HypnoTalks Questions & Answers with Axel Hombach & Dr John Butler – Episode 3

What can you do, if your client cannot access their emotions?

From time to time we have clients where everything we apply seem to have no effect. They simply seem not to be able to access their emotions, regardless of how famous the method is we use.

In the third episode Dr John Butler and I are going to discuss the question what may be behind that behavior and what can we do so that the client can eventually access their emotions so that the hypnosis process can proceed.

You may be surprised at the answer a clinical hypnotist and neurologist with nearly 40 years of experience gives.

Was können wir machen, wenn unser Klient keinen Zugang zu seinen Emotionen findet?

Immer wieder finden Klienten den Weg zu uns, wo alles was wir anwenden keinen Effekt zu haben scheint. Sie scheinne einfach nicht in der Lage zu sein, Zugang zu ihren Emotionen zu finden, ganz unabhängig, wie berühmt die Methode ist, die wir anwenden.

In der dritten Episode diskutieren Dr. John Butler und ich, was hinter dieser Hemmung liegen mag und was wir machen können, so dass der Klient schließlich doch Zugang zu seinen Emotionen findet, so dass der Prozess mit der Hypnose weiter gehen kann.

Sie werden vielleicht überrascht über die Antwort sein, die ein klinischer Hypnotiseur und Neurologe mit rund 40 Jahren Erfahrung gibt.

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Axel Hombach

Welcome to HypnoTalks Questions and Answers with Axel Hombach and John Butler. This is now the third episode. And this time we are going to deal with a question of a colleague of ours from our close Transforming Therapy™ Facebook group. Christoph asked a question. He has difficulties with a client office and he is asking for ideas how to proceed.

My name is Axel Hombach. I’m the leading hypnotist and coach of the Hypnose Zentrum Köln. I’m currently online with Dr John Butler of the HTI in London, the Hypnotherapy Training International, the leading school of hypnosis and hypnotherapy training internationally.

Good morning John!

Dr John Butler

Good morning Axel!

Axel Hombach

How is everything in London?

Dr John Butler

Well, it’s a dull morning but everything is very well!

Axel Hombach

OK, wonderful! We are having a rally out here.

Dr John Butler

OK.

Axel Hombach

So, but that is not our concern. Now, let’s come to our question for today. We are doing it very much as the last time: I’m giving you the question that Christoph placed in our group and then we’re going from there. So, Christoph asks:

Dear Dr John Butler
I have a slight problem working with a client and I’d like to ask you for help. My client is 50 years old and has different kinds of anxieties. His biggest fear is that he will not be able to reach a toilet in time when he is away from his house. The special difficulty is he remembers situations of the past but without any feelings associated. He can feel only when he thinks of the future. I’ve tried the affect bridge with hypno-analysis and the Simpson Protocol and various other techniques. Zero feelings came up.

Can you, John, please give me a hint how I could help my client?

Thank you and many greetings from Germany,

Christoph

John, when I do a quick assessment, it sounds for me, as you mentioned in the last episode 2, like a lack of readiness for change. So maybe that is something to look into: What makes it difficult for the client to change, to be ready for change, what is it that may stop him from revealing his or accessing his emotions, or is he maybe uncertain if he can trust the hypnotist, is he testing the hypnotist.

What would you say?

Dr John Butler

Well, Axel, of course we don’t have the client in front of us, but …

Axel Hombach

Yes, this is always the difficulty when we do this sessions.

Dr John Butler

… of course we’re looking at the possibilities and this is a good example of working with somebody who has an inhibition on their emotional energies. In the old days the words were resistance. The client is resistant. But the client is having problems revealing their emotions. And thank you Christoph for this question. Interestingly, it’s a category of clients that we roleplay in our therapy training courses. How to help the client get into the emotion where there is emotional inhibition.

Now, like you say readiness for change and what these inhibition is it defense that he’s holding up is about, we can’t be sure at this point. But to start with, of course, we have a great range of uncovering methods using gestalt dialogue, sentence completions, and other tools and of course the right questions, good empathic communication with open questions, will all be encouraging the client to go further into their issues and into their emotions. Now, we’re not professional interrogators, as you will have in security forces where they’re trained to get people to open up and say things. I mean, I know about those techniques myself. You can help or you can almost, what shall we say, ensure that somebody reveals something. But we’re looking for a cooperation of a different kind from the client. It’s a therapeutic cooperation at a very deeper level so that the therapy can proceed. And a lack of revelation by the client which is necessary to build a therapy relationship is usually coming from a great fear of rejection by them.

If they were to reveal their feelings they would be judged to be inadequate. This lack of self-love that we often talk about is often at the roots of it. Now, the therapeutic relationship course depends on the therapists having the right traits and being able to be both confrontive as well as empathic and so on. So all of these set the scenes for the client to reveal in that therapy relationship we create the therapeutic or healing environment where clients can explore difficult feelings and start to reveal them and not feel they’re being judged. So all of that is very critical and needs to be in place for the client to reveal as well as the decision to cooperate the therapy, to be ready for change. Now, I would always explain to the client the relevance of emotions here, the importance with for therapy. This is a feeling mind therapy, hypnotherapy. It is not primarily cognitively if we want to use that kind of labeling or divisions that we talk about in therapy sometimes. Hypnosis is predominantly feeling mind therapy. The psychic truth we say lies close to the emotion and our emotions are there for us to use. The question is do we choose to reveal them and express them and use them constructively in life or do we, as in this case, inhibit them. And that client staying in the intellect is usually making a subconscious choice not to reveal. It could even be a conscious choice. But they will be revealing it by the way in their body, in nonverbal expression. And we can open up the feelings through different routes, through the Gestalt dialog, going through the body as mentioned about the sentence completion tasks. All of those can help the client get into it, but of course, in the final analysis if they don’t want to reveal the feelings, they won’t. Now, when we have a client who won’t reveal the feelings rather than I can’t, which is what they usually say, we will ask them, I would say, to use a sentence completion tasks such as „if I were to reveal my true feelings“ and get them to go through six, seven or eight iterations of that. Something useful will often come up because when they try and block it intellectually their feelings will be revealed in the body usually. You can even go to the other Pole and say „when I don’t reveal my feelings“ and the client might say „I feel bad“, „I feel the therapy is not going to proceed“ and so on so on and then after several iterations of that they might say „when I don’t reveal my feelings, I feel safe“ or „I feel strong“. But our job is to make them aware of the importance of the emotional energies being revealed so that we are then in the subconscious level of the mind. Then you can do affect bridge and other work. Without it the therapy can’t proceed and the client needs to realize the consequences. As with motivations, you know, we have to let people be aware when you don’t reveal your emotions you’re blocking off a major part of your being.

Now, therapy is more than emotions and emotions are of various kinds. We can explain their role in our lives for connection with life or connection with others and that we have the choice as to how we use them flexibly, adaptively, very creatively and constructively. Or, like a lot of people, we can choose to only reveal certain emotions in life by being either superficially always very happy, so we never connect with underlying sad feelings, or like some men who are very angry all the time, but really it’s kind of a cover, a lid on their sadness, or somebody who’s always sad and never learns to express joy. And so, as the client is educated about the value, the importance and the role of feelings, and by the way when the client doesn’t express emotion, the default emotion in a human nature, because we we can’t live without emotion, the default one that they’re left with, is really a form depression. They don’t really have a strong emotional energy available other than depression. And they may not be aware that they’re depressed even because they’re trying to cut that off as well. So there’s a lot of layers of defense mechanisms can be involved and we can help that client open it up with our therapeutic approach.

Now, when this client from, well, I remember you’ve just said about his fear of, you know, not being able to find a toilet out in the city, out and away from his home, there may be a lot of feelings of shame and guilt from events from things in the past, past events, and this is one of the reasons he’s blocked off not entirely the memory of the events but perhaps the feelings of shame and guilt that were so unpleasant. So, we’re going to get the client using all of the best tools, that we have that we’ve learned in our training and we’ll give them every opportunity and every help to reveal emotion. At the same time the client must take responsibility and make commitment to change and generate a level of readiness for change. We always say don’t work without a psychic commitment from the client. It would be far better to say to them now I’m not getting a psychic commitment from you at the moment so we can’t continue until you take off that suit of armor right take off that shell, protective shell, and give me something to work with. Give me some material. So, that’s dealing with what emerges in other words. So you would be well-advised even to say to the client who is absolutely unwilling to reveal emotion to think about it: „Go away, think whether you are you ready or not to work on this with me and then come back in a few weeks.“ And that’s a very powerful part of the therapy giving the client an ultimatum sometimes with a lot of positive message there that „I’m here to help you“ and „you can reveal this“ and „you’ll be fine“, „you can cope with a revelation and what it brings up“. So, if all of that is in place, that therapeutic relationship, the therapeutic environment then the chances of therapy proceeding are very very high.

Axel Hombach

So, thank you for your insights, deep inside, John. To sum it up, would you agree that you can say is work on the trust between the client and yourself, that the client trusts you more than he obviously does now so that he can change. Educate him so that he becomes aware of what he’s doing to himself and how important it is to have a connection to his feelings even though it might not be the feelings, or emotions, that he wants to feel. And then also, as you said, if I don’t get a psychic commitment come again at a later point of time so that you confront him with his unwillingness to work currently.

Dr John Butler

Absolutely Axel. You’ve mentioned about that therapeutic relationship and it’s such a foundation for the therapy. Hypnotherapist often don’t talk much about it but it’s well known and well established in all the literature. It’s key to therapeutic change. All the studies show that. Far more than the specific techniques in most cases that are being used. So, a client can be encouraged but they must make that commitment, too. It’s a two person approach. We are like the tailor but they must bring the cloth. If they don’t give us the emotional energies and the revelation of what’s involved, associated with the emotion, we can’t do the work. There is an excellent video of Lee, a case where Gil Boyne works with somebody who has greatly repressed emotion and you see how powerfully Gil is able to penetrate through that and help him to reveal. But the psychic truth that’s in there, associated often with shame and guilt, the client must feel that they trust you as you say to be able to reveal that and build that therapeutically appropriate form of intimacy that is part of the therapeutic relationship on which the therapy proceeds.

Axel Hombach

Especially when feelings as guilt and fear of rejection are involved.

Dr John Butler

Absolutely! Which is what many people feel at some deeper level.

Axel Hombach

Another word for, because you mentioned therapeutic relationship, is rapport, right?

Dr John Butler

Rapport is a very big part of it. We could spend some time talking about therapy relationship, the therapeutic environment, that healing environment as created, but that’s for another day, I think.

Axel Hombach

Yes. Besides you are teaching that in your classes.

Dr John Butler

Of course.

Axel Hombach

Okay John. Thank you very much we are inside again and we are coming to an end. Our time is up. We have now about 15 minutes. I’m very excited. We’re ready for the next interview that we are doing next week, where we go into a very fascinating other question. Right now, I would like to say again thank you very much and to all of our listeners thank you for listening and joining us in this third episode and have a good day. John!

Dr John Butler

Thank you very much Axel and for people out there, please keep questions coming. We’re looking, I’m looking forward to these informal discussions and we’ll look forward to another meeting, Axel, very soon!

Axel Hombach

Good bye for now!

Dr John Butler

Good bye for now!