For the first time ever in my newsletter, I want to present the work of a colleague. Melissa Tiers is a very talented practitioner whose work mirrors much of what I do. By this I mean, that we work in different ways, while following many of the same principles. I particularly love how Melissa maintains a wide open frame to work within, staying open to the many levels of communication that take place in every interaction. She exhibits a deep faith in the ability of her clients to change and prosper.
This interview with Melissa is excerpted from an interview she did with The International Association of Counselors and Therapists.
If you would like to find out more about Melissa’s work please follow this link: http://melissatiers.com/
You can consider this article to be a high quality addition to the four part series I just presented on Seishindo MindBody Coaching.
2. The language of your body – Part 1
IACT: Hello Melissa. Perhaps we could begin by asking what integrative hypnosis means to you.
MT: Integrative hypnosis, to me, means that I have the freedom to do whatever works. It’s an umbrella, under which I combine ideas and processes from Classical and Ericksonian hypnosis, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Cognitive Behavioral and Energy Psychology and whatever else comes to me in the moment with a client. I think it’s also about an integration of all aspects of the body/mind. I consider integrated change to include neurological patterns, an awareness of the biochemical interplay of emotions, and the energetic system. I think physical change is a natural progression of that. We help people shift their whole “gestalt” and allow for more generative change.The whole unit of self is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.
IACT: The history of results using Integrative Hypnosis is quite compelling. Nearly every professional has an ‘aha’ moment when they know this is the kind of work they want to focus on. What experience brought you to this point in your career.
MT: I think for me it was a series of aha moments that brought me to this work. I would have to say I was always fascinated by altered states of consciousness. Once I got a glimpse of the malleability of mind and perception, I never stopped searching for the boundaries of what was possible.
I have been constantly amazed and humbled by what people were capable of changing. I think the most exciting thing about this field of work is that it keeps expanding. With every new research study, every shift in neuroscience and mind/body medicine, we get to create new interventions. I think we are so lucky to be at the cutting edge of consciousness. I actively seek aha moments every day. And I’m happy to say, I usually find them.
IACT: Do you have a preferred technique you like to use and can you give us an example?
MT: I have so many techniques I love to share with my clients but none that I would say is the preferred technique. I’m a firm believer in utilization so that I never know what I’m going to do until the client is in front of me. This way I go by the language used, the gestures and metaphors, the clients inner strategy for doing the problem, the beliefs that hold it together and all the other resources the client brings in.
If the client describes a lump in their throat, I might have them place their awareness there and explore changing the shape and color of the lump, or listening to what that lump has to communicate. If a client says they have an overwhelming emotion, we might drop down to see what’s underneath the emotion, or use the emotion as a bridge back to where we need to go, in order to change.
I think there is a basic structure to change. A four step pattern that is the foundation for just about every change process. So as long as I keep that in mind and know which step the client is in, any ritual or process can be the preferred technique in that moment.
IACT: Can you expound on the basic structure of change and this four step pattern?
MT: If you imagine that when your client is in their problem state, awash with negative emotions, it’s like they’re wearing a particular pair of glasses that colors everything they can think of. If they are depressed then everything they think of from their past and future is depressing because the brain sorts by emotional/biochemical states. So they say things like, “nothing ever goes right” or “everything in my life is a mess” or “nobody loves me” Step one is getting the client to access their problem state, so we can see what that looks like as well as find the trigger that makes the problem state “automatic”.
Now we have an infinite amount of ways to do step two, which is “dissociation”. Think of it like having the client take off the colored glasses they were wearing in their problem state. Whether we use a relaxed trance to dissociate, have them watch a movie of the problem scene, or have them pull out the kinesthetic aspects, like a spinning feeling in the body, we are inviting them to step out of their problem state. Dissociation is like removing the emotion from the memory.
Step three involves having the client access a resource state, to help them experience how they want to feel when facing their problem. If you tried to do this without the dissociation of step two they would have a much harder time coming up with a resource or a solution because they would still be stuck in the negative emotional state, so every solution would be clouded by that.
We all do this pattern in many different ways. If you think of a typical hypnosis session we get the client into trance (a neutral dissociated state) and give positive suggestions or visualizations to get them into a wonderful state. Or if you help the client regress back to the cause of their problem, it’s when you bring in the resources to comfort, forgive or even just inform the younger self. So step three helps the client put on a very different pair of glasses, so they can see other options, opportunities and solutions.
Then in step four we bring the resource state to their initial problem “trigger” so they can experience their problem from the perspective of having the necessary resources to solve their problem. From a resource state of strength, confidence, forgiveness ,or any other more positive state we have them look at the problem. Then we condition the resource state to become the response that crops up as an alternative way of reacting to their initial problem. Now their problem state becomes the trigger for the resource state. Then we future pace to various examples in the past, where they might have had a problem, but now can feel the resource state come up instead. This allows the change to spread and become generative.
I should also mention the fact that some of my most powerful learning has come from the clients that I didn’t help as much as I would have liked. They inspired me to keep trying new approaches, expanding my tool kit and sometimes changing my whole view of certain conditions. I think these sessions taught me how to dance in ways I never knew I could.
IACT: In closing, what final thoughts would you like to leave us with regarding Integrative Hypnosis and it’s impact on the clients we assist.
MT: I think it’s important to remember that there are many ways to change and that ultimately we do what the client believes they need in order to heal. Not what webelieve they need. If we shift beliefs congruently then the inner healing process gets activated. Research on the placebo effect gives us a glimpse into what’s possible when we believe.
So having many different approaches gives us that flexibility. I’m willing to think outside the box because I ditched the box years ago, and thus I no longer know exactly what to expect.