Hypnotherapy -Overcoming Presentation Anxiety in a Teenager
Lately, John had started to avoid going to school. He hated exams and presentations. The anxiety he felt was so severe that several days ahead of a deadline, he couldn’t sleep, and if he managed to go to school, his whole body was shaking with fear.
John, only14 years old, had glossophobia, fear of public speaking, and exam phobia.
After the initial conversation, when John started to trust me, I asked him if he had any hobbies. He said that he loved to play online games that involved strategy, and winning -like in Fortnite. I decided to utilize the gaming state as a means of trance induction and therapeutic utilization.
I explained that trance is a concentrated state where you feel that time stops, and you are absorbed in the experience, like when he was gaming. I then asked him to sit comfortably with his hands in his lap and look down at his right index finger. As he looked at his finger, I explained the index finger connects to the brain through nerve cells. When playing, the finger would automatically press the lever, or mouse without thinking.
I then suggested, “look carefully at your finger, and notice that energy, and how the finger will soon start to twitch and move -just like when playing a game.” After a few minutes, his finger started to twitch, the muscles in his face grew flaccid, and his gaze fixed on the finger. Keeping the end in mind, I asked John to describe his experience of his finger moving at its own volition. The future state he needed to be in was not one of deep relaxation, but the ability to talk and write in front of a group of people.
I wanted to deepen the state by asking John to close his eyes. “Imagine a lemon, cut into four pieces. I want you to bite into one of the pieces.” John immediately made a face as if he tasted something bitter, and he swallowed. I asked him about the taste, and he answered, “sour,” as he wrinkled his nose.
Next, I suggested, “And notice how your eyelids are tightly closed, as if glued together, and in a moment I will ask you to try and open them, but they are stuck. And the more you try, the more they feel stuck, and the more you will think they are stuck, stuck, stuck.” After a few minutes of suggesting this, I asked John to try and open his eyelids. He failed, and I wondered how does that feel. John replied, “strange.”
John responded well to all of my suggestions, so I decided to use hypnosis to help him treat his fear of public speaking and exam-angst.
First, I asked John to imagine the number 10. He failed to do so, and I realized he needed me to direct him. However, to succeed in him using the hypnotic state to overcome his anxiety, I had to get him into a state where he could use his imagination and be creative.
So I came up with the following suggestion, “In a moment John, you will see a blackboard and on it some numbers. With each number, you will go deeper into the trance state. When we get to zero, a portal will open up, and you will go through that portal into another dimension.”
As you can see, the first part of the suggestion is controlled by me. I tell him what will happen, what he will find, and even the color of the chalk on the blackboard, but the suggestion ends with him going through a portal. I was hoping that when he went through the portal, he would be able to utilize his own imagination. This is necessary because, when standing in front of a classroom or answering exam question, John will have to rely upon his own unconscious resources.
We counted down from 10 to 0, and I was very curious about what he would see when he went through the portal. I was thrilled that he was able to describe in detail what he saw, felt, heard, and even smelt on the other side of the portal.
Now I wanted to make him feel more secure. I suggested that there was a treasure chest on the island that he was on. He was to find that treasure chest and then tell me when he had found it. His index finger started crazy twitching until he found the chest.
I then told him that in that chest was armor he could put on that would protect him, no matter what dangers he met. I could see John’s shoulders relax a bit after he had put on the armor. I then instructed him to find a portal on the island.
Next, he went to a place with ice and mountains. Here I told him there was a tablet that was key to all the portals, and he could look into any dimension he wanted, allowing him to plan all of his next moves strategically. I repeated the following suggestion for each challenge he solved. “Life is like a game. You will always run into challenges you need to solve, and each challenge gives you a new key, new points that allows you to move on to the next level. Money is just points, keys -which allows you to explore new levels and solve new problems.”
Here I was linking the competency he had developed in gaming to a new way of thinking about life, work and school work.
I then explained that he could open a window into the dimension where he could see himself in front of the classroom, presenting and that he was gaining points that would allow him to unlock portals into other dimensions. After being prompted, John explained, “it’s strange to see that I am presenting in front of the classroom.” I noticed his shoulders rising while he talked about this. I immediately added the following suggestions, “notice those feelings of self-confidence grow as you see John, on the other side present. You are feeling more and more self-confident.” John sat even more upright, while his index finger twitching with higher intensity.
I met John three times and reinforced the main themes developed in the first hypnosis. Hypnotherapy helped John overcome his anxiety. He completed middle school and continued to High School. Upon a year follow up, he was still angst-free.