Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Importance of Trance Depth in Hypnosis

This blog is in response to a client I recently had. After the session, she sent me an e-mail with her concerns. She was worried that the session wouldn’t work for her because she was totally aware of what was going on. She said that she thought she needed to be in 'coma' state for the hypnosis to work.

She said:
“I must admit that all of my old doubts and disappointments surfaced and I thought for the thousandth time, "This just won't work for me. I'm not hypnotizable."

Needless to say this is an analytical type of client who is well read about hypnosis and have had several disappointing sessions over the years with different hypnotherapists!

Here is my response to her:
I think it is best for me to explain more how I see and practice hypnosis today compared to how I saw and practised in the past. Maybe this will help you when we are doing the session. In the beginning of my career, I was under the impression as well that a person needed to be in a ‘somnambulistic’ or ‘coma’ state to see some degree of success. But as time progressed, in addition to observing all of my client’s responses to trance, I learned that I didn’t need to have a person in this mode, nor asleep, or even have their eyes closed during the session. Success was still attained.

I learned this from those heavy left brain/analytical types who loved to analyze every word and the extreme right brain types (or those who had been abused as children) who had so much fear they couldn't totally relax. Between the fear, the fascination of this mystical 'thing' called hypnosis, a personal edification or just the fact that they analyze everything, these clients didn’t want to let go. No matter what I did with some of them (probably 3-5%), they would still remain ‘bright eyed and bushy tailed’. But lo and behold after a day or so or at the very next session, they would express how they saw changes in their behavior or that a family member saw a difference in them. At first, I was in disbelief even though they told me this. I thought to myself, how could they have such positive results as they had their eyes open the whole time? Or they would share with me most of what I said during the hypnotic trance part of the session.

This information went against my training or what I had read in the many books on hypnosis in the need to produce ‘somnambulism’, ‘coma state’ or ‘deep trance’ in the client for success. So today, I don’t think in those terms any more.

Of course, I always want a person to go as deep as possible in a state of trance because I know it is beneficial in many ways. But I have learned trance is all relative. One person may experience a deep trance at delta, another at theta and yet another can be deep at an alpha level. The most important here is if a person receives positive results then he or she was deep enough for his or her own consciousness whether they were in ‘somnambulism’, ‘coma’, eyes wide opened or listened to my every word.

How I think and practice today?

1. Deep breathing to ‘relax’ the conscious mind and the body. The breathing does 90% of my work. It begins the process of temporarily ‘separating’ the mind from the body.

2. The Progressive Muscle Relaxation brings more relaxation to the conscious and the body. The PMR gives me 5% more by slowing down the conscious and taking away the control it has over the body.

3. Visualization to ‘split’ the conscious. Visualization provides the other 5% in different ways. Here I use the 7+/-2 theory which states that the average person cannot hold more than 5-9 pieces of information in consciousness at any given time. Between the rate of speed (I speak faster than I would in normal conversation to outrun, overload and confuse the conscious) at which I deliver information during the hypnotic session, the scenarios and the suggestions (client’s goals), the conscious disconnects more from the body.

4. Repetition to repeat this process as much as possible! This will solidify the new changes/behavior in the subconscious.

Why do I want this disconnection between the mind and body?

If the client’s mind is temporarily 'disconnected' from the body, the energy needed that would normally control the body (extremities, facial expression and general movement) is freed up and is now processing all of my words. I have the client’s complete ‘focused attention’ whether they are in delta, theta, alpha, eyes wide open or attempting to make a conscious effort to analyze every word – which this is similar to the dream process. During the dream state, the body is temporarily ‘paralyzed’ (unless the person is a sleepwalker) yet the mind is extremely active. So I am using the same model.

After the first session, this is the client’s response:

“Thanks for all the info. That really explained things well and cleared up some of my confusion about your process and my results. It really is so elegantly simple, isn't it? I have definitely noticed a significant improvement in my allergies today, to my genuine surprise. I would say they are 95% gone. No itchy, watery eyes at all, very little stuffiness, and only a handful of sneezes throughout the day. After my nightly walk there was just the barest trace of asthma-like symptoms. This is similar to what I was experiencing for that month I was free of symptoms between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Today was Day 2 with virtually no allergy symptoms. I've had no itchy, watery eyes or asthma symptoms, but I've still been getting a little bit of that tickle in the nose and times during the day when my nasal passages get stuffy. I think we should focus on the nose next time.”
Phone session, California

John Owens
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Life Counselor

Monday, November 7, 2011

New Book...Practical Philosophy: Words To Live By


Introduction of the book:

Practical Philosophy: Words To Live By (Formerly: 101 Lessons I Learned From My Clients)...Belief in oneself and living one's true potential are some of the most important ingredients that determine success and happiness. On the other hand, negativity, self-doubt, and emotional turmoil can hinder the positive flow of progress. Practical Philosophy: Words to Live by contains 200 little affirmations - tiny but important lessons or anecdotes - related to all vital aspects of life from emotional, physical and mental health to relationships to career to goal-setting, motivation and success. The goal of this little book is to help anyone in their quest for betterment by stimulating their mind and emotions. Each thought is concise and easy to relate to. The idea is never to underestimate the human spirit. If a person sets their mind to a task with the necessary drive to succeed, anything is achievable--and these affirmations are meant to be used as both an aid in and inspiration for the process.

John Owens
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Life Counselor

Sunday, November 6, 2011 (The Essence of Hypnosis)

Hypnothought's question

What is the Essence of Hypnosis?

John's response:

In my opinion, the essence of hypnosis/healing is a 'Transmission of ideas' whether consciously (waking hypnosis) or subconsciously (sleeping hypnosis). Because of my viewpoint, I spend more time with the client in a waking hypnotic state (transmitting idea after idea after idea) and towards the end drive those same messages home via sleeping hypnosis.

For example, if a client comes to me for confidence issues; I would 'transmit the idea' that if I had confidence yesterday due to my being in the zone or having a stellar performance, I cannot permanently 'lose' this confidence today or tomorrow because someone (self included) is making me feel less than human by saying negative things to and about me. At this point in time, my confidence is just not in a position to be expressed (confidence soars in a positive environment). I 'transmit the idea' that my confidence will be affected depending on my conditioning, mood, health, sensitivity to my environment or the people I may encounter.

Another example: I will 'transmit an idea' that a fear of a cockroach isn't rational when taking into consideration that the insect is smaller than me (the larger/most poisonous animal up the chain wins) or cannot physically harm me. When I dig deeper into the mind/emotions of these clients, I find out that many have other irrational fears as well due to a vivid imagination (which needs balancing) and the lack of internal peace - these areas will be taken care of during sleeping hypnosis...with a strong disgust for the insect instead of a true fear. Some would use the term - nasty or an equivalent word - when referring to the cockroach. I let them know that the feeling of something being nasty/disgusting and experiencing true fear are two different emotions - a programmed idea. These ideas/messages transmitted will be the beginning of change even before we start the sleeping hypnosis.

John Owens
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Life Counselor

Sunday, October 30, 2011 (Advice on PMS/PMDD)

Hypnothought's question:

Advice on PMS/PMDD?

John's Response:

In addition to what has already been said, I will provide you a different view point – one that I use when I run across these issues. What seems to work for the cases I have a combination of education and hypnotherapy. When I say education, I simply mean how she accepts or doesn't accept this process of life. Some girls growing up (especially those out of a strict home, an abusive situation, orphaned, neglected, etc) were never taught much about their period. Yes, their mom or guardian may have told them what it is and some things to expect but may not have gone into detail because it is such a private affair. Many societies have a thing about not talking too much when it concerns matters beneath the clothes. So many girls growing up may miss out on how important this process of life is. That it is part of the gift to be able to bring life into the world. That if you see it as a wonderful experience, it just may minimize some of the pain/embarassment/shame. After all, the level of pain hinges on how we view it.

If this was the case (and it was with many of my clients who had this issue), she may dislike the process or at best see it as a burden as opposed to seeing it as necessary and an accepted part of life. Think about the mixed messages that she could be sending her brain. Her brain is designed to deliver this process every month but her mind – consciuously and subconsciously abhors the process. The results = more than normal pain/ PMS/PMDD in some cases (of course, this is provided that the doctor has worked his/her magic without finding anything physical).

Speaking of pain...this is another issue and how one looks at pain that needs to be tackled. For example, think about three kids who all have common colds. One kid's mom is at her beck and call. She tells the child to stay in bed and rest and provide juices and soup. Another kid's mom immediately rushes the child to the hospital to get the opinion of the doctor and a prescription. And the last kid's mom tells her kid that I know it is tough but you must get up and move around – this is how you will improve. When the child becomes an adult, chances are she will view a common cold or pain the same way it was taught to her. The mother who waited on her kid with juices and soup will think this is the best medicine. The mother who took her daughter to the doctor will typically have a good relationship with her doctor and have drugs hanging around on her nightstand. And the one who told her child to move around will probably handle it better than the other two simply because she thinks moving around will eventually heal her. This goes for the period as well. If the child grows up seeing mom handle her period negatively/with excess pain or didn't explain much about the process, she just may program the child this way.

Of course I am generalizing and it is my opinion and what worked for doesn't mean it will work in every case...But find out how she views her period and motherhood. The ones I have had were usually in the mid 20s to 30s and were not ready to be a mother for various reasons – single, lesbian, career driven, relationship challenges – imagine the messages going on inside of their brain about getting pregnant/period? This mindset would create much stress. The ones who I have explained these issues to really understood and changed how they viewed life (education). Just informing them made a difference for them. After that, I taught them how to relax and 'let go' of their stress (hypnotherapy).

John Owens
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Life Counselor

Sunday, October 23, 2011 (The Illusion of Powerful Hypnosis)

Hypnothought's Question

The Illusion of Powerful Hypnosis

John's Response

In my opinion, a hypnotherapist/healer's power is in his or her humility and the necessary soft skills – compassion, understanding and sensitivity to someone's suffering. Granted, we deal with one of the most important organs – if not the most important in the health profession – the brain. When we are able to heal/fix/repair/administer/assist (or whatever term one would use) the human mind, body and emotions, quite naturally, one may feel a certain power within oneself. And at no other time will this perceived power be so intoxicating than when we are successful with a client where a psychiatrist/psychotherapist was not. Compound these successes over time and his or her perceived power will shoot through the roof.

However, as soon as this hypnotherapist/healer begin to say that he or she is powerful or behave that way because of the successes, he may lose sight of the big picture.

What should he be aware of as he/she feels his/her own power?

Namely, that anyone could learn what he knows with/without any 'formal training'. That he may begin to feel that he could heal everyone or every issue with one session. That he could heal/help 1000s of clients of the same or similar issues but a client may show up one day out of the blue that will throw him for a loop. That a client may 'read' the hypnotherapist/healer's perception of his own power and feel that it is too overwhelming therefore may rebel against him causing instant failure in assisting the client (many clients have shared this kind of experience with me after visiting an arrogant/insensitive hypnotherapist/psychotherapist/psychiatrist). That he may attempt to work with a client's issue that is above his skill level. That he may begin to work on an issue that really isn't the client's issue simply because he didn't totally listen, understand or delved deep enough into the issue. That he may argue/debate/shout at another hypnotherapist/healer for successfully using a different technique/method or having a different definition of hypnosis/trance. That he may become so comfortable in his own power that he forgets to read, study, accept and search for new information to enhance/upgrade his skills.

And I am not saying humility only for hypnotherapists/healers but for psychotherapists/psychiatrists/GPs or any other professional who may get too big for his or her britches because of his own power.

....It is really wonderful (and can be powerful) to appreciate, have confidence and 'high professional esteem' in what one can do in helping others to heal but having Humility is not allowing ones power to get out of control or turn into arrogance.

John Owens
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Life Counselor

Sunday, October 16, 2011 (Nightmares)

Hypnothought's question

How to offset/change nightmares from an abused childhood?

John's respsonse
This is my method/how I have worked with these type of issues. One thing to consider first is that dreams (we dream every night whether we realize it or not) are an extension of our daily life and of what we have embedded in our memory center. When a client has suffered abuse, his or her daily life may be filled with negative/depressing memories of the past -consciously or subconsciously. Anything, anyone, any experience, any word, any sound, any smell or phrase could trigger these memories (the embedded abuse) at any given time. There is no conscious control over it.

How can you offset that as a healer?

First, you must defuse his anger towards his foster mom. The anger will keep him stressed-out more than anything. Stress is a major cause of heavy dreaming/nightmares. He needs peace, balance and harmony in his life – focus on these three words in your script if you do scripts. He must accept his past even though he hates his past. Let him know that no amount of therapy can change his past. He has to live with it and accept it the same way as a person born with any bodily flaws or any type of diseases. The more he fights his past, the more the past is his puppet master. Secondly, you must build his esteem, confidence and belief in himself. Abuse destroys the person. And third, you must coach him through life or what he didn't get as a child. Unfortuantely, abuse robs an individual of his or her personal rights and privileges. And lastly, you can offset his dreams by suggesting/conditoning new dreams. Get him in a REM state and make suggestions that he is in control of his dreams. He needs to begin to feel that he has personal control of his life irrespective to what happened in his past.

Most importantly, this is not a one time thing. Many people think they can come to a hypnotist/hypnotherapist one time and they are done. They will go to a psychotherapist for years but a hypnotherapist they think they need only one or two sessions. It is really nice society has this confidence in us but we all need more than one or two sessions with the client to deliver long term change. An adult who suffered childhood abuse is one of those issues that takes time. Let him know this is a journey to build a new life, a new perspective, a new person.

John Owens
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Life Counselor

Saturday, October 8, 2011 (Explain Hypnosis)

Hypnothoughts' question

Explain Hypnosis in 3 sentences or less

John's Response

Hypnosis whether used positively or negatively needs at least these three components....

Trance – intentionally or unintentionally
Conditioning or seasoning for building new behavior/change/acceptance
Repetition – for the new behavior/change/acceptance to 'stick' long term

This definition could either be used for a client visiting a hypnotherapist or other mental heath professional, a volunteer for a stage/street hypnotist, a parent/teacher teaching a child, a friend consoling another friend on a loss or someone under the control of an abuser (an example: Stockholm Syndrome using fear/manipulation/imprisonment towards their victims) that may or may not know anything about hypnosis.

John Owens
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Life Counselor