so that he was the centre of attention from everyone he knew , and then had him make a public declaration that he had given up smoking. That way he could still get the good feelings without smoking.
I suggested that he was embarking on a new stage of his life and did an ideomotor convincer to reinforce that and told him that that was his own mind guarteein that he would not smoke again.
I planted a suggestion to counteract the Sydney hypnotist's suggestion and said that because he had stopped and started once, that meant that when he stopped this time he was now inoculated against ever starting again.
I did a post hypnotic suggestion that the first thing he would do on awakening was say the words 'I don't smoke'. And that was exactly what he said.
All in all, a very interesting session.