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View from the far side of the recliner
Clear goals, Where’s the goal? Is there a goal here, somewhere else, anywhere?
Usually I have at least a bit of a phone or face to face conversation before setting up an appointment. One time however I got a call from a woman who said that a guy that I had helped thought I could help her.” Well that’s great! What would be the best day for you to come see me?” I probably said something like that. The man that made the recommendation had some clear goals that he wanted to achieve. We worked great together, he did his homework and he was much happier with his life. Unfortunately by not having “the talk”, I did not discover that for my new client there were no goals that she wanted to address. She was just very unhappy, didn’t really want to talk and wasn’t sure why she was seeing me. It was probably the longest session of my hypnotherapy career. Must have been something wrong with the clock.
There was this other time a few years before. A man with self reported Asperger Syndrome made an appointment to see me but as the session progressed there just wasn’t a clear goal. I couldn’t get him to come up with a specific issue. He knew he wanted to do something with his life but there really didn’t seem to be any direction to that journey. It was a conversation about something, some things, never anything concrete or focused. So we ended up with the generic, but still useful visualization, stress reduction, focus and relaxation techniques. And somehow I didn’t even get paid. I can’t remember what the excuse was. Whatever it was it wasn’t too clear.
A couple of years ago I had a client who I found extremely challenging. The story got very complicated very quickly. Because of the nature of the situation details will be kept to a minimum. A woman, well into her twenties contacted me for regression to work with abuse she experienced earlier in her life
I carefully explained that the use of regression under hypnosis in this setting is to recognize the feelings and beliefs about oneself based on the previous events that may be having a negative effect on her life now. This allows those ideas to be examined and if not accurate, can be changed to a more positive self-view. For instance if she was blaming herself for being abused as a minor and experiencing guilt, that could be identified and a more accurate assessment could be made, perhaps what happened was not her responsibility but the action of an adult beyond her control. In the process the facts or history do not change only the personal beliefs and judgments about that history. I emphasized that anything that might come from a hypnotic regression session would not be considered legal evidence.
(I’m pretty sure that is true. I’m not an attorney but I’ve watched lots of Perry Mason, Matlock, Night Court and Law and Order. I haven’t seen Judge Judy but I do know from legal ads on TV that I can sue for damages from the effects of some drug that I’ve never heard of even if it resulted in my death. Ah justice.)
After seeming to acknowledge all of the above, the client then indicated that she wanted to recover memories of what had happened to her because she was pursuing legal action and that information would help her case. I repeated everything that had just said about the uses and limits of hypnotic regression. I then asked if under those conditions, she would like to proceed if the outcome might be an improvement in her self-image and the quality of her life but would not be of any use legally. She kind of said that she’d like to try. I did have her experience the breathing, visualization and being present techniques. The trance part of the session was kind of successful in that there was no regression but at least she got to a peaceful place. The woman did want to do another couple of sessions. I’m not sure if we actually met for one or two more sessions. My client had a hard time showing up for or perhaps remembering the appointments she had made. I never got paid for those sessions. Maybe if she gets a settlement but I’ll still pay the rent in the meantime.
It seems that when I don’t get paid for a session it is a sign that things just aren’t clear. That’s been a learning experience for me.