Selfhypnosis Training

At the end of two weeks, the patient returns for a session in which he/she is taught self-hypnosis, which should help him/her during any specific times that have remained difficult. It is explained that he will be able to use the self-hypnosis technique in many other situations. Reference is made here to the article that I published (Garver, 1984). The eight steps proposed there have been modified to six simple steps that I go over with each patient. The steps are designed for the patient to do the self-hypnosis exercise in one minute or less, and to limit the conscious screening that often occurs (e.g., thinking too much about the suggestion before it is given and critically thinking about it after it is given).

The six steps are as follows: The first step is to plan the suggestion before going into hypnosis. This reduces the tendency, once in hypnosis, to do too much thinking. It is also suggested that patients plan the suggestion, thinking about the event or time that they are planning, which should ideally be within the next hour or two. They are instructed to think of themselves in the situation, responding to the situation exactly as they would like to respond. For instance, suppose they are concerned about an important meeting and being too anxious or nervous. Instead of saying that they will not be anxious or nervous, they will picture how they would like to respond, and the positive suggestion may be given: "I will go to that meeting and I will feel comfortable. I'll feel relaxed, calm, and in control, and will remember everything that I have planned for."

After the planning of the positive suggestion, the second step is the entry cue. This is a cue that they learned for entering hypnosis (for instance, to focus on a spot, take a deep breath and hold it, release the breath, and let their eyes close). Once in hypnosis, the third step is to count slowly backwards from 100 to 95. When they are counting, they cannot be thinking or worrying about the suggestion. As soon as the number 95 is reached, the suggestion is given (Step 4) as it was planned, in a positive and simple statement. As soon as the suggestion has been given, the fifth step is to count 95, 94, 93, 92 91, 90. When they are counting, they cannot think about or criticize the suggestion. As soon as the counting reaches 90, the exit cue is given. This may be any exit (awakening) cue that the patient has learned to come out of a hypnotic state.

These six steps are explained intellectually to the patient, and then modeled while the patient observes. Next, the patient is taken step by step through these self-hypnotic procedures before he leaves the office.

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