"The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep."
- Henry Maudsley
Cancer, although much more curable than in the past, is still a very, very scary health issue for anyone. Following is a synopsis of my work with a client who only had a few months to live when I was first contacted.
My client, whom I shall refer to as Charlene, was in her late 40’s and had been bedridden for 4 months before I met her for the first time. When I walked into the house and saw her, I was struck by how ill she looked.
And there was something else that was just as disturbing: The look on her parents' faces. My unease was confirmed when we began talking and I learned that Charlene’s parents wanted a miracle.
For those of you who know me, I am always adamant about being on the "right side of the law" as it were.
I.E., always get doctor’s referral when necessary, avoid using the word "cure", always under-sell what you can do and always over-deliver on results.
I knew I was in a tight place. It is very challenging to hear and deeply feel a parent’s request to do what medical science so far hadn’t done—save their child. As you can imagine, it is times like this when instant self-hypnosis for courage and confidence is very handy.
So, in front of this very ill person and her parents I clearly stated that hypnosis has at times, helped people to overcome incredible challenges and sometimes, it makes dealing with inevitable things easier. I told them the story of how Dave Elman’s father was hypnotized for the pain of the cancer that he had and was therefore able to remain comfortable up to the moment of his death.
I then told Charlene and her parents about the 1958 Life Magazine article about hypnosis and how it helps people with many things from the pain of severe burns and cancer and more.
I also talked about several other amazing stories that are well documented about the healing power of the mind.
You see, I wanted two points made very clear: (1) Like anything in this world, hypnosis has limits but also, at times can produce amazing results (2) I wanted Charlene to start building the expectation that hypnosis could absolutely help in some way. To ask her to simply believe that she might be totally healed would answer her fears but would also paradoxically increase them because "cure" is a very hard thing for any person to believe; especially when it comes to hypnosis. Plus, it would be unethical. So, I worked on building her belief in the idea that hypnosis could help in some positive way.
I had to be very clear with the whole family that results could range from palliative to spectacular and that they had to prepare for all eventualities. I did not want to give false hope nor did I want to destroy the one thing that is crucial: Desire for healing. This is a difficult line to walk because a hypnotist has to be realistic and yet convey a firm belief in miracles. I believe it was Wayne Dyer who said "To be a realist you have to believe in miracles."
It probably took 30 or minutes or so of listening and then explaining what I could do and the range of what to expect by using hypnosis. I was very sure to use at least 7 absolutely provable stories that clearly illustrated the power of hypnosis, its limits as well and its possibilities.
Then I asked everyone there in the living room this one question: "Now that you know I will use every bit of my 24+ years of experience and success to help you Charlene and you know that the results can range from simple pain relief to the restoration of health and you understand I can offer no guarantees, do you still wish to hire me as your coach?"
The collective answer was yes. "Oh boy" I thought. "I’m not getting out of this one." But it is my belief that we all are where we are supposed to be or, we wouldn’t be there. I know it’s "New Age Pretzel Logic" but, in trance it makes a lot of sense.
Anyway, I had to start helping my new client. So, I figured I’d just ask a few questions to get an idea of what my client’s "carrots" or motivating factors toward health might be so that I could use them to add power to suggestions for healing and then I’d do a simple stress relief session.
Well, things didn’t exactly go that smoothly. You see, when my client started crying really hard after a short series of seemingly harmless questions, I briefly wondered if having explosive, eye watering flatulence would have gone over better. That’s how I felt anyway.
But, quick recovery is an ability that experience gives to a person. And, experience also teaches you that any and all client responses are valuable information sources---and her response taught me a lot about how to work with someone I’d just met a half-hour ago. The point here is that I could have seen this response as failure or as something useful.
Now, before I continue, I think this is a good point to mention something called ‘client mortality’ -- and it isn’t when your client dies in your office though I did once have an elderly woman start spitting blood in the middle of an intake session. (I’ll talk about that wonderful experience in another article.)
‘Client mortality’ is when you see a client once or perhaps twice and then they never come back even though they scheduled more sessions. There are many rationalizations a person can come up with to explain this and some of them may indeed may be true but most of the time client ‘no-shows’ boil down to this one explanation: Pain overload.
Most people do not see a hypnotist because they feel good. How many of you reading this have had a client show up and start crying within a few minutes of talking to you? This happened to me the other day when I had an initial session with a woman whose boyfriend had tried to murder her three weeks earlier.
The issue I am addressing here is that your first and most important goal is to help your client feel good until they are strong enough to deal with deeper issues whose resolution will most likely lead to a long lasting sense of greater well-being (and perhaps greater health). I knew that my cancer client had a deep well of "stuff" that needed to be dealt with and I also knew that would not happen for some time—if ever.
I want to emphasize this: I knew that my client had a great deal of "stuff" to talk about and my first inclination was to get her to talk about it---and I would have been dead wrong in listening to my intuition. Had I pursued what I really "felt" to be the compassionate thing I would never have had a chance to do the compassionate thing---because she simply was not in the right place to deal with her "stuff". She needed to feel better and fast because she was dying and the compassionate thing to do was to offer immediate comfort.
And believe me, the thought of not making her better and then dealing with her parent’s disappointment was daunting. I cannot imagine how doctors feel when they lose several patients a year. Hypnotists are lucky because most of the time they get to deal with people who will get better most of the time—and at the very least, the client will be no worse off then before they saw a hypnotist.
Okay, let’s get back to the story: At this point, I’ve been sweating bullets because this is an incredibly tough situation with a lot of people in deep pain and one person dying and then I accidentally make that person cry.
Now, I knew in my soul that I could do something for Charlene and I wanted to do what I could. So, I apologized for accidentally causing her discomfort and then I asked her: "Do you want me to leave or would you prefer I stay and guide you through a powerful stress reduction session?"
Now mind you, while I’m asking this, a part of me is thinking "Oh God, I’ve been invited into these people’s home to help their daughter, I know they want a miracle and so far all I’ve accomplished is to make their daughter feel miserable---please kill me with lightening or locusts now Lord."
Good thing all our prayers aren’t answered, eh? I was invited to stay. And I was invited back.
So far we’ve had 6 sessions. Charlene is now feeling much better, she has a lot more energy, she is on less pain medication than when we started and she is leaving soon for a vacation—something that was impossible for her to imagine a month ago.
Is she cured? Who knows. She’s going in for a check-up and an MRI and we’ll know whether or not the tumor has shrunk. All I know is that for her the last 6 weeks have been much better than the four months previous to when I was given the chance to be her coach.
I want her to be better—what healer wouldn’t want that for their client (and their resume)? I do know that despite overwhelming odds I was able to help and that is the point to this whole article: Act in spite of fear. Believe in your ability to help in some way. Be realistic—believe in miracles both large and small.
LEARNING POINTS IN THIS ARTICLE:
Hypnosis does not substitute for appropriate medical care. However, with a doctor’s approval, it can be a valuable adjunct.
Always be clear about the benefits and limitations of hypnosis. Avoid misrepresentation. Stack the cards in your favor by "under-selling" so that you can always over-deliver.
Every response you get from a client is information you can use to their benefit and to yours.
Get comfortable with at least 7 believable, provable hypnosis stories from your case histories and from textbooks. Story telling is a fantastic method of "suggesting" changes.
Always help your client to feel better before doing anything else. Client mortality is a real issue that can cost you and your clients. Avoid pushing your client’s pain buttons too soon and/or too hard. And in some cases, never do it at all. Above all, practice compassion.
Be a realist.
Update: I was about to send this article when I realized I was meeting with my client in two days and I knew she’d been to the doctor for a comprehensive MRI.
So, here’s what happened: I went to the house and when I walked in she told me: " The radiologist examined my MRI and told me 3 things: (1) I had a blood clot (2) The original tumor had not changed at all (3) The cancer had spread to my spine."
You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was certain she was better. She’d looked it and felt it.
Here’s what else Charlene told me: "But then my doctor called and he said that the radiologist was an idiot because the radiologist had no comparison MRI and couldn’t possibly determine whether the tumor had changed. The truth was that the tumor had not spread to my spine. In fact, the original tumor had shrunk significantly. My doctor said he knew the tumor had shrunk because when he saw me two days ago, (just before the MRI) he couldn’t physically feel the tumor--but he sure could the first time I saw him."
There are a couple of very important points to take away from this: (1) The story above. Be sure to use it to illustrate to your clients that a second opinion is always a good idea before believing a bad diagnosis. (2) I do not for a minute think that it was just my service that shrunk the tumor. I am simply a part of my client’s healing team. Every little bit counts. Remember, God heals and doctors send the bills.
"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." - Mother Teresa
C. Devin Hastings is the president of the Minnesota Institute of Advanced Communication Skills and also runs a private hypnosis practice.
Other Informative Websites By Devin:
www.Create-Changes.com (free seminars for weight loss, diabetes control and stress reduction)
www.War-Stress-Relief.com (a non-political website dedicated to our soldiers and their families)