Friday, April 17, 2009

PTSD Treatment: Creative Self-Hypnosis - Another Tool For Self-Healing




Hypnotherapists are so generous with their time. Take Roger Straus, for example. I asked him how PTSD experiencers might use self-hypnosis to supplement their healing progress – and he wrote this entire post about how self-hypnosis and related methods can be used to help those with PTSD self-heal. Just more info for us to throw into the healing mix...

Roger Straus, PhD., has a background as a sociological practitioner. He co-founded the Clinical Sociology Association (now part of the AACS) and put out three editions of the fundamental text on sociological practice, Using Sociology, with a new book, Doing Sociology, to be released this fall. He has published many other social science books and journal articles, etc. Additionally, he’s written two classic books on self-hypnosis and related topics (one of which was a trade best seller), with another in preparation.

As a Clinical Sociologist, I think the most exciting thing about “hypnosis” and “self-hypnosis” is that they boil down to using your own thinking, feeling and imagining strategically in order to accomplish things that would normally be difficult or impossible. And that includes “reprogramming” yourself, so to speak. Using creative self-hypnosis (pun intended), you can bring to bear all levels of your being to help make your life what and how you want it to be. It’s a way of getting at that “programming.”

Two key principles of sociological social psychology apply here. The first, known as the Thomas Theorem, points out that what a person defines (or imagines) to be real is real in its consequences. If you’ve come to accept something as “being that way,” it is that way for you. The second is that our very sense of self – who and what we “are” in the world – is something we build as we go through our lives in the ongoing process known as “socialization.”

Putting it a different way, we are all acting out “post-natal” suggestions that we receive from our society, our culture, our groups (including our family), and all the other people with whom we have ever interacted with directly or indirectly (through books, media, etc.). That includes both our friends and those who are not our friends. Now this is not just superficial. We humans respond to how we imagine things to be at multiple levels – conscious, unconscious and even physical. You can modify even physiological states and reactions by using your imagination strategically.

You can, however, overcome those “post-natal” suggestions, in effect become your own self-programmer. That’s what creative self-hypnosis is all about. You can choose your inner realities to get what you want out of your life, work and relationships. By changing what you take for-granted about yourself and your life, you can transform not only your thinking and behavior, but also how you act and respond on a physiological level.

The central “trick” I’m going to teach you now is something I call “remembering the future.” Think for a moment of how you want to be and feel, how you want your life and relationships to be. What would it be like for you if you actually accomplished that self-healing, actually freed yourself from all the negative constraints and effects of the past? Imagine yourself and your life “if only it were the day after,” as my family says. If you’d like, jot down some notes, really let yourself get into it. Don’t worry, whatever you’re envisioning right now is just a starting point. This imaginary future will shift and grow and acquire more detail and evolve in totally unexpected ways over time. We just want a starting point.

If you already practice meditation, visualization, self-hypnosis or some other way of letting go and just letting yourself be, continue with that and perhaps just add the ideas I’m sharing with you. If not, you really should learn some kind of practice along these lines (which, by the way, does not replace taking care of your body but should, rather, supplement exercise and proper nutrition, and other healthful practices). Either of my books offers a pretty thorough training program – Strategic Self-Hypnosis uses a more traditional (“you are becoming very, very relaxed”) type approach, while Creative Self-Hypnosis also shows you more contemporary, non-trance, wide-awake techniques. It takes some learning to get either method down.

To start, why not try this (first read through it a couple times and then give it a go – feel free to peek if you lose your place):

• Sit down in a quiet place, free from distractions, where you can be alone for about 15 minutes. Make yourself comfortable – loosen your clothes, remove glasses or contacts, recline if you have a recliner, dim lights, turn off the cell phone, and so forth.
• Take a deep, deep breath and hold it for as long as you can, and as you do, tense every muscle in your body that you can – your face (scrunch it up), neck, arms and shoulders, hands and fingers, chest, back, belly, legs, feet… (Also do a “Kegel” if you know how, tensing up all the muscles of your abdominal floor as if you’re trying to stop peeing in mid-stream.)

• Then breathe out as slowly as you can, letting yourself go limp and loose as you do so, letting both your body and your mind relax as much as they’re able as you breathe out.

• Repeat a couple of times if you’d like.

• Now just imagine that it is, indeed “the day after,” and you have already achieved your goals for self-healing, that your life, your relationships, the way you feel and act are already as you envisioned they could be. Just imagine you are sitting quietly and looking around yourself and seeing what you would see if that were so, feeling as you would if that were so. If it only were the day after, and you opened your eyes, what would you see that tells you that you have achieved your goals for yourself? What would the room look like? What colors would you see, what shapes and objects, things and people? What might you see on the wall – what pictures or objects or decorations? Just imagine you are on the inside looking out and seeing the realization of your dreams – what would you see? What would you be hearing? Smelling? Tasting? What would you be feeling physically, mentally and emotionally? Just decorate the scene with anything and everything you could imagine that tells you that you’ve done it, you’ve achieved the healing you’ve wanted, that you’re actually there. Spend at least a few minutes (but as long as you’d like) “remembering the future” in this way, making it really real to yourself.

• Now, when you’re ready, take another deep breath and, as you breathe out open your eyes and tell yourself that you are wide awake, alert, calm and comfortable, just feeling wonderful. Ready to get back to your life with energy and peace and focus and confidence and comfort.

Practice this at least once or, better yet, two or three times a day for a while. You’ll find that getting into it grows easier and easier, that you get more and more relaxed, and that your imagined future gets more and more finely detailed, maybe shifts and evolves in a way that even better represents success to you. You may notice both mental and physical (somatic) changes. By drilling this imagined future deep down into your mind until it seems almost a memory, something you can take for-granted, you will find yourself acting as if that were so. You will find your whole being responds as if it were so – and that you will more or less automatically act in a way that makes it real for so. This represents what I call Straus’s Law: the way to be changed is to act changed.

If you want to take this all a step farther, get a hold of a copy of Creative Self-Hypnosis and work through the exercises. Not only will you do yourself a big favor, but you’ll have fun while you’re doing it!


Roger A. Straus, Ph,D.
Dr.rogerstraus@yahoo.com

5 comments:

Mike H said...

OMG! This just sounds so familiar to me.

Reprogramming. Yes. Change your thoughts change your reality. I've done lots of this as part of the healing process.

The most important thing I ever learnt was just how powerful thoughts are and how powerful it is to be able to choose our reality. [Within limits]

Timmy said...

I hope this would work out very well. I too prefer Hypnosis since it is the best one.

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