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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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Lessons from the History of Hypnosis

It is often said that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, and this is particularly true in the history of hypnosis. Until comparatively recently, in Western culture the experience of trance was interpreted as due to demonic influences or, occasionally, the mark of holiness or sainthood, as it was in the case of Saint Teresa.

Saint Teresa was a prone to spontaneous
states of Rapture.

Although healing by means of trance induction probably dates back to prehistoric times, the revival of interest in the induction of healing trances in Western culture may be traced directly to the work of the Viennese physician, Franz Anton Mesmer (1733-1815). Mesmer was considerably influenced by the teachings of Paracelsus that the stars and the planets exert considerable influence over human behavior by means of their magnetic fields. He decided to investigate the implications of this theory by slowly drawing some small magnets over the bodies of his patients. This was frequently found to be accompanied by convulsions, fainting, and the disappearance (at least temporarily) of a host of symptoms which today we would attribute to the power of suggestion. But to Mesmer and his followers, the discovery of these new "powers" of magnetism appeared to be an exciting medical breakthrough. 

Mesmer soon discovered, however, that he was able to produce the same results without the aid of special magnets. This led him to conclude that the "magnetism" in question was coming from his own body. He abandoned the use of metal magnets altogether, and simply began to make passes in the air with his hands near the bodies of his patients. He coined the term "animal magnetism" to explain what was happening.

When the demand for his services had reached its height, Mesmer proceeded to "magnetize" a large elm tree on the estate of his patron, the Marquis de Puységur, a few miles outside of the city of Paris; and great crowds would often gather to stand under the tree, either to derive the benefits if its healing power for themselves or simply to observe the dramatic results which were apparently produced in others.

Events were to take yet another turn when a retarded peasant lad of twenty-three named Victor Emmanuel was brought to stand under the now-famous elm tree, in the hope that the "magnetic rays" which were supposedly emanating from the tree might also be of some benefit to him. As many developmentally challenged people are apt to do when they are placed in a situation in which they are not quite certain what is expected of them, Victor, though he remained standing, promptly utilized the occasion to avail himself of a quick nap. Other patients standing under the tree, seeing Victor asleep on his feet, apparently perceived this event as merely another result of the strange mesmeric rays emanating from the tree; for they promptly began to feel drowsy and to "fall asleep" themselves, thereby initiating a change in the form of suggestion-induced trance experience which heralded the death of mesmerism and the birth of traditional forms of hypnosis.

Hypnosis immediately became an object of fascination.

By now the role of suggestion in determining both the outward form and inward experience of trance behavior should be obvious. The mesmeric "crises" we re brought about by implicit suggestions or expectations arising from the eccentric astrological notions of Paracelsus, whereas the "sleeping" or hypnotic trance was first manifested by people who were imitating the behavior of a person who was too stupid to realize that he was supposed to go into convulsions and went to sleep instead! An induction procedure provides both the occasion and the opportunity for those who are able to respond well to suggestion to go ahead and do so. All the rest depends upon ongoing cultural narratives, explicit or implicit cues which are present in the situation, and the ability and willingness of the participant to comply with the instructions and suggestions which he or she is given. (Gibbons, 1979).

Today, we no longer need to rely upon the model of trance behavior which was accidentally provided to us by a sleeping mentally challenged individual over two hundred years For example, hyperempiric inductions are based on suggestions of mind expansion, enhanced awareness, and increased responsiveness and sensitivity, in contrast to traditional hypnotic inductions based on expressed or implied suggestions of lethargy, drowsiness, and sleep. (Gibbons, 1976). Hyperempiric inductions, or "alert hypnosis," have been found to be just as effective as traditional hypnotic inductions in facilitating subsequent responsiveness to suggestion (Bányai, & Hilgard, 1976; Gibbons, 1976, 1979: Gibbons & Lynn, 2010). But this time, we didn't have to wait for another historical accident to come along to change our expectations of the manner in which a person is supposed to experience a trance. I simply made it up!

Given such a wide degree of latitude that an induction may take, the question then becomes, what kind of an induction is the most beneficial in facilitating responsiveness to suggwstion In clinical settings? I prefer to use one that is comprised of suggestions which are in themselves the most beneficial to the client as he or she begins to experience suggested changes. Specifically, I like to use an induction which is based on riding through the colors if a rainbow, with each color associated with a different pleasant emotion and further enhanced by suggestions of time distortion, with the pot of gold at the end signifying everything the client hoes to obtain from the induction, to insure comprehensiveness. This can be preceded by a more traditional induction if desired, with the client first going "down" into hypnosis, and then "up" into hyperempiria (GIbbons & Lynn, 2010).

Here are the hyperempiric suggestions I am currently using after a conventional induction:

Now the scene is changing, and we are standing on the top of a large mountain which is covered with clouds after a sudden spring shower. If you accept each detail of the situation as I describe it, without trying to think critically, your imagination will be free to allow you to experience the situation just as if you were really there.

One end of a large rainbow is touching the ground right in front of us. We walk up to this rainbow and prepare to enter the first band. As we go through each band one by one, each band will present you with a priceless gift, which you will be able to take back with you. And the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the treasure that your life is becoming as we continue to explore the joys and wonders of all that you can do with your imagination.

 First, we are entering the red band of the rainbow. Red is the color of strength and the color of love. Feel this strength and love flowing through you now, overcoming negative emotions, overcoming physical discomfort, paving over the effect of every bad thing that has ever happened to you, and filling and flooding every muscle, and nerve, and cell of your being with wave after wave of infinite, boundless strength, and confidence, and love, and power. [Brief Pause]

Next, we are entering the orange band of the rainbow. Each time that I lead you into hypnosis you go higher; each time you go faster, and each time you experience this happiness more beautifully and more intensely than you did the time you before.Feel the happiness flooding through you now, filling and flooding every muscle and nerve and cell of your body with wave after wave of infinite happiness and boundless joy. Infinite happiness, and boundless Joy [Brief Pause]

Yellow is the color of healing. Each time you repeat this hypnotic meditation, all of the healing processes throughout your body are considerably strengthened. As we travel through this band of yellow light, you can feel its healing warmth, flooding into every muscle, and every fiber, and nerve of your body, penetrating to the very core of your being.-- body, heart, mind, and spirit.[Brief Pause]

Now, we are entering the green band of light. Green is the color of renewal. The farther we go into the rainbow, the more your sense of the passing of time is slowing down. Regardless of the time we may actually have been away, it will seem as if we had been gone for an eternity. And the benefits of our journey will be increased in direct proportion to the time that it feels like we have been away together.

Now, we are traveling through the band of blue, which is the color of Heaven, and the color of Eternity. This is the true reality, and the universe from which we came is merely an illusion. This is your eternal home beyond the stars, and the spark of Divinity which is within you is nothing you less than the energy of the Universe itself 

You will always look back upon these journeys with fondness, even as you look forward to the next opportunity to return to them ,with ever-increasing anticipation; for each time that you embark upon these hypnotic meditations you will be able to obtain even more benefit and more growth from the experience as it continues to change your life forever into a thing of wondrous beauty.

Next, we move into the purple band which contains the heightened mental and spiritual powers that are becoming yours in ever-increasing amounts, as your consciousness drifts higher. You are a child of the Universe, more highly evolved than the rest. And this is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you. 

Now we are entering the band of violet, which is the color of serenity. It’s only the separation from this infinite ocean of perfect peace, and calm, and tranquility, that is the source of all unhappiness, all depression, all anxiety, all loneliness and all despair. And now that this separation has been removed, it has brought you an inner peace, which is greater than anything that you have ever dreamed of, longed for, hoped for, or imagined, and far, far beyond the power of.the human imagination by itself to even begin to comprehend.

Finally, we have come to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, which holds the priceless treasure that your life is becoming as you continue to practice this mindful hypnotic meditation. Pick it up and take it with you; for it contains everything you wanted from this experience, regardless of whether or not it was specifically included in the suggestions that you were given, and regardless of whether or not you were even fully aware of them yourself at the time..
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. E. (1979). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. New York: Plenum Press.
Gibbons, D. E. (1976).. Hyperempiria, a new “altered state of consciousnes” induced by suggestion. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 39, 47-53.

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. 267-29

Sunday, May 12, 2019

How to Make Friends with your Inner Hypnotist

It is generally agreed that cognitive-behavioral psychology is the fastest-growing orientation within the profession. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, may be summarized as the study of the relationship between thinking, feeling, and behavior.  Just as physical therapists can provide you with exercises to improve physical functioning, cognitive-behavioral therapists provide exercises to develop more effective psychological adjustments.
The information referred to in any of the links below can be downloaded by clicking on the link and using the print command on your computer. 

We all carry an 'inner hypnotist" around with us in the form of deep-seated   beliefs about ourselves, the world, and the future, which psychologists refer to as out schemas. When these schemas tell us negative things  about ourselves, they can act like an "inner hypnotist" which keeps us from acting in accordance with our own best interests, and we are usually not even aware of  them until they are pointed out to us. Cognitive-behavioral therapists frequently use a document called a thought record in order to examine just what goes on when we keep making those angry responses that keep getting us into trouble, which can also serve as a guide for constructing appropriate hypnotic suggestions and autosuggestion's. Here is what one looks like, courtesy of They also provide a summary of the STOPP technique, which they describe as "CBT in a nutshell," and which can be summed up in one sentence: "Try not to act merely in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider view; compose yourself." 

Here is a video in which the STOPP technique is humorously demonstrated by comedian Bob Newhart. Behind his humor there is more than a grain of truth!

Following is a hypothetical example of how the anxiety thought record form might be used to see a situation from a different perspective. Using the example of being suddenly cut off in traffic by another car, with the column headings in italics and one set of possible responses in standard type. You can practice using these forms for a number of other hypothetical situations, or situations that have actually made you angry in the past, in order to be prepared for a variety of possible situations in the future. 

Situation: A car suddenly swerves in front of you and slows down, causing you to slam on your brakes in order to avoid hitting it.

Feelings, Emotions,:  An increase in heartbeat and blood pressure, clenched jaw, faster breathing.

Emotions/Moods (rate 0-100%):  Anger.

Physical Sensations & Reactions: Swearinggripping the steering wheel

Unhelpful Thoughts/Images:  Urge to speed up and pass the car in front of you, honk at the driver, make an angry gesture, and cut back in front of him.

What I Did/What I Could Do/What's the Best Response? (Re-Rate Emotion 0-100%)  Realize that the emotion will pass in a few moments, but if you act on it the situation could escalate and possibly lead to serious complications.

Finally, the folks at have a toolbox of resources which is a treasure-trove for people who want to alter hard-to-change behaviors of every type, but especially addictive ones.They have prepared a selection of tips and tricks for managing anxiety in such a manner that in many instances you can not merely control it, you can get rid of it!  Here is a partial list of some of the other materials which they have to offer. The information may be downloaded free of charge by using the print command on your computer, although donations are encouraged. Here is a partial list of some of the materials which they have to offer:
Just as reading a book on surgery will not make you into a surgeon, and reading an exercise manual will not build muscles, merely reading a Blog posting on how to train yourself to avoid stress will not be enough to enable you to get rid of it. People who practice meditation do not hope to attain enlightenment merely by reading about it, Regular practice using the thought record for a variety of situations is the key to making CBT work for you 

Confucius said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." No matter how long the journey, cognitive-behavioral psychology, especially when undertaken with professional guidance, can be of great assistance in successfully reaching your destination.

See also: 
How to Keep Your Boss from Driving You Crazy
Toxic People who can Wreck Your Life