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.

Friday, May 20, 2016

What is Hypnosis and How does it Work?

  



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 (and some people do without realizing it), then accepting the suggestion that you are hypnotized makes it possible for you to experience things with your imagination which we normally regard as beyond our abilities, as depicted in the picture above. 


Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage. And the men and women merely players." Today, sociologists and social psychologists conceive of society as an interlocking pattern of social roles, which vary in their degree of organismic involvement, depending on the person and the situation: a customer buying a newspaper, someone being cited for breaking a traffic ordinance, a bride and groom in a wedding ceremony, or a victim actually dying under the perceived influence of a voodoo spell, which the late Ted Sarbin referred to as "role taking to the death."

Sarbin regarded hypnosis ia as a social role, and he defined hypnotizability as "role taking aptitude." The degree of organismic involvement in hypnotic role taking also varies, of course, depending on the person, the situation, and prevailing cultural expectations. This explains how, in Mesmer's time, people went into convulsions and fainted. Now, in accordance with prevailing cultural expectations, they usually experience a trance -- unless it is specifically suggested that they will not, as in hyperempiria. 

When it comes to bringing about permanent changes, if the necessary ingredients for change in the narrative of one's personal life are present, then accepting the suggestion that one is hypnotized can make it possible to change this narrative more easily. 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 imaginatively gifted. 

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 because she was ready to change. 





`See also:


Print Sources


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.).


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



How to Turn a Hypnotized Person into a Chicken

"Help! I'm a student in Dr. Gibbons' Introductory Psychology class!"
When I first opened my psychology practice in Manahawkin, New Jersey, one of my first hypnosis clients asked me, "You aren't going to turn me into al chicken, are you?"

"No," I replied, somewhat taken aback. 'That's for stage hypnotists. If I did it, it wouldn't be professional." But I did once. . . .

Several years ago, when I was discussing the topic of hypnosis in an Introductory Psychology class, I asked a student who had volunteered in a previous demonstration if she would be willing to help me illustrate how easy it was to turn a hypnotized person into a chicken. She readily agreed, and at the conclusion of an induction, I told her that I would count backwards from ten to one, and that at the count of one she would have been turned into a chicken.

"You will always be able to hear and to respond to my voice," I continued, "and I will return you to your normal state in a few minutes, before I bring you out of hypnosis. But until I do, you will experience the world exactly as if you had been turned into a chicken. You will remember everything I have said, and it will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Okay?"

She nodded in agreement, and I counted slowly backwards from ten to one, providing suggestions along the way that she could feel herself changing into a chicken; and at the count of one, I announced that she had become a chicken. "Would you like to open your eyes and walk around a bit?" I asked. She did so, walking slowly as I took hold of her elbow. "Why are you walking like that?" I asked.

"I'm a chicken," she answered in a high, cackly voice, much to the amusement of the class.

I guided her back to her desk, counted from one to ten to restore usual perceptions, and then concluded the hypnotic demonstration. I then asked her if she had really felt like she was a chicken, and she slowly and thoughtfully nodded in agreement. 

But if she really believed that she was a chicken, why did she not scurry away in fear as soon as I approached her desk? Why did she allow me to slowly walk her around the room, limping slightly, instead of struggling to get away, as a real chicken would surely do? Why did she answer my question about why she was limping by answering, "I'm a chicken!?" And why were the suggestions so easy to undo, as if she understood English as well as she ever did?

We could talk about a "hidden observer" that always knows what's going on and maintains control, no how matter deeply a person is hypnotized, as Hilgard did. We could talk about "trance logic," which is similar to the logic which is found in dreams, as Martin Orne did. But why should we infer the presence of any fancy mental processes when they are not needed?

What she had actually believed and responded toIMHO, was the narrative of what had taken place! She knew that she was a student in my class, and she knew that she had consented for me to hypnotize her. She still had the kind of "Alice-in-Wonderland" imagination which we all have as children, but most of us lose as we become adults. Therefore, she was also able to act, think, and feel as if she were a chicken for the purpose of a class demonstration.  

The demonstration described here was undertaken in the spirit of fun, and everyone understood that. However, as  long as the suggested narratives are real to the person who undergoes them, their transformational effects on the personality can be powerful indeed! With our adult ability to conceptualize, we can build an almost unlimited number of resource states, in an unlimited number of parallel universes in which anything that can happen really does happen,. In the words of the mystical poet, William Blake, experiential hypnosis enables us, 


To see a world in a grain of sand,
Or a Heaven in a wild flower.
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

Infinity? No problem. Eternity? Check. "Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour?" Hang on, here we go. , , ,

See also:

What is Hypnosis and How does it Work?


Print Reference

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




Thursday, May 19, 2016

Shakespeare vs. the Dalai Lama

I frequently hear clients in my psychology practice say, "everything happens for a reason." I like to help them explore their situation a bit more deeply, in order to determine whether to respond  with assertiveness, meditation, or a combination of both.

The traditional Eastern view of life may be summed up as follows:




The Western view, on the other hand, might be expressed in the words of Shakespeare:

To be or not to be, that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to bear the slings and arrows of an outrageous fortune,
Or to take up arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them.

A modern version of this view is expressed in the following video:  



Who is right? If we were never willing "to take up arms against a sea of troubles," slavery would still exist, wives would always remain submissive to abusive husbands, and democracy would never have come into existence. On the other hand, for a small child growing up in an alcoholic and abusive home, someone toiling in a dead-end job, a prisoner serving a life sentence, or a person in a hospice, their only hope may be to turn inward in the quest for happiness and inner peace. 

For most of us, one answer may be appropriate in one situation or time in life, while the other answer may be appropriate at another time. I once had a Buddhisr client with multiple  personalities, who told me that in Tibetan Buddhism you choose your parents according to what they can teach you. "I must have had to learn an awful lot," she told me. She sure did!  

A guide to making the appropriate choice is suggested in the following "Serenity Prayer" by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, which has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step organizations:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.


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.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hypnosis, Hypnotizability, and Hypnotic Trance

But O! Beamish nephew, beware of the day
If your Snark be a Boojum! for then
You will softly and silently vanish away
And never be met with again.
--Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark

If you are looking for a scale to measure the existence of a "hypnotic trance," and to correlate the degree to which one is "hypnotized," as measured on this scale, with the success of hypnotic treatment, no such test is in existence, and it is doubtful that one ever will be constructed. The journal Science recently published an article stating categorically that no reliable physiological correlates of the hypnotic trance have yet been found.

The Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A (Shor & Orne, 1962) is modeled after the experimental approach originally begun by Clark Hull (1933). It contains a script consisting of a light hypnotic induction, followed by a list of twelve suggestions in increasing order of difficulty, from "easy" ones which almost anyone can pass, to more difficult items such as the inability to shake one's head "no" when challenged, or amnesia for most of the test items until after a prearranged signal has been given. Since its initial publication in 1962, the test has been used in dozens of studies all over the world, in order to give us a greater understanding of individual differences in suggestibility.

In a typical administration, in a class setting of about thirty people, there are there are from one to three high responders who obtain a perfect score of twelve on the test, one or two people who are just sitting there with their eyes open, looking around the room with a mixture of curiosity and boredom, and the rest manifesting varying degrees of responsiveness in between. Data of this type have been gathered by now at many colleges and universities around the world, and has yielded a great deal of useful information about differences between high and low responders. (I have collected some of it myself.)

Now let's perform a thought experiment. I would like to ask you to imagine 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 conducted 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. What happeed to the individual differences in suggestibility which the Harvard Group Scale was supposed to measure? They simply vanished, as everyone took flight!


A high degree of responsiveness to the impostor's suggestions would occur regardless of how an individual student might have scored on the suggestibility test which was currently underway. Notice also that the subjects would probably have been totally involved in the content of the impostor's suggestions: trembling, feeling frightened, weeping, crying out in alarm, and so on. In human society, suggestion appears to be causally related to experiences as diverse as falling in love,coming under the sway of a totalitarian dictator,being saved in a revival meeting,or turning into an animal (transmogrification),as practiced in Native American culture. Individual differences in responsiveness, if they exist. do not seem to attract much attention.,

Hypnotizability, however, does seem to be related to suggestibility as it is measured on the Harvard Group Scale. But even here, if the standardized testing conditions are departed from. individual differences seem to vanish or be considerably diminished. Many practicing hypnotists will assure you that in clinical settings, these measured differences are less than reliable. Once their doubts and fears have been eliminated by an appropriate pre-hypnotic talk, some people respond to hypnosis poorly, most people respond to some extent, and a few others respond extremely well. A number of techniques have been developed to "hypnotize the un-hypnotizable" by convincing the low-responders that they too have been hypnotized.When this is done, they not only respond better on suggestibility tests then those who have not accepted this idea, but they also respond better in therapy (Lynn & Kirsch, 2006).

Regardless of whether the induction takes you up, down, or sideways, you're hypnotized if you think you are!  I use this kind of suggestion-enhanced experience in my psychology practice every day in order to facilitate the acceptance of subsequent therapeutic suggestions which are accepted more easily because the induction has made them more credible.. 
Print References
Hull, C. (1933). Hypnosis and Suggestibility. New York: Appleton-Century.

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

Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (2006).Essentials of clinical hypnosis: An evidence-based approach.Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Is Experiential Hypnosis the Next Step Upward in Human Evolution?

.Some people never know that they are color-blind -- that they lack an important ability possessed by the rest of us. Now let's consider the opposite. What if there should dwell among us a group of ndividuals who have an ability that is lacking in most of the population? Wouldn't they also be inclined to deny itt, in order to fit in with the rest of the society?  If I were to walk up to a person who responds extremely well to suggestion, ask him to close his eyes, and matter-of-factly state that by the time I got to the count of five he could open them and see me wearing a Santa Claus suit and hat, he would surely think that I was crazy. And if such a suggestion should actually happen to "work," he would surely think that he was crazy! But if I first asked him to close his eyes and suggested with sufficient plausibility that he was "going into hypnosis," and then I told him that by the time I got to the count of five he could open his eyes and see me dressed like Santa Claus, such a suggestion could be accepted much more easily because it would have become more credible.There are so many ways to "hypnotize" people that entire books have been written on this topic, and new methods are being devised all the time. But as far as I have been able to tell, the only thing which they seem to have in common is that they all plausibly present the idea (either directly or indirectly) that a person's consciousness is beginning to function differently. All the rest depends on the ability and willingness of the subject to follow the instructions he or she is given.What are we to make of this experientially gifted elite with an Alice-in-Wonderland imagination who dwell among us, and who need to legitimize the use of their natural gifts by means of what Michael Ellner has referred to as the "transformational magic" of an an "nduction procedure? Where do these abilities come from, and what is their ultimate purpose? Human evolution is far from finished. and ,aliens observing us from afar would surely conclude that our evolutionary development has been lopsided. With 99% of the same genetic makeup as our closest simian cousins, the chimpanzees, there is little doubt that our evolutionary development has been uneven.. We have highly developed frontal lobes which enable us to formulate lofty ideals and distant goals, but all too often our emotional centers prevent us from achieving them. More than once in the last century, we have come close to annihilating each other; and many societal institutions are devoted in whole or in part to regulating our behavior so that we do not do so individually. With hypnosis, however, it becomes possible to pre-experience the rewards of distant goals now, in the present when they are most important for motivation, vastly expanding our range of choices regarding which motives to strengthen, and making it much easier to live up to the goals and ideals which evolution has enabled us to construct, but has heretofore made it difficult to achieve.Experiential hypnosis, then,
 is quite likely to be the next step upward in human evolution. And the challenge we face is to make it possible for all of us to make the fullest possible use of these abilities. 

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.





Monday, May 2, 2016

VRH: The Best Me Technique of Virtual Reality Hypnosis

(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 imaginatively talented 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. Because 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 excitement inside of you growing stronger and stronger, as you prepare 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. Watch 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.                                                                                                  

Discussion

Although most of us routinely 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 more thoroughly than expensive virtual reality systems, which only deal with the two senses of sight and hearing, rather than comprehensively involving the entire person in the experienced reality of a suggestion. 

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.  

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


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

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

Gibbons, D. (2001). Experience as an art form: Hypnosis, hyperempiria, and the best me technique. San Jose, CA: 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., & 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.

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

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 (3rded.). Philadelphia, PA: Brunner-Routledge.




 

John Hartland's Ego-Strengthening Technique

Hypnosis builds confidence and poise

I heard Dr. John Hartland present these ego-strengthening suggestions in a paper he delivered at a professional conference several years ago. I was impressed, but they seemed to be a bit too authoritarian for my taste. Later, I began to see more and more positive references to them, I decided to try them myself with my hypnosis clients. The response was uniformly positive. When I posted them in a hypnosis discussion forum, one woman told me that she used them so often that she knew them by heart. Another member told me that he used to routinely record these suggestions along with a hypnotic induction on a CD and give them to his clients to use as a booster between sessions. Dr. Hartland's suggestions can form an integral part of a comprehensive program of hypnotherapy, and I recommend them highly, At the conclusion of an appropriate induction and deepening procedure, the therapist may proceed as follows:

Preparing to Receive Post-Hypnotic Suggestions


You are now so deep in hypnosis that your mind has become so sensitive… so receptive to what I say… that everything that I release from the depths of your unconscious mind… will emerge so clearly into your awareness… and will cause so strong and lasting an impression there… that nothing will eradicate it.


Consequently… these abilities that I release from your unconscious mind… will begin to exercise a greater and greater influence over the way you think… over the way you feel… over the way you behave.

And… because these abilities will remain… fully accessible to the conscious part of your mind… after you have left here… when you are no longer with me… without interfering in the slightest with your ability to concentrate and to work and to think clearly . . .they will continue to exercise the same great influence… over your thoughts… your feelings… and your actions… just as strongly… just as surely… just as powerfully… when you are back home… or at work… as when you are with me in this room.


You are now so deep  in hypnosis… that everything that I tell you that is going to happen to you… for your own good… will happen… exactly as I have told you. And every feeling… that I tell you that you will experience… you will experience… exactly as I have told you. And these same things will continue to happen to you… every day… just as strongly… just as surely… just as powerfully… when you are back home… or at work… as when you are with me in this room.


You have now become so deeply relaxed that before we return to the time and place from which we left, you will fall into a deep, deep sleep. You have now become so deeply relaxed… so deeply asleep… that your mind has become so sensitive… so receptive to what I say… that everything that I put into your mind… will sink so deeply into the unconscious part of your mind… and will cause so deep and lasting an impression there… that nothing will eradicate it.

Consequently… these things that I put into your unconscious mind… will begin to exercise a greater and greater influence over the way you think… over the way you feel… over the way you behave.

And… because these things will remain… firmly embedded in the unconscious part of your mind… after you have left here… when you are no longer with me… they will continue to exercise the same great influence… over your thoughts… your feelings… and your actions… just as strongly… just as surely… just as powerfully… when you are back home… or at work… as when you are with me in this room.
You are now so very deeply asleep… that everything that I tell you that is going to happen to you… for your own good… will happen… exactly as I tell you. And every feeling… that I tell you that you will experience… you will experience… exactly as I tell you. And these same things will continue to happen to you… every day… just as strongly just as surely… just as powerfully… when you are back home…,,,,,, or at work… as when you are with me in this room.