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 (609)709-2043 and (609) 494-0009.

Driving directions: Take Mill Creek Road South, just off Route 72 E After about 400 feet, turn right into the office complex of Mill Creek Commons.Then, immedately turn right again and go past the Lyceum II Gym. Continue on to the Prudential Zack Building,which will be the only building on your right. We are the last office at the end.

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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.




 

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