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Tempering a Bad Temper

Sandra Warnken

Sandra Warnken

Did you know hypnosis can be used without diagnoses?  As a client-centered practitioner I help clients work with habits and symptoms by guiding their attention to physical sensations, imagery, thoughts, and feelings rather than assess depth of trance. As one teacher said, sometimes our work is to bring clients out of the trance they are in.

Jason, not his name, needed help with a bad temper.  He had called around to get help and left messages on voice mail.  No one had returned a call two days later.  I could hear the frustration and distress in Jason’s voice over the phone.  Because I answered the phone and was available to see him in a timely manner he was able to calm down.

Jason was extremely agitated when he came in.  He said he was on two medications, but they weren’t helping.

He needed to talk.  As he talked I monitored his agitation and guided his conversation toward topics that were calming.

When he started talking about his good buddy, he visibly started settling down. Recalling the things they did together, like riding motorcycles, made him smile.  I asked him to tell me more to facilitate the settling.  I learned that Jason felt safe with this old friend.

Jason also had a safe place he liked to visit. As he described it, he settled down even more. By the end of our time together he was much calmer and feeling better.

At the beginning of our second meeting Jason was again very agitated and needed to talk. When he mentioned his interest in classic cars and motorcycles, an image of a tachometer popped into my head. I decided to use the idea of a tachometer to help Jason become aware of the tension in his body and how it was related to his anger.

Yes, he said he was familiar with tachometers. I invited him (eyes open) to imagine a tachometer that  worked with his body. I said it shows that his idling speed is very high.  It also shows that it doesn’t take much gas to go from idle to redline.

Jason sees (imagines) the tachometer and says that idle speed is 10,000 RPM.  Redline is 15,000 RPM. I ask him to scan his body and notice what he is feeling at 10,000 RPM. I told him that for our purpose redline is related to the kind of anger he is troubled with. We might find that he can be angry and in control or that he is out of control (in the redline zone). Our task is to get the idling speed down and to learn how to back off the gas when approaching the redline.

Then I asked Jason if he noticed how his idling speed slowed down when he talked about his good buddy the last time. He hadn’t noticed. I invited him to recall what he had talked about, prompting him with some of the experiences/words he mentioned.

As he started remembering he started smiling. He could feel the change in his body. He reported that idle speed was now 8,000 RPM.  The I asked him to think about his safe place.   He reported his idle speed went to 6,000 RPM. He was surprised and amazed that it took so little to feel so much better.

Jason had a direct experience of the mind/body connection and how what he thought about affected him. He left feeling calmer, empowered and hopeful.

Sandra Warnken, CCHT, SEP

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