Ericksonian Therapy  - Case Studies -  Case Examples  PAGE 1


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Arthritis,   Bullying ,   Creative Block ,   Depression/ SAD ,   Eating Difficulties/ Disorders, Embarrassment/ Self Confidence,   Exercise Motivation & Sports Performance, Fear Of  Flying ,  Guilt ,   Self-Healing ,  Insomnia ,  M.E. ,  Nervous Mannerisms,  



A woman in her sixties presented with a considerable weight problem and  a painful arthritic left  hip which precluded strenuous exercise - though she was  able to walk slowly for a very short distance round the local park. Hypnotic work  was done which induced her to walk the right rather than the wrong way round the park - which she was able to do comfortably and sufficiently often, painlessly and  strenuously to enable her to take up other activities to follow  a weight  reduction program. Evidently it’s the difference that made the difference !                    Got it ………???


A young and overly conscientious accountant presented with a profuse  tendency to perspire, which responded to treatment and then stubbornly   re-appeared. Deeper investigation revealed  the un-admitted problem - that he was being severely bullied by his departmental boss. The man would approach   and hover over his left shoulder, making him exceedingly nervous, and would   then persecute him about any errors or hesitant explanations  for particular sets of calculations.

I told the client that he evidently wasn’t polite enough to his senior !  In future he was to be ready to execute a series of manoeuvres,  which - to the  observer - would appear to be manifest signs of politeness and deference, but which, skilfully applied, might well result in his boss suffering  painful and memorable acccidental injury from his office chair - for which my client could incur no blame !   The young man subsequently reported that though he had looked forward to the opportunity - he never had to resort to these strategies.  His boss had mysteriously stopped  picking on him !  Evidently ( !!?? ) the boss sensed that bullying strategies were now doomed to fail with this person !

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Creative Block   

1. A woman writer with two young daughters, deeply depressed and unable  to work through a difficult marriage break-up, finds a new calm detachment and  resumes a positive and productive life after six sessions.  

2. A highly talented and creative film editor, with ambitions to produce his own work, but severely inhibited in his exchanges with the people he needed to influence to achieve his aims, talks volubly, through four sessions - with only the briefest of  brief  therapeutic (?) interjections.  Finally he gets his pet project off  the shelf  and into production !   It can be very important for the therapist to know how to take direction !

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Depression / SAD  

1. An international businessman, depressed long-term and socially and emotionally isolated recaptures zest for life after three long sessions, almost entirely ridiculous in content, during which he was induced to laugh uproariously for most of  the time.    Life can be  too serious to be taken other than lightly !

2. A driving young woman perfectionist, with artistic leanings, in  high-pressure journalism, was depressed with life and lack of progress toward  meaningful goals, her frustration compounded by progressive physical exhaustion diagnosed as ME.      Four weekly hours of deep hypnosis arrested the downward  spiral, reconnected her energetic, optimistic style, re-educated her into a  calm attitude of mind and led to steady progress through to complete  recuperation.  

3. An Egyptian man, susceptible to seasonal affective depression, found  our relentless grey "summer" skies overwhelmingly miserable. It took three  sessions of hypnotherapy to break the cycle of tension and depression and the  'grey' weather bothers him no more!  

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Driven to Distraction ???

A man arrived saying he was losing the ability to drive. First having  had a scare on a  motorway at night, in thick mist, after a long day's drive  and a turbulent Irish Sea crossing - he suffered vertigo and nausea and had to allow a companion to continue the drive.      Since then he had a persistent and increasing fear that on any wide road the car was swaying uncontrollably and  would go over the edge. This fear increased and applied to smaller and smaller  roads till he was threatened with inability to drive at all.  In the course of treatment, the pleasures of riding on an elephant's   back following each other in a line, on a photographic tiger hunt - which he seemed unable to remember afterwards - were described graphically .

He  disappeared without trace for two years, then sent another client who reported that the former had returned to driving with full vigour after - somewhat mysteriously  buying a caravan ! I was most amused - since I could understand quite clearly  how that had happened - but had no idea  that he would so directly provide the solution to his own problem !!    I know now what I said - but I thought it didn’t mean what I said at the time.  Never doubt the astounding ingenuity of  a client’s unconscious !

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Eating Difficulties/ Disorders  

1. A young woman barrister, suffering for 13 yrs from bulimia, disclosed that one of her secret habits was to steal into the kitchen at night in  order to eat flatmates' discarded food from the waste bin. She lost that  compulsion immediately after the first session and the complete bulimic habit  disappeared after only six hours treatment - not unusual for such difficulties in my   experience.

2. A woman doctor who had, for 15 yrs, binged secretly, regularly and uncontrollably on supermarket food, had been unable to resist supermarket stickers which proclaimed a food as 'new '. Her compulsion was frequently to fill a trolley with all the 'new' products and take them home and binge on them. To her considerable surprise she discovered she had lost the main part of   the habit after only 2 hrs of seemingly pleasant conversation. One further 2 hr  session resolved it completely.

3. A 37 year old businessman in a leading company was increasingly  embarrassed and stressed by a virtually lifelong inability to eat in public.  Caused by the punitive attitudes of a headmaster in his prep school, this had made him an expert in smuggling food from his mouth to his table napkin and depositing it surreptitiously in strategically placed flower-pots, ashtrays, etc. After six sessions he recovered completely and got promotion to a partnership - finding himself able to engage in all the social activities  connected with this in a totally uninhibited way. His wife's only lament was that she had to take him out to get a whole range of larger suits !  

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Embarrassment / Self Confidence  

1. A young man (27), so self-conscious and awkward he could not dance  with his girlfriend whom he feared losing because of his inhibitions, found  that two sessions later all the physical and mental restrictions had gone. Six   months later they were married and were soon starting a family.  

2. A young bride - to - be, anxious, sleepless, fearing she will  collapse in panic in the solemnity of the service and awesome silence of the church, can't wait to enjoy the big day after two sessions.  

3. A young woman under years of psychiatric treatment for depression and an inexplicable but uncontrollable embarrassment with young attractive or  authoritative older men, completely transforms to normal reaction and natural  hetero-sexual relationships after ten hours treatment.

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Exercise Motivation & Sports Performance

1. A judo expert, who had previously experienced difficulties in  competition through becoming sick with tension and anxiety, was finding it  increasingly difficult to increase his competitive rating - though his experience and competence clearly warranted it.   To win his seventh Dan, he first could engage in any number of contests but had to win three fights in order to have a chance to win a further four fights in a row, with people of equal skill. Ideally one would win the seven  fights with no losses - but this was extremely unlikely.  He reported success - surprised that he lost the first fight,  one he had expected to win easily, by being too relaxed - but by a  slight increase of tension he was able to win the next seven outright !

2. A young woman who became hyper-aware of herself and lost the ability  to serve at tennis, rediscovered how her body knew how to do that even if  her  mind had forgotten. Paradoxically she had to discover how to do it easily backwards in order to be able to do it comfortably forwards ! It only took two sessions.  

3. A runner, bored and lapsed from training for the London marathon, found a natural way of rebuilding her motivation and performance through  learning to enjoy running in several dimensions simultaneously !  

4. An overweight business-woman, unable to sustain a diet of exercise  and moderation, discovered how to build a natural way of achieving her desired weight by turning it into a personal investment project - with the aid of a spreadsheet.

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Fear of  Fear of  Flying ??

An Indian lady who had to fly to Karachi and who suffered profoundly  from fear of flying was given a two hour treatment during which she never  closed her eyes - except, perhaps, to blink. Reporting back two weeks later, it was discomfiting to hear that she had been churned with anxiety all the way out  there.   But then she explained.    “ It was because I was so worried that I wasn't frightened - that I kept  waiting for it to happen !  Anyway, on the way back I decided  it was silly to worry about not being frightened and I really enjoyed the trip  !"    ( What can you say ??? )

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A young woman, holding down three jobs to support an extensive family in  Croatia and a massive international phone bill, racked with guilt about her  advantages compared with their situation, but ruining her own life and relationships through this obsession, discovers her own needs and transforms her appearance,   her health and whole approach to life after six hours work. She now lets the family back home shift a lot more for itself.

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Self - Healing  

A young man with a profound and long-lasting muscular spasm of the hips  - resulting from severe childhood abuse - was put into a hypnotic state.   With good reason he was allowed to be conscious of what was said and to respond - even though a very deep state was induced..  Suggestions, made in the course of an hour, linked  sensations in his hands, placed on the affected areas, to the generation of local heat and healing vibrations. He soon remarked very strong but pleasant sensations in his hands which he could not move. It was suggested that these sensations could continue for a further five minutes after his eyes opened -   and the process was deepened and broadened so that it might be resumed in his sleep - previously severely disturbed by the condition.  

He soon opened his eyes  - but quickly and comfortably closed them again  - realising he could not move his hands while the heating continued. Five   minutes later this faded and he was impressed by the intensity of  the comfortable experience that had generated. Although this was a very specific  kind of physical problem, similar principles - learning to engage mind productively with matter - apply  in many other cases, including  skin disorders,  irritable bowel syndrome, even pregnancy difficulties.   A surprisingly wide range of physical and psychosomatic conditions can be addressed    With expert guidance, a short  series of  individually tailored and structured sessions  can also succeed with relationship and sexual difficulties.

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Insomnia - Severe  

A young woman executive going through difficult times in her career   after several rapid, enforced job changes was anxious, demoralised and severely  insomniac over a period of  months . She knew she could solve her problems if only she could stop  worrying, get some rest and rebuild her energy.

A very specifically focused tape recording was made with her to target the difficulty. Some considerable discussion was held about the merits of a voice recording alone or voice overlaid on a music track.

On departing I remarked that it was probably good that she had chosen music because then she could choose to concentrate on  listening to that rather than my 'boring old voice'. She subsequently reported a fortnight of returning home from work, switching on the radio to a music channel and remembering nothing till waking next morning - still fully clothed on her bed - but just in time for breakfast.

The recorded tape was apparently very useful - particularly because it had never actually been listened to !   So often the unconscious takes an unconscious hint and finds a better way !  

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M.E. A young woman freelance  journalist, highly striving and perfectionist had been scarcely able to work for a year due to her condition.    She was  impatient to resume a hard working and hard playing lifestyle.  Work was done to make her far more aware of her energy  levels.  As a failsafe strategy, suggestions  were embedded to make her capacity to work conditional upon  a  more nurturing attitude toward herself - so that if she tried to over-exploit her increasing  health her system ‘failed’ before she could break it - and would only rally again if she expended her energies respectfully.

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Nervous Mannerism ( Once Bitten - Twice Shy ??)

A city gent reported that he had developed an annoying nervous mannerism  - making strange throat noises by forcing air up behind the soft palate and  through the nasal passage - making a sound that was a cross between a frog and  a chipmunk. Under large stress he could rap them out like a machine-gun. His  wife was not amused - especially in the car !

I suggested we should measure the maximum extent of his bite - and that  to get maximum reliability we should do this with the aid of large Granny Smith  apples and a ruler applied three times per day to get a properly averaged sample.      Much time was spent in the discussion of the intricacies and niceties of   measurement and error theory - including parallax error - the  importance of observing office protocol in setting up the experimental  site and equipment , etc.   Some little time later he reported success.

' Ah good !' I replied ' Did you do as I suggested ? '

 ‘ Well, actually, no... ' he responded - seeming a  little apologetic.

 ‘ Never mind.....' I said  ' I had never really expected that you would. '

He had a jolly sense of   humour and - though somewhat puzzled -  didn't seem to mind at all !

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 Copyright Keith Bibby © December 2008