Friday, October 31, 2008

PTSD & Hypnotherapy, Part 2: My First Session

Laura continues my hypnotherapy initiation with further explanation of hypno and the process.

“Now," she says, "the second thing I need you to understand is this: Imagination is as strong as knowledge. What we’re going to do in here will engage your creative mind. The suggestions I give under hypnosis will stimulate your imagination so that it uses its power to reinform your subconscious mind about the beliefs you hold. Beliefs such as,” and here Laura refers to her notes. She reads back my statements in direct quotes. “‘I can’t let it go.’ ‘I don’t feel safe.’ ‘I’m so afraid.’ ‘I feel powerless.’ ‘There’s always something wrong with me.’ We’re going to change all of those thoughts by engaging your imagination. I’m going to give you what’s called a fake frame. I hate that word, ‘fake,’ but it will be fake right now because you don’t yet believe in it yourself. However, the frame will become real through the process of hypnosis. In this way, we’ll re-frame your ideas and beliefs so that they are more positive and harmonious for your well-being. It’s important to know that in the same way the imagination can help you reach your goals, it can prevent you from reaching them, too. Many of the difficulties we experience in life usually originate in our imagination; beliefs are so powerful that our minds transform them into reality. The 88% overrides the 12%.

“We’re also going to rewrite the scripts you’ve been using. You have thought patterns that have been going on for years. In hypnosis the suggestions will be geared toward rewriting these thought patterns and forming new ones that will bring you a feeling of peace and safety. It’s not only your subconscious mind that we’ll be tapping here. Your conscious mind will need to participate, too. All the hypnotherapy in the world won’t work if you don’t want it to. You must actively want to engage in this process. Also, you need to carefully monitor your thoughts. If you fill your subconscious with negative thoughts, feelings and images you will soon begin to experience all of those things. What you put your energy on is what is created. Any time you have a negative thought – for example, any time that you think, ‘I am powerless’ – I want you to say to yourself, ‘Cancel.’ As in, ‘Cancel that negative thought.’ For myself, I use the image of a purple elephant. It is so ridiculous and out of the ordinary that it immediately takes my mind off whatever negative thought I’m having. When I think something negative, I say, ‘Purple elephant!’”

Laura’s eyes get big and excited. She’s pulls a stuffed purple elephant off one of the book shelves. “Take this image home with you. You must only allow and reinforce positive thoughts. Cancel the negative statement and replace it with its opposite. For example: ‘I am powerless’ becomes ‘I am powerful.’ Will you be able to do this?”

I nod, “Yes.”

“Great, then you won’t be working against yourself. The mental attitude you hold when you hear a suggestion determines whether or not it is accepted into your internal computer for change, or flat out rejected. There are three mental attitudes that affect the hypnotic state. The first is one of complete embrace; you passionately want and trust the suggestion. Because of this, the suggestion goes into your subconscious and change occurs. The other two attitudes will cause you to reject the suggestion and no change will occur. That is, if you’re uncomfortable with the suggestion, or if you don’t care about it at all. You have to really want the suggestions to come to life in order that they will. So, it’s important that you whole-heartedly embrace them.

“The last thing I need to explain is that hypnotherapy is not like talking therapy. In here we will not focus on the past. There’s no need to do that. We don’t need to keep going over and over what happened. Going back isn’t what heals us; going forward does. With hypnotherapy we focus on the future so that you can see where you’re walking toward rather than constantly looking back at what you’re running from. By activating your subconscious we’re going to create and liberate the new you from the authentic self that is submerged beneath all this other stuff. That’s what we’ll be doing together, you and me.”

Oh, God. I’m melting into this couch. I’m fervently wishing this hour would never end. I’m plotting how to make it last forever. Laura’s energetic attitude transforms everything into something simple and manageable. All this time I’ve felt controlled by the past, but Laura’s outlook makes it seem like she and I control a future where the past is inconsequential. Why didn’t anyone ever turn me on to hypnotherapy years ago?

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