Simple Psychology for Therapists
By Dr John Brazier
Simple psychology for therapists Do you ever notice words like I do? What I mean is if you look at the title of this article can you really put the word ‘simple’ before ‘psychology’?
Psychology is one of those big words that seem to scare most people, especially therapists. We hear horror stories of how easy it is to damage people so the best thing is don’t say anything and leave it to the professionals. But who are the professionals that deal with psychology? Someone with a certificate, a councillor, psychotherapist, aroma therapist, Spa designer, human?
One of the skills I possess is Traditional Chinese Medicine, when I apply any of my modalities to the body I am going to affect the psychology of a person through the Zang-Fu (internal) organs and their relationship to the 5 elements, whether I like it or not! I am also a human and I utilise all of the human modalities that affect psychology, like body language, words and tone.That is before we even attempt to describe the energetic communications between mammals.
Do I have a certificate in psychology? No. I have 42 years of experience though. I wonder if that counts.
My best friend is a big black bear of a dog called Max, he is the third Rottwieller I have owned and all three have been the most loving and proud animals I have ever met. Unfortunately for Max his was beaten by a man as a puppy, so he has suffered through his life from a fear of men and quick movements. In the morning if I jump out of bed, he runs away because he thinks he has done wrong and I am going to beat him. So before I take any action, I ask him ‘if he wants to walk on the beach’ As any dog lover knows this totally changes his mind set, he is happy, hyperactive, barking and begging me to move as fast as possible before it’s too late. What a change in his psychology!
Just imagine if you could do that to your clients. Just imagine that not only can you apply your personal therapy that you get great thanks for, but you also change peoples lives with some simple words. Not just for a week, which is the usual time it takes for people to get back into their bad habits but forever! Possible? As a Thai or Singaporean therapist not speaking English as a first language. Very possible. For a therapist, a mother or even an animal lover. I am going to give you a couple of technique or focus that I would like you to use for a month or a year or a lifetime if it suits you and works.
First I want you to concentrate on a word. The word is TRY or TRIED How do those words resonate with you? For me they sound negative with a lot of effort. How about when someone says ‘I tried to close the door.’ ‘I tried to give up smoking.’ ‘I will try to do it.’ ‘You won’t believe how much of a trial it was just getting here.’ Can you perceive its negative connotations? If I said to you ‘I will try to be there at 3pm.’ I am setting you up, to let you down. I am preparing you for the chance of me not to be there at 3pm. I am also saying I will put a great deal of effort in to getting to you.
Can you now imagine saying to a client: ‘I WANT YOU TO TRY TO RELAX!’ That poor person is now in some form of personal trauma, how can they TRY and RELAX at the same time. People are always trying to achieve something, this is very typical of modern day life and it dramatically affects our health, even if you are trying to be healthy.
My good friend Ruth Ostrow said that she spent her life trying to be financially successful, she desired a house on the beach, money in the bank, and after lots of trying she got what she wanted, but realised it wasn’t what she really wanted. So she then decided to give it all up and try to become one with nature and the world. She then spent all her time running between breathing, yoga and other classes trying to become enlightened.
Can you imagine the strain she put herself under trying to be wealthy, and then trying to be healthy. Let’s imagine you have a client that finds it very hard to relax when they come for a treatment. As before we can ask them to relax, they will probably respond ‘I’m trying, I’m trying!’
So you can now see that sometimes this can be negative and we always want the positive, so we need to draw them into the state instead of pushing or demanding. This is done by encouraging them to remember what the feeling was like when they relaxed in the past (everybody sleeps, and you need a certain state of relaxation to do it) or you could explain to them what relaxation is ‘It’s kind of like a state of nothingness, where there is no tension, just distant unfocused thoughts, no awareness of time, breathing, just floating’
But an even better way would be to ask them to describe in as much detail of how they feel just before they fall asleep. ‘how do your muscles feel 10 seconds before you fall asleep, what does it feel like to be in your bed, when the sheets are clean and soft, when the quilt envelopes you with warmth, comfort and security, when the mattress supports and the pillows hold your head in that perfect place to allow you to forget the whole days issues and just gently fall’ We don’t want them to tell us too much, because that brings it up and out, we want them to go down and in, so allow them to feel the memories.
Another way is to ask them if they have a favourite beach or place where they feel at one with everything. Ask them to go there and feel the sun on their back, feel totally safe and secure, hear the sea quietly lapping in the distance, to know they are in a place or space that has no fears or time, they are not hungry or thirsty, just relaxed.
Before they relax you can ask them verbally where it was and what it was like, but once they lay down just give them commands like: ‘Feel the softness of the towel on your skin and the warm air just drifting past, feel how comfortable and supported you feel as you slowly drift to sleep’ All the time there is anything said, you tone your voice down to gently and quietly draw them into that space of just being. Then you apply your treatment and see the difference.
It is essential for all therapists to stay with the positive aspects of our clients lives. Every person has past traumas in their life and it is our job to help them leave them there and move forward. Clients often breakdown when they visit us describing all sorts of things. You will usually not be the first person that this has happened to and all the others will have offered waves of sympathy, but this can actually be part of the problem that the client never actually lets go, but just goes round and around in the same cycle. Let’s break that cycle by finding the positive.
I had a client visit me with a number of physical complaints including weight gain, while describing these issues to me she broke down and said she had been divorced for 2 years after 18 years of abuse from her husband. I said ‘Fantastic!’ She said ‘no you don’t understand, he was terrible, he bullied and dominated me so I was not free to do anything’ (speaking while still crying) I said ‘congratulations that is fantastic! How does it feel to be free at last? Where have you been over the last 2 years, what have you achieved, your kids must be very happy to see you smile so much now, what are your plans for your future’ I was instantly talking to a smiling happy woman who had not realised what she had and could only see what she had not (the negative of her experience).
She had used the word ‘was’ in her description, which means the past, but she needed to learn to leave it there. I could then apply any therapy in the world and it would have been the best treatment ever! Because her treatment was in herself already she just couldn’t see it.
Another client had a compulsive sickness; she would vomit everyday as soon as she got out of bed. Obviously this could have been for many reasons and I only had the chance to treat her 1 time. Through my diagnosis I found she had a number of deficiencies that may lead to sickness but nothing outstanding. So I asked her ‘If there was ever a morning she wasn’t sick, and what did she feel like, did she sleep better, did she eat differently, did she laugh more, what colour was the room etc’ Then I asked her to remember a time when she couldn’t stop laughing, a time when she felt happy, content, secure, strong, funny, energetic, etc’ and each time she smiled, each time she laughed I got her to touch her nose.
This meant that each time she touched her nose she remembered all those funny things and also touching your nose is a funny thing anyway so it multiplied the sensation. Remember you can’t be sad if you’re laughing, and you can’t cry if you’re looking up. I did a little physical work on her and said ‘Enjoy not being sick tomorrow’ and she touched her nose.
6 weeks later I received an email from her. She said she never used the nose touching technique because she hadn’t been sick once! Our potential to help people to heal is un-measurable and even if we don’t know it we do this through layers and layers of communications including touch, sound, colour, smile, smell, movement, vibration etc, and words. Be careful with your words, be gentle, but be very very positive.
None of us are truly qualified in psychology and yet we are all experts in our own right, because we utilise every aspect of communication everyday.
* Remember it is not your job to council people unless you are trained, but it is your job to communicate & listen. Then you move forward through the celebration of the good & great already in that person now and in the future
* A western doctor told me the other day that he gets 50% more of his private patients better, compared with his public patients. Do you know what the difference in treatment was? 15 minutes! 15 minutes of listening and nothing else. When you’re trying to achieve your goals – when your trying to sleep – when you’re trying anything, ask yourself ‘Where am I when I’m not trying?’ Answer: Right here, right now? Inside my body? Connected? At peace? Happy? Successful? Healthy?
Dr. John Brazier (TCM) MSc. MBRCP. CCATCM
Complementary Medicine Consultant
Corporate health & wellness advisor
Performance Enhancement Specialist
This article was posted by john brazier