Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Working with a client who has Down Syndrome

I can't believe it's been over a year since my last blog entry. The time flies by so quickly.

The longer I practice hypnotherapy the more amazed I am by what it can be used to accomplish. I was contacted by a woman whose daughter has Down Syndrome, and had developed a morbid fear of snakes in her room. No where else. Just in her room. Why she had developed the fear is grist for another post. Regardless, my job was to help her overcome this fear.

Before her first session I did some research on the use of hypnosis on people with Down Syndrome. I was surprised to find that is is almost nothing available on the subject. After hours of searching I finally found two articles, one translated from the French (published at the University of Paris), and the other in Danish. Which I couldn't read at all.

So I was pretty much on my own. At her first session I spent a considerable amount of time getting to know the client, develop rapport and gain her trust. Although 44 years of age chronologically, she has the mental level of a fairly inquisitive 8 year old. She holds a steady job in the food service industry, and is quite a character.

I soon found that getting her to focus, relax, and keep her eyes closed was a bit challenging. We worked on that for a while, and I had her mother (who was with us in the room the whole session) agree to practice having her relax and keep her eyes closed, every day until our next session in a week. I also learned something very valuable: She loves a mug of hot cocoa.

The next session was considerably easier than the first. After chatting for a few minutes I promised her that if she cooperated, she would be given a big mug of hot cocoa at the end of the session. It worked like a charm. From that moment on she tried her best to follow all of my instructions.

During this session, after I'd had her close her eyes and relax, focusing her attention on my voice, I asked her if she could keep a very special secret all to herself. It was going to be my most important secret, but since she was my best friend now, I would share it with her. She agreed to keep the secret, and the anticipation she exuded was almost palpable.

I told her that I knew of a very special kind of whistle that, when blown, can't be heard by people, but was terrifying to snakes. When this whistle was blown, I shared with her, every snake who heard it slithered away, and would never come back. It scared them that much. And the best part was that on the way home, she and her mother were going to stop at the store and purchase one of these magic whistles so she could blow it in her room, and all the snakes would leave her house. She was thrilled! The session ended with a big mug of hot cocoa, as I'd promised.

The third session was used for reinforcement. On the way home from the second session her mother had stopped by a store and purchased a dog whistle. Of course my client had no idea it was a dog whistle. To her it was a very special magic "snake scaring" whistle. And sure enough, her mother informed me that after walking around her room blowing the whistle every evening, her fear that there were snakes in the room had almost disappeared. No more barricading the closet door, or piling things up in front of her desk to keep the snakes away.

After thoroughly reinforcing her belief in the power of the magic whistle, and a large mug of hot cocoa, off she went. Her mother has reported the results have been what we'd hoped for. The snakes are gone. If anything changes, I'll blog about it in the future.