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, July 23, 2014

How to Construct Hypnotic Suggestions and Autosuggestions Scientifically!


Most of us wouldn't quarrel with a definition of suggestion as "presenting an idea in such a manner that a person is likely to accept it as literally true, and therefore 'real.'" But hypnotists aren't the only ones whose work centers around making changes in the perception of reality!

Cognitive-behaviorial psychology works with automatic thoughts, which tell us how to respond to what is going on around us. Challenging people's automatic thoughts and substituting more adaptive ones is one way to produce a more efective adjustment to life. And, according to the definition just presented, these new ideas also qualify as suggestions. 

When the environment is pretty much the same for everyone, as it is in a standardized test such as the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Suggestibility, well-documented individual differences in suggestibility do exist. However, if you vary the environment enough, these individual differences disappear. Imagine, for example. that the Harvard Group Scale is being given to a class of introductory psychology students at the American University of Beirut, let us say, when a person dressed in a police uniform bursts into the room and says in a loud, commanding voice, "The city is under biological attack, and a germ cloud is headed this way. Take refuge in the basement immediately and await further instructions!" Even if such an announcement is a hoax (i.e., a cleverly-designed suggestion) thought up by a dissident student organization to disrupt the orderly running of campus activities, if it were to be carried out in a sufficiently convincing manner, everyone in the class -- including the instructor -- would probably dash for the exits and head for the nearest underground shelter, manifesting a variety of emotional and cognitive responses to this suggestion without the necessity of a hypnotic induction!

Another way to vary the suggestions enough so that individual differences disappear is to customize them to fit the needs of each person to whom they are given, as cognitive-behavioral therapists do. It is generally acknowledged that the cognitive-behavioral approach is the fastest-growing orientation in psychology, with an ever-growing body of research behind it. Since both high and low-suggestible people respond better to any treatment if you first convince them that they have been hypnotized (Robertson, 2013), if the cognitive-behavioral way of constructing suggestions is more scientific, and therefore more effective, than suggestions generated by other means, then perhaps this method should also be adopted by more people who use hypnosis.

Contrary to what cognitive-behaviorists sometimes advocate, not all clients are suited for working with thought records themselves. As hypnotists, however, thought records can be of great help to us in helping us to analyze a client's problem in scientific terms, in explaining a situation to a client, and in deciding what suggestions to provide and what autosuggestions to teach the client to use.  For this reason, I am including more information in this posting to illustrate how cognitive-behavioral therapy may be utilized in a variety of ways. (I routinely use them both in my clinical psychology practice, sometimes individually and sometimes together.)    

This free downloadable ABC Worksheet from www.smartrecovery.org can become your daily companion for taking control of your life in matters large and small. You can use it to make motivational and behavioral adjustments on everything from paying your bills on time, to stopping smoking, or deciding on which career path to follow. (If you don't have the necessary Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can also download it free of charge.)

It first asks you about the causes of something you would like to change in your life, and then asks about the emotional consequences which were the result, your beliefs about what happened, what beliefs could be substituted for the ones which brought about the unpleasant results, and how those changed beliefs make you feel. You can write on the form itself, clearing and changing it as often as you like. Then, when you are finished, you can either print it out or save it as a text file, using a different form for each problem you would like to work on. No induction is needed, and there are no individual differences in suggestibility to take into account, because each suggestion is individually customized to fit the circumstances and thought patterns of the individual to whom it is given.

Cognitive-behavioral therapists also frequently use a document called a thought record in order to examine just what goes on in the mind when we make those habitual decisions that keep getting us into trouble . . . Here is what one looks like, and here is what it looks like all filled out, courtesy of www.getselfhelp.co.uk.  (A slightly longer, seven-column version of the same form is also available.)  Here are other free versions of the thought record form, adapted for special purposes:
You can make as many copies as you want for your own use by using the print command on your computer, and you can also obtain different versions for a host of other purposes. In addition, there is a free online self-help course and other materials on how to use them. Naturally, I cannot be responsible for the accuracy or the effectiveness of self-help materials downloaded from the Internet. Moreover,as a psychologist, I am a little more conservative than they are about what can legitimately be included within the rubric of "self-help."  But in any event, it works, and no induction is necessary -- although, of course, it helps!.

Reference

Robertson, D. J. (2013). The practice of cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy. London: Karnac Books, Ltd.
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This Blog contains many other examples of experience as an art form, for the enhancement of human potential, the ennoblement of the human spirit, and the fulfillment of human existence.


See also the following print sources:

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

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

Gibbons, D. E., & Cavallaro, L (2013).. Exploring alternate universes: And learning what they can teach us. Amazon Kindle E-Books. (Note: It is not necessary to own a Kindle reader to download this e-book, as the Kindle app may be downloaded free of charge to a standard desktop or laptop computer and to most cell phones.)

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.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why Do So Many People Die Before Their Time?

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist who was interned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. He experienced the tortures and depravities first-hand, and he was a keen observer of everything around him. He recorded his experiences in his boook, Man's Search for Meaning, wich is now in its third edition and has sold over two milion copies. 

In his book, Frankl recalled that on one particularly bad day, a list of "crimes" was announced which would be punishable by immediate death by hanging. These included cutting your blankets into ankle supports because, due to insufficient food, your ankles were too weak to stand on by themselves. Then, a couple of hours later, it was announced that two potatoes had been stolen from the camp kitchen. If the culprits were not immediately handed over to the tender mercies of the SS guards, the whole camp would starve for the day, Since they were starving anyway, the whole camp preferred to fast.

That evening, as the prisoners lay in their huts, the lights went out. For many, this seemed to be the last straw. As they lay there in total darkness, his Senior Block Warden asked Frankl to give them a talk to lift their spirits up. God knows, Frankl wrote, he was in no shape to cheer up anyone else. But he knew he had to say something. He began by noting that the real reason people were dying all around them was not their poor living conditions, horrible as they were, but giving up hope. Even in this Europe in the sixth winter of the Second World War, he continued, everyone could find some reason for hope. He frankly admitted that he estimated his own chances of survival at about one in twenty. Friends, family, careers, could all be restored, abd one could suddenly be transferred to a camp with unusually good working conditions, for this was the luck of the prisoner.

When the lights came on again, it was obvious that he had struck a responsive chord. People were limping towards him to shake his hand. Later, when he was liberated from the camp and re-opened his private practice, Frankl realized that in everyday life as well as in a concentration camp, when people gave up hope they were much more ready to die before their time. He began to forumulate the methhod of therapy which today is known as logotherapy, a close forerunner of today's post-modern constructionism.  Instead of seeking pleasure, as Freud would have it, or power, as Adler maintained, Frankl asserted that the most powerful motivating force in humans is the need to find meaning in life.

In my clinical practice, as well as in the lives of others people I have known, I have seen evidence of the unhappiness and despair which results when the main source of meaning in one's existence has been lost, or when it has never been found in the first place. But meaning need never remain lost or unachievable, even though it may appear to be. In the conclusion of the motion picture, Titanic, when her idyllic first love had been destroyed by the death of her lover when tbe ship sank, the heroine re-appeared as an od woman with children and grandchildren, and observed, "the heart of a woman is as deep as the ocean itself." 

Robert Louis Stevenson said, "The world is so full of such a number of things, I am sure we should all be as happy as kings."  Steven Hawking, who can easily be found on You Tube, is still busy lecturing to large audiences about the Cosmos, even though his ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) has progressed to the point that he can no longer sit up in his wheelchair and must use a special device in order to speak. Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon professor and an internationally-recognized expert in computer science,gave his "Last Lecture" on Achieving your Childhood Dreams and the Dreams of Others, has neow been viewed by over sixteen million people. If he had not been prematurely struck by Cancer, I am sure tha with his keen intellectual interests and his strong network of family and social support,t Dr. Pausch had the psychological preparation to live to a ripe old age. 



This principle is also illustrated in Cervantes' immortal novel, Don Quijote, in which the leading character is willing to pursue his idealistic "impsssible dream" into the jaws of death itself -- and, because he would never abandon his dream, his death was certainly not an unhappy one!