As a hypnotherapist, I have strong opinions about therapy and it’s done.
Me? Strong opinions? Yes, it’s true.
I believe therapists, will all their training and compassion, are falling far short of how effective they can be.
I have seen from firsthand experience how quickly change can be facilitated. The fact that people can grapple for the years with the same issue, spending a fortune on the same therapist while talking about their week, is unconscionable.
I believe a few tweaks to the therapy model would lead to massively improved results. I’d love to see a study where therapists with existing practices make these modifications and see how it changes things.
1. Longer sessions
I believe something magical that happens at the one hour and ten minute mark. Something about enough time passing for the small talk to occur, the relaxation to settle in, and sufficient depth achieved into the heart of the issue at hand.
My sessions run for an hour and a half, and the people I work with more often than not reach the pinnacle of their insight towards the end of the session. That’s half an hour after they’d be over their classic 50 minute session.
They talk in therapy about door handle insights – the things clients tell you as they are walking out the door. It’s presented as a boundary issue, the client wanting to prolong the sessions. Maybe it’s the opposite? Enough time has passed for the insight to arrive, just as the time has come for the client to leave?
Making your sessions longer requires adjustment to your schedule, to how many clients you see in the day, to how exhausting each session can be. You may need to charge more. But I’ll go out on a limb and say it would be better to meet with your client for an hour and a half every two weeks and charge them double, then meet with them weekly for 50 minutes.
2. Close Your Fucking Eyes
One part of therapy can be a client learning and practicing better interpersonal skills with their therapist. In that case, looking at your therapist makes sense.
More often than not, you’re trying to figure something out about yourself. So why not point your attention inwards? You’ve already seen that bullshit picture, examined the carpet, and the upholstery of your couch. Object permanence dude, they’ll still be here when you open your eyes again.
In the world of psychedelics, the difference between tripping with your eyes open around others versus closed and by yourself, is profound. One is a party, the other, a fountain of insight. In guided MDMA trips for trauma, the client always wears a blindfold. I think the same should be true for most therapy sessions – closing your eyes helps you connect with your body and your subconscious mind.
When we step into the therapist’s office, we step in with a week’s worth of baggage, drama, and overthinking. Often therapists encourage you to explore your week, so you dive into the minutia of he said, she said, and try to glean deeper insight by working backwards from your current life.
You also spend a lot of time in your head, trying to “understand” your motivations in the hopes that cognitive awareness of how the parts fit together will help the problems go away.
I have met many people who explain in excruciating detail exactly why they do what they do, how it’s their childhood and their mother and how they see things. And they continue doing all their patterns. Because understanding does not always equal change.
My solution? relax your brain. Your conscious, overthinking mind is not your ally. Most of your decisions don’t come from there, and most of your thoughts don’t’ lead to change. Relax. Quiet your mind. Get over the ruminations. See what’s going on beneath.
I believe that if a therapist would help a client spend five minutes in the beginning of a session quieting their mind and connecting to their body, the rest of the session would lead to deeper discussions, access to subconscious motivations, illogical connections, and physiological catharsis.
The drams is happening in your body and your emotions, your brain is the excited child tagging along for the ride. Learn to listen to your body, to feel your feelings. You might find yourself processing deeper shit from earlier in your past, and getting over it to a greater degree.
The three points I listed above I believe to be the biggest common denominators that could be applied to any therapist’s work. The rest of what I do, IFS, NLP, gestalt, guided imagery, existential explorations, are unique to my specific modality; I believe they are supercharged and made more potent by by the contextual approach I have implemented.
All this being said, despite me being an opinionated motherfucker, I do acknowledge that no one thing works for everyone. Some people need their rational understandings, their CBT. The same way the same therapist won’t work for everyone. But I think a lot more people would benefit from the suggestions above, than are currently given a chance.