Every symptom or problem behaviour has a beginning, a middle and an end. Attempt to identify any triggers and the subsequent sequence of events experienced by the patient. By recognising the sequence of events experienced as feelings, pictures, sounds or actual experiences the therapist gains valuable insight. Identify the date or the time in the person’s life when the problem first started. This includes significant times in the person’s life when the problem has been at its worst. It might also be useful to identify any times prior to the problem starting when the patient felt similar feelings. Identify the frequency of the symptom or behaviour. You might also like to identify where it occurs and with whom.
You need to know how long the symptom or behaviour lasts. You should also identify any other events, happenings, experiences or traumas that have occurred at about the same time that the problem first started or developed. Maybe one of these events has indirectly triggered or started the problem. Therapy should also attempt to identify how family and friends view the patient’s behaviour or symptoms. The symptom may only occur in the presence of certain family members. By identifying the relationships between the patient and the people around the patient the therapist will gain a deeper understanding.
It is equally important to identify the times in the person’s life when they have not had the symptom. This is especially important when the person had expected to have the symptom or problem and it did not occur. The patient’s subjective understanding of the problem will often be vague and they will often be unable to say specifically why the problem exists, so you need refined and streamline your unobtrusive questioning skills.
Our ‘hypnotherapy skills and tips’ posts have been edited by Dr Andrew Bradfield and Dr Colin Baron from the teachings of BHRTS founder Stephen Brooks.