Get your psyche in gear!
What I Do:
Clinical Hypnosis- Ericksonian or the Utilization Approach– this method was developed by Milton Erickson,M.D. (1901-1980) beginning in the 1930’s. The premise is we all have the internal resources necessary to have happy, healthy and productive lives. There is no magic bullet in health, but when we sidestep the cognitive interference, the conscious interference of ‘shoulds’, ‘what if’s’ and other negative thought patterns, this type of trance work is very effective. How? By engaging your unconscious mind, which changes brainwaves, and amplify your desire to heal. We set up a series of carefully paced agreements with the concurred goal that you connect with your inner healer and learn to do things differently. Step, by step your unconscious mind guides us. It is that simple, like breathing in and breathing out- just as you are doing now.
What I don’t do:
Medical Model/Directive Hypnosis– the operator has clinical training, but this is a directive form of trance work. It has a higher rate of effectiveness than non-clinical hypnosis. But there is more to trance work than being able to induce trance and give directions.
Stage Hypnosis where the entertainer calls the mark up from the audience and ‘turns him into a chicken with its head cut off”. Entertaining but of no clinical value.
Non- clinical hypnosis– this is where people are taught various directive forms of trance induction and the participant hopes that s/he will stop smoking. The failure rate is quite high. Any lay person can pay the money, sign up and get a certificate. The psychology of trance work is complex and most people do not respond well to being ‘told what to do’ even in a relaxed alpha or theta state. There is no psychological involvement in this effort, but unfortunately, it is a very prevalent form of hypnosis.
Head Trauma and Hypnosis: a case report
A year after graduate school, I moved to an island overseas. I was the first American, female psychologist to work in the public and private sectors. Most expats were English or Canadian. I began working with a family in an outpatient setting. One evening in the Fall, I got a call from the mom informing me that her teenage son had been in a bad moped accident; would I go see him in the ICU?
When I arrived, he was hooked up to a number of different machines measuring brainwaves, blood pressure and heart rate. He was also connected to ‘the Bolt’, a device used to measure Intra Cranial Pressure. He was in a chemically induced coma. Earlier in the day, medical staff had tried to bring him out, but the ICP was too high, he thrashed around and he had to go ‘back under.’ Clearly, the family was distressed and I was not sure what I would be able to do. This was Uncharted Territory.
At that time, mid 1990’s, in the USA, medical staff understood that despite being in a coma, the patient is able to hear and even register conversations. After listening to the parents express their fears in front of their son, I knew it was necessary for the family to use language of hope and a calm voice. Just because the boy was not alert, did not mean his brain was not registering something. I held his feet, the only part of him that was not compromised by electrodes, and gently started a bi lateral, alternating pressure on the soles of his feet. In a soothing voice, I told him he was in a safe place, he had been in a road accident; his family was with him. This is what I instructed to family to say and do when they visited.
I also told the boy he had the choice to ‘move on’ if he wanted, but the rest of us preferred he stick around, graduate from high school and think of going to college.
There was a young Italian male nurse working in the room with me that night; fortunately he pointed out to me that the ICP reading was going down, from over 40 …..to 3! The safe rage of intracranial pressure is 7-15. I taught the nursing staff the technique, some were receptive, others less so. It took a couple of days with several attempts at reducing the IV drip that induced the coma; each time the reduction was slowed. Rather than take the usual hour, the time was increased, the drip reduced incrementally while the parents and I engaged the bilateral pulsing.
He came out of the coma, and while recovering he wrote out his dreams- the actual overhead light had become a space ship. An alarm that had gone off in the ICU was an alarm in his dreams. Several months later, ‘Andy’ was offered therapy, he declined, but I did hear from the mom that he was able to walk down the aisle at school to claim his class ring. A few years later he attended college in Canada.
Why did this intervention work? In retrospect, it is clear to me that the bi-lateral, alternating pulsing, human touch and soothing voice stating the obvious, but denying nothing, helped ground him. This enabled the medical staff to wean him off the medication. Hearing his parents’ voices helped and they were empowered to know they were helping him.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the feet are the starting points of energy meridians. Pulsing the Kidney 1 points, located just below the metatarsals in the center, is grounding. With too much Qi rising up, it needed to be brought down. When heading into the accident, it is safe to assume there were a lot of fear thoughts. Given we have 19 thoughts per second- that is a lot of fear causing adrenaline to race through the body. Also, it was my intention to calm the young man, which guided the intervention. Without intention, we have only technique. All good medicine, medical, psychological, or energetic, requires extensive qualified training, focused intention, knowledge of protocol, and the confidence to have an experimental attitude in order to individualize the intervention. Technique is what is used until the therapist/healer, walks into the room.