The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners.
by Christine Green, CHT
For some members of the diverse “special needs” population, hypnotherapy may result in profound change. Because the messages the client conveys through the therapist are self-conveyed, the client is more invested in the proposed change. Even those individuals already participating in other therapies may be excellent candidates for hypnotherapy.
When creating a therapy program for an atypical client, there are certain characteristics that will improve results. Of course, many of these characteristics mirror any hypnotherapy session, though individuals with special needs may require an increase in attention to some specific areas, as warranted by their particular circumstances. Careful listening and attention to non-verbal clues are even more important with those special needs clients who may have difficulty with verbal communication.
The full value of a successful session can be realized with a structured relaxation exercise or induction. This tends to create a comfortable environment and lead the client away from external interferences. It also allows the client to let go of any physical tension. The deepening bypasses the censoring apparatus or judgement of the client toward herself. It also bypasses the censoring noise that the client may hold from others. This leads to a safe, more profound experience of mental and physical relaxation.
As the client and therapist explore the subconscious, the heightened state of clarity allows for chosen goals to be reiterated, visualized, strengthened and advocated. The client is able to perceive a positive orientation and rationalization for new action, and motivations are strengthened. Future goals are enhanced at a depth without interference. Because the subconscious treats all statements as truth, this works to support and actualize the content. Reinforcement may continue as long as necessary, until blocks and resistance recede.
As the session is closed, the client is guided gently back to a normal waking, conscious state, retaining calm and well-being. Recall and reinforcement can be accomplished with audio recordings. Because there is no medication involved, the re-entry is positive, there is no medical “hangover,” and the client finds the overall experience to be pleasant. Shifts in behavior are indicated and happen naturally, without coercion.
Messages the client conveys to herself through the hypnotherapist are self-created, so the client is invested in proposed change. Because there is less judgment and indecision, and greater clarity and acceptance with enhanced motivation, outcomes are more predictable and readily realized. Desired goals are accomplished more efficiently and directly due to accessing the subconscious.
My work with “Debra,” provided an opportunity to share examples of work with a very special client. Debra arrived with her mother and her manager. Debra is in her early 50’s, slightly bent over with her head bowed a little. Debra’s manager is her helper, and has expressed that she feels duty-bound to be a part of Debra’s appointment, even though Debra’s mother waits outside.
I welcomed Debra and she smiled and began to relax. I asked her a few questions based on paperwork that I had received earlier. When the helper responded for the client, Debra jumped in to tell her story, eager to be heard. While both accounts are informative, I observed that Debra was defensive about her helper’s interpretation. I asked Debra if she was comfortable being in the room with me by herself and she readily agreed to have the helper leave the room to join the mother.
With just Debra and me in the room, she began to relax and open up. She described several issues, one of which is time management. Debra doesn’t like that she sometimes isn’t ready when her helper arrives to take her places. We agreed that time management is a good starting point for our first session.
Debra enjoyed reclining in the comfortable chair, exhibited arm lift, and went into hypnosis easily. I noted changes in her skin pallor and that her breathing became rhythmical and relaxed. When she was aroused from hypnosis, all signs of facial stress were removed. She had a peaceful countinence and said that she enjoyed the experience. As she prepared to leave the room, she said that she wanted to come back, as there were other things that she wanted to talk with me about. I noticed that she walked erect, without cowering.
In subsequent visits, I determined that the client had a great need to be able to express her feelings and even talk about her day. It appeared as if not much attention was shown her in the very personal way of being listened to. She learned how to be more assertive when she has a problem instead of being aggressive or fighting. She learned to take her problems to the correct authority figure instead of fighting with caregivers; accepting that often they are only doing their jobs. Debra also learns about her “quiet place.” When her mother makes a comment during a later session, Debra noticed the stress in her mother’s voice and told her, “Mom, you need to find your quiet place!” Her mother agreed, and may become a client in the future!
Debra appears happier, more in control of her emotions, and is able to keep better track of her time. Some of the conditions of her managed environment are less than ideal, and sometimes create stress for Debra. We talk about how she can share her concerns. Debra’s mother has become more involved in understanding how she can be a better advocate to help her daughter. They are becoming closer through the sessions, as now Debra’s mother brings her in order to spend more time together. It has become a special outing that they share together.
After about eight sessions, Debra showed a remarkable change in well-being. She loved coming and exhibited many positive changes in her personality and self-esteem. It was as if she just needed that direction of where to go to find the tools for change. Finding the “quiet place” gave Debra a significant amount of comfort and happiness.
When provided an opportunity to work with special population adults, you will find it interesting and rewarding. Until I began working with my client, I was unsure. The pre-intake told me that Debra works, takes instructions and manages all bodily needs on her own. Most importantly, she was willing to experience hypnotherapy. So, being willing to explore this myself, I went forward to an enjoyable experience that helped make significant, positive change.
As with many of my clients, experiences always are different, and no matter our physical or mental challenges, if the desire to experience hypnosis is there, my pledge as a hypnotherapist is to assist. The learning experience always is on both sides and the rewards are great as transformation takes place.
Christine Green CHt Hypnotherapy
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