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3 timeless ways to create better futures for depressed clients

By Mark Tyrrell

In the last issue I described 3 steps to help depressed clients see a brighter future and explained how we can (and why we should) help clients move towards developing hope. Depression 'thrives' on negative expectations, so helping clients develop realistic positive expectancy is a major antidepressant.

But how do we use hypnosis to help clients explore 'non-depressive' futures? Here are three tips.

1) Take them on a hypnotic journey

Inner journeys are a great way to both instigate and deepen a hypnotic trance. So we have the classic staircase induction:

As I count from one to ten you can find yourself walking down (or up) a beautiful staircase (or along a path), and with each count you can find yourself becoming deeper relaxed...

But of course we can suggest that each 'step' be a day or a week in the future and that as they relax deeper so too can they enjoy exploring time, probing a sense of the future with their consciousness:

As you notice the sensation of the ground (or floor) beneath your feet, you can go further into the future with each step...

I have used journeys through the seasons - walking through spring summer, autumn (fall) and winter, walks through a wonderful 'forest of life' to find clearings and open pathways, and even sea voyages as ways of helping people explore their futures.

I've used elevator rides where each 'floor' represents a time in their future where "things have changed in the way they need to". At each 'stop', the person can get out and explore that 'floor'.

The possibilities are limited only by the boundaries of your imagination.

2) Play with the calendar

Remember those old movies? The ones where you'd see the date pages of a calendar flipping over, interspersed with scenes indicating time passing?

In the 'Rocky' movies we'd see flashes of the boxer Rocky training and getting fitter in a kind of montage as we were treated to a speeded up version of time passing and progress being made.

You don't need a movie camera to do this with your clients. Well, only the movie camera in their minds! Suggest they 'see' calendar dates flipping over until they see a particular date in the future where they can observe themselves engaging in the kinds of behaviours that both indicate they are feeling better and, in turn, make them feel better.

3) Use the time machine

Often I will begin the process of hypnotic time progression with the truism:

You know one day, today, this very day, will be last week... last month... last year... perhaps only a distant memory... and it will be something we both look back on... from a distant future... and I want you to really get a feel for this future time... now...

I might then suggest they find a "Time Machine" - perhaps like the classic Tardis from the 'Dr Who' TV series, or some other time-defying vehicle from their imagination - and step inside.

We can set the date and hypnotically travel forward to a time when all the changes they need to make have been made, when they no longer feel depressed and have more of the kind of life they need to have to stay out of depression.

From the future, your client can 'look back' and even tell you in trance everything that happened in order for those improvements to take place.

So, in effect, they are telling you what needs to happen in therapy.

Sometimes your clients may not consciously remember what they experienced 'in the future' but a part of them will have assimilated a sense of hope, a 'blueprint' for a better life.

Of course, whenever any of us strongly imagine the future (whether in a bad or good way) we are using self-hypnotic age progression to some extent. However, these approaches can take age progression much further - and for the good!

You can learn How to Stop Anyone Smoking with Mark Tyrrell on our Smoking Cessation Training Course (online).

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Mark Tyrrell
Creative Director