Hypnosis is not always your best next move

I got a call today

Well, actually, my assistant took the call. She’s worked with me for over 10 years, so her ear is tuned to hear the questions of callers with great sensitivity – and that sometimes results in the call being forwarded on to me. It gives me a chance to answer questions, ask a few myself, and to sort out whether the potential client’s needs match my skills. 
My assistant is so good at this that she typically sets up most callers with an appointment – but never hesitates to hold off on that with callers whose questions fall outside the typical. The calls that grab her attention are those revolving around the use of clinical hypnosis.
The caller today wondered if I might help her with memory and recall for her college classses.
Not a bad idea, in general – but sometimes the details are critical. The caller explained that she’d been a good student in the past – but she was struggling to study and recall anything lately. She’s decided that it was time to make a career change, and had enrolled in a local school to prepare for a career in healthcare. But, why – she wondered – can I not remember anything that I read, even immediately after closing the book. “I study for long stretches of time, take copious notes in class, and read and highlight all my assignments as they are given. So, why am I nearly flunking out at this point? Can hypnosis help me?”
My caller was especially eager to know – as she had no insurance that would be applied to the cost of services. She was, it seemed, asking for a bit of a guarantee. Given the circumstances, perhaps I would have done the same thing!
Could I ask a few questions? Sure, she said.

Critical details

I’m going to leave several details out, so as to not inadvertently reveal too much identifying information. Suffice it to say that this is a busy, stressed young parent with an extra helping or two of personal responsibility. She’s tapped into appropriate community resources, but she is tired all the time. And depressed. And anxious enough at bedtime that it’s hard to sleep.
She’s been taking a standard dose of an anti-depressant, and a tranquilizer at bedtime to get to sleep. A quick inquiry of a medication database on my smartphone revealed that one of the top side-effects of the anti-depressant is “somnolence” – a state of near sleep, by one definition. Oh, and I was told at a conference that tranquilizers of certain classes [benzodiazepines] have a potential of interfering with a person getting into deep stages of sleep. You can sleep – but not get a quality rest.

What to do

I suggested that the caller save her money, but make an appointment with the doc who prescribes that anti-depressant. He needs to know how you’re functioning, I said. Maybe re-think the medication. Or, refer you on to a psychiatrist who can sort this out with his or her specialized knowledge base.

Fundamentally, this is an example of how a well-intended solution to a legitimate problem gets applied – and then goes off-trail over time. Unrelenting stress leads to depletion and poor functioning. We receive anti-depressants and tranquilizers. Sometimes, these medications are life savers – they can work for some without degrading our awareness or ability to sleep well. But that is not always the case. My caller was ready to add another intervention on top of the others already in place. Not necessarily the best idea, I thought.

Hypnosis would have potentially helped with anxiety reduction, but not really gotten to the most important aspects of this person’s situation. In this situation, it seemed likely that the caller would only be coming for a session or two – and that would have yielded another setback for her. Going back to her doc, and sorting out the treatment that is already under way is sometimes the best move.

Need more information about hypnosis?

Great! Here’s a good place to start – the public section of the website from the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis – where much of my training originates.
More questions? Give me a call at 402-334-1122