For a limited time we have included excerpts from two chapters for your reading pleasure!
I was first inspired to write this book and share my work with the world after treating a client with bipolar disorder several years ago and experiencing tremendous results. I could not find any research, studies, or treatment protocols that were specifically geared towards patients with this illness that incorporated hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Hypnosis is one of the safest, most natural methods of healing that has been used for thousands of years by clinicians as well-known as Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. And so I was astonished to find that a treatment incorporating hypnosis and hypnotherapy had not been established yet.
I began researching bipolar disorder with a vigilant laser focus and tenacity. Here my own theory of causation, linking the fight-or-flight stress response to the genetic and biological manifestation of this illness, began to take shape—the Environmental Stress Theory of Causation. I identified a sort of switch that flips on, triggered by a powerful stress response that leads to the first bipolar episode. I then began to develop a treatment protocol that focuses on this environmental stress component that is strongly linked to the genetic and biological components of causation. I have since coined this psychotherapeutic treatment protocol Environmental stress-targeted therapy (EVSTT).
This is the first psychotherapeutic treatment method that includes the use of hypnotherapy, and perhaps the first method that focuses on treating and completely desensitizing the triggers and associations linked to the manifestation of manic, hypomanic, and depressive episodes experienced by patients with bipolar disorder.
I’ve spent the last year conducting a small clinical research trial of this protocol, yielding positive results that were both unexpected and jaw-dropping. Publishing my work for other therapists to utilize was the next logical step so that patients with bipolar disorder can receive this treatment and experience improved functionality, mood, and lead more productive, happier lives.
Hypnotherapy has had a profound impact on my personal life, which is why I became a Registered Clinical Counselling Hypnotherapist many years ago. I’ve included a peek into my own personal journey of healing for this reason, having suffered from severe physical, emotional, and psychological trauma after an elevator accident in 1998. This incident propelled me down this path, and is how I literally fell into the powerful healing benefits of hypnotherapy.
Names have been changed to protect patient confidentiality and the privacy of other people mentioned over the course of this book.
My sincere hope for all therapists, patients, and family members that read this book is to recognize how each of us holds power to positively alter and shift all challenges that present themselves along our paths, be they emotional, psychological, or physical in nature. We can each increase the levels of functionality, productivity, and happiness in our lives by working through our issues and making a commitment to healing.
A Breakthrough Relationship between Bipolar Disorder and Hypnotherapy
A client walked into my office a few years ago seeking treatment. Chelsea had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she was seeking psychotherapy that incorporated hypnotherapy to reduce her high levels of anxiety and stress, and to possibly reduce the duration and severity of her manic and depressive episodes.
Since I had had no previous experience or specific training utilizing hypnosis for a patient with bipolar disorder, I searched through hundreds of textbooks and studies in an attempt to locate past uses of hypnosis for this type of symptomology. But I couldn’t find any such treatment, therapeutic model, or case study. So, I began to craft my own treatment protocol, incorporating fundamental theories established in hypnotherapy and hypnosis, and discussed this experimental approach with Chelsea. She chose to commit to the therapeutic treatment plan that I had created, which, on a theoretical level, was quite basic in its ideology. We proceeded along a plan of combined counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy, and hypnosis to achieve her therapeutic goals.
Next, in addition to other significant traumatic events in her life, we identified the initial sensitizing event (ISE) and the secondary sensitizing event (SSE), specific triggers and associations connected to her first episode and other significant episodes that were manic, hypomanic, or depressive.
After only three months of weekly treatment, Chelsea’s episodes were less severe in nature, reduced in number, and more manageable, her climatized and acute levels of stress and anxiety were greatly reduced on a daily basis.
These initial results far exceeded my expectations. How could treatment for such a complex mental illness, a treatment model in its most basic form, prove so effective and life-altering for this patient?
I began to immerse myself in research on bipolar disorder, and eventually I stumbled upon an answer that leaped straight off the neatly typed page and straight into my consciousness: In case study after case study, there always seemed to be an external stressor—a traumatic event—that preceded the initial episode, which was either manic, hypomanic, or depressive and usually occurred during the late teens or early twenties. The components of causation are strongly linked to genetics and a biological chemical imbalance in the brain (an alteration within the neurons and their ability to transmit). Yet, it always seemed to be activated initially by a traumatic event, a significant fight-or-flight stress response. The traumatic event seemed to flip a switch in the predisposed individual, activating the actual onset of the disorder that leads to the chemical changes fostering a manic, depressive, or hypomanic response.