Many of my clients have discussed with me their frustrations of reaching a point in their lives where awareness is no longer enough, they are looking for transformation. How do we reach consciousness and powerful life change in a world of psychotropic medication, life coaching and long term psychotherapy ? We have created a culture of extreme self insight of why we do the things we do, or believe what we believe. However we often find ourselves regressing to old ways, or unable to sustain long lasting change despite our rational understanding of ourselves. During the process of traditional psychotherapy and sometimes via self help books many of us have found the connection of how our upbringing and family environment affects us. However after all that reading, and self awareness, how many of us really experience true transformation ? So how do we take this self awareness and understanding to the next level ? Continue reading
Many philosophers, artists and mystical teachers have reminded us of the existence of other realms of reality, whether in nature, in the cosmos or within the core of our own being. I have found that in the healing process, it is imperative not only to address the external influences on the development of our ego but also work on developing and accessing the higher self or the soul. It is my belief that the future work of psychology and healing will focus more on the development of the soul and the awakening of higher consciousness within us.
Most therapies that include “soul work”, will encourage clients to develop some form of meditative practice, or work with altered states of consciousness. Besides meditation, the therapist may utilize hypnosis, past life regression, energy work or spiritual inquiry as a way to expand understanding and tap into inner guidance, healing and personal transformation.
Hypnosis has existed since early civilization when the Egyptians practiced inducing an altered state of consciousness for healing purposes. During the first part of the century Freud experimented with hypnosis recognizing that a patient in a hypnotic state was open to receiving and acting upon suggestions leading to beneficial outcomes. Today hypnosis is no longer regarded as an ancient or experimental treatment technique and is practiced widely by doctors, dentists, nurses, psychiatrists and psychotherapists. In 1958 the American Medical Association approved hypnosis as a safe practice with no harmful side effects. This sparked extensive empirical research into how hypnosis can be applied to a myriad of human health and mental health concerns from allergies to chronic pain, from exam anxiety to phobias and from stress related illnesses to trauma and abuse. Numerous studies found that hypnotherapy, or the use of hypnosis as a treatment modality, is effective, cost efficient and longer lasting when compared to other treatment approaches. Recently the focus of many clinicians has been to use hypnotherapy to help treat society’s most combated of all ills – weight and smoking.
Karen came to my office due to feelings of depression and helplessness. She revealed that she spent countless hours at the gym exercising and pushing her body to its limits and still felt fat and unattractive. Though Karen would appear slim, physically fit and attractive in anyone’s eyes, she felt trapped in a cycle of binging on food followed by excessive exercising, leading to exhaustion and injury. She stated that her exercise routine had began to take precedence over coming into work or meeting friends socially and that missing her 3-4 hour workout could lead to feelings of depression or irritation. Karen is suffering from what mental health professionals would call exercise bulimia. Exercise bulimia is an eating disorder that is now considered to be almost as dangerous as anorexia yet much more difficult to detect as the individuals affected seem to be merely health fanatics. Exercise bulimia is characterized by binging on food, followed by an impulse to “purge” the excess calories consumed, by exercising it off. It is estimate that nearly 5 million people in the United States suffer from eating disorders and that close to 12% of gym goers are exercise bulimics. What distinguishes an exercise bulimic from a health fanatic is the intention or motivation behind the exercising. Exercise bulimia is not as much about physical health and fitness as it is about self-esteem, perfectionism, and control. To an exercise bulimic missing exercising throws them into a state of panic or depression as thoughts of getting fat preoccupy every moment of their life. It is believed that bulimics have an underlying depression, which they try to assuage with food as if trying to fill a bottomless void. This is then countered by severe feelings of guilt and shame that are experienced as a result of overeating. Exercise is then no longer viewed as a desired healthy activity but as a punitive and necessary measure to stave off the possibility of weight gain and the intolerable feelings of self-loathing. Exercise bulimia is quite difficult to detect as exercise is considered to be a healthy and desirable activity in our society. A physician may first suspect there might be a problem when a woman gets amenorrhea or stops menstruating due to a drop in estrogen levels associated with over exercising. Exercise bulimia can also lead to physical harm when a woman’s body fat drops below normal levels and she begins to injure easily. Continue reading
According to the Center for Disease Control (2000), it is estimated that 25% of men and 21% of women over the age of 18 smoke cigarettes in the US. Seventy percent of the smokers indicated an interest in quitting and many have attempted to quit in the past or are currently in the process of quitting. It seems that people are aware of the messages regarding the health hazards of smoking and are striving to kick the habit, however many seem to have a hard time doing it. It is indisputable that the benefits of being a non smoker are many and that smokers know that quitting is beneficial, so why is it so hard to quit? Cigarette smoking can create a physical as well as psychological dependence and both dependencies need to be addressed in order for the individual to give up the cigarettes. The focus of many smoking cessation interventions are pharmacological which target the discomfort of nicotine withdrawal or serve as substitutes for nicotine. Addressing the physical dependence can be effective in the short term, however unless the psychological or unconscious reasons for an individual’s smoking habit are addressed, this solution may be temporary or ineffective. Nicotine can serve as both a stimulant causing a pleasant buzz as well as a sedative creating a calming or soothing effect, making it a mind/mood altering experience, which has cognitive or emotional triggers. Certain life situations which are “eased” by the cigarettes in some way create a psychological dependence on the cigarette which may be conscious as well as unconscious. For some people cigarette smoking may create the effect of a temporary “high”, for others it may reduce stress or anxiety, while for someone else smoking may help with focusing on a task. So what does it take to finally break free from this unhealthy habit ? Continue reading