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Join the DOTS to greater understanding

Sometimes the behaviours that people present with for Hypnotherapy at my Balwyn Clinic are incredibly painful and problematic for them.  It is no wonder they reach out for help.  Often they have tried many things before they come into my hypnotherapy clinic, sometimes they wonder if they are somehow ‘broken’ or a ‘hopeless case’.

What really is true is that the goal of any therapeutic intervention in my clinic is to give clients a richer, fuller, more satisfying life.  I am passionate about moving people on from their problems and setting them up for long term success.  I have a view that no one is ‘broken’ or ‘hopeless’.  I believe that people are stuck and sometimes the smallest shifts can create the most amazing long term changes.

Often the presenting ‘problem’ or behaviour is a ‘response’ to something else that is going on.  I believe that all of my clients are doing the best that they can with where they are at, and that many presenting ‘symptoms’ are strategies and methods to cope with what is going on.

To get a deeper understanding of what is really going on, it is often useful to ‘join the DOTS’ of the problem:

Distraction –How is the behaviour/symptom a distraction from strong thoughts or feelings which are unpleasant – and what would they be?  Drinking and gambling can be used to distract a client from frustration, anger and negative self-talk, for example.

Opting out – What does the behaviour or problem allow you to ‘opt out of’?  How does having this ‘problem’ protect you from facing situations or things that you could find troubling?  For example, anxiety and social phobias can be powerful tools in allowing someone to opt out of social situations that have a potential for them to suffer rejection by others.

Thoughts – How has the behaviour been rationalised?  How is the problem ‘fused’ to the self-belief of the person?  “I binge on chocolate because I am stressed at work” – What if the fusion of ‘binging on chocolate’ and ‘stress at work’ was not actually real?  What if the stress at work could be coped with in a different way, that was more valuable?

Strategies – How is the behaviour part of a greater strategy?  Often there are other behaviours that are not seen as problems which, together, form an overall strategy for coping.  This ‘constellation’ of behaviours provides a method of coping (often smoking, gambling, drinking are linked in this way) – but coping with what?

It is reported that some therapists remove one ‘problem’ behaviour only to have it replaced by another.  You may have heard of smokers who gain 5 kilograms because they become addicted to sweets.  If the smoking is a way of coping (as highlighted by joining the DOTS), then getting to what the client is coping with allows them to move on to a richer, fuller more enjoyable life beyond the issue – rather than replacing one coping mechanism with another.

Consider a problem behaviour that you have seen in yourself or someone else.  Try ‘joining the DOTS’ and see what you come up with.  How would you (or they) like it to be different?

I would love to hear your reflections or feedback on joining the DOTS, and what you learned. 

Please leave any comments below!

Live Well,

Phil.