Category Archives for therapy techniques

How to Change Limiting Beliefs

stuckA Practical Cognitive Behavioral Approach

In a previous article I have explored how our negative core beliefs keep us stuck. If you are not familiar with this I suggest you read “How to get Unstuck” first.

Now before going ahead make yourself comfortable. Take a pen and paper and get ready to do some very valuable work that will make a real difference in your life. Take your time with this. The more you put into it the more you will get out of it.

Ok, let’s get down to work: start by writing down the first restrictive negative belief you want to change. Then proceed with the following steps:

21 Steps to Positive Change

1) On a scale of 1-10 how true does this belief subjectively feel ?

2) On a scale of 1-1- how true is this belief in reality ? (be as neutral and objective as possible)

3) When does this belief the most emotionally convincing ?

4) When does it feel the least emotionally convincing ? Take your time answering this question as this will reveal to you what conditions exasperate the issue and what make it better.

5) What actual evidence do you have for this belief ? what supports it ? Be realistic and as neutral as possible

6) What actual evidence contradicts and challenges this belief ? What evidence is there to show you it might not be necessarily true ?

7) What possible advantages are making you want to hold on to it ? In what way could this belief be serving you beneficially in some perverse way ?

8) What disadvantages are there in holding on to it ?

9) Now remind yourself of a circumstance in the past when you had doubts about a belief . Go back to that time and recall what it felt like to experience doubt. How did you know you were doubting your previously firm beliefs? what were you experiencing ? what made you change your mind?

10) Recalling and staying with this doubting state start doubting your current belief. Ask yourself those questions again : does this belief really fit with what is truly important to me? In the past, when did this belief interfere with what I wanted to do? What would it be like to be free of this old belief?

11) After rolling these questions in your mind for a while focus again.

Is this negative belief an over generalization ? Is it the result of catastrophising ? Is it just a personal attack against your person or others ? Does it label you or others into something fixed ? Is it the result of demanding of yourself something unreasonable, such as ‘you SHOULD be or do such and such” ?

12) After careful consideration how true does your old belief feel now on a scale of 1-10 ? Now comes the fun part: relax , take a few deep breathes and close your eyes. Imagine that there’s a furnace somewhere deep inside yourself.

If you really want to permanently destroy that old belief imagine throwing it into that fire and watch it burn away into ashes. Take pleasure in doing this.

13) Now ask yourself: what would be a more helpful and realistic alternative belief  to have? State it positively (say what you want not what you don’t want!) .

Make sure you are happy with it. Word it in the present tense, as if it was happening now. (i.e. I believe I am good enough as I am, or, I believe I deserve love just as I am)

14) On a scale of 1-10 how true does it feel right now?

15) As you did before ask yourself , when does the new belief feel the least and the most emotionally convincing.

16) Examine the evidence against this new belief ? Is there any problem with it ? Then find evidence that proves its correctness and usefulness. Write it down

17) Write down any disadvantages there may be for holding this new positive belief. Be as objective as possible

18) Write down all the advantages of holding this new positive belief now.

19) Now go inside yourself again. Recall a time in the past when you felt receptive and willing to learn. Remember what it was like to be open to change and new beliefs.  How did it feel ? Re-live that time in as much detail as possible. Where in your body did you feel those feelings ? What were you telling yourself ? Do all it is possible now to achieve that same state again now.

20) Staying with that memory of feeling receptive and open focus on your new belief. How would it feel to accept this new belief ? How is it better than the previous one? How different would your life be if you held this new belief as your own ? What would you be doing that you were doing before? What could you achieve and overcome that you weren’t able to before? Think about all this and engage with your new belief.

21) Now evaluate your new belief.  Do you need to make any changes? Can you improve on it in any way ? How good do you feel holding it ?  On a scale of 1-10 how true does it feel now?

Now Take Action !

Now decide to take some action. What can you do differently right now, today, as a result of having acquired this new belief ? If you truly believed in it, what would you do differently?  Set yourself a task based on this belief being true and decide what action you would take.

Start doing things differently right now so that your new belief gets empirical support and you experience it in your life. This way it gets verified, enhanced and supported and therefore embedded in your new behavior patterns.

Have fun with it, experiment and watch your life change and feel great as a result !

How to Get Unstuck

unstuckFeeling Stuck in your Old Ways ?

When we are blocked in an area of our lives it often is due to the fact that we feel safer that way. We may feel unhappy but that is easier to deal with than our fear of the unknown. We begin to change when the pain we experience in staying stuck is bigger than the anticipated pain of change.

A lot of fear comes down to our negative core beliefs : deeply held beliefs acquired some time in the past due to painful experiences. Becoming conscious and challenging these beliefs is the first step in the process of change.

For a moment, think about something you would really like to do or be right now but don’t feel able to. When you’ve got that, write it down. Do that now. Maybe you have always wanted to be an artist so write down “I am a capable and talented artist”.

The Trouble with Positive Affirmations

Now, in all probability a voice in your head has just emerged to criticize this statement bringing up all sorts of reasons why this is either impossible or a bad idea. Positive affirmations can give us a sense of safety and hope if we let them but at first you will probably feel they sound fake, embarassing or not right. No surprise there.  If you have spent all your life bludgeoning yourself with negative beliefs such as “I am worthless” or “I am not good enough” or “I must be perfect to deserve success” anything else will sound unfamiliar and syrupy or cheesy . So saying to yourself ” I am lovable just as I am” or “I am capable and confident” will surely sound untrue at first.

The problem with not accepting a belief because it doesn’ t sound right though is that feelings are a result of thoughts and if you want to change a feeling you have got to change the thought first. It’s a bit like the idea of “fake it til you make it”. You can’t wait to feel it to believe it, you gotta believe it to feel it! Luckily there are some ways to get around this obstacle, but all of these do involve a certain willingness to suspend judgement and take a leap of faith, as well as engage our rational mind doubting limiting old beliefs.

Seek out the Monster in your Head

So what is that critical monster in your head saying when you tell it you already are what you want to be ?( After saying your affirmation: i.e. “I am ok just as I am” )

Listen to the objections that come your way. What s the cruel voice saying inside your head ? “so you’re ok as you are… ah ah sure you are!”, “who are you kidding?”, “You are ugly”, “You will never change”, “You can’t do anything right”, “No-one will ever love you unless you are perfect”, etc etc… You will be amazed at the rotten things you can come up with. Write them down.  These are your personal negative core beliefs.

Become a Mind Investigator

Once you have written them down you can start having a good look at where these beliefs come from: Mom and dad? Your school bully? The boy/girl you were in love with when you were ten? Teachers that pushed you too hard? Your little jealous sister ? Scan your blurts for possible sources. Time travel back into your life in five year increments and list by name who influenced you the most in each block of time.

Once you have identified these challenge their opinions. What self serving reason could they have had to have done or said what they did do or say? How did their own worldview influence them ? What did they believe about themselves ? What messages did they grow up with ? Remember this is not about blaming or condoning, just understanding and distinguishing their beliefs from what yours would be if you hadn’t accepted theirs as true. If there is still a lot of emotional energy involved in recalling these memories you might have to release it first so you can forgive them and yourself and move on.

Keep in mind that it is also possible your negative beliefs may come from subtle non direct messages received from your environment or from an experience of something that happened to you where others were not directly involved:

Maybe you felt different because of a situation you found yourself in; maybe you were abandoned by a significant other; maybe you fell ill and became isolated; maybe you were born with something that set you apart from others and you yourself came up with the negative conclusion that you were not Ok just as you were: the possibilities are endless and very personal.

Challenge the Critical Voice

Whatever your monster is, after it has been brought up to the light of day you can start working on challenging its critical voice and changing those negative beliefs that keep you stuck and unhappy. If you would like help with a practical cognitive behavioral approach to this, read this article about “how to get rid of negative core beliefs”.

EFT Emotional Freedom Technique

What is EFT ? How do I use EFT ? Is EFT really effective ?

Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as EFT is a self help technique combining tapping on specific points of the Chinese Medicine Meridians (used widely in acupuncture) while focussing on the problem or issue at hand and repeating specific sentences tailored to the problem which aim to neutralize its effects. The type of sentences used are tailored to the issue and include principles of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) as well as Thought Field Therapy.

It is not yet known exactly why this technique works but I have found it very effective with most of my clients. It is a technique you can use at home whenever you want and I use it as a very powerful adjunct to my other specialities.  Before you do anything else you need to know which ones are the points to tap and in what order:

  • KC : Karate Chop
  • AE : Above the eye
  • SE: Side of the eye
  • UE: Under the eye
  • UN: Under the nose
  • CH: Chin
  • CB: Collarbone
  • UA: Under the arm
  • TH: Top of the head

There are also other points that you can tap but the above are the main ones.For a detailed video of where and how to tap watch the video below.

Here’s a detailed description on what to do:

  1. Focus on an issue / problem you want to resolve or a feeling of discomfort you want to overcome. ie. obsessive jealousy, insecurity, obsessive anxiety
  2. Measure on a subjective scale from 1 to 10 how intensely you feel about the issue or how intense the discomfort / pain is. 
  3. Begin by tapping on the Karate Chop point  and say 3 times: “Even though…. (the problem) I deeply and completely accept myself as I am”  i.e. KC: Even though I am obsessively anxious and worried about my boyfriend I deeply and completely accept myself as I am
  4. Now focus on the issue / pain / problem / discomfort and tap on the remaining points while saying how the problem makes you feel. i.e. AE: I feel so anxious about my boyfriend going out when Im not around, SE: I am worried he will find another woman UE: I am not good enough to be loved UN: he’ll find another woman and leave me CH: I am so scared of being alone CB: I cannot live without him UA: I’m so scared of being abandoned TH: Ill never find anyone else  (do this until you feel you have fully explored the negative feelings associated with the issue. If need be go back to the start and repeat the cycle using the same or similar sentences until you are satisfied)
  5. Now focus on the solution of the issue / problem discomfort and tap on the points again using positive sentences that neutralize the negative ones and emphasize choice. Ie. AE I choose to release this anxiety. SE: I choose to trust everything will be ok UE: I am lovable and I deserve love UN: I love myself and I am loved CH: I ask source energy to heal me CB: I want to let go of this worry and anxiety UA: I forgive myself and my past loves for all the pain caused TH: I choose to allow myself to start letting go of this obsession (again, feel free to go round several times, until you find words that work for you. Remember that what matters is not the words in themselves but the intention behind them
  6. Repeat step 4 and 5 until you feel you’ve worked through something
  7. Take a deep breath
  8. Measure on a scale of 1 to 10 how intense the feeling is now.
  9. Repeat the exercise until you reach 0 or a number that satisfies you.

If you do not feel you’re going down chances are you are resisting this technique. Do you feel silly tapping ? Tap on your resistance and you’ll find out what bothers you i.e. KC ‘Even though I feel silly tapping and this is stupid I deeply and completely accept myself’ etc

Remember the most important thing is the intention behind the words. Feel the words, don’t just say them. Believe them and make them yours. 

Another example about insomnia:

  1. i.e. KC: Even though I am obsessively anxious and worried about not sleeping I deeply and completely accept myself as I am anyway
  2. i.e. AE: I feel so anxious about not sleeping, SE: I am worried I ‘ll never be able to sleep UE: I hate going to bed at night in case I don’t sleep UN: what if I can’t sleep ever again?  CH: I am so scared of how tired Ill be tomorrow CB: I am so frustrated and angry about this UA: it’s not fair ! Why me? TH:I am too tired to deal with this!  
  3. Ie. AE I choose to release this anxiety. SE: I choose to trust everything will be ok  UE: I choose to relax and let go of this obsession UN: I begin to let go of this worry CH: I ask source energy to heal me CB: I need help letting go of this frustration and anger UA: I forgive myself and my body for putting me through this TH: I choose to allow myself to stop caring so much about sleeping so I can relax 

If you do not feel confident using this technique on your own I can help you by giving you a demonstration and guiding you through it on one of our sessions together. Afterwards I can provide you with a recording to use at home until you become familiar with it.

In addition to this I will provide you with audio recordings and worksheets if necessary in order for you to get a grip of what to say to resolve your specific issue. I have used this technique very effectively for clients with insomnia as well as anxiety.

Parts Therapy

Parts Therapy

is a method pioneered by Charles Tebbetts and based on the Psychosythesis Approach which was originally developed by Roberto Assagioli M.D . and which was then used extensively by  Roy Hunter. This technique uses hypnosis to identify conflicting parts that are damaging the well being of clients, then helps those parts negotiate with each other through the therapist to bring about a resolution. The focus is to achieve a synthesis, a coming together, of the various parts of an individual’s personality into a more cohesive self.

Another major aspect is its affirmation of the spiritual dimension of the person, i.e. the “higher”, “deeper”, or “transpersonal” self. This higher self is seen as a source of wisdom, inspiration, unconditional love, and the will to meaning in our lives.

This method is used during a hypnotic session of some depth, usually after a couple of initial sessions during which other methods are used to strengthen self esteem and develop trust with the hypnotherapist. This technique is most effective when there is an inner conflict that prevents a client from achieving a goal they consciously want to achieve but which seems to elude them.

If the client feels like they ve tried everything but they seem to be defeated by forces almost ‘outside of themselves’ it is an indication that there may be a subconscious part of them who is resisting change. The way to deal with this part is not to destroy it or deny it but to understand it fully. Usually these “parts’ of ourselves have been created for our own good at some stage in our lives. At the time they served us well to help us cope. They are natural part of our defense mechanisms. However, as situations change and we develop new agreements have to be made and old agreements revised.

To understand how these ‘parts’ are created take the example of “Mary”. Something happened to ‘Mary’ when, as an attractive young teen, she was  assaulted by a drunk stranger in the street after a night out. The stranger tried to get her to go home with him against her will. When she rejected him he lifted her up and tried to carry her home until he fell down. She was then able to escape. The experience scared her and  made her feel vulnerable and without defense. As a consequence she ‘told herself’ she would put on weight. This way she would never be considered attractive enough to be bothered by strange men and could never be ‘carried away’ by anyone. Many years have passed and now Mary is overweight and although she wants to reduce her excess weight she cannot do so, because the ‘part’ of herself that protected her against harm by letting her gain weight is now preventing her from achieving her goal.

We all have parts or ourselves that want different things from us. The part of me that wants to ‘just have fun’ may want me to stay up all night and dance with my friends on a week night while the part of me that is concerned about me doing well at work wants me to stay home and get an early night. There is nothing strange having different parts wanting different things. It’s only when we cannot resolve inner conflicts or when one part seems to sabotage us without us being aware of its motives that we might need expert help to try and shed light on the conflict in order to resolve it.

If you’d like to know more about parts therapy consider reading the book by Roy Hunter “Hypnosis for inner conflict resolution‘. This is a book intended for trained hypnotherapists.

Using hypnotherapy to cure addictions

It has often been said that one of the hardest things to tackle is drug addiction. However there are ways to help people who are addicted to drugs. One of these is to use hypnosis. There are several centers that use group hypnosis to tackle this problem.

First of all, just as it would happen in an individual session, the sufferers will be prepared, by being given a through explanation of the process. Then trance will be induced, deepened and used by giving detailed suggestions geared towards cessation of the destructive habit.

Suggestions to this effect will probably make willing subjects give up their addiction for the foreseeable future, provided their motivation to change was strong.

The only problem with this is its generalized approach. Because the therapy is not individualized and since people get addicted to drugs for all kinds of personal reasons and might be at different stages in their process of healing,  it might be that this way of working is only suited to some and not to all.

It is well known that hypnotherapy can be highly effective in treating people with an addiction to cigarettes. In the same way other addictions can be treated very effectively because the same principle is at work : hypnosis bypasses the critical conscious mind and deals directly with the subconscious.

Clinical trials have showed that out of ten individuals that tried group hypnosis to treat their drug addiction , all of them stayed drug free for six months after their sessions came to an end. However, after two years had passed, seven out of ten stayed drug free while the other three went back to taking drugs.

Obviously these results are very positive, and while results may not show up immediately , after a few sessions it has been proven that people stay clean for an average of two years or more.

There are some factors that are going to influence whether an addict is going to respond positively to this “group” approach. First of all, as already mentioned, there must be a strong motivation to stay free of drugs and a willingness to try hypnotherapy.

One of the first things you should ask yourself , if you have a drug problem, is whether you are willing to admit that you do have a problem and if you would be comfortable to join a centre for rehabilitation. Once there you could try many of the different techniques that will be on offer and if you don’t succeed with the others, try group hypnosis.

If on the other hand you feel you’d rather seek individual treatment you could see a hypnotherapist as well as a counsellor / psychotherapist and tackle the problem with their joined support. It is very important when you do this that you are truthful and you collaborate fully with them. They are bound by confidentiality and they will be able to help you more if you answer their questions with honesty.

Hypnotherapy, whether used in a group or not is very helpful in the treatment of addictions and it has been found to be highly effective in treating people with all sorts of issues. The only prerequisite is to be open to it working.

Whether you decide to go for the group sessions or the individual therapy, one session is not going to enough. A few sessions will be necessary (probably more when group hypnosis is concerned), but you will be able to feel the results fairly quickly, within the fist few days or weeks after you have started seeing a hypnotherapist.