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.

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.


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    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!




    Monday, August 8, 2016

    The Psychology of Humor

    Which of the following jokes do you find amusing? Are there any that you just don't get, or are repulsed by?

    Did I read that sign right? 
    _____________________________________________TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW_____________________________________________In a Laundromat:AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT____________________________________________________
    In a London department store:BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS 
    ____________________________________________________
    In an office:WOULD THE PERSON WHO TOOK THE STEP LADDER YESTERDAY, PLEASE BRING IT BACK, OR FURTHER STEPS WILL BE TAKEN._____________________________________________In an office:AFTER TEA BREAK, STAFF SHOULD EMPTY THE TEAPOT AND STAND UPSIDE DOWN ON THE DRAINING BOARD._____________________________________________
    Outside a second hand shop: WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING - BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?_______________________________________
    Notice in Health Food shop window:CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS._______________________________________
    Spotted in a safari park: (I sure hope so)
    ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR_______________________________________
    Seen during a conference:FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN'T KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE 1ST FLOOR._______________________________________
    Notice in a farmer's field:THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES._______________________________________
    Message on a leaflet:IF YOU CANNOT READ, THIS LEAFLET WILL TELL YOU HOW TO GET LESSONS._______________________________________
    On a repair shop door:WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE DOOR - THE BELL DOESN'T WORK)_______________________________________
    Proofreading is a dying art, wouldn't you say?
    Man Kills Self, Before Shooting Wife and Daughter_____________________________________________
    This one I caught in the SGV Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this.
    It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!
    They put in a correction the next day.
    Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert SaysReally? Ya think?___________________________________
    Police Begin Campaign to Run Down JaywalkersNow that's taking things a bit far!____________________________________________________
    Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes OverWhat a guy!_____________________________________________
    Miners Refuse to Work after DeathNo-good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so's!____________________________________________________
    Juvenile Court to Try Shooting DefendantSee if that works any better than a fair trial!________________________________________
    War Dims Hope for PeaceI can see where it might have that effect!____________________________________________________
    If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last AwhileYa think?!____________________________________________________
    Cold Wave Linked to TemperaturesWho would have thought!____________________________________________________
    Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect HomicideThey may be on to something!____________________________________________________
    Red Tape Holds Up New BridgesYou mean there's something stronger than duct tape?____________________________________________________
    Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery ChargeHe probably IS the battery charge!____________________________________________________
    New Study of Obesity Looks for LargerTest GroupWeren't they fat enough?!-____________________________________________________
    Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas
    in Spacecraft
    That's what he gets for eating those beans!____________________________________________________
    Kids Make Nutritious SnacksDo they taste like chicken?________________________________________
    Local High School Dropouts Cut in HalfChainsaw Massacre all over again!____________________________________________________
    Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot DoctorsBoy, are they tall!____________________________________________________
    And the winner is...Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds DeadDid I read that right?____________________________________________________

    Believe it or not, the "Mirth Response Test" is aimed at examining the psychodynamic reasons why people tend to laugh at, not get, or be grossed out by, a particular joke. The idea is that laughter releases tension in areas which people might be conflicted about -- which is why so much humor deals with sexual topics. If there is just a moderate amount of conflict, you find it funny. If there is too much conflict, as might be expected in the idea of eating children, you might either be grossed out by it, or not get it at all because the notion is so repugnant.  (A less conflict-laden joke of this type might be, "I love animals. They're delicious!) If someone is inclined to laugh at the one about, "use floor below.,"  in the list above, it might be because . . . well, you get the idea.

    On the other hand, sometimes a joke is just a joke, as illustrated by the story of a man who opened refrigerator door to find a live rabbit inside, calmly munching on a carrot. "What are you doing here?" he asked incredulously, 

    "What does it say on the door?" asked the rabbit.

    "It says 'Westinghouse," the man replied.

    "Well," said the rabbit, "I'm westing."  

    Maybe we ought to just let the matter "west " there. . . .