Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
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The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC

The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC, is located at 675 Route 72 E Manahawkin, NJ 08050. Telephone us at(609)709-2043 and (609) 709-0009.Take Mill Creek Road South, just off Route 72, on the road to Beach Haven West.After about 400 feet, turn right into the office complex of Greater Coastal Realty. Then turn right and go past the Lyceum Gyn. Continue on to the Prudential Zack Building. We. are the last office at the end. We accept Medicare and most other major insurance.Weekend and evening office hours are avalable.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What is Hypnosis and How does it Work?


I see hypnosis as a catalyst rather than a cause. When you're hypnotized you're still you -- but with the added suggestion that you are hypnotized. If you happen to have an "Alice-in-Wonderland" imagination, then you can do things with your imagination that we normally regard as beyond our abilities as illustrated in the foregoing picture. When it comes to bringing about more permanent changes, if the necessary ingredients for change are there, then accepting this suggestion allows these ingredient's to combine more easily; but if they are not, then nothing will happen. 

For example, a nurse I used to work with in a screening center asked me to hypnotize her to stop smoking, which I was happy to do. She mentioned that one of her high school teachers used to hypnotize her regularly (apparently as a demonstration subject in his classes), so it was clear that she was going to be a high responder. We didn't have time for the usual stop-smoking program that I use, with three visits and all the rest. But, knowing her as I did, it was clear that if she was ready to stop she was going to do so, with hypnosis providing the necessary catalyst, regardless of the time and format which were available to us -- 
so I just gave her the usual stop-smoking suggestions, with the usual repetition and elaboration. As I recall I told her that her desire to smoke would vanish, that the cues which would normally awaken a desire to smoke would no longer be effective in doing so; that she could not be suddenly surprised by taking a cigarette without thinking of it; and that she would feel strong feelings of pride, achievement, and accomplishment at the fact that she had become a non-smoker, 

To my consternation, the next day, when I asked her how she had done, and she told me that she had gone home and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes! But six months later, when I casually mentioned something about her smoking, she told me, "Oh, I haven't smoked since the time you hypnotized me."

"But didn't you go home and smoke up a whole pack?" I asked her.

"Yes," she replied. "And then I stopped."

Having worked side by side on the same unit with her for quite some time, I realized why she had responded the way she did. Her approach to authority was basically confrontational. In her everyday work environment, she made it obvious to everyone around her that, "Nobody's going to tell ME what to do!" So, when I gave her suggestions under hypnosis that she was going to stop smoking, her life narrative required that she had to first go home and deliberately smoke up a whole pack just to prove that I wasn't telling HER what to do. Then, once she had made the point to her own satisfaction, she could comply with my suggestions. Once she had accepted them, she was able to comply because she was ready to change. 

As Steve Lynn so eloquently put it in his summary of our induction chapter in the American Psychological Association's Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis:

. . .how clients respond to suggestions depends less on the nature and success of a particular induction than on the following variables: (a) clients' prehypnotic attitudes, beliefs, intentions, and expectations about hypnosis; (b) their ability to think, fantasize, and absorb themselves in suggestions; (c) their ability to form a trusting relationship with the hypnotist; (d) their ability to interpret suggestions appropriately and view their responses as successful; (e) their ability to discern task demands and cues; (f) their ongoing interaction with the hypnotist; and (g) the appropriateness of the therapeutic methods and suggestions to treating the presenting problem. . . . Accordingly, clinicians should devise inductions and suggestions with these variables in mind and tailor their approach to the unique personal characteristics and agenda of each client they encounter."

Rainbow of Delight: A Hypnotic Enhancement

A hypnotic "deepener" is essentially a means of enhancing a person's involvement with the idea that one is hypnotized. However, it does not need to involve imagery of going down: It can also involve a metaphor of going up or around. 

Every fully formed rainbow, for example, consists of exactly he same colors, which always occur in exactly the same order. Each color is typically associated with certtain emotions which can be woven into a pattern to intensify the experience of hypnosis as the client traverses the bands one by one. Ehancememt imagery of this type can also involve suggestions to make hypnosis itself a source of personal growth which may be pursued for its own sake, as a form of directed meditation.

Suggestions may be given as follows.

Riding Through a Rainbow of Delight
Now the scene is changing, and we are standing on the top of a tall mountain, which is covered with clouds after a sudden spring shower. One end of a large rainbow is touching the ground right in front of us.

We walk up to the rainbow and step inside the first band, which is bright red in color -- and as we do, you can feel yourself drifting very rapidly even farther into hypnosis..

Red is s the color of strength, and the color of love. It is your duty, your responsibility, your destiny and your desire to use this strength and love to explore these higher realms of being, for your own personal growth and to pave the way for others to follow.

As you continue traveling farther into hypnosis with every word that I speak and with every second that passes, we are entering the next band of the rainbow, which is a deep  orange. 

Orange is the color of happiness Each time that we enter these higher realms of being, you go farther and gain new insights.and a greater appreciation of the nature of reality. And the farther you go, the farther you want to go; and the farthrr you go, the farther you’re able to go, the more peaceful and the more beautiful and the more enjoyable the experience becomes.

As we enter the third band of  the rainbow, which is a deep yellow, you can feel its healing warmth penetrating to the very core of your being.  Even when you are no longer in hypnosis,, whenever I look directly at you while speaking in a hypnotic tone, my voice will  tend to bring it back, reassuring and comforting you in much the same way, and with the same effect, as  if I were hypnotizing you all over again  
Now, we are entering the green band of light. Green is the color of renewal. Because time passes so much more slowly in hypnosis,  even though we may have been gone for just a few minutes,it may seem as if we had been gone for an eternity, and the benefits of our journey will be increased in direct proportion to the time we have been away.
Now we are traveling through the band of blue, which is the color of Heaven, and the color of Eternity, more real and more beautiful than anything else could possibly be. .

Next, we move on to the band of indigo, which is the mental power that is becoming yours in ever increasing amounts, as we continue to explore the joys and wonders of these higher realms of being; for the spark of Divinity  within you is nothing less than the energy of the Universe tself.

Now we move on to the band of violet, which is the color of serenity.  All previous separations no  longer exist, and all boundaries have vanished.  It's only the separation from this infinite ocean of rapture, wonder, ecstasy, and delight  -- it’s only the separation from this infinite ocean of bliss -- that is the source of all unhappiness, all depression, all anxiety, all loneliness, and all despair. And now that the separation has been removed, it is a fulfillment greater than anything you ever dreamed of, longed for, hoped for, or imagined, and far beyond the power of words to describe.

Soak it up, and make it a part of you; for as you continue to practice these techniques, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the treasure that your life will become as these explorations continue to change your life forever into a thing of  wondrous beauty,

Not everyone, of course, associates the same emotions with a particular color. But this does not interfere with the success of this technique. If you were to ask me what emotions I associate with the color red, I would probably say anger and rage. But if you were to hypnotize me, my reality would be more fluid. If you told me after a hypnotic induction that red is the color of strength and of love, I probably wouldn't have any trouble going along with this suggestion, at least for the duration of the session.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Deep Relaxation Hypnosis and Self-Hypnosis for Falling Asleep

Self-Hypnosis for Insomnia

After you have made yourself comfortable and are ready to fall asleep, you can use the BEST ME Techhnique of multimodal suggestion, as described below.

You don't have to memorize the elements of the Best Me Technique. Just thinking of each letter of the words, "BEST ME" will be enough to call them to mind. Neither do you have to memorize the descriptions of each dimension of experience that go with them. Making up your own descriptions will make them more meaningful to you personally, because you will be using words which you yourself have chosen, rather than words provided by another. Finally, you don't have to stick to the original B-E-S-T M-E order when you use them. You can repeat them in any order until you drift off to sleep, varying them to suit your own tastes and preferences, much as you might vary the words and choruses of a song. I suggest that you place particular emphases on the ones in italics, silently repeating one or two of these endlessly in your mind like a mantra, as you feel yourself getting drowsy and sleep settles in. 

I no longer need to take Ambien, Lunesta, or St. Johns Wort to get to sleep. I can personally vouch for the fact that just as meditation becomes more effective with regular practice, regular use of autosuggestions such as the following will eventually condition your body to respond easily and automatically to them as you use them in the process of going to sleep or returning to sleep after a period of wakefulness. 

After your body has become conditioned to these suggestions over a period of time, they will tend to remain in your mind below the level of conscious awareness. They will not make you unduly drowsy; but they will  help you to keep your emotions on an even keel and help to prevent you from becoming unduly stressed or overstimulated during the course of a busy day.    

Belief systems. Picture yourself in your happy place as clearly as you can, using as many senses as possible. Try to visualize it so clearly that it is just as if you were really there. 
Emotions. Let yourself absorb the peacefulness which is all around you.
Sensations and physical perceptions. Feel your body relaxing with each thought, as you think to yourself the following mantra or one that you have chosen:  Deeper, down deeper, down deeper, down deeper. Deeper, down deeper, down deeper, down deep.
Thoughts and images. Continue to interweave this mantra with the thought that you can feel yourself sinking down, and shutting down. Sinking down, and shutting down. Sinking down, and shutting down. Shutting down completely. 
Motives. Include the thought, And the deeper you go, the deeper you are able to go. And the deeper you go, the deeper you want to go, and the more enjoyable the experience becomes.
Expectations. With every breath you take, feel yourself going deeper and deeper into a beautiful, peaceful sleep, which will leave you feeling refreshed and wonderfully rested.

 Additional Ways to Control Insomnia

Don't just toss and turn in bed
when you are having trouble sleeping.
Get up and do something Boring
  • Make sure you get enough daylight so that your body will be able to establish a daily wake-sleep rhythm. 
  • Some people have found commercially-available light boxes to be helpful, especially if you live in a location where there is less sunlight during certain seasons of the year. This lack of sunlight can lead to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder  (more popularly known as "cabin fever"), characterized by periods of depression and interference with regular sleep patterns.
  • Keep the bedroom dark and quiet. Darkness causes the body to produce melatonin, a natural sleep-inducing agent.
  • Use the bed only for sleeping and for sex. Instead of tossing and turning, get up and do something boring until you get sleepy. This helps you to avoid a conditioned association between not sleeping and being in bed.
  • Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Trying to get by on less than this biologically-determined amount builds up a sleep debt which  cuts into your well-being and efficiency, and becomes harder and harder to repay.
  • Establish a consistent sleeping schedule. People tend to become sleepy 24 hours after they last went to sleep, and awaken 24 hours after they last woke up. Significant changes in either time -- especially shift work schedules which frequently change -- disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.
  • If your sleep is troubled by nightmares, or if you have personal problems which prevent you from getting the sleep you need, you may want to consider seeking professional assistance.
  • Have a set ritual before going to bed. 
  • Limit the amount of food you eat for the last two hours before you go to bed.
  • Limit your daily use of caffeine, or eliminate it entirely.  Using coffee or tea, or other drinks which are high in caffeine only makes it harder to repay your sleep debt.
  • Exercise regularly, preferably in the morning.
  • If possible, adopt a life style which reduces your total amount of stress.
  • While most of us prefer not to use prescribed sleep medications, millions of people do use them regularly without ill effects. (Melatonin, the favorite of many, is available without presecription.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Best Me Technique of Multimodal Suggestipon

(An earlier version of this posting appeared in HYPNOS, 2003, 31(2), pp. 89-93, under the title, "Multimodal Suggestion for Facilitating Meditation and Prayer." Reprinted by permission.)

Considering the variety of suggestions which may be accepted by sufficiently responsive individuals (Shor & Orne, 1962),  it may be hypothesized that suggested visualizations will also be actualized more easily if they are formulated in such a manner as to systematically and comprehensively involve several different modes of experience. The Best Me Technique utilizes the simultaneous involvement of Beliefs, Emotions, Sensations and physical perceptions, Thoughts and images, Motives, and Expectations, for greater involvement and effectiveness. Taken together, the elements of this technique form the acronym, BEST ME, and may be summarized as follows (Gibbons, 2001).
Belief systems which orient an individual to person, place, time, and events may be suggested as being different, allowing the participant to mentally transcend present realities.

Emotions may be enriched, intensified, weakened, or combined with others.

Sensations and physical perceptions may be suggested and experienced with an intensity approaching those of real events.

Thoughts and images may be created and guided in response to explicit or indirect suggestions.

Motives may either be suggested directly or implied as a consequence of other events.

Expectations may be structured concerning the manner in which the participant will look forward to and remember suggested events which will occur in the future, and the manner in which suggested experiences will subsequently be recalled and interpreted in memory.

Mystical and Transcendental Experience

The following two sets of BMT visualizations describe a mystical experience in a natural setting and a visit to a cathedral. They may either be presented together in a series, or one at a time, depending on the needs and preferences of the client. They are not intended to be used as scripts, but rather as an illustration of how the Best Me Technique may be used as a template for constructing multimodal visualizations for a variety of similar purposes. They may easily be modified to refer to a visit to any site or event which the client may find personally meaningful. 

People of many different religious traditions have attested to the life‑changing potential of mystical and transcendental experiences involving contact with a consciousness beyond one's own. In one study of the Fundamentalist Christian experience of salvation, for example, subjects readily attested to both the personal reality of the experience and its subsequent influence upon their lives, although such experiences did not seem to be universally attainable and did appear to be related to the ability to respond to suggestion (Gibbons & DeJarnette, 1972; Gibbons, 1988).

Many clients approach life from a primarily religious point of view. Such believers -- particularly those who are elderly, infirm, or who have experienced a number of personal tragedies -- may experience a "dark night of the soul" (Peers, 1990) as they struggle to deal with the stresses of life without access to sources of experiential spiritual support for their beliefs.However, Glasner (1955) refers to several purported uses of suggestion and hypnosis in Scripture to encourage and inspire the faithful, concluding, "Although it is impossible to state with any definiteness that hypnosis is referred to in the Bible (Old and New Testaments) and in the Talmud, there would seem to be considerable evidence that the authors of these works were indeed familiar with phenomena which we today should call hypnotic or which we should explain in terms of suggestion" (p. 39).

From the standpoint of the therapist who is well-versed in the techniques of visualization, experiences of this type may easily be made available to clients who desire them and are sufficiently imaginative. Such experiences should be determined by the needs and expressed preferences of the client, with the goal of providing reassurance, strength, and encouragement. It should be of little consequence whether the religious and metaphysical beliefs of the client are shared by the therapist or are in conflict with those of the therapist, or whether the therapist has no theological or metaphysical beliefs at all.

The following two sets of visualizations may either be undertaken as an individual meditation exercise or at the conclusion of what  +michael ellner has referred to as the "transformational magic" of an induction. IBecause of the nature of the experiences to be undergone, if an induction procedure is uses, an expressly hyperempiric induction, based upon specific suggestions of increased awareness and responsiveness (Gibbons, 1975), may be preferable to a more traditional hypnotic induction based upon expressed of implied suggestions of diminished awareness (Bányai & Hilgard, 1976; Gibbons, 1976),.

In the first example, visualizations are provided which make use of imagery drawn from nature. The second example involves visualizations of a visit to a cathedral. Of course,the subject matter need not be specifically related to a cathedral: it can also be a mosque, a temple, an ashram, or any other situation which the subject finds spiritually meaningful. The two visualization exercises may either be presented singly or in sequence, one blending into the other as the client walks down the path until it leads to a Medieval town and the client comes to the doors of the place he or she is to visit next. 

For ease of illustration, the suggestions presented below have been provided in the B-E-S-T-M-E order. In actual use, BEST ME suggestions may be administered in any order and repeated as often as necessary; and each step in the procedure may incorporate elements of the others with modifications which contribute to the total effect, much as one might repeat the verses and choruses of a song. (If it sounds complicated to use, it isn't! I usually count back and forth on six fingers to remind myself that I'm touching all six portions of the BEST ME Technique as I am improvising an induction with a client.)    

On a Mountainside

            Belief systems. You are becoming aware of yourself warmly dressed, standing at the top of a large, snow-covered mountain which slopes steeply downward toward the valley below. Between you and your objective at the foot of the mountain, are barriers and obstacles of many kinds, which have been blocking you from the attainment ,of your goal.
            Emotions. You can feel the excitemernt inside of you growing stronger and stronger, as you prepae to eliminate them all.
            Sensations and physical perceptions.  Feel the crisp, cold winter aicr upon your face, and savor its freshness as you inhale. Notice the dazzling whiteness of the snow in the morning sunlight, and feel its soft crunchiness underfoot as your mind absorbs the silence which is all around you, broken only occasionally by the faint stirring of a distant breeze.
             Thoughts and images. Bending down, you pick up a handful of snow and start to examine it. Notice how soft and powdery it feels in your hands.  In a way, it is like your resolve has sometimes been ‑‑ soft and powdery, when it ought to have been firm and strong. See yourself packing the snow together in your hand now, and compressing it into a snowball as you add still more snow, packing it down firmly, as you resolve to make your trust and confidence just as firm and just as hard as the snowball itself. See yourself rolling the snowball along the ground, packing into it every ounce of confidence you possess, until it has grown to the size of a boulder.
            Motives. As the snowball grows even larger, you can feel your own courage and resolve becoming as hard and as firm as the snowball you are getting ready to roll down the mountainside, all the way down to the deserted valley below.  As you push the boulder over a small ledge and start it on its way, you can feel your trust and confidence growing along with it. As the boulder begins to roll downhill on its own, you can feel your trust and confidence growing along with it as it grows in size  ‑‑ growing and growing, becoming larger with every foot that it travels, until it has become an avalanche, sweeping away every obstacle in its path, as it thunders all the way to the bottom of the mountain. As it does your trust becomes infinite in its power, completely obliterating any last vestiges of doubt.
            Expectations. Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, and feel it happening!
            Belief systems. Next, you pick up another handful of snow and slowly pat it into a perfectly round snowball. This snowball is made of perfect faith.
            Emotions. This too you roll down the mountainside, as it does, you feel your faith becoming infinite in its power, and eliminating everything standing in its way.
           Sensations and physical perceptions. Watchi it now as it carves a path beside the track left by the first one.
           Thoughts and images.  This snowball is also turning into an avalanche, sweeping away everything before it until it too comes crashing all the way down to the bottom of the mountain..
            Motives. Feel your faith expand along with it, until you feel as if nothing is impossible for you if you can believe in it.
            Expectations. Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, and feel it happening!
            Belief systems. Finally, you pick up another handful of snow which represents perfect love, in its purest possible form. After slowly and tenderly patting it into a perfectly round snowball,
            Emotions. As it does, you can feel the love inside you also becoming infinite in its power and ready to sweep away everything which stands before it.
            Sensations and physical perceptions. Now you roll this snowball down the mountainside, watching it as it carves a path between the ones created by the first two,
            Thoughts and images. This avalanche of perfect love is also sweeping away every barrier which stands before it, until it too comes crashing all the way down to the bottom of the mountain.
            Motives. Now, with all doubt removed you confidently stride down the path that the boulders have made,  And as you reach the foot of the  mountain, you discover that the winter has  turned, into a beautiful springtime.  
            Expectations. You will be able to carry this mood with you, and it will turn the entire day into a thing of wondrous beauty. Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, and feel it happening!

A Visit to a Cathedral

Belief systems. Now, as I continue to speak, you can gradually become aware of yourself standing in front of a pair of large wooden doors, which are the doors of a great cathedral. If you accept each detail of the scene as I describe it, without trying to think critically, your imagination can be free to allow you to experience the situation just as if you were really there.So just let yourself stand there a moment, gazing at the carved wooded doors, as you prepare to enter. [Brief pause.]

As the doors swing open, you first traverse a small area paved with stone, stopping at the font if you desire, and pause before a second pair of doors which leads inside.

Emotions. You can feel a surge of happiness and anticipation as you pass through a second pair of doors and into the dimly lit interior. As your eyes gradually become accustomed to the dimmer light from the stained glass windows, take a moment to look around in wonder at the magnificence of all you see.

Sensations and perceptions. Let yourself breathe slowly and deeply, as you inhale the faint aroma of incense, and listen to the gentle tones of music floating upon the quiet air. Some distance away from you stands the High Altar, bordered by banks of gently glowing candles. You select a pew and, after pausing to genuflect if you wish, you enter the pew and take your seat or kneel once more.

Thoughts and images. Let your mind flow with the experience, and allow it to fill you to the very core of your being, until you feel as if you are able to hold within your own consciousness an awareness of the entire Universe, and all its beauty. As it does, you can feel yourself gradually becoming aware of the presence of a Consciousness other than your own. As this Consciousness begins to merge with yours, you can feel the power of an infinite healing energy filling and flooding every muscle, and every fiber, and every nerve of your entire body. And it's as if all of the worry, and all of the tension, and all of the care that you have ever felt are being driven out and replaced by the power of this infinite, unbounded, healing love.

As your own consciousness merges ever more completely with this Infinite Awareness, you feel as if you are able to hold within your own mind an awareness of the entire Universe, and all its beauty ‑‑ infinite, beyond infinity, and eternal beyond all measure of eternity. And in this sense of total oneness, you are able to freely communicate all your deepest thoughts and needs.

Motives. The experience, as it continues, is providing you with all that you had hoped to obtain from it. The serenity and the peace which you find here will remain with you, as a source of deep inner strength which will enable you to cope much more effectively with all of life's problems.

Expectations. You will treasure the memory of this experience as it meets your needs in the future; and each time you return, you will be able to derive new benefits which will meet your needs even more effectively.                                                                                                  


Although most of us outinely provide a considerable amount of detail into our visualizations in order to make them more realistic, the Best Me Technique of multimodal meditation provides a systematic framework for incorporating sufficient detail into several major types of experience for maximum effectiveness.

Suggestion has previously been found to facilitate the Fundamentalist experience of "salvation" (Gibbons & DeJarnette, 1972). Similar types of "believed-in imaginings" (Sarbin, 1998) may be involved in hypnotically-induced experiences of reincarnation, pre-incarnation, and co-incarnation, which, like religious sacraments, as well as hypnosis itself, may be conceptualized as a form of experiential theater. 

Lawrence (M. A. Lawrence, personal communication, June 27, 2003) reports the successful application of the Best Me Technique with nursing home residents who are dealing with end-of-life issues.  


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Gibbons, D. (1976). Hypnotic vs. hyperempiric induction: An experimental comparison.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 42, 834.

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Glasner, S. (1955). A note on allusions to hypnosis in the Bible and Talmud. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 3(1), 34-39.

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Heap, M. & Aravind, K. K. (2001). Hartland's Medical & Dental Hypnosis, 4th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone.

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Lazarus, A. A. (1997). Brief comprehensive psychotherapy: The multimodal way. New York:Springer.

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Sarbin, T. R. (1998). Believed-in Imaginings. New York: Barnes & Noble.

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Yapko, M. D. (2003). Trancework: An introduction to the practice of clinical hypnosis (3rded.). Philadelphia, PA: Brunner-Routledge.