|Photo by Rick Hustead|
In a previous blog, I described the Cycle of Violence and some of the behaviors that characterize this phenomenon. As a certified hypnotherapist, I focus my practice on individuals who are striving to achieve vocational and avocational self-improvement goals (i.e., weight loss, smoking cessation, increase self-confidence, improve sports performance, etc.). Every so often a client comes in who has just experienced a traumatic event in his or her life or has even become a victim of violence. Today, I will explain how I work with a client who is caught in this or another kind of crisis.
First, a disclaimer: I do not see a new, first-time client who is in a crisis state because the person’s therapeutic issue may be out of my scope of professional expertise. If someone contacts me for hypnotherapy to deal with a previous or is already in a trauma state, he or she probably needs to work with a licensed medical or mental-health professional from the get-go. However, when I already have a relationship with the client as the person’s trusted hypnotherapist, it is logical that I see the individual right away to assess the situation. I am prepared to and will refer the individual for additional support described above, if necessary. In the meantime, I am certified to use hypnosis to help a person work through a crisis and handle an emergency.
First, “crisis” is described as a life-event in which a person’s normal ability to cope with what has happened is diminished or completely absent. When an individual is in crisis, the person enters a state of overload (natural hypnosis). My first task is to de-hypnotize the client so the person can start using his or her good judgment and return to a state of emotional homeostasis to deal with the conflict. I do this by using:
- Reflective listening: This client needs to be heard, so I let the person tell the story about what happened/caused so much distress. In addition to showing that someone is listening, talking about the incident helps to calm the person down.
- Ask constructive questions: I want the client to activate the constructive-thinking areas of the mind, so I encourage the person to tell me, “What do you think you need to do next?” During a crisis, people tend to feel immobilized or stuck because every area of their life seems to be bunched together. When the person is encouraged to focus on each component of the problem by chunking it down this way, it becomes easier to tackle one issue at a time. This strategy for also helps to increase the person’s self-confidence and self-esteem by knowing that he or she does possess the good-judgment and skills to resolve a problem, alone.
- Imagery and Visualization: Another effective problem-solving technique is to have the client imagine/visualize strategies that someone else could use or do in that situation: “What would you tell me to do if I were you?” Once again, the goal is to restore the client’s good judgment and good-reasoning skills. To do so, I encourage the person to fantasize or do hypnodrama to engage a light-trance state and imagine a different outcome of this crisis. I (the hypnotherapist) do not offer any advice; it is up to the client to consider, discover and make independent decisions about how to change the situation.
- Subconscious Resources: If a client is in crisis, I have the person focus on a different, occasion in which the individual successfully used strategies/abilities/attitudes to successfully get through that difficulty. When the client is in hypnosis, I use this list of these skills/positive attributes to create repertoire of coping skills the individual can successfully use to deal with the current crisis.
- Options. The most important thing is for this client to realize, know and understand that he or she has options for how to get out of the crisis or traumatic situation. Perhaps that means seeking protection at a refuge/crisis center, becoming more assertive, leaving an abusive relationship, etc. Whatever decision the person chooses is the right one, and he or she has what it takes to change the negative situation to a positive one.
Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.