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Case Studies - Page 3

Locating the First Portal to Relief

After taking a thorough history, I've found it helpful with patients suffering from pain to find a simple technique for self-practice in the first session that has an impact on the pain symptoms and requires little effort. This simultaneously communicates to patients an experience of being helped by me and of helping themselves. Such an intervention builds trust and hope, and sets the stage for further success.

I gave Amy an overview of the tools I recommend for alleviating pain, including hypnosis, EMDR, interactive guided imagery, Energy Psychology, and Somatic Experiencing, and how I use them. Amy was already interested in Energy Psychology. In fact, she'd taken several classes that taught some of the methods, and had especially enjoyed learning about the chakras—the body's seven energy centers crucial to Eastern wellness systems. Since she'd had this positive experience, we decided to explore whether this approach might relieve her pain, which she evaluated at that moment as a 7 on a 10-point scale.

I asked her to place her hands at the base of her pelvis, and then use her breath to find the felt sense of this area, known as the root chakra, believed to be related to safety and survival needs. As she kept one hand on the root chakra at the base of the pelvis and moved the other hand above that area related to the womb/sacral chakra just below the belly button, Amy reported that this second area seemed more open than the first onecrucial to eastern wellness systems. Since this was the area where her pain usually lodged, she was surprised at how easily it seemed to relax as she focused on her breath.

We continued in this fashion until she reached the crown chakra, across the top of her head. As she placed her hand there, she told me that she had an image of Laguna Beach, where she'd played as a child. Amy said she could imagine wading out into the water and feel energy moving up her feet and legs. I suggested that she try to bring the water further up her body with her breath each time she inhaled, and she responded that the water level was now up to her thighs, but seemed stuck there. I wondered out loud whether a special flotation device might make it comfortable and safe for her to sink into the water, and after a moment, she responded, "This is amazing! I'm now just sitting in the water and the action of the waves is massaging my abdomen. With this life vest on, I can just let go and relax."

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