By Kirsty: Some years ago when I was a newly qualified hypnotherapist, a lady named Amanda contacted me. She disclosed to me that she had been in a car accident that was not her fault; someone had ran her off the road. Following the accident, she had started to develop a fear that presented itself every time she got behind the wheel. In fact it had become so bad she could no longer drive. Most days this would be OK as her partner worked from home and could drive her everywhere. On occasions he had to go to meetings or into the office. This would leave Amanda stranded as she needed to go places. After living with this for around six months Amanda decided she had to take action, she had been driving for years and loved it until now. This is when she contacted me.
We made an appointment for her to come and see me the following week at my office. Amanda arrived for her appointment, and straight away I could sense her energy was depleted. I sat her down did the usual form filling and explained a little bit about what was going to happen and about hypnosis generally. I then went on to do the initial induction, this is like a dummy run but, it is also when we implanted triggers within the subconscious mind. Amanda was a model client, she relaxed perfectly and was easy to put under.
After making sure Amanda was fully hypnotized, I asked her to cast her mind back to the day of the accident. She started to tell me details of events leading up to the crash. For example, what she had been doing that morning, and what mood she was in. We came to the moment of impact and Amanda relayed the accident to me like she was there again. After the impact with the tree she was stunned for a few moments. Trying to work out what had just happened, and how she had ended up on the bank in a tree. For what seemed an eternity, she struggled to comprehend who or where she was. Eventually she recovered herself enough to take the keys out of the ignition and step out of the car.
At this point she became noticeably distressed, she began to tremble from head to toe, tears cascading down her cheeks. I knew we had reached an important point in the session. I reassured her that she was safe, and asked to tell me why she was crying. Amanda told me she was alone, that no one was stopping to help. She tried to call several people but, no one was picking up. I asked her to tell me what she was feeling, to which she replied “alone and scared”. At this point I knew there was more to Amanda’s phobia of driving than just this accident. So I decided to bring the session to an end and would relay my thoughts on the session to her. I told Amanda that she had done really well, and explained to her that I felt that there was more to her phobia, and in fact the accident had been a trigger. She seemed a little shocked at my suggestion, but agreed to come back the following week.
Amanda arrived for her next session, and after a short induction she was once again under hypnosis. I wanted to get straight the time of the accident, only this time I didn’t ask her to relive it, I just wanted to take her to the point when she stood outside the car. I asked her to describe how she felt and again she told me she was alone and scared. I then asked her to tell me if she recognized these feelings from any other part of her life. After a long pause, she said “yes I do”. I asked her to tell me when, knowing I was on the edge of a breakthrough. Amanda again became very distressed and started uncontrollably sobbing. I talked softly to her and reminded her she was safe, and that no harm was going to come to her.
At this point she blurted out “fifteen” so I repeated “fifteen”, and suddenly as if someone had opened Pandora’s box, it all came flying out. “When I was fifteen I met a boy named Jack. My parents hated him, but I loved him so much. He was older than me, and seemed more mature than boys of my age. He was cool and I guess every parent’s nightmare. Drinking, smoking, swearing, bad tempered and moody. I think I had become obsessed with him, I wouldn’t listen to anyone about him. Against my parents wishes I left home at 16 and went to live with him. I thought I had it all, the life and love I had been longing for. Shortly after I moved in with him I started to notice a change in him. His temper was getting worse; he was becoming more irrational and moody. One Saturday night, we have been at his friend’s house, there were lots of other boys there and I was starting to feel a bit claustrophobic.
I asked Jack if we could go home, I could tell by the look on his face he was angry. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me outside into the street. With no word of a warning, he drew back his fist and punched me straight in the face. All I remember was waking up on the cold, wet floor, thinking what the hell just happened.
Suddenly I felt a huge blow to the stomach, then another and another; I could barely breathe by now. I somehow managed to scream, and suddenly it stopped, everything went silent, apart from the sound of Jack’s footsteps walking away from me down the road.
I struggled to comprehend what had just happened, and why? How could the man I love do this to me, beat me badly and then just leave me on the floor and walk away”. Amanda broke down again at this point, and I asked her to tell me how she was feeling, and once again those words came out “alone and scared”. Bingo!!!! we had found the root of the problem, that had been triggered by Amanda’s crash. Whist the crash was traumatic; it had uncovered something even more traumatic. Amanda had suffered years of physical and mental abuse from Jack. He had driven her friends and family away, in order to control her. Leaving her feeling “alone and scared”. The crash had simply just triggered this memory, but because Amanda had buried these feelings so deep in her subconscious mind, she had been unable to make the connection.
I worked with Amanda for two more weeks on this, pulling out all these fears and anxieties that had been hidden. We then worked on dealing with them. To do this I took Amanda back to the relationship and assisted her to reclaim her power, and see Jack for what he really was. A violent bully that she had to stand up to. I then asked her to imagine him shrinking right there in front of her eyes. I asked her to wish feel empowered as he became smaller and to wish him love. When Jack has become so small she could no longer see him, I asked her to tell me how she felt, to which she replied “safe and strong”.
We had achieved what at first seemed impossible, not only had we got to the route of her phobia, we had conquered it too. It is so important that we find the root cause of a problem, even when it looks very simple and straight forward. If we don’t do this then treatment becomes futile, and we are merely paving over the cracks.