Thursday, July 19, 2007

Doing that group thing

As you may have figured out, the subject of group hypnosis has been on my mind lately. There is a part of me that feels like it is a good thing because a lot of hypnotist do well with groups. I am just not sure I am one of them. Do you ever feel like there is something out there that you should be doing because it seems to be the thing to do? Or is this peer pressure (probably imagined peer pressure).

During an evaluation several years ago, while working in a group situation, I received some interesting feedback from the team leader. She said that I had hurt the group by not giving more of myself to the group overall. It was obvious I had much to offer, but chose instead to do so on an individual basis rather than the playing the group dynamic.

I have thought about this over the years, trying to see the wisdom of it, but what I always, ALWAYS come back to is that some people are group oriented and some are not. I fall into the latter category apparently, but I do not think this is a bad thing. My strength seems to be in connecting individually. After meetings, I am always pulled aside by various people who want the personal attention.

Hypnosis wise I think this idea of individual attention plays large with me. I did a group session once where we worked on creating a "safe space within our mind," and rather than leading the group to a beach or a stream in the forest, we worked on finding that wonderful place individually. Halfway through, I noticed one of the participants sobbing. It was not tears streaming down, but loud, heart-wrenching sobs. Not knowing what she was experiencing, I gave suggestions for the group to either stay in their constructed space or go to a place within their memory that was happy or peaceful. The sobbing grew worse. Restlessness set in for the other participants. I then gave suggestions to either allow the sounds in the background to take them deeper into relaxation or if they chose they could bring themselves back to normal consciousness by counting from one to five in their minds and opening their eyes when they were ready. Sadly, my crier did not open her eyes, but sobbed even more. So, I had the group count down in their minds from 25 down to one, allowing each number to help them stabilize any emotions, letting go of any anxiety, releasing all sadness. This worked and we continued. Upon finishing, many pulled me aside afterward and asked if everything was alright and I explained how the release process can cause great emotion and that seemed to ebb the curiosity. I ended up spending more time with the crier afterwards. As it turned out, she had a large break through and had understood something within, mourning childhood and such. Sadly though, she has not returned to hypnosis because she had come for stress relief and found herself more stressed in the process. Even though she said a great weight had been lifted, hypnosis was not for her.

For me, I was exhausted. It felt like doing mental gymnastics (and I am no gymnast) to keep the session balanced. I know this is all part of hypnosis and that I probably grew a lot from it, but it strengthened my concept that I much prefer the one on one.

Gosh, sounds as if I am justifying something here. Hmmm.


Anonymous said...

Can I be a little pragmatic here? What is "give yourself to the group" supposed to mean? To my ear it sounds suspiciously like the sort of oblique and ultimately empty "feedback" some give when they feel obligated to say something but can't come up with anything concrete. I admire you for trying, Ellie, but I strongly suspect any wisdom you find in those words will be your own, not the speaker's.

I can't speak intelligently to group sessions because I've never done one. Talking to groups, sure, no problem, but when it comes to actually doing hypnosis I'm like you, Ellie, in that I prefer the one on one. When I think about trying to do a group I tend to envision a small group precisely because of the scenario you experienced.

I like the way you handled that, by the way. How big was the group?

-Michael Raugh, C.H.

The Transparent Hypnotist said...

The group was not too big,about six in all.

Interestingly enough, the group I was in where I received the criticism (and thanks for putting a new slant on it) was one in which we also sat around in a circle, first coming up with one thing we liked about everyone there and one thing we did not like. What I received from that experience is that it is inappropriate in most settings, and often not helpful. It is hard to "know" everyone well enough to not just make snap judgments.

The whole situation was a turning point for me. What I also brought back from that time was that it is best to not judge others superficially, and positive thoughts and words go so much farther than negative ones. I believe criticism in general should be done with a bias of kindness.

Sorry for venting. I have been carrying this around for years, and I guess it needed to come out.