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Hypnosis in Couples' Therapy: Enhancing Affect Regulation and Connection
Sheryll Daniel, PhD; Carolyn Daitch, PhD
All couples in committed relationships grapple with conflict. Conflict itself is rarely the problem; it is the unrestrained escalation of discord that tends to undermine trust and intimacy. Themes that will be presented in this workshop include: destructive behaviors in relationships; dynamics of the power struggle role of affect dysregulation in relationships; understanding the "old brain" and learning how to develop strategies to override its impulsive responses; developing resiliency to stress in relationships; understanding and treating the narcissistic/codependent couple.
Participants will review hypnotic approaches that can enhance couples' work in therapy. Self-hypnotic approaches to mediate the psychophysiological flooding that impedes appropriate interaction will be taught. We will also address the uses of age regression and age progression to elicit positive affect toward the partner; ego-state therapy to help access the mature part of the self; and hypnotic rehearsal of effective communication. Of the many tools useful in helping clients respond more intentionally in the face of interpersonal triggers, three that will be emphasized are: taking an immediate "time out" to practice self-hypnosis in stressful encounters; accessing more mature and compassionate parts of the self; rehearsing and transferring skills learned in the therapy office to stressful relational moments in daily life. Used together, these tools can make the difference between overreacting in intense interpersonal encounters and responding with a measure of calm, intentionality, and even wisdom.
Participants will begin to integrate hypnotic approaches into their work with couples, or to do so with more confidence, in greater depth and with an enhanced repertoire of techniques. They will be able to identify specific precursors to overreactive responses and teach couples to recognize these in themselves and their partners. They will learn how to teach couples the importance of taking "time-outs" in stressful encounters, and how to utilize skills learned in therapy sessions during these time-outs. They will be able to teach couples how to rehearse accessing desired mature, constructive responses in the face of situations which have previously escalated into conflict or resulted in withdrawal and stalemates. They will be able to help their couple clients to increase the transfer of the communication skills learned in therapy to their day-to-day interactions.
At the conclusion of this session, participants should be able to…
- Describe how self-hypnosis can be used to elicit self-regulation for couples;
- Describe how to elicit and apply hypnotic phenomena in couples' therapy; and
- Describe three hypnotic interventions that amplify positive affect and enhance emotional connection.