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How far can you go?

When working with someone in clinic, it is important to respect their view of the world.

For someone with anxiety, it is natural for them to worry about if they are doing hypnosis ‘right’.  This fear can stop them engaging in the session unless we respect this and make it completely OK for them to have whatever experience occurs. (And in truth, there is no right or wrong way to do hypnosis, anyway!)

For people with depression, they can be so used to feeling hopeless and helpless, that it is natural for them to often believe that they cannot change, and that they remain stuck as they are.

Respecting where people start from allows us to work together from there to shift them to somewhere better.

For a client who had been suffering from his ‘depression’ for years, and with a list of previous unsuccessful therapies and therapists as long as my arm, to suggest that the session would ‘completely change their lives’ would be a bridge too far.  When they come in for therapy, such a suggestion would be overwhelming and completely unbelievable, based on their experiences to date.  To create such ‘expectations’ is unfair on the client, and often on the therapist as well.

In the end, we may achieve significant outcomes, but isn’t it a nice surprise for the client when that happens?  I will often suggest that we only experiment, that we think about what only moving the first millimetre may look like.  That the start of a journey begins this way.  Small shifts can lead to significant outcomes, particularly for people who have lost faith that they are capable of any change at all.

By building trust and respecting that the client understands their experience better than anyone else, therapy can be gentle, respectful and work beyond a client’s natural resistances and beliefs that things cannot change.

So when you think of your problem, how much do you think you can change?  How often are you encouraged to ‘feel better’ or ‘change’ when these are things you have been struggling to do for a long time?

Sometimes, for some people, moving a millimetre can be seismic.  It can be the difference that opens new possibilities.

So don’t be anxious about what you can and cannot do.  Don’t be depressed about how much you think you can or cannot change.  These responses are entirely natural.  So are the possibilities that can emerge when we move beyond where you are, and experiment and see what is possible for you.

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