Therapy that overcomes inertia

I was trained in clinical hypnosis at Salford University by two (retired) General Practitioner medics. Anne and Geoff are passionate believers in the mind and body interactivity. They regard clinical hypnosis as self empowerment.

Now that sentence, may seem at odds with how many people think and picture hypnosis. Typically, Derren Brown, Paul Mckenna will be known about in popular culture. Stage hypnosis for entertainment can be remembered as a fun night out.

As GP’s Anne and Geoff recognised hypnosis has the potential to transform how an individual takes charge of their thoughts. Much like CBT perhaps ? Many problems they saw in patients during consultation have a physiological and psychological component :irritable bowel syndrome, recurrent migraines, anxiety related symptoms and pain for example.

Now, Professor Ed Bullmore, Head of psychiatry from the University of Cambridge is leading the way with medical focus on the immune system causing inflammation in the body and altering mood.
In psychotherapy and counselling using an integrated approach that directly includes the body, we look for the meaning of information that is constructed in a narrative process or stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves and what we say about ourselves to others. What has happened to you in the past really does matter.

The intention is to orientate an individual to practise new coping strategies repeatedly with confidence or decreasing stress within a process of intense learning. It is easy to understand that all of us are differently receiving information about the world as we subjectively ‘know’ it and that it is our interpretations of the information we receive and the implications of that information that shapes our brain, body, mind, behaviour.

As a therapist, I pay attention to contemporary neuroscience research. Dan Seigel’s mindfulness as a learnable skill strategy of act with awareness, non-judge, and non react can be helpful in lessening the suffering in depression. For anyone interested in language constructions that I use within hypnotherapy for reprocessing old and outdated values and beliefs, with new ones, check out p93 – 95 The Mindful Brain published by Norton.

A client diagnosed with depression or arriving with their perception of “I am just a depressed person” may be disbelieving that they can come into the therapy space again and again and not have to perform a social ritual of disguise and pretend. The plethora of self critical thoughts flows even as they describe or appear to be inert and stuck with being the person they don’t like or don’t recognise.

Thoughts about how they perceive themselves and the thoughts they have about how others see them are profuse – They are being lazy. Self indulgent. Selfish. They have nothing to complain about. They are spending money on therapy when nothing is going to make it any better. They need a kick up their backside and get on with it. Everyone else seems to be able to cope. They are wasting my time.

In therapy the most important factor of influence is the quality of the relationship between the two people in the room. Writing in the clinical research literature, Ackerman, Hilsenroth, and Knowles (2005) offer the following description of the early phases of creating the therapeutic alliance:
The therapist’s use of psychodynamic – interpersonal activities in the beginning of treatment (e.g., encouraging the experience and exploration of uncomfortable feelings, allowing the patient to initiate discussion of salient themes, and focusing on in- sessional relational themes between the therapist and the patient) may inform the patient that the therapist is willing (and able) to help address issues that have been previously avoided.

In mindfulness theory this means three separate and interconnecting concepts – intention, attention and attitude. I am mindfully present to however the individual is. Of course it is true and factually correct that I am paid to be present. This may be useful and relevant for clients to discuss explicitly at some point in the duration of our sessions.

Using the chair, the massage table, the floor or the thai therapy futon, there are many ways that the body can be brought into mindfulness (intention, attention and attitude) It really does not require that you sit uncomfortably cross legged. Not ever. Unless that is what you want to do.

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