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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Monday, November 14, 2016

"On Groundless Fears," by Seneca

Mzny of the clients in my psychology practice are upset by current political developments, and calls to crisis hotlines have multiplied. This is a You Tube audio of a letter from the Greek philosopher Seneca to one of his dear friends on the subject of groundless fears. He would be right at home with cognitive behavioral  psychology;"We suffer more in imagination than in reality," and then goes on to speak of the remedies of this condition. He's a bit brainy, but what would you expect from a Greek philosopher? However, his words have stood the test of time, and are especially true in today's conditions of post-election stress.


Friday, November 11, 2016

False Perceptions that are Driving You Crazzy

Most of us have one or more habits of perceiving things which make them appear to be much worse than they actually are. See how many of these thought patterns might be clouding your own view of life..

All-or-nothing thinking: Everything is good or bad, with nothing in between. If your opponent is not perfect, then he or she is completely evil..

Overgeneralization: A single negative event turns into a never-ending pattern of defeat. "My opponent didn't support the bill I wanted. My opponent is never going to do anything right."

Mental filter: One single negative thing about your opponent colors everything else. When you're depressed about this, it sometimes feels like you're "looking at the world through mud-colored glasses."

Disqualifying the positive: If somebody says something good about your opponent, it doesn't count. But if somebody says something bad about your opponent, you "knew it all along."

Jumping to conclusions: You make a negative interpretation of your opponent's claims, even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.

Mind reading: You think that your political opponent is thinking negative things about one your favorite programs and don't bother to check it out. You just assume that this is true.

The Fortune Teller Error: You think that things are going to turn out badly if your opponent is elected to office, and when it happens you convince yourself that it's the end of the world.
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Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization: Imagine that you're looking at the opposition candidates through a pair of binoculars. You might think that any mistake they made or is more important than it really is. Now imagine that you've turned the binoculars around and you're looking through them backwards. Something a candidate you favor has done might look less important than it really is,

Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

Should statements: You beat up on yourself as a way of getting motivated to do something. You"should" have done this, you "must" do this, you "ought" to do this to do your part to influence the outcome of the election, and so on. This doesn't make you want to do it, it only makes you feel guilty. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.

Labeling and mislabeling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. When the other candidate makes a mistake,you give him or her a label, such as, "a loser" or "He's an ass." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.

Personalization: You believe that your vote was the cause of something bad that happened, when, among all the millions of votes cast, your own vote really didn't have very much to do with it.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hypnosis Conditioning and Relaxation Tape

The following link contains a standard progressive relaxation hypnotic induction rape based on imagery of relaxing on the beach, with confidence-building and ego strengthening suggestions from John Hartland's Medical and Dental Hypnosis. I first heard Dr. Hartland present this script in the form of a paper at a professional meeting several years ago. I began to see more and more references to it in the professional literature, I began to use it in my clinical psychology practice with good  results. I am posting it here for the convenience of my own clients, and for others who might also wish to use it as a relaxation training and conditioning tape in between hypnosis sessions, with the consent and under the supervision of an appropriately trained and licensed mental health professional.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3gLdfLQ44mqaTRtN25VWlN1Rlk/view?usp=sharing

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Seriously Curious about Hypnosis? Try it Yourself!,

If you are seriously curious about hypnosis, this is an induction by my colleague Kelley Woods, that you can try in the safety and privacy of your own home. (It;s also great for insomnia!).


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Is it Possible to Hypnotize Animals?

 
Train? Yes. Hypnotize? No.

 Humans are the only species that can make use of what Michael Ellner has referred to as "the transformational magic" of an  provides both the opportunity and the occasion for those who have the ability to use their imagination in an "Alice-in-Wonderland" fashion to go ahead and do so. If we choose to adopt Michael Yapko's view that all communication is hypnosis, then "birds do it," and "bees do it." My own preference, however, is to use a more conservative definition such as Michael's, and "let sleeping dogs lie."


Monday, August 29, 2016

Trauma and Trauma Recovery

If you tie a string of firecrackers to the a cat's tail and light them, he may not be physically injured if you use a cord that is long enough  -- but he will never be the same cat again! Humans, with our more advanced brains, are often inclined to blame ourselves for a traumatic injury over which we have no control, thinking things like, "I must be a terrible, worthless human being, or my own father would never do such a horrible thing to me!" The first thing a mental health professional has to do is often to teach a traumatized person to love and accept oneself, so that the lasting effects of the trauma can be constructively re-directed.

We have all had minor traumas and have learned to adjust to them, more or less. But if the trauma is great enough, and/or if it happens often enough, a traumatized human will usually require the assistance of a trauma therapy specialist in order to facilitate the healing process.

In the following Ted Talk, Sasha joseph Neulinger speaks about surviving multi-generational sexual abuse and how it can still influence our choices for the future in positive directions even if it is not completely reversible.


Clients sometimes ask to be hypnotized in order to find out whether or not they have been molested or abused in other ways. Hypnosis is not used to help in the recovery of past traumas because there might be so much emotion associated with these memories that the client may be overwhelmed by them. Indeed, the relaxation and security of the hypnotic setting itself may occasionally be sufficient to bring about the recall of childhood traumatic events, possibly traumatizing the client all over again and making recovery even more difficult than it was before. Clients are not even encouraged to talk about their childhood trauma unless they feel comfortable in doing so. There is also the danger of "false memory syndrome," or the tendency of the imagination to construct events which never actually occurred, which caused great anguish in the past, before this phenomenon was formally recognized.

I like to recommend Babette Rothschild's The Body Remembers for clients in my practice  who like to read about trauma treatment and who themselves have been victims of trauma. She writes with great clarity, but some familiarity with the professional literature is usually helpful.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

How to Use Meditation to Identify Life Goals -- and Deal with Stress Along the Way

There are four basic stages of problem solving:



  • Preparation, in which you become familiar with the elements of a problm by turning it over in your mind;
  • Incubation, or letting it "sit" for a while as your right brain or "unconscious mind" works to come up with a solution; 
  • Illumination, or a sudden insight which presents itself as a solution; and 
  • Verification, or actually checking the solution to see if it is really going to work.ted  

  • Meditation is an excellent way of stoking your mental processes to speed up the incubation stage when you are seeking a solution to a problem or a life goal which has been which has been eluding you.  Although the process may still take some time, meditation is also an excellent way of dealing with the strong emotions which may arise while you are awaiting a solution and, eventually, while you are pursuing it. The following WikiHow article on meditation has been by edited by nearly 700 people and read by over 1-3/4 million. In addition to its other uses, I heartily recommend it as a means of identifying aims and purposes which then can be formulated into 
    winning goals.

    How to Meditate

    from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

    Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of self awareness. To free one's awareness from associating solely with the mind and its soul. There are many different meditation methods. At the core of meditation is the goal to focus and eventually quiet your mind, thus freeing your awareness. As you progress, you will find that you can meditate anywhere and at any time, accessing an inner calm no matter what's going on around you. You will also find that you can better control your reactions to things as you become increasingly aware of your thoughts (letting go of anger, for example). But first, you have to learn to tame your mind and control your breathing.

    Steps

    1. Make time to meditate. Set aside enough time in your daily routine for meditating; early morning and in the evening are often most preferable. The steadiness of mind meditation is most noticeable when you do it regularly; some people like to end the day by clearing their mind, and some prefer to find refuge in meditation in the middle of a busy day. The easiest time to meditate is in the morning, before the day tires your body out and gives your mind more to think about. Just take care to avoid spending too long meditating––start with around 5 to 15 minutes a day.
    2. Find or create a quiet, relaxing environment. For the beginner, it's especially important to avoid any obstacles to attention. Turn off TV sets, the phone or other noisy appliances. If you play music, choose calm, repetitive and gentle tunes, so as not to break your concentration.
      • Meditating outside works for many meditators. As long as you don't sit near a busy roadway or another source of loud noise, you can find peace under a tree or sitting upon some lush grass in a favorite corner of the garden.
    3. Sit on level ground. Sit on a cushion if the ground is uncomfortable. You don't have to twist your limbs into the half lotus or full lotus position or adopt any unusual postures. The important thing is to keep your back straight, as this will help with breathing later on.
      • Tilt your pelvis forward by sitting on the forward edge of a thick cushion, or on a chair that has its back legs lifted off the ground 8 to 10 cm (3 or 4 inches).
      • Starting from your bottom, stack up the vertebrae in your spine, so that they are balanced one on top of another and support the whole weight of your torso, neck, and head. Done correctly, it feels as if no effort is required to hold your torso up. (A small amount of effort is in fact required, but with the right posture, it is so small and evenly distributed you don't notice it.)
      • Relax your arms and legs. They don't need to be in any special position, just as long as they are relaxed and don't interfere with balancing your torso. You can put your hands on your thighs, but it might be easier at first to let your arms hang at your sides––the hanging weight helps reveal where things are out of alignment.
    4. Relax everything. Keep searching for parts of your body that aren't relaxed. When you find them, (and you will), consciously relax them. You may find that you can't relax them unless you adjust your posture so that you are better aligned, and that place doesn't need to work anymore. This commonly happens with muscles near your spine. You may also notice that you are twisted a little and need to straighten out. Little muscles in your face often keep getting tense, too.
    5. Let your attention rest on the flow of your breath. Listen to it, follow it, but make no judgments on it (such as "It sounds a little raspy... maybe I'm getting a cold?"). The goal is to allow the "chattering" in your mind to gradually fade away. Find an "anchor" to settle your mind.
      • Try reciting a mantra (repetition of a sacred word). A single word like "om" uttered at a steady rhythm is best. You can recite it verbally or just with the voice in your mind. Beginners may find it easier to count their breaths. Try counting your breath from 1 through 10, then simply start again at 1.
      • To circumvent images that keep intruding on your thoughts, visualize a place that calms you. It can be real or imaginary. Imagine you are at the top of a staircase leading to a peaceful place. Count your way down the steps until you are peaceful and relaxed.
    6. Silence your mind. Once you've trained your mind to focus on just one thing at a time, the next step is focus on nothing at all, essentially "clearing" your mind. This requires tremendous discipline but it is the pinnacle of meditation. After focusing on a single point as described in the previous step, you can either cast it away, or observe it impartially and let it come and then go, without labeling it as "good" or "bad". Take the same approach to any thoughts which return to your mind until silence perseveres.
    Tips
    • It is easy to lose track of time while meditating. Being concerned about time can be distracting to meditation. Some people find it liberating to set a timer and let it be concerned about how long you have to meditate. Choose a gentle timer. If it is too jarring, the anticipation of the alarm can be distracting.
    • Some other benefits that are less observable for most people include: falling asleep more easily, more ease in fighting addictions, altered states of mind (which are most prominent in people who have spent over 10,000 hours meditating such as Buddhist monks), and most recently discovered is that meditation on the concepts of calmness and relaxation can turn off genes within every cell in the body that cause cells to become inflamed when you are under a lot of stress.
    • If you find it difficult to meditate for the length of time you have chosen, try a shorter time for a while. Almost anyone can meditate for a minute or two without experiencing intrusive thoughts. Then, as the ocean of the mind calms, you gradually lengthen your meditation session until you have achieved the desired length of time.
    • With good posture, it will be easier to breathe as your lungs will have more space. In fact, you may notice how most of the muscles in your torso work to help you breathe, from the muscles in the base of your pelvis to the ones in your neck, centered on the main breathing muscle, the diaphragm. They work just a little, assisting the diaphragm. If you notice this, it's a good sign you have established a good posture. The right posture is easy and comfortable. You almost feel like you are floating.
    • You should be comfortable enough to concentrate, but not so comfortable that you feel the urge to fall asleep.
    • Set aside a specific time each day for meditation, but don't overdo it. If 20-30 minutes in the morning isn't enough, add another session later in the day instead of trying for a single, longer session.
    • Make some effort to be mindful of your mood and thoughts when not meditating. You may notice that you feel calmer, happier, and sharper on days when you have meditated, and notice a decrease in these qualities when you have not.
    • Meditation practiced over a long term period of time have been shown to have many beneficial results and is well worth continued practice. Benefits include: Increased mindfulness and awareness, reduced stress, calmer and more relaxed moods, improved memory and focus, and increased in grey matter (brain cells) in various parts of the brain.
    • It may be beneficial to mentally review or replay the previous day at the start of your sessions, if you can do so in a relaxed, passive way. This often happens naturally, and sometimes it's best to allow this to happen, as long as you don't get emotionally wrapped up or let it go on too long before beginning meditation. This procedure is known as "processing" of recent events, and becoming skilled at performing a non-judgmental review of events does much to increase awareness and emotional well-being.
    • Do what works best for you. What works for some people might have other techniques that might not work for you. Don't let that get you down. Remember to relax!
    • The benefits of meditation can be experienced long before the practitioner has been successful in maintaining focus or clearing the mind, simply as a result of the practice.
    • What you do with a silent mind is up to you. Some people find that it is a good time to introduce an intention or a desired outcome to the subconscious mind. Others prefer to "rest" in the rare silence that meditation offers. For religious people, meditation is often used to connect with their God(s) and receive visions.
    • For some people, focusing attention on a point or object does exactly the opposite of what meditation is all about. It takes you back to the life of focus, concentration, strain. In this case, as an alternative to the above techniques, some meditators recommend un-focusing your attention. Instead of focusing attention on a point or an object, this type of meditation is achieved by attaining a state of zero. Take your attention above all thoughts to a point where you lose all attention and all thoughts.
    • Do not force yourself to meditate. You should want to meditate before think about trying.
    Warnings
    • Don't expect immediate results. The purpose of meditation is not to turn you into a Zen master overnight. Meditation works best when it is done for its own sake, without becoming attached to results.
    • If you find your mind is wandering, try not to scold or beat up on yourself about it. Wandering restlessly is the normal state of the conditioned mind. This is the first lesson many people learn in meditation and it is a valuable one. Simply, gently, invite your attention back to your breath, remembering that you've just had a small but precious "awakening." Becoming aware of your wandering mind is a success, not a failure.
    • Some people find it's difficult to meditate immediately before bedtime. If you're very sleepy, you may find yourself nodding off. Conversely, meditating may energize your mind, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
    • If your posture is good, you will almost certainly feel a stretch on the back of your neck, and possibly in your shoulders. Just relax. If the stretch is so pronounced that it is painful, work on stretching and relaxing that area when you aren't meditating.
    • As you meet other people who meditate, you may encounter a few who will boast about their endurance for long meditation sessions, even hours and hours at a sitting. Don't be tempted to change your practice to "keep up." Meditation is not a competition––it's a way of life.
    Related wikiHows
    Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Meditate. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


    ------------------------------------------

     
    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.




    Tuesday, August 16, 2016

    What is the Most Effective Hypnotic Induction?

    +michael ellner  has just posted a quotation from MIlton Erickson regarding the most effective form of hypnosis: "It isn't the amount of time. It isn't the theory of psychotherapy. It’s how you reach the personality by saying the right thing at the right time."  This jibes with Steve Lynn's summary of our induction chapter in the American Psychological Association's  Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis, which concludes that the most important consideration  is the personality and individual characteristics of each individual we encounter, If you say the right thing at the right time, there's practically no limit to what you can accomplish!




    Thursday, July 7, 2016

    Do Some People WANT to Destroy Themselves?

    It is commonly said that self-preservation is a powerful human need, which is understandable if we have a healthy self-concept and seek out opportunities and situations which tend to increase our self-esteem. But what if you have learned ti dislike yourself? If you have been treated badly by those who are closest to you, might you not also come to dislike yourself? Can this give rise to a need for self-destruction?  

    Most of us have known people who make one bad decision after another, and then "go off" on people who try to make logical but difficult suggestions which would interrupt their downward spiral. These bad decisions may involve maxing out their credit cards and repeatedly borrowing money from parents, friends, spouses, or relatives in order to pull them out of yet another self-inflicted spending spree, until others are unable or unwilling to engage in further rescue efforts. Self-destructive behavior may also take the form of self-injury or cutting, various types of addiction such as alcohol or drug dependency, pathological gambling, suicide or suicidal gestures, etc.  Eventually, These self-destructive tendencies may be expressed in the form of psychosomatic ailments which can eventually become disabling  to the point that the individual is no longer able to work.   

    In the proposed revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, a separate category of personality disorder, Self-Destructive Personality Disorder, was proposed for further study.  It was not included after was perceived as being largely the result of domestic violence caused by males. Many of us continue to see cases of self-destructive behavior in clinical practice, however; and politically correct or not, the concept does seem to have objective validity. Here is the description of the proposed self-destructive personality disorder.so that you can jjudge for yourself.

    A) A pervasive pattern of self-defeating behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts. The person may often avoid or undermine pleasurable experiences, be drawn to situations or relationships in which they will suffer, and prevent others from helping them, as indicated by at least five of the following:
    1. chooses people and situations that lead to disappointment, failure, or mistreatment even when better options are clearly available
    2. rejects or renders ineffective the attempts of others to help them
    3. following positive personal events (e.g., new achievement), responds with depression, guilt, or a behavior that produces pain (e.g., an accident)
    4. incites angry or rejecting responses from others and then feels hurt, defeated, or humiliated (e.g., makes fun of spouse in public, provoking an angry retort, then feels devastated)
    5. rejects opportunities for pleasure, or is reluctant to acknowledge enjoying oneself (despite having adequate social skills and the capacity for pleasure)
    6. fails to accomplish tasks crucial to their personal objectives despite having demonstrated ability to do so, e.g., helps fellow students write papers, but is unable to write their own
    7. is uninterested in or rejects people who consistently treat them well
    8. engages in excessive self-sacrifice that is unsolicited by the intended recipients of the sacrifice
    B) The behaviors in A do not occur exclusively in response to, or in anticipation of, being physically, sexually, or psychologically abused.
    C) The behaviors in A do not occur only when the person is depressed.

    See also: How to Recognize a Personality Disorder.

    Saturday, July 2, 2016

    When Twelve-Step Programs Don't Work for You

    It was not until I had been teaching for about ten years that I realized that meeting a new class for the first time was like meeting a new person for the first time. Every class, just like every individual, has a distinct personality that is not entirely like any other. Many of the clients in my psychology practice have tried A. A. or other twelve-step programs and given up. I like to point out that every twelve-step program, just like every college class, has its own personality too. If you aren't comfortable with one particular class, you don't just drop out of school, you look around for another one that you can take. 

    However, there are still many people who are just not comfortable in group settings where they share their innermost secrets with the other people in the room. As an alternative to twelve-step programs, other groups have been formed which are based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral psychology. The folks at www.smartrecovery.org have a tool chest of resources which is a treasure-trove for people who want to alter hard-to-change behaviors of every type (not just addictions). They have a list of Articles and Essays containing a great deal of practical material which can be directly put into use, and a superb reading list. When twelve-step programs do not work for you, perhaps you might want to check them out!


     

    Wednesday, June 22, 2016

    Hypnotic Mistrsses, Goddesses, and Those who Worship Them

    I recently ran across a video on YouTube by "Mistress Lisa," which has been viewed over one and one half million times:



    If you watch the tape of Mistress Lisa carefully, within a fraction of a second after she completes her induction, you will catch her throwing her head back and with a momentary gleam of triumph on her eyes. There is trouble brewing in paradise! Although she herself does not appear to have followed up on it, there are many other postings of female hypnotists, hypnotic mistresses, goddesses, and seductresses, some of whom merely provide constructive suggestions of well-being, and some of whom seem to be seeking the worshipful adoration of male (and occasionally, female) worshippers who appear to be all too willing to turn their lives and worldly goods over to them. 

    These videos are obviously not illegal, and not very many people have complained about them, or YouTube would have closed them down years ago. In addition to YouTube, you can enter the words "mistress" or goddess" on Facebook, or at a Google prompt, and simply follow the links for an in-depth introduction to dozens, and possibly hundreds, of other mistresses and goddesses of varying methods and temperaments. However, I found only one Website, hypnoslave.com. devoted to the hypnotic enslavement of women. 

    What are the psychological motives behind these practices? Are they ethical, are they dangerous, or merely harmless role playing? Do they benefit or damage their willing devotees, and if so, how?  Some parents view their children not as individuals to be loved and encouraged to develop their own lives, but as extensions of themselves, whose purpose in life is to flatter the parents' ego. They selectively withdraw love until the child, desperate for affection and totally dependent on the rejecting parent, will do almost anything to get it. The parent or parents may also act seductively, and even sexually molest the child in order to gratify their own needs because "babies don't tell."

    As adults, we often tend to re-create an approximation of the family environment in which we were raised. Is it any wonder, then, that some men long for a relationship with a woman whom they can worship as a goddess if this is the kind of self-centred mother they had, who is alternately seductive, punitive, and distant and rejecting?


    Why are there so many more men than women looking for this type of satisfaction? Because of cultural differences in the way men and women are raised in this society, if a woman wants to dedicate herself completely to a self-centered man who only occasionally shows any concern for her, she probably will have little trouble finding one. 

    For more information, I recommend the book, Toxic Parents, by Susan Forward.

    See also: Can Hypnosis CREATE a "Master and Slave" Relationship?

    Print References

    Forward, S. (1989). Toxic parents: overcoming their lethal legacy and reclaiming your life. New York: Bantam.

    De Rivera, J., & Sarbin, T. R. (eds.) (1998). Believed-in imaginings: The narrative construction of reality (memory, trauma, dissociation, and hypnosis). Washington, DC: American Psychological association.
    .

    Tuesday, June 14, 2016

    The Best Me Technique of Self-Hypnosis

    The "Best Me Technique" is a form of hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, which involves your whole person in the content of a suggested event. Every letter in "Best Me" corresponds with a different element of experience and these elements can be applied in a variety of ways. It's the versatility and the thoroughness of these elements that makes the Best Me Technique distinct from meditation and visualization exercises.

    This link shows how to hypnotize yourself using the Best Me Technique. Since I put it up on WikiHow in 2009, it has received over 1-1/4 million hits.

    I just looked over the comments A few people said that it did not work for them, which is par for the course with any hypnotic induction. However, the overall approval rating in the upper right hand corner of the article is four stars out of five over the seven-year period that it has been up. 


    Print References

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




    Wednesday, June 8, 2016

    How to be More "Therapieutic" for your Family and Friends


    Most of the actual "therapy" that is done in the world is carried on between close friends, romantic partners, family members, and co-workers, who provide understanding and emotional support to those around them while serving as a good listener and helping them to look at things in a more positive light. In clinical settings, family systems theorists point out that the "identified patient" who comes for counseling or psychotherapy may not be the one who actually needs it, but merely the one who is the most sensitive. How can we help people to be a therapeutic influence for others whom they are close to, who may be more in need of help than they are, but who refuse to even consider such a possibility?

    Cognitive-behavioral psychologists have found many ways to change people. Many of these techniques, once we have learned them and put them to work in our own lives, can also be used to help those around us. While they cannot, of course, serve as a substitute for actual counseling or psychotherapy which is provided by a duly trained and licensed mental health professional, they can help to make life easier, both for ourselves and for those whom we hold dear. 

    For example, Albert Ellis has compiled a list of "ten irrational ideas," which is reproduced below, Most of us believe some of these false beliefs at least part of the time. The first one, "I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile," does an especially great amount of damage, since it guarantees that we are going to feel like miserable failures whenever we do not live up to this impossible ideal. We can spare ourselves a great deal of misery when we cast out this false belief once and for all! But what about our friends and loved ones? Whenever someone who is close to you acts as if he or she could use a gentle reminder that they are being too hard on themselves by expecting to be perfect all the time, you might point this out by saing something like, "You know, dear, sometimes I think you feel like you have to be perfect all the time or you're a failure. But even the Pope goes to confession. You mustn't expect yourself to be perfect when nobody else is!"

    You don't need a Ph.D. in clinical psychology to apply ideas like this in a common-sense manner when the situation is appropriate. The rest of the items on Ellis's list can also take their turn when the situation warrants it.  


     Ideas that Cause Negative Emotions

     "I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile." Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you're a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.

    "I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me." Sometimes you just can't help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can't make your own life miserable by trying to please them.

    "When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people." Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.

    "It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected." Some people have such a short fuse, that they are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.

    "Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change." Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance. You can choose whether to see yourself as an effect of your circumstances, or a cause.

    "If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it." Many people believe that "the work of worrying" will help to make problems go away. "Okay, that's over. Now, what's the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?"

    "It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them." Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as a basis for learning and future growth.

    "Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future." If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time -- and sometimes they change dramatically!

    "It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to." Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can't predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.

    "I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes." If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as a pathway to further growth.


    Perceptions that Make Negative Emotions Worse



    Similar practical applications can be found for the items on the second list. which cognitive-behavioral psychologists refer to as "cognitive distortions."  Most of us have heard the expression, "looking at the world through rose-colored glasses." But when you use cognitive distortions, you tend to look at the world through mud-colored glasses! Here are some habitual ways of looking at things that you should stop from rolling through your head if you catch yourself using them.

    All-or-nothing thinking. Everything is good or bad, with nothing in between. If you aren't perfect, then you're a failure. You procastinate doing stuff because they are not perfect until you have no other choice than doing them.

    Overgeneralization. A single negative event turns into a never-ending pattern of defeat. "I didn't get a phone call. I'll never hear from anybody again."

    Mental filter. One single negative thing colors everything else. When you're depressed, it sometimes feels like you're "looking at the world through mud-colored glasses."

    Disqualifying the positive. If somebody says something good about you, it doesn't count. But if somebody says something bad about you, you "knew it all along."

    Jumping to conclusions. You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.

    Mind reading. You think somebody is disrespecting you and don't bother to check it out. You just assume that he is.

    The Fortune Teller Error. You think that things are going to turn out badly, and convince yourself that this is already a fact.

    Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization. Imagine that you're looking at yourself or somebody else through a pair of binoculars. You might think that a mistake you made or somebody else's achievement are more important than they really are. Now imagine that you've turned the binoculars around and you're looking through them backwards. Something you've done might look less important than it really is, and somebody else's faults might look less important than they really are.

    Emotional reasoning. You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

    "Should" statements. You beat up on yourself as a way of getting motivated to do something. You "should" do this, you "must" do this, you "ought" to do this, and so on. This doesn't make you want to do it, it only makes you feel guilty. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.

    Labeling and mislabeling. This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. When you make a mistake, you give yourself a label, such as, "I'm a loser." When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, "He's a louse." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.

    Personalization. You believe that you were the cause of something bad that happened, when you really didn't have very much to do with it. And ask a friend to help you realize your emotions or worries so that you can have someone to rely on.

    Don't memorize these lists, just keep them handy.  (One of my cilients keeps them posted on her refrigerator for ready reference!) And when someone you know well enough starts showing signs of exaggerated worry, self-distrust, fear, anger, or despair, see whether or not some of these false beliefs or false perceptions might be behind these feelings. And, in the process, you'll get pretty good at applying these principles to your own life.

    As previously mentioned, this type of "psychological first aid," augmented by sympathetic listening, affection, and encouragement, is not to be considered as a substitute for actual counseling or psychotherapy, which can only be carried out by trained professional. But If we can get the people around us who refuse to even consider the possibility of formal counseling or psychotherapy to "lighten up" in the manner just described, it can frequently make life better for ud ss well as for them!

    See also: 
    How to Recognize a Personality Disorder
    How to Keep Your Boss from Driving You Crazy

    Print Sources


    Ellis, A. (2006). IHow to stubbornly refuse to make yourself miserable about anything -- yes, anything! Chicago: Citadel Press. 

    Laazrus, A. A., Lazarus, C. A., & Fay, A. Don't believe it for a minute! Forty toxic ideas that are driving you crazy. San Luis Obispo, CA: Impact Publishers.



     

    False Beliefs that are Driving You Crazy


    You can get off the merry-go-round of anxiety, anger, depression, and
    despair by getting rid of the false beliefs which hold you there!

    In ancient Greece, if you were anxious, fearful, or depressed, you would consult a philosopher. The philosopher would probably begin by asking you what you believe about life. When you came to an idea which appeared to be incorrect, he would debate with you until you had cast out this irrational belief. When this was done correctly, your depression, fears, and anxieties would also vanish. 

    Just as the Greek philosophers did, you can get rid of these kinds of ideas by debating within yourself until you have cast them out. The psychologist Albert Ellis has put together a list of ten commonly-held irrational ideas which prevent us from experiencing life to the fullest, because they set us up for failure and disappointment ahead of time. They are all false, but many of us have are inclined to believe them, at least occasionally. You can get rid of these irrational ideas by recognizing and eliminating them!



    Here's the list of culprits.
    I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile. Many people are haunted by the nagging fear that "something is wrong with them." Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you're a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.
    I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me. Sometimes you just can't help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can't make your own life miserable by trying to please them.
    When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people. Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.
    It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected. Some people have such a short fuse that they can are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.
    Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change. Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance.
    If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it. Many people believe that "the work of worrying" will help to make problems go away: "Okay, that's over. Now, what's the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?"
    It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties andresponsibilities than to face them. Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as bases for learning and future growth.
    Because things in my past controlled my life, theyhave to keep doing so now and in the future. If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time -- and sometimes they change dramatically!
    It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to.  Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can't predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.
    I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes. If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as pathways to further growth.

    Of course, this list does not cover all the negative beliefs which hold us back from becoming the best that we can be. But you can't get very far in life if there is some idea which is preventing you from performing at your best, such as the belief deep down inside that you going to fail, or that you are incapable of success. When we are faced with a daunting challenge, most of us, at one time or another, have the nagging suspicion that we are not up to the task. Whenever you feel a change in mood and you find yourself feeling angry, anxious, deprressed, or fearful, you can use a table like this one to write down what was going through your mind at the time, and to figure out how you might be able to see things differently. You can use the print command on your computer to print off as many copies as you need, and keep them handy to change your moods by re-examining and changing the beliefs that got you there.



    Additional Links Which May Be Helpful:

    A Greek philosopher once said, "Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them." Here is a link to a list of obsessive wrong perceptions that are driving you crazy, which make them appear to be much worse than they actually are. See how many of these thought patterns might be clouding your own view of the world, by causing you to look at life "through mud-colored glasses." If you are inclined to look at things this way yourself, once you recognize that they are not accurate, you can get rid of them too.


    What you think is also strongly influenced by what you do -- or by what you don't do! Here is a link to a list of activities which can also help you to get off the endless circle of anxiety, anger, depression, and despair. They can also strengthen the bond between you and your friends or romantic partner when you do them together. If at all possible, surround yourself with positive, upbeat people, and get moving! 

    Saturday, May 14, 2016

    Hypnosis and Hyperempiria in Sex Therapy

    When you're ninety, you probably won't remember your best day at the office. But most people, if they are fortunate enough, will recall a few special moments spent with a loved one which warm the heart forever.  Just as a painter works with brush upon canvas and a sculptor works with chisel upon stone, responsive and consenting couples under the guidance of a duly licensed mental health professional can harness the power of suggestion not only to resolve their present difficulties, but also to to create a total union of body, heart, mind and soul -- to enhance the setting for lovemaking, evoke the proper mood, maximize responsiveness and desire, and increase the length, depth, and frequency of climax, blending together all the elements of physical intimacy to create whatever masterpiece of fulfillment a loving couple may desire. 

    When the lovers' ability to mutually satisfy each other has been interfered with by age or disability, or when their desires are not equally matches for other reasons, suggestion can provide a full measure of gratification for both partners by restoring the needed balance. And for those whose closeness would appear to be incapable of further improvement, the greatest surprises of all may be in store; for it is those who have the greatest abilities who also possess the greatest potential.

    Saturday, May 7, 2016

    Hypnosis and the World's Most Famous Editorial

    The late Ted Sarbin, one of the most prominent hypnotists of the Twentieth Century and the founder of narrative therapy, regarded hypnosis as believed-in imaginings, in the same league with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy (Sarbin and De Rivera, 1988). He did not mean to imply that hypnosis did not exist, however, or that it did not exert a powerful influence on human behavior. 

    The influence of believed-in imaginings is especially powerful when it is corroborated by the statements of others, especially by those who are in authority, which we refer to today as "prestige suggestion." This is illustrated in the article below, which was written in 1912 in response to the letter of a little girl who wrote to the editor of the New York Sun newspaper asking whether or not there was a real Santa Claus: It has been reprinted many times since then, in many different languages, and is frequently referred to today as the world's most famous editorial. 

    We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:


    Dear Editor—

    I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

    Virginia O'Hanlon
    115 West Ninety Fifth Street

    Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

    Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

    We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

    Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

    You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real?

    Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
    No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.


    Print Reference

    Sarbin, T. R., & De Rivera, J. (1998), Believed-in imaginings: TheNarrative Consruction of Reality (Memory, Trauma, Dissociation, and Hypnosis) . Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.