Ego-strengthening suggestions are an important part of most hypnotherapy interventions. The technique was named by John Hartland (1965, 1971), and further elaborated by Stanton (1975, 1979, 1989). In this intervention the patient follows a set of general hypnotic suggestions to promote healing, strength, a sense of well-being, competence and mastery. The following verbatim example may be used in patients with eating disorders:
As you are sitting here in this chair in a state of self hypnotic trance, and you allow yourself to experience such calmness and comfort, a state of inner harmony, you may allow yourself to accept, if you wish, whatever is necessary to promote your progress of healing and well-being, so you can go on with your life in a healthy, more mature and adaptive way. You learn to be free, live in the present as an effective, healthy, human being. Every day, in every way, you are getting better and better. You become physically stronger, more alert, more wide awake, more energetic, more resourceful, trustworthy, and trusting in your own wisdom and intelligence. Yes, you deserve to live your life with respect and dignity. Yes, you deserve to experience hope, comfort and optimism. Every day in every way, your nerves become stronger, and your mood more stable and pleasant. You become more interested in what you do, and what goes on around you ... and as this happens, your mind becomes calm, serene and peaceful ... your thoughts are clear and well composed. You experience a sense of internal tranquillity in total harmony with your body and as your body responds to your mind, it too becomes more calm and comfortable. Your concentration becomes focused and easy. You accept yourself with grace and with ease as a bona fide member of human society; you learn to see yourself in a positive light, developing greater confidence in your talents and skills, developing greater confidence with faith in a positive future. Now, all these may not happen quickly or rapidly. They may take some time, but only as much time as you really need for them all to take place ... they can happen as rapidly and as quickly as you need for them to happen and as rapidly as your subconscious mind wants them to happen. It is OK if you don't want them to happen too fast, only as fast as you need. Now, you may take a moment to reflect privately what your life is like with all these wonderful changes taking place. Then whenever you are ready, simply count back from three to one. At three you get ready in your own mind, and go ahead and do it now. At two with your eyelids closed, you look up, and at one let your eyelids open and let your eyes come back to focus. Your subconscious mind continues to retain all these suggestions for healing and recovering. Now, you become fully alert, awake and oriented to your surroundings, able to function safely and adaptively as you interact with the environment.
This is followed by a dialogue with the patient on practicing self-hypnosis to induce calmness and relaxation, opening one's mind to accept positive autosuggestions and imagery such as: 'everyday in every way I am getting better and better.' The patient is instructed to practice this on a daily basis and report results even if they are successful.
210 INTERNATIONAL HANDBOOK OF CLINICAL HYPNOSIS
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