The James Braid
Society's March 2005 meeting provided members with important insights
- and techniques - for dealing with the incapacity caused by both anxiety
Gloria May, one of
the founding members of society, presented a workshop during which she
explained the methods she employs in her work with patients who include
those who have recently been diagnosed as HIV-positive or with terminal
But as well as hearing
explanations, therapists at the meeting were given opportunities to practice
the techniques and discuss them with Gloria.
Her workshop began
with a description of anxiety (dithering with urgency according to a comedian)
and its effects which serious illness so often has upon patients. These
loss of sense of humour
loss of concentration and interest
repetitive and negative thoughts
never having enough time
loss of control
perceiving change as a threat
actions become clumsy
learning is halted
According to Adler
anxiety is an expression of desire and ambition as much as of fear - so
some anxiety can be stimulating and turned to good use. Too much
Some goals for a
person with anxiety-overload to aim for are:
change in attitude
self-acceptance and self-respect
mindfulness and calmness
restoration of meaning in life
and debilitating illness, the same as those for anxiety often apply," Gloria explained.
these are physical pain and the danger of falling into a state of self-pity.
The goals for the sick person to aim for are the same as for anxiety
but with the addition of an ability to deal with physical pain and a determination
to live as well as possible and thrive under difficult circumstances.
described hypnosis as a state of focussed awareness when limitations dissolve.
He went on to say that hypnotherapy is the reassociation of internal
life (in a more brutal moment he said 'enter their reality and mess it
From this it
is easy to see how hypnotherapy can benefit both the anxious and ill patient
enormously. However, there are a few pitfalls into which therapists
can fall. Some of those are:
insensitivity to the extreme vulnerability of an anxious or ill person
too many personal stories
too many inspirational examples (no accident that Erickson used the
metaphor of a growing tomato with a dying man - no competition)
sympathy (client and therapist both get stuck)
apathy (therapist protecting self and losing contact with client)
echo (therapist's own experience appears the same as client's)
needs to maintain empathy. There are many techniques to help with
this but by far the most important is concentration of what the client
is saying and a genuine interest in them as a person. A good analogy
is being totally involved in reading a story and, although it is somebody
else's story, connecting with it totally."
The next part of
the workshop was experiential with the group being led through guided
imagery designed to address some of the 'pitfalls' highlighted above.
This work set out to show ways of:
healing a particular part of the body
A general discussion
followed and exchange of ideas between the audience and speaker.
The evening ended with a quote from St Augustine:
do not happen in contradiction to nature, but only in contradiction
of that which is known to us of nature.'