Friday, 7 March 2014

Using The Environment In Hypnosis

If you live in the United Kingdom, you are probably well aware of how mercurial the weather can be. From one minute to the next, gleaming sunlight is eclipsed by furrows of dark cloud, plunging everything into a dismal darkness. If you are fortunate, the clouds soon drift by and the sun peeks through again.

I first considered the potential influence of the weather as an impromptu ‘hypnotic convincer’ during a session a couple of months ago. It was a mild day, although cloudy, and we were both seated by a large window. I was finishing off with some typical ego-strengthening suggestions, and just as I mentioned ‘you are finding yourself radiating warmth and optimism, as you move forward into a brighter, happier lifestyle,’ the clouds parted and the most brilliant sunlight emerged.

If your eyes are closed it is still possible to become aware of such changes. A sudden warmth fills the room, prickling the minute hairs on the arms and face, and the darkness decreases ever so slightly as a blanket of light confronts the closed eyelids. It was sheer coincidence that the weather shifted just as I was suggesting warmth and brightness but my client appeared to respond positively, with the same visible indicators they might demonstrate after a successful convincer. This got me thinking.

For my next session I went through with my treatment plan as usual, but each time the skies cleared during the induction (or suggestions), I experimented with an improvised metaphor of warmth and brightness. If clouds loomed and the room started to grow dark, I gave suggestions of going deeper into hypnosis, as descending is often associated with darkening.

Using Noise To Your Advantage

Like more or less every hypnotherapist on the planet, there are cars occasionally passing outside the window of my consulting room. Fortunately the sound is minimal (as the room is soundproofed) but if you listen out for them they can be heard drifting by and gradually disappearing.

I was demonstrating some mindfulness techniques to a client when I improvised an exercise to make the sound of the cars passing by to symbolise the coming and going of their thoughts. Usually I give examples of the thoughts being carried by on banners, or like photographs floating down a stream, but the sound of cars passing by seemed most appropriate on this occasion, considering my client was an insomniac who occasionally listened to cars driving up and down the road while they were trying to sleep.

Because the sound was in our current environment, it was easy for them to practice this during the session. They were also able to take what they learned during the session with them, and apply it at home.

An awareness of the surroundings, I think, is perhaps something to take into account. Although it is unlikely that this will have any real impact on treatment outcomes, there can be no harm in making suggestions as seamless and congruent as possible. In some occasions - like the above example - it may even prove to be useful.

Jon Robinson


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