Posted by: cg00n | August 22, 2008


On Wednesday I went for my inaugural meeting with a hypnotherapist.  I suppose I was expecting a quiet, slightly gloomy room with a couch and a session involving someone talking quietly and intensely while swinging a gold pocket watch in front of my face.  What I got was everything except the pocket watch.  I have yet to figure out quite where the hypno- part came in, but it certainly feels as though something beyond simple counseling happened.

Armand seems to be a quintessentially new age hippy.  He is a little older than I which is good because it helps me to imagine the kind of person I might grow up to be.  Like me he sports a small rat tail braid and uses a PowerBook G4 Macintosh.  He has various qualifications (which I did not study in detail) from Boston University and is deeply into shamanism.

I started by explaining my rather poor state of mind of late and some of the contributory factors.  After some discussion he pointed out that the physiological symptoms of anxiety and those of excitement are pretty much identical.  A previous counselor pointed this out to me many years ago but I have never been able to flip the switch in my brain that gets my subconscious to interpret butterflies-in-the-tummy in a positive way.  So he got me to tell him a story in which I was really excited about something, to the point of being unable to eat.  I responded with an imaginary trip to the beach when I was a kid:  having trouble getting to sleep, bouncing off the walls the next day until I was set free at our destination and then being unable to decide what to do first but enjoying every minute of it.

Next he told me a story about a time when he was feeling isolated, fearful and sick and how a friend who was also sick asked him to play his flute for a while.  Armand didn’t think he could, but eventually dragged himself out of his hammock, found his flute and began to play it.  This had an immediate and profound effect on his state of mind.  It felt, as he put it, as though he was honouring his part of a contract he had made with the universe which, in turn, was coming through with the support it had promised.  What, he asked, is my contract with the universe?  I didn’t really know how to respond to that but after some thought I offered; “I want to leave this world more balanced than I found it”, a statement that came to me many years ago and seems to sum up the goal of my life fairly well.   This seemed like a satisfactory response and he went on to ask me what I would consider a more balanced reaction to my anxiety/excitement than the reaction  I have at present.   Assuming that this was somehow supposed to connect to the rest of our discussion I suggested that I should react by picking one of the exciting things and getting on with it, just as I would when I got to the beach.  It later occurred to me that I should actually make myself a short list of things I really want to do so that I can, in fact, follow through without too much thought.

That, in essence, was about it really.  I’m curious:  anyone else out there tried hypnotherapy?  Does all this sound right?  It is certainly true that I have had a couple of good days since and that I am finding that circumstances that might previously have provoked the butterflies now produce a feeling of pleasurable anticipation.   As always I’d be interested in your comments.

It looks as though I’ll be going in for lymph node extraction on September 4th (at 07:30am – groan!) and that I’ll be in hospital at least overnight.  I will have the dreaded catheter to look forward to and will have to spend the whole time lying prone.  My iPod now has lots of music and video to entertain me and I hope to have bunch of “Buddhism for the Great Unwashed” material to study so it shouldn’t bore me too much.  It is hard to get excited about the whole thing but maybe that feeling of pleasurable anticipation will eventually creep over me.



  1. That doesn’t, to me, going solely from your description, sound like hypnotherapy. (I am a hypnotherapist.) We don’t do the gold watch thing any more, but most of us do actually set aside a part of the session to get our clients into an unusually relaxed state in which their deeper motivations and feelings are more accessible.

    Possibly your therapist was using “waking hypnosis” or “Ericksonian hypnotherapy”, which don’t always involve a formal induction into a recognized trance state. In any case, it seems that you got a subconscious shift which improved your life, so it probably doesn’t matter what it’s called.

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