Every now and then, as a therapist, you get a lucky break. What do I mean: simply that what might have seemed quite a difficult challenge turns out to be achieved very easily? As an example, not long ago a young woman got in touch to say she was drinking a lot of alcohol, felt she was becoming addicted and could I help? I agreed to see her and, to her delight, she stopped drinking after one session and has remained free of the problem ever since. (She decided to continue with therapy after her initial success to deal with other factors some of which were probably causal).
If we take 2 aspirins to fix a headache that might be the right thing to do. But, if the headache is due to persistent stress that exceeds our capacity, then the “successful” intervention - i.e. taking aspirins, simply masks a deeper problem. Not facing the real problem can cause it to get worse and, if we continue to take on more work, so the stress increases, more powerful drugs are used and you can’t imagine managing without. In time the real problem – being stressed due to overwork – can disappear under a more immediate problem of becoming dependent on some drug. Taking the aspirin or other drug is simply a symptomatic fix whereas what is really needed is a fundamental fix such as reducing the work commitment or whatever was the originating cause. Because the fundamental problem is not dealt with, so the symptoms (e.g. headaches) increase, life becomes intolerable and our ability to resolve the underlying problem disappears. Coupled with this, we can find ourselves unable to function effectively and side effects appear. The fundamental problem may be stress due to overwork or a whole variety of other things such as some trauma which has remained unresolved or simple anxiety.
Clearly the aspirin can become alcohol or any other drug although, with alcohol being so relatively cheap and easily available, then this is the most frequent. Withdrawal can lead to psychological and physical consequences that can range from mild to severe. Once the decision has been made to stop being addicted then hypnotherapy can be very effective in helping deal with the different aspects of withdrawal that arise. Of course there is no quick fix or magic wand. The story outlined above, whilst true, was the exception in terms of the speed of response but it shows how quickly important changes can be achieved by engaging the unconscious. A whole variety of techniques can be brought to bear to assist the willing patient. This can be done very often in conjunction with other experts in the area such as Alcoholics Anonymous or other self help groups and organisations as well as the medical professionals.
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