I’m suspicious of anyone now who asks me a question such as: What techniques or strategies can I help my client with x or y disease or condition?  I’ve had several such questions in the last few days and each time I sigh inwardly, at the very least, and then have to ask all sorts of questions to establish just who these diseases or symptoms belong to.  You would think that these things just arrive, like bad luck, or like some evil mutant gene or virus has been indiscriminately rampaging through the body.  So hypnotised has our culture become that our physical and spiritual beings are completely separate that it is hard to explain to people just how one and the same these two, purportedly, diametrically opposite positions, are.

It started with the Rotary club.  It was last Thursday and I was giving a talk on hypnotherapy to around 25 assembled members, all of whom were men, with a mean age of around 60+.  One question from a very gentle elderly man asked whether hypnotherapy could help his aged wife with her dementia.  I felt very sad that this poor man who’d spent probably 60 years with his dear wife, had felt that I could hold out some hope of a recovery just from telling me she had dementia.  How badly has our either/or mentality let us down and reduced suffering to the categorisation of only visible symptoms.  I asked the questions I thought might help me understand more about his wife and her condition, and indeed, I got a good understanding of what might be happening: Was she in fact suffering, to coin a medical term, secondary depression?  Perhaps at age 86 with adult children, and therefore grandchildren, abroad and physically frail perhaps she had just decided to slow right down and let nature take its course.  Perhaps it was her aged husband who was not accepting that she had made a decision to slow down.

Then it continued when hours later, my lovely doctor partner, asked if I would talk about pain to his colleagues at the hospital.  To be fair, I thought he was asking me how to treat it with Hypnotherapy but once I’d sufficiently railed at the idea of doing any such thing, he added ‘No. I wondered if you could talk about emotional pain and how it manifests in the body!’ By jove, I think he’s got it!  Yes. Yes. Of course I’ll talk about that.  But whether it will gain any greater acceptance through clinical routes is another question, but at the very least, I have an audience who has been primed by another physician to expect the unexpected.

And now I answer stray enquiries about how to manage or treat other diseases such as Cancer, Hypothyroidism, CFS, ALS and Graves Disease.  In all these awful conditions we can intervene  in a limited range of ways but all of them start with understanding the individual as profoundly as possible.  You see, these symptoms belong to that individual.  Just like my psychosis many years ago belonged to me, my psoriasis belongs to me and so does my sluggish gut.  Yes! I’ve had stuff too!  The techniques that anyone might use to treat any of this, in my opinion, are entirely secondary.  The interpersonal relationship, the rapport and the faith that we might have in our clients’ ability to recover, and indeed the faith they have in themselves, count for more than any technique you could ever dream up.  Our ability to remain profoundly centred so that we can really hear what our client is saying, so that we can really capture their life force with our presence and deliver what the client needs and wants is paramount.  You know, we don’t know if the client has or hasn’t realised that they have choices, we don’t know if the client is strong enough to make those choices, we don’t know if the disease they are gripped in has ever had any sufferers report recovery. 

The nature of consciousness and experience is profoundly subjective.  The quality of a person’s life is expressed in their relationships with people: not with money, status or reputation.  To develop a profoundly significant and whatsmore healing relationship, however brief, with a client who is struggling to become well, is a privilege that many therapists AND clients could miss out on if they are only searching for strategies and techniques, which with the best will in the world, are as likely to fail as to succeed.

Now, I’m sounding off again!  So many of you who have been listening to me and learning to look at the whole person are doing such a fantastic job, I even feel a bit churlish to get indignant about the questions I’ve been asked – but let me have a little bit of poetic licence for the purposes of my rant even if I know you’re doing so well.  In all cases, people are asking me precisely because they want to see the bigger picture, maybe they’re a bit too close to their clients, and hopefully they’ll get some input from me that is valuable.  So please don’t stop asking me.  It gives me things to write about and get steamed up about!  And I know how you like to see me all steamy….

Remember, just like the film, ‘The Matrix’, things aren’t what they seem, even if I appear to have overwhelming visible evidence that confirms all physical symptoms.  There is more to a disease than meets the eye.  Reaching into the spirit of a person and believing in them is, at times, better than any tonic a doctor may offer.  You could change the disease progression, or you could create a mindset with your client that is peaceful and stress-free which aids in their recovery or even in their demise.  It is not your choice to make.  You are the witness to their lives.  Help them live the lives they want to live, whatever pronouncements medical science has made.