Couple Relationship Counselling with Hypnosis
Lillian is quite a special woman. She sounds very cheerful on the phone when she books her first appointment. She wants to work on her relationship she says.
The first appointment she’s late by 15 minutes. She is a very beautiful woman – “your blond and blue eye Barbie” are the words she uses to describe herself in her professional profile. Upon sitting on the couch, she says, “I know I’m late. And this is a good sign for my resistance for this counseling.” With that she starts talking fast about going through different counseling, and her life in general, non-stop.
She seems anxious, as if as long as she doesn’t stop talking, she’ll feel okay. And she won’t be judged. It almost feels that she just wants to come here, pay me for one hour, and talk. At the end of the hour, she can get up, call it a wonderful session, and leave.
“I am in the escort business.” She starts, “If you have any problem with that, please let me know before we start.”
I don’t have a problem with that.
The “relationship issue” she was talking about on the phone is with Diego, a Spaniard, who is coming to spend the entire summer with her. They met back in Paris where both of them worked, not long ago. When Lillian came back to Vancouver due to family urgency, Diego decided to come to join her for a summer so they can see how the relationship can work out.
This relationship seems to lack some ground, Lillian feels. Diego is coming; everything is up in the air. Do I love him? Do I really want to spend my entire summer with him? How committed is he towards me? But no I don’t have time to think. He is coming!
Lillian feels she can’t handle this on her own. Thus she decides to include someone else in this relationship for the summer. I almost feel she wants to assign me as a mediator rather than a therapist. And three of us together head into this summer adventure.
Diego arrives a week later. The second day after he arrives is our appointment. I see him separately. He is a very well groomed good-looking young man. He has his own business. That’s why he can work remotely. Upon arriving he makes it clear that he does this because he cares about Lillian. The unspoken words are “I myself don’t need any therapy”. I applaud his participation. It’s true in a relationship it’s mostly women who seek help and men would simply refuse to see a therapist, because “I don’t have a problem. You do.”
So I tell Diego I appreciate it that he comes and plays along even though he probably doesn’t need any therapy.
So, on this first meeting, Diego primarily focuses on Lillian. He offers me as much information as he thinks useful, including the names of the recreational drugs that Lillian takes, and how he suspects that she had childhood trauma… as if the more information he can provide, the more ways I have to fix Lillian.
One of the things that bothers Lillian the most, though, has to do with Diego. Diego seems to like to hide her from his family and friends. “I was never introduced to any of his family or friends. I don’t really know him.” She says.
It all comes down to Lillian’s chosen profession. Diego accepts it – not as a preferred choice but he’d like Lillian to be financially independent. He is afraid of how his family is going to look at her. Yet he cannot acknowledge that in front of Lillian, as it poses a judgment, of which she is very sensitive. So Diego’s argument becomes that as long as Lillian is a drug user, he cannot bring her to his family. He has plans, he says, to introduce her to his family, when he knows this relationship is stabilized. For Lillian, it’s the other way around. How can the relationship be stabilized when you don’t even want to introduce me to your family?
With this condition, Lillian doesn’t feel the sincerity and commitment from Diego. Without the commitment that she wants, she questions the necessity for Diego to spend the entire summer with her when she needs time for her family.
So here’s the dilemma. Either side is waiting for the other to “commit” first.
It comes the time for their first session together.
Lillian has shown extreme interest in hypnosis. She’s hoping the trance work will get her in touch again with her instincts. I have built enough rapport with Diego during our work so he is very curious about hypnosis as well.
They throw themselves into either corner of the couch. They just had a regular fight before they arrived. There is tension in the air.
I frown, as if something is not right about their seats. I pretend to think for a second or two, and say, “Lillian, could you take Diego’s seat? Diego, could you please stand up and take Lillian’s seat?” This sets up a covert suggestion for them to see things through each other’s point of view.
They do as I say. There’s some release of tension in the air. I invite them to make themselves comfortable in their seats, as I start telling them to imagine they are two children who really like each other, because they like to play. It’s much better to have someone to play with than playing by yourself, is it not? Yet, when we play, we need to find a playground. Without a playground, we are just frustrated and we blame the other for what we are mutually responsible for, and we get lost in the finger pointing. It’s not fun anymore. Instead, we can focus on the challenge and thus the solution: Where can we find the playground where we can fully play the best as we can?
I give them a post hypnotic suggestion to allow their inner mind and their instinct to find a solution to this challenge. And they will be able to share with me when they return the following week “in a surprisingly unexpected yet surprisingly interesting way”.
They report that they had a very interesting week. Especially for the first few days, everything went remarkably well. And they find, no matter what, they deeply care about each other and like each other.
Again, I have them switch the seats. From there I induce trance. “It seems to me somehow your instincts work very well because you, together, have found some playground to play. “ There’s this trace of smile on both faces.
“Very good. Here’s how we are going to play. In a moment, I’ll count from 1 to 3, when I count from 1 to 3, you each will open your eyes, yet still in trance. You will just have enough awareness to stand up and take each other’s seat. Upon sitting down, you will INSTANTLY become each other. You, Lillian, when I count from 1 to 3, you’ll open your eyes, stand up and take Diego’s seat. The moment you sit down, you’ll become Diego. You will have Diego’s thoughts and feelings, but only those that are related to the relationship with Lillian. Nod your head when you understand.” There’s a gentle nod. And I say the same thing to Diego.
“Alright now, 1, 2, 3!” They stand up and switch. A very interesting thing happens. Lillian, as petite as she is, instantly open her eyes wide, and stretches her legs in a way that Diego often shows; while Diego curls up his long legs aside in a feminine way and looks at Lillian softly.
“Now, Diego,” I look at Lillian, acting as if no time has passed for the trance work, “where were we? You were just saying you had this plan to introduce Lillian to your parents?”
“Oh, yeah.” Lillian as Diego says, “Of course, my parents already know that I’m here. I can Skype with them and introduce Lillian to them. It’s just that they can’t really communicate as they don’t speak English.”
“Lillian,” I look at Diego, “what do you have to say about the idea of Skype?”
“I’m not sure if that’s what he really wants. Or he proposes Skype only to shut me up.” After a pause, Diego as Lillian says again, “I’m not sure if this is what I really care about either, to know his parents.”
This is quite a revealing statement. After it is said, they both look at each other. In their eyes, there is surprise, interest, and a sense of deep understanding.
The conversation goes on. Diego does an excellent job being Lillian. Whatever he is saying allows him to tell truth on both ends. With that comes more and more deeper communication between them. They are now talking about some aspects that I don’t have a clue. The air in the room has completely shifted. There is truly nothing left but love. I feel I’m not really needed in their conversation.
Only honesty can set us free. In playing this “becoming each other” game, they find the safety to be honest.
I teach them self-hypnosis to play this game any time anywhere they want to. All they need to do is to count down from 5 to 1, going deeper with each count, at the count of 1, they switch the seats, the moment they switch the seats, they instantly become each other, and they have full access to each other’s feelings and thoughts as long as they are related to the relationship. Upon completion, they switch the seats back, and count themselves from 1 up to 5.
I also give them suggestions to forget the exact words that are said, but to remember how much fun the game is, and to allow the insights and understanding learned from the game to continue, so that they find it easier to focus on the solutions without any attachment to a certain outcome after this summer.
They then switch back their seats. And I count them up from 1 to 5. Upon re-emerging, ignoring me, they look at each other, in a very new way, as if they’ve just discovered each other the first time.
“Folks, I’m afraid time is up.” I look at them. They turn to me, as if just noticing my existence.
“That’s the most fun game I’ve ever played.” Lillian comments on their way out.
And that’s the last time I see them. There’s still one more month left till the end of the summer, but obviously they don’t need a mediator in their relationship anymore. “We had bad moments, and we can always use the technique you teach us to resolve it. Thank you very much. We’d like to come to see you more, but we seem to be busy enjoying the summer in Vancouver.” Diego tells me on one of his phone calls.