Odds and Ends

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Odds and Ends

Well probably not that odd and definitely not the end.
Another Learning Experience
I got a call from a potential client’s wife which is usually a red flag. In this case the man had been referred by a physician I know to quit smoking. I didn’t feel I could turn that referral down. The gentleman had a number of serious medical conditions and was looking at another surgery. His doctor naturally wanted him not smoking, surgery is risky enough even for someone in good health. It turned out that the man smoked 5 to 7 cigars a day the way other people smoke cigarettes. He also wanted to work on dietary and exercise goals.
The problem was he still had cigars. I usually want my clients to have their last smoke and get rid of all smoking material before they come to see me. If they are not willing to do that they probably are not ready to quit smoking. There are some other techniques I can use to assist them to being ready but of course if it’s not really their goal I can’t help them with that goal.
We spent a long time going over his history and goals. Decided on the language for suggestions. Did a quick reality technique to check if he could really see himself as a nonsmoker. It was not easy for him to see himself a nonsmoker. Not encouraging. Because of the medical importance of this issue I decided to go ahead. I taught him some simple stress reduction techniques then went into what seemed like a good trance session. In the review at the end of the session he seemed to think he could give up the cigars. We scheduled another session in two days to keep working on the other issues.
Next session he had not quit and still had enough cigars to last him three days. He had decided that his goal was to quit smoking at 6:00 PM on the third day while tapering off. It didn’t seem like the best plan but he was sure it would work and he had spent a lot of time thinking about it and even had a number of precise suggestions. We reviewed the previous stress reduction techniques then proceeded with a session using his suggestions and very specific target for being a nonsmoker.
I called him about an hour after the target time to congratulate him on being tobacco free only to find that he felt terrible and couldn’t give up the cigars yet.
Although that result wasn’t totally unexpected at least the stress reduction techniques were reported to be helpful. I talked to the doctor about the outcome and he thought it worth a try anyway.
I will give this client a call now that it’s been a couple of weeks and see if he wants to work on anything else or do some deep work on his need for the cigars.

More Seizure Stuff
Last time I wrote about my experience of having seizures. Most of the time I can function just fine and no one else knows what’s happening in my head. At least twice that I remember, I was working with clients deep in trance going through suggestions when the auditory hallucinations came on strong, after a bit my ability to form words was getting compromised. Until the seizures passed it was a matter of extreme concentration and frequent pauses to keep going. At the end of those sessions I was exhausted but at least the clients were relaxed and had no idea of what had been going on the other side of the recliner.
Hypnotherapy Conference
Last week I attended the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners Conference in Pasadena. There were three days with 24 presentations and 16 workshops. I managed to get to six workshops and two presentations for a total of 17.5 hours. Almost everything I went to was excellent. It was great to hear directly from two authors of powerful books in the field and from one of the best known medical hypnotherapists in the world. The other speakers were very knowledgeable with excellent information. It was nice to be reminded of some of the things that I learned previously, techniques that I want to start using again and new insights and details on what was familiar. There were four areas in which I gained a lot of new information using metaphors in hypnotherapy, working with; insomnia, PTSD and children.
I am really looking forward to incorporating the new information into my existing practice and expanding into more working (kind of like play) with the little people and helping those folks dealing with PTSD.
I meet two of my classmates from the Hypnotherapy Academy of America (in Sante Fe, NM back then) class of Summer 2007. We agreed that we did get an excellent education. I meet a number of very nice and interesting people from all over the country. There were even a few from Arizona.

That’s it for now.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Why I Love that there is (almost) no paperwork with Hypnotherapy!

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What good is having a blog if you can’t rant? Well this is my blog and here is my rant.
I just spent a couple of hours today trying to finish a report for a Medicare Physical Therapy patient and I’m still not done. This patient has a long list of relatively common medical issues but also on that list is a rare neurological condition which had been misdiagnosed as another more common neurological disease. I was seeing this patient for a simple activity related neck and shoulder pain complaint with an onset about four months ago. In a rational system the initial evaluation and medical history should have been a thirty minute write up, a page and a half at the most. My patient didn’t understand that further Physical Therapy would have to be approved and that she isn’t allowed to pay us until we have billed her Medicare plan and secondary. It is not clear if this patient wants to continue or will go somewhere else. She is somewhat confused so I am somewhat confused.
Welcome to crazy town. All medical records now have to be electronic. This means that if there are nude pictures in your medical records they will likely be leaked any day now. Hope you look good in that blue gown with the open back! If hackers can get into secure sites of defense companies, banks and government agencies what chance is there that the people that brought you HealthCare.gov will do a better job. Even if a site isn’t hacked, theoretically anyone in a medical office or insurance company that has access to your records can help themselves to that information. Theft of information in the electronic age can happen so much faster and in incredible amounts compared to the old days of paper medical billing and tabbed patient files.
Medicare requires an incredible amount of irrelevant information. Levels of disability or function need to be chosen somewhat arbitrarily from lists. The function limits are from redundant, overlapping lists. The time spent doing all of this, is time not spent treating patients and is not reimbursed. The costs of the various programs and the monthly fees to use the documentation to be in compliance are an added burden. The effect of all this on medical providers has not been pretty. I know a number of family or general practice physicians who have closed their practices and either retired, become hospitalists or gone to work for large hospital based clinics. It is very difficult to find a physician that will take a new Medicare patient. It is harder and harder to make it as a small practice. I think something is being lost in the process and it’s not just old magazines in the waiting room.
A friend of mine who is a Physical Therapist and Certified Hand Therapist, recently became a Licensed Massage Therapist, teaches a bit at a massage school and runs a bed and breakfast. This very experienced, skilled specialist is only occasionally seeing hand patients and won’t bill insurance companies. The non-treatment parts of healthcare are taking the pleasure out of serving people. The reason people go into healthcare (hopefully) is to work with patients and not be mind-melded with an uncaring electronic bureaucracy.
One of the beauties of Hypnotherapy that I really appreciate, is the ability to really help people achieve their goals without dealing with insurance, paperwork, billing or bureaucracy. It is so simple, the client wants to make a change, comes up with a goal, determines who or what can help him/her achieve that goal, makes an appointment, receives the service and pays for the service. Just a person wanting to get somewhere, hiring another person to help them get there. Strange no one thought of that way of doing healthcare before.
I love that about Hypnotherapy and would like to see it happen with Physical Therapy.
Next week I’ll write about something. I got off track this week due to my paperwork issues. I’ve actually had a couple of hypnotherapy sessions on this curse of mine. Guess I need some more work on that, maybe a lot more work.
Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Self-Hypnosis for Injury, Surgery and Dentistry Part 3. The Dentist!

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The last of my self-hypnosis tales for injury, surgery and dentistry. I have been blessed with really strong teeth. I have had very few cavities in my life even though (please don’t tell the dental hygienist) I only floss during eclipses (both lunar and solar, I don’t discriminate). In the last couple of years the local dentists have decided to see what is inside some of my teeth. I’d don’t really remember the first drilling experience too well. I know I did some visualization of peaceful places but I think that was it. The second and last drilling expedition involved the discovery by the new dentist that the filling from the first dentist wasn’t done right and would have to be drilled out and replaced and of course there was a new small cavity or two that needed excavation and filling. He had a new type of machine that drilled with a laser and used a constant flow of water. I went into hypnotherapist mode using visualization of my two go to places, the beach and a spring in the mountains. Additionally I gave myself the suggestion that the sound of the drill and the feeling of the water helped me go even deeper into relaxation. Everything went fine except for the longest time my tongue kept exploring the new topography of my teeth. Perhaps I’ll include a suggestion to floss. Probably not.

Next time it will probably be Blissborn the new (for me) hypnosis assisted childbirth technique. I might change things up though and go off in the non-hypnotherapy direction of experiencing seizures. That would be the ones in my head. It will be something about babies, brains or something beginning with a “B”.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Self-Hypnosis for Injury, Surgery and Dentistry Part 2 The Hip!

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One of my coolest experiences with self-hypnosis is when I had my hip replaced. There is a long story about how the hip came to deteriorate so badly. I’ll save that for another time. Basically there had been a traumatic injury to the leg on that side more than twenty-five years earlier.
The day came for the surgery and the plan was that I was going to have a spinal so I would be numb from the waist down and use hypnosis for everything above the waist. Typically a sedative called versed is used to keep the patient calm, still and sleepy during a medical procedure where a general anesthetic is not used.
As a physical therapist I was very aware of what happens during a hip replacement, having observed a couple and worked with very many patients after their surgery. If you are curious you might be able to find a video on the internet. Basically orthopedic surgery is carpentry with blood. There are saws, reamers, drills, chisels, mallets, screws and metal plates. Hip replacement adds the field of mechanics because there are two pieces that are made of some combination of metal, ceramics, and/or plastic that are driven into the bones to make the new joint.
During the surgery I was able to talk to the anesthetist, later the nurse anesthetist, hear everything that was going on, feel my body being dragged down as my leg was tractioned and the pounding when the socket part was hammered into my pelvis. I could also feel the surgeon pushing into my side to get leverage and a weird kind of patting on my abdomen which turned out to be the instruments that were being laid on and taken off my belly. It seems that during surgery the patient is often “out” and the patient’s face is behind the surgical drape, the patient gets used as kind of a table. The drape over the patient is sterile so there’s no problem, it just felt strange.
Mentally I was able to check out and go to the beach or mountains whenever I wanted. I felt calm and relaxed throughout the procedure except towards the end when it felt kind of hard to breath. During surgery there are straps across the patient stabilizing them on the table as well as straps around the forearms to keep the arms stationary for the IVs. After I had been pulled toward the foot of the table, the straps had moved up on my chest making it somewhat difficult to breath. This seemed to get worse later in the surgery. Other than that everything was great.
Because I was never “out” I never had to regain full awareness without grogginess, nausea, discomfort or dizziness. I felt good. Later there was some discomfort but never intense pain.
There was a really interesting phenomena. When I sat up on the table with my legs straight to get the spinal anesthetic I noted that my toes were pointing toward the ceiling. The anesthetic worked very quickly. As I lay on the table, from time to time I checked in on where my feet were. My brain always told me that my feet were together pointing at the ceiling even though I knew that most of the time my left leg was completely off and below the level of the table with my leg turned as far as it would go. Strange, the tricks that your mind can play on you!
By the way, if you or someone you know is thinking about getting a hip replacement make sure to ask about the options with pros and cons. This probably applies to most procedures.
Next time I’ll finish up with personal experiences with self-hypnosis for dental procedures. After that it’ll be Blissborn the new (for me) hypnosis assisted childbirth technique.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Self-Hypnosis for Injury, Surgery and Dentistry Part 1

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I went into hypnotherapy to work with people in pain. Less than a year later there was an opportunity to use self-hypnosis to deal with a sudden injury in a challenging situation. I was on an annual weeklong retreat. One of the days was twenty four hours in silence, alone as much practical. Most of us spent the day in nature. There is a beautiful canyon in the desert with a stream flowing through it. I drove a woman from Switzerland to the canyon in the morning. We had agreed the previous day to meet in the canyon later in the day for the drive back to town.
After we went our separate ways, I crossed the stream to get to a spot up higher in the rocks. While bracing myself between two vertical rocks to get over an opening my wet shoe slipped causing me to fall forward with my right arm stuck against the rock. I felt my shoulder dislocate and then reduce (go back into place). I was able to quickly determine that one muscle was completely torn off the bone but that there was no nerve or circulatory damage. So it was not an emergency situation and I couldn’t just take off and leave my friend from Switzerland alone in the canyon without a ride. I had planned to meditate anyway. I propped my forearm on my pack and using some combination of meditation and self-hypnosis I was able to stay in place for several hours. Meeting my friend, walking out of the canyon and driving back to town was a bit more uncomfortable. Moving the arm didn’t help and having to be focused on where I was walking and driving did not allow me tune out.
It was at least six weeks until the shoulder got repaired. I listened to a pre and post-surgery hypnosis CD. During the outpatient surgery it was not possible to wear any type earphones, I ended up with a nerve block and general anesthesia. Coming out of surgery I felt pretty bad. It was difficult to focus, between the pain meds, the ice water machine and interrupted sleep. After a few days it became easier to use hypnosis.
This was a good learning experience. I was able to use hypnosis to relax, block pain and stay calm after being injured. It helped of course that I had the knowledge and experience to be able to determine that the situation was not an emergency. After the surgery I don’t know if being under general anesthesia then pain meds kept me from being able to focus enough to use hypnosis. I’m not sure that using hypnosis (at least at my skill level at the time) without any pain meds would have been sufficient to control the pain.
My experience with a hip replacement a couple of years later was totally different. I’ll blog about that next time.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Hypnosis/Trance Work with Massage/Body Work

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When many people think of body work they assume massage. It turns out that there are many kinds of massage and many types of what could be called “body work” that are not massage and some techniques that seem to be both and neither.
I have some experience in the body work/massage world. I am married to a massage therapist, have friends that are massage therapists and love a good massage. I teach “kinesiology” (movement, bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments) at a massage school. I am not a massage therapist. I am a physical therapist who uses a lot of manual techniques (and exercise) in my practice. I am also a Certified Zero Balancing Practitioner. This is a type of body/energy work that from a superficial view involves a fully clothed (except shoes) person laying face up on a treatment table. No lotion, hot stones, warm towels, just the ZBer applying traction through the legs, gentle lifting with the fingers under the client, some traction at the neck and arms. Oh but there is so much more. Looks can be deceiving and it’s what you don’t see is where the magic happens. Please check out the Zero Balancing website for more information:
http://www.zerobalancing.com
I recommend having a Zero Balancing session to experience it. If you ever get to Flagstaff, AZ find me. I do that.
For those of you who have experienced a good massage/body work, you may have noticed drifting off into a place of profound relaxation. Perhaps kind of a trance state? The skilled use of manual techniques can serve as a very effective hypnotic induction. As I mentioned a few posts back, I don’t typically touch clients when they are in a trance. Zero Balancing where touch is the format can be the entry into hypnotherapy.

How I use Hypnosis during a Zero Balancing session

Occasionally before a Zero Balancing session with an already established client I encounter an issue that may be addressed effectively with hypnosis/visualization. If I get the feeling that it would magnify the experience of the ZB for that person I would discuss the addition of hypnosis/visualization as an option. Sometimes people bring it up when arranging the ZB because they already know about that aspect of my work. If the person would like to experience the directed subconscious technique we talk about what the person’s goal/s is/are, what images, places, experiences that incorporate that goal and any imagery that should be avoided.
As Zero Balancing often induces an altered state of consciousness, it is not necessary for me to go through the usual verbal suggestions to relax. The ZB proceeds normally through the lower part of the session. When I come to the head of the table and assess the person’s condition, I begin offering suggestions, working with the client’s breathing, helping them drift deeper into relaxation then gently guiding them into “imagining, sensing and feeling” the experience that they would like to have with their goal/s attained.

Next time I’ll write about how I’ve used self-hypnosis to deal with an injury, during surgery and at the dentist.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

The Difference and Similarity between Hypnosis and Meditation

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One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “what is the difference between hypnosis and meditation?”. My answer is that they are similar and different. My own experience with formal hypnosis over the last seven years is fairly extensive in terms of varied flavors, the number of sessions, as both the hypnotherapist and the client. I do not teach formal meditation and don’t claim to be an expert. I have practiced meditation in a formal way inconsistently over the last ten years. I’ve had some amazing experiences of peace and at times simply being gone. I’ve basically used focusing on breathing, on nature or music and once a walking meditation. Just as in hypnosis there are different techniques in meditation.

One similarity is that in both hypnosis and meditation the conscious mind can become very quiet. Both can involve the visualization of objects and scenes that exist only in the mind in the current moment. In hypnotherapy this could be seeing/experiencing oneself in the future having recovered from a health/medical issue, being at an ideal weight, hitting a golf ball just right, being comfortable flying in a plane, having achieved basically any goal. In some traditions, like Mahayana Buddhism of which Tibetan Buddhism is a part, meditation might include visualizing a complex mandala*, various bodhisattvas**, world peace, the liberation of all being from suffering. Perhaps the main difference that I can think of, is that in hypnotherapy the experience is guided at some level by another person while meditation is internally guided.

There is a great book about Meditation; Meditation for Dummies by Stephen Bodian. I love the “for Dummies” books that I’ve bought. I’m thinking about writing a Living my Life for Dummies.

 

For my clients that are interested, I certainly encourage meditation in addition to any techniques that have been recommended as part of their sessions. The health benefits of meditation have been studied extensively.

 

A way to make meditation more user friendly and perhaps more effective for some people.

Meditation can be a daunting experience in the way that it is commonly presented. One version is sitting on a cushion for extending periods of time. Trying to have a quiet mind rather than the “monkey mind” of internal chatter is a challenge.

At The HypnoThoughts Live conference, I attended a seminar on Hope Coaching/Mindful Hypnosis. (For information on Hope Coaching visit www.mindfulhypnosiscoach.com .) One of the speakers, Michael Ellner brought up an idea which is great. Instead of one long meditation session, how about several ones of a few minutes. Stephan Bodian in his Meditation book also mentions brief sessions. Just like with exercise, many people say that they don’t have the time but almost everyone has six minutes or so here and there throughout the day. Starting first thing in the morning with a meditation can set the tone for the day. With exercise if the goal is to burn calories, then it doesn’t matter if you walk one mile a day or four, quarter mile walks, the calories burned are the same. There are things that are likely beneficial in the long periods of sustained meditation and that maybe something for people to aspire to. For people who are in pain, who may not be able to sit in one position for long, whose lives feel so chaotic, who are stressed and anxious, the small bouts of meditation may bring a sense of peace and increased comfort.

 

*for a cool website to explore the concept of mandalas see: www.graphics.cornell.edu/~wbt/mandala .

**for information and images of bodhisattvas an internet search will result in at least a couple of different definitions and many varied images. But you’ll have a better idea of the concept of bodhisattva than you did before. Especially if you had no idea to begin with.

 

Next time I’ll write about hypnosis/trance and body work.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.

Thanks,

Don Berlyn