Can hypnosis help with depression?

A beautiful metaphor to show how hypnotherapy works.

I wanted to share a story with you about one of my clients. I often use this story in my clinic to impress upon people how powerful hypnotherapy can be. Please be assured I have sought the client’s permission to publish this story as anything discussed in the clinic is always confidential. This is such an inspiring metaphor that my client was keen for me to share it with others. For anonymity, I will refer to her as ‘Diane.’

Diane’s story

Diane came to see me a couple of years ago.

She had lost her husband to a sudden illness just before they were due to retire. She had worked for an accountancy firm all of her life and was looking forward to enjoying a holiday-filled retirement with her husband before life dealt her this cruel blow.

She was now three years into her retirement, and life had stood still. All of her plans were gone. She was 65 and felt desperately depressed. A lot of days she didn’t even get dressed. She watched TV, had few hobbies and rarely left the house.

Diane came to see me to help with her motivation, find a purpose in her life, and move on from her husband’s death. As with all clients, I spent time listening to her goals and explaining how the brain works and how negative patterns of thinking can cause depression, lack of sleep, and a lonely cycle that can be difficult to break.

As part of the hypnotherapy, we always come up with a goal every week. We ask clients to visualise what they would like life to look like if their problems were gone, and then we make steps towards it.

Diane struggled with this part. She said she couldn’t imagine life being any better and certainly couldn’t see anything positive that she could do to help the situation. But as we explored this further, Diane told me an interesting detail. When she had retired, she had packed up all of her possessions from her desk and put them in a cardboard box. She had sealed the box with parcel tape and left it in her living room at home. She planned to unpack it immediately, but days had turned into months, and months into years. The box had remained in her living room as a constant reminder of how life used to be.

“I would really like to clear the box,” Diane told me, “but I am afraid it will upset me too much, you know, to see the possessions of the woman I used to be. I don’t think I can do it!”

“So, what could you do towards that goal?” I asked her.

Diane looked at me a little confused. “Well, I guess I could take off the parcel tape!” she said, almost laughing at how trivial a goal it would be – how could taking a bit of parcel tape off a box change her life?

But it didn’t matter. Diane had a goal and something that she could achieve this week. The size of the goal didn’t matter, but the forward momentum did. We did a good, robust and powerful trance session on the back of this first step forward.

The next week, when Diane returned, was unbelievable.

Diane came to my clinic, bright and early. She had a massive grin on her face and her dark clothes had been replaced with a bright, flowery dress. She sat down and told me what had happened.

“So I took off the parcel tape as we planned,” she explained, “and, you know what, curiosity just got the better of me. I couldn’t help but take a peek inside, and the first thing I saw was a photograph of myself and a friend that I used to have on my desk. I’d forgotten about her and we had lost touch. Seeing that photo prompted me to get in contact. We’re going out for a meal this Saturday…”

Diane was sitting upright. Full of confidence and quite remarkably different.

“I also found a certificate in the box. It was for a course I went on to do with accountancy. I used to love learning skills with numbers. I miss that skill. So I found a course starting in the Summer that I may go on and maybe even get a few private clients.”

Diane took a sip of water, and then before I could interrupt, she said:

“At the bottom of the box was a pen. My husband bought it for me for my first day of work. It never ran out! I felt happy to have been reminded of his kindness. I felt like he was with me when I found this pen.”

It was such an exciting moment in my clinic and testament to the fact that if the brain wants to change, then change can happen rapidly. Only a week ago, Diane had been depressed and directionless. Here she was, arranging social events, re-training, re-entering the workplace and recalling happy memories.

But more importantly, this story demonstrates such a vital part of the hypnotherapy process. Change begins small but multiplies.

In one week, all of this happened to Diane. Yet her goal was simply to rip some tape off a box. Look at the forward momentum it created for her.

In the clinic, I tell this story and ask the clients, “What is going to be your ‘parcel tape’ moment this week!”

Change can be small but the impact can be huge!

 

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