A lot of people have asked me what my general client progression or workflow, overall treatment plan, and many other similar things are lately. So, I thought I’d just write a quick blog about how I think about it.
Generally, the first session is a chance for us to get to know each other, determine how we’re going to work together, and our first hypnotic intervention.
And from here forward, it’s going to be different with all clients because everyone needs different things. With some clients, we can get through all of the following in a session because they don’t need very much; with others, it takes many sessions for each step. (And as it should: if someone comes to me to stop smoking and they just smoke out of a habit, that should be far easier to deal with than helping someone alleviate the memories and behaviors of a childhood full of abuse.)
So, rather than focus on session-by-session progression, let’s discuss how clients progress in general. I generally follow a Cognitive-Behavioral based hypnotherapy model (e.g. Alladin, et al) focusing on helping clients uncover how their issues arise (somatically, emotionally, and mentally) and then how to derail them in the moment; however, I know the value of working through the past with clients that need it and do so accordingly.
First, we work together to understand the constitution of the problem in the present and deal with any past issues that are present. For instance, if you have PTSD and traumatic memories constantly interfere with your life, we’ll discover the somatics (how the memories feel in your body) and their relation to the onset of the memories and accompanying anxiety, fear, overwhelm, anger, etc.. Likewise, we’ll explore the beliefs, structures, and resulting behaviors to see how they work together as a system. Hypnosis greatly facilitates this by allowing a quick, but deep way to delve into how and why people function as they do.
And we’ll also explore what, if any, past issues affect this problem. For instance, most every PTSD survivor has (a) traumatic experience(s) at the core of their issues; however, many people with phobias learned them from someone they trust like a parent. If the client needs to deal with the past, we need to do it before step three or else it may very likely hinder our work finishing, but upfront is the ideal place to affect it as dealing with that can often shorten or negate the need for conscious/willpower-based interventions later-on.
Often, if a client is to get stuck in an area, this would be it. This happens because as said elsewhere, a client’s presenting problem is often a defense to protect one against reliving the pain associated with something held back (e.g. trauma survivors often disassociate when things get too emotionally intense or have the opposite: feel overwhelmed at “minor”–to others–events). In these cases, we need to develop a deeper level of rapport and work through or with each of these defenses until we’re able to get to a point where we can move forward effectively.
Sometimes, clients beat themselves up about this; however, this is exactly the issue: you’re not quite ready to make that push. Yet! So, the question becomes, how do we facilitate you working through it?
This first step is often paired with homework about paying attention for/to these somatics and other structural facets in order to for you to begin to see when anxiety is coming on and what its about. And for those with issues from the past, there is often extra work about paying attention to what comes up emotionally with these somatic experiences.
Second, we explore different relaxation techniques to see which are the most effective for you. Many people like breathing exercises, but hypnosis offers a far larger variety of ways to relax. This is paired with the previous step: when someone notices anxiety setting in, they can do one of these techniques. At this point, we’ll use hypnosis to revivify (vividly imagine having an experience) an experience that gives you anxiety and use the techniques to calm down.
This is often paired with homework about going into the world and doing relaxation exercises, if necessary.
Third, we work to alter the ways that you think about things to work toward preventing the problem by either knowing how to alter your thoughts in the moment or making the changes you need to no longer think or act like that. This step is focused on the ways that your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors interact in any given moment, allowing you to develop deeper control over your life.
This is often paired with homework about going into the world and altering your thoughts, if necessary.
Fourth, we work on what could be called coaching. Now that you’ve alleviated the symptoms you came in with, what kind of life do you want? This step is far too custom to describe in detail, but basically, I help people to discover how they’d like their life to be and use hypnosis to help them achieve the beliefs and feelings necessary to do so.
Sometimes, it takes one session to do all of this and sometimes it takes quite a few sessions.