Guided imagery involving a “favorite place” can be an excellent technique to help someone feel more comfortable. In fact, it is so reliable that we often use it when guiding a child or teen into a hypnotic state. Sometimes I never find out what a person’s “favorite place” is, but I am always curious!
Most people who have been to a doctor’s office or emergency room are familiar with the questions: “Are you having any pain? How severe is it, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain you can imagine?”
Living with chronic pain can be a lonely experience. Maybe this loneliness is due partly to the invisibility of pain. Other people are not able to see the pain, and may even doubt that it is really there. Even when a person with chronic pain has a strong support system and is surrounded by family and friends who would like to help, ultimately, the pain is felt by just one person.
After my first training workshop in clinical hypnosis, I didn’t fly home from Virginia to California — I floated. It seemed totally obvious to me that this new/old technique could help many of my patients who were suffering from chronic abdominal pain.
That kind of direction, along with a swinging pocket watch, is what many people associate with the state of hypnosis. And in fact, much of the time, clinical hypnosis has the effect of being very relaxing.
It happens so often that it is unremarkable: A child has fallen and scraped her knee, and sits crying and distraught. Then, as soon as a parent puts a Band-Aid on the scrape, the child happily gets up and goes back to playing. What just happened?
Hypnosis is all about semantics and using our words to establish positive expectancy — opening the door to feeling better. This approach has changed the way I speak to patients and families all the time, not just when I am doing a formal hypnotic induction.