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Friday, January 29, 2010

Explorations in Psychotherapy and Clinical Hypnosis: Recapturing an Earlier, Happier Time

Clients Often Come to Psychotherapy When They Feel They have Lost a Vital Part of Themselves:
It's not unusual for people to come into psychotherapy because they feel that they have lost a certain zest for life and they want to try to recapture a vital part of themselves that they feel they have lost from an earlier time in their lives. While psychotherapy and clinical hypnosis can't provide the Fountain of Youth, it can help you to try to remember and revive a certain aliveness and authenticity that you might have felt at an earlier time.

More than just a feeling of nostalgia or the pain of a midlife crisis, when we look back to an earlier time, we might recognize parts of ourselves that we might want to have come alive again in our current lives. For instance, if we feel that we have become too complacent or we're stuck in a rut, we might want to recapture a part of ourselves from an earlier time that was more curious, daring, and adventurous. And, now, with the benefit of having had more life experience and, hopefully, better judgment, we can recapture those energized parts of ourselves to explore new ideas and expand our sense of ourselves.

It might be that those parts of yourself might have been dormant for a while. But, often, through clinical hypnosis, you can re-experience a particular phase of your life and see what you might want from that time and how you can benefit from recapturing and reviving that part of yourself. Of course, there are no guarantees in any treatment. But the following vignette, which is a composite of several cases, is an example of what I'm talking about:

When Scott started psychotherapy, he was in his late 50s, divorced, and feeling like he was just living from one day to the next. He was successful in his career, but he had lost his enthusiasm for his field long ago. He was dating a couple of women casually, but he didn't have anyone that he felt strongly about. In fact, Scott didn't feel strongly or passionate about anything, and this was a big part of his problem. He felt like he was just existing. He didn't feel any highs or lows anymore. His emotional world felt flat. But, according to Scott, it wasn't always that way. There was a time when he was more actively involved in community affairs, he volunteered with several organizations, he was in love, and felt more involved and "alive" in his world.

Scott said he had not felt "alive" and passionate about his life in at least 20 years. He yearned to feel energized again the way he used to feel. When we discussed when was the last time that he felt passionate about his life, he talked about a time when he was involved in a local community project that was very important to him, he was in a relationship with a woman that he really loved, and he felt invigorated by his world, curious, and open to new experiences. "What ever happened to that person?" he asked.

Although clinical hypnosis tends to be faster and go deeper than regular talk therapy, there was nothing magical or very quick about Scott's hypnotherapy treatment. There were many underlining issues that had to be dealt with before Scott started to feel better. However, through clinical hypnosis, Scott was able re-experience that earlier phase in his life and remember--not just in a factual way--but to actually have a felt sense of what it was like for him when he was happier and more fulfilled in his life. Over time, he was also able to recapture and revive that part of himself in his current life.

Although his hypnotherapy treatment was not a "quick fix," he began opening up and allowing himself to experience life more fully again. He left his current field and went into the field that he wanted to be in 20 years ago. It was a dream that he had let go of because he felt like he was being more "practical." What he didn't realize is that, over time, he had become closed off and his life had narrowed. This had a deadening effect on him mentally, emotionally, and physically. Soon after he entered into his new field, he felt that his life was now more aligned with his personal values. He also met a woman that he really cared about.

As the years go by, it's easy to overlook how some of the compromises that we make, often out of necessity, can affect our lives. After a while, if we're not careful, we might find that our world has become a lot smaller and we are less and less satisfied with our lives. Sometimes, it's only after we have been in a rut for a while that we realize that life isn't as meaningful as it used to be. We might look back at a happier time and yearn for those earlier years. Often, through clinical hypnosis, you can recapture the felt sense of the more energized parts of yourself that are dormant now and reintegrate them to lead a more fulfilling life.

I am a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist in NYC.

To find out more about clinical hypnosis, visit the ASCH website:

To more about me, visit my website:

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.