Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.

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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.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rationalization, Positive Thinking, Re-Framing, Affirmations, or Lying to Yourself?

You can get rid of the false beliefs and  perceptions
 that make life diffiicult -- if you go sbout it in the right way!.
When the truth is too unpleasant to face directly, we sometimes lie to ourselves and believe our own lie in order to hide from rea;ity. This process is called rationalization, and there are two main kinds. "Sour grapes" rationalization is what we do when we fail to attain something and tell ourselves we didn't want it anyway. The name comes from the old folk tale about a fox who was trying to get into a vinyard to eat some grapes and, when he was unable to do so, walked away in disgust, thinking that the grapes weren't worth eating anyway, because they were probably sour. "Sweet lemon" rationalization is what we do when life hands us a disappointment (a "lemon"), and we make ourselves believe that the lemon is actually a blessing in disguise, as might be the case if a child was denied an inheritance and convinced himself that the life of hard labor which was the  became his lot was really better because it bult up his strength and physical endurance.

We have other ways to lie to ourselves, such as the excessive use of affirmations, and positive thinking which is not really true, but which only allows us to put off facing the inevitable. "You can do anything if you put your mind to it," is one example, or the classic , "Every day, and in every way, I am getting better and better," are affirmations which eventually lose their power to inspire us because they are not confirmed in everyday life. 


However, there is one kind of way to change how you look at things, called re-framing, which is a way of thinking differently that is actually more true than the way you looked at them before. A client with a lifelong fear of hospitals, for example, may have acquired this fear as a child when one by one, the family members who went to the hospital died. This fear had also generalized to a fear of dentistry. Re-framing would help this individual to see that hospitals are not really houses of death, but houses of healing, because if you go to the hospital when your physician deems that you ought to do so, the chances of surviving illness are actually much better than if you do not go.


Re-framing is one of the most important tools of hypnosis and cognitive-behavioral psychology. Much of the work of both hypnotists and cognitive-behavioral psychologists is aimed at teaching people to think differently, but more realistically, about themselves, the world, and the future, as they make and test hypotheses to see whether or not their previous beliefs are accurate or need to be revised. 


It still takes work, of course, because the "insight" brought about by re-framing often may not be enough by itself. Social psychologists have amply documented that an attitude, or a tendency to respond in a certain way, is made up not only of an action component, but a belief component and an emotional component. Once we change our long-held beliefs about a situation, we still have to contend with a lifetime of accumulated emtional and experiential baggage which supports the former point of view. But at least, now we know know the right direction in which to proceed! The client who reported a strong fear of hospitals, and who was now in her seventies was soon facing long-neglected dental work. In order to get her through it, in her own words, "hypnosis was my savior!" 


One of my favorite scripts for this type of work is john Hartland's ego-strengthening suggestions, which may easily be adapted for a wide variety of purposes.  The suggestions themselves are adapted from his book, Medical and Dental Hypnosis, which is now in its third edition. The suggestions are available online at no charge, and may be accessed by the foregoing link. Although Haerland's style is a bit more authoritative and commanding than those which many contemporary hypnotists are used to, I have found it to be especially well-suited for overcoming the emotional residue left over afer successful reframing. 


An alternative approach which uses imagery rather than verbal suggesstion is illustrated by Julie Andrews' rendition of the song, My Favorite Things. (For best results, of course, you'll want to make up your own list.):







Monday, June 23, 2014

How to Keep Your Boss from Driving You Crazy

The boss yelled at you today and it made you angry. Why did he do it?
  • Maybe your boss and his wife are getting a divorce.
  • Maybe his kids are on drugs.
  • Maybe he just got arrested for drunk driving.
  • Maybe something else is wrong that is even worse.
If your boss really had accused you of something that was false, of course you need to speak up. But why did it make you angry?
  • You could have thought that he was out to get you and felt afraid.
  • You could have thought that it was a personal put-down and felt hurt.
  • You could even have thought that he was making a fool of himself and felt amused.
If your boss has a personality disorder, or is out to get you for other reasons, you may need to cultivate beliefs that help you to conquer anxiety and perform at your best.

You might also need to replace beliefs which lead to exaggerated feelings of self-importance, self-blame, or self-pity.

Self-Importance:
  • "Whenever anybody raises their voice to me, it is an attack on my personal worth."
  • "I secretly believe that everything should always go my way."
  • "My boss is one hundred percent wrong, and I am one hundred percent right."
  • "I always have to have my boss's approval in order to feel OK."
  • "If my boss started it, I am justified in pushing it to the limit, even if it costs me my job and a good reference."
Self-Blame:
  • No one makes you psychologically depressed. You do that by the things you say to yourself.
  • You are not worthless even if important people in your life reject you.
  • Doing badly never makes you a bad person — only imperfect.
  • You have a right to be wrong.
  • Guilt is created in two steps: a) You do something bad and b) you decide you're awful.
  • Never blame yourself for anything. Instead, admit your responsibility for wrongdoing.
  • Self-blamers are grandiose in the sense that they judge themselves more harshly than they judge others who commit similar errors.
  • You can always forgive yourself since you are a) imperfect b) ignorant or c) disturbed.
  • Separate the rating of your behavior from the rating of your self.
Self-Pity:
  • You don't have to have everything you want. The world was not made just for you.
  • Not getting your way is only disappointing or sad—not the end of the world.
  • Count your blessings. You have put up with disappointments all your life; you can tolerate this one too.
Also, both you and your boss might be in the habit of seeing things in ways which make them look worse than they actually are. Trying to see both sides may lead to a better understanding. Cutting your boss some slack can also leave the door open for an apology. And, if your boss really is out to get you, at least it may give you some time to look for another job.

The most important thing, however, is that you are in control of your own emotional reactions, and these come from your own beliefs and values. This is the secret to something you can change -- although it may occasionally require the services of a trained psychologist, counselor, or social worker in order to help you to complete the process.

See also:
How to Recognize a Personality Disorder
How to Train Yourself Not to Be Angry.

Scroll down for a list of some of the most popular sites on this Blog. 
Below this list are the most recent Blog entries. 
For an easily accessible list of all Blog postings, see the list entitled, "Blog Archive" in the column at the right of this page.




 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How to Use Experiential Hypnosis (Hyperempiria)

(An earlier version of this posting was published in the Swedish journal, Hypnos, 2004, Vol. XXXI, No. 2, pp. 89-93, under the title, "Multimodal Suggestion for Facilitating Meditation and Prayer," by Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., and Annette K. Schreiber, Ph.D.)

Mother Theresa had a mystical experience while she was still in her teens, and spent the rest of her life trying to re-capture it. But, as hypnotists, we know that this is possible.

Many other people have had mystical experiences, and when such a history is present, it can serve as a focus for re-energizing their present view of life. For example, a 58 year old retired English teacher and mother of five grown children who recently had been divorced after a marriage of forty years came to me for help with depression. She was spending the greater part of each day in bed, with the blankets drawn up over her head. She was taking antidepressants, but they did not seem to help. She responded well to hypnosis, and early in the course of therapy, she mentioned that when she was about sixteen, she had a mystical experience: "I could step beyond the ordinary world of reality, and I felt totally loved." I asked her if she would like to re-visit this mystical experience as a way of getting over her depression, and she immediately agreed.

I told her that for best results, it would help if she were to re-capture her mystical experience with the same life-changing intensity that she had experienced it the first time. She readily agreed to this also. Pulling out all the stops in order to provide an experience of life-changing intensity, which she obviously needed, I regressed her to her earlier mystical event, and told her that we were going to make it even stronger using hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience. I suggested that we were reaching down into her vast, untapped potential for feeling happiness and joy. This potential for happiness and joy was flowing out from the innermost depths of her being in many different ways and on many different levels, like water from a hundred secret springs. As these feelings continued to flow without limit, they were healing and cleansing every muscle and fiber and nerve of her body, driving out all of the worry, and all of the stress, and all of the care that she had ever felt, and leaving her glowing from head to toe with such an intensity of happiness that she could not bear it if she were not hypnotized.

She remained outwardly impassive as I continued in this vein, emphasizing that this happiness was greater and more intense than anything she had ever hoped for, dreamed of, longed for, or imagined. To further emphasize its strength, I suggested that when she returned from hypnosis, she would not be able to bring all of this intensity back with her, because it would be more than she could bear in the everyday state of consciousness in which we live and move and have our being. But nevertheless, it would transform her life, and turn each new day into a thing of wondrous beauty.

Her depression lifted within two more sessions. Because she was a Buddhist, it was easy to frame her mystical experience as evidence that true happiness comes from within. She no longer remains in bed all day, and frequently goes out to go shopping, play cards or to visit with friends. Her demeanor is pleasant, relaxed, and cheerful. She is continuing to come in for monthly sessions in order to keep her orientation focused on the positive aspects of life, and as a means of continuing her personal and spiritual development.

The client's youngest daughter, who has had a great many personal difficulties of her own, has recently moved in with her. Even though she frequently serves as a lightning rod for her daughter's wrath, the client has remained impassive, and has managed to maintain a generally congenial relationship with her daughter (when the daughter is on speaking terms!)

People of many different religious traditions have attested to the life changing potential of mystical and transcendental experiences involving the experience of 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 hypnosis, experiences of this type may easily be made available to clients who desire them and are sufficiently responsive to suggestion. From the first glow of anticipation to the enduring treasures of fondest memory, suggestion provides us with a brush with which it is possible to paint upon the canvas of human experience virtually any masterpiece we may desire. Although most of us routinely provide a considerable amount of detail with the experiences we suggest in order to make them more realistic, the Best Me Technique provides a systematic, comprehensive framework for maximum involvement and effectiveness of experiential learning.

The theme and content of such experiences should be determined by the needs and preferences of the client, with the goal of providing reassurance, strength, and encouragement. In so doing, 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.

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.

The Best Me Technique would appear to possess numerous other potential applications. Good results have been reported using the Best Me Technique to enable experientially gifted clients to experience now, and in intensified form, the rewards which would not normally be theirs until a goal has actually been attained, thereby eliminating the need for "will power" or external environmental incentives (Gibbons, 2003). Sexual relations in multimodal trance between committed partners who respond well to suggestion can take on near sacramental qualities as the lovers consecrate themselves to one another anew (Gibbons, 2001).  

Recently, Kelley Woods and I have been suggesting to hypnotized clients that they are being transported to an alternate universe where time and space do not exist. After orienting them to the Multiverse and inducing emotions which are as pleasant as possible -- i.e., "dissolving  into an ocean of infinite, unbounded, and everlasting love," we suggest the following: "with practice, you will be able to feel this kind of fulfillment whenever you put your whole self into working towards a goal you have chosen. As you think about achieving the goal ahead of time, you can believe it will happen, expect it to happen, and feel it happening! And with practice, you will be able to act, think, and feel as if it were impossible to fail!"  \

Experientialism is the philosophical theory that experience is the source of knowledge. It is indeed an honor to work with the imaginatively gifted among us; for they are truly "the bearers of the light," which all humankind will one day follow.
  


References


Bányai, E. I., & Hilgard, E. R. (1976). A comparison of active-alert hypnotic induction with traditional relaxation induction. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85, 218-224

Gibbons, D. E. (1975, August). Hypnotic vs. hyperempiric induction: An experimental comparison. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Chicago.

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

Gibbons, D. E. (1988). Were you saved or were you hypnotized? The Humanist, 48, pp. 17-18.


Gibbons, D. E. (2000). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. Lincoln, NE: Authors Choice Press (originally published 1979 by Plenum Press).

Gibbons, D. E. (2001). Experience as an art form. .New York, NY: Authors Choice Press.

Gibbons, D. E. (2003, July). The best me technique for constructing hypnotic suggestions. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the British Societies of Medical, Clinical, Dental, and Experimental Hypnosis, London.

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. in S. J. Lynn, J. W. Rhue, & I. Kirsch (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 267-291.

Gibbons, D., & DeJarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11, 152 166.

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

Hammond, D. C. (1990). Hypnotic suggestions and metaphors. New York: Norton.

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

Lazarus, A. A. (1989). The practice of multimodal therapy. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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

Peers, E. A. (1990). Dark Night of the Soul. New York: Doubleday.

Phillips, B. D. (2006) Experimental approaches to interactive drama involving experiential trance. Journal of Interactive Drama, 2(1), pp. 21-55.

Shor, R. E. & Orne, E. C. (1962) Harvard group scale of hypnotic susceptibility, Form A. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

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