Tag Archives: Mindset

Dealing with Compulsive Disorders

A definition of what compulsion means is usually worded in the following kind of way: A psychological and usually irrational force that makes somebody do something, often unwillingly.

These “irrational forces” are, in the case of compulsive disorders, caused by repetitive thoughts, or mental activity. This is an important factor in understanding and beginning to alter the way that the person with the compulsion represents the problem to themselves. By understanding that the irrational force is caused by the person’s own thoughts and activities, we begin to move the problem away from some outside force that is making them do something, and towards understanding that the problem is something that is caused by themselves.

They may not yet feel as if they are in control of their own thoughts because they have gotten into such an automatic pattern with their thinking that it is occurring as if they have no control over it. And it absolutely will feel that way. After all, whose thoughts are they? In whose head? Whose mind is that? Who is the only one listening to those thoughts? If there is no one else in your head, they must be your own thoughts! This is a great thing to acknowledge because it means that accepting responsibility for those thoughts puts the “thinker” back in control so that they have a much greater potential to create changes.

The first thing I would explore with a compulsive client, in my hypnotherapy and NLP Clinic in Hertfordshire, is what Complex Equivalence exists in their mind about this problem. What does this problem mean? What is it trying to achieve? What does it allow them to do? What do they believe would happen if they stopped this behaviour?

Quite often fear is a big driver of compulsive behaviour, and frequently the fear exists to keep the person safe. When you know what this problem means, its truth and validity can be explored. Quite often there is no logical link between the behaviour/thoughts and the “reasons” why it is occurring. For example, one lady I met felt compelled to check the locks on her car (to the degree that she had to have new ones fitted every 6 months) and her greatest fear was linked to the safety of her father after he had nearly died. The was no obvious link between her father’s incident and the repeated behaviour of locking her car. Knowing this didn’t make the problem stop, but it did encourage her to question the validity of the problem which had felt like a very solid problem before she had thought about it in this way.

The next step can be taken if you believe that the client’s problem may be related to a significant emotional event. A values elicitation can be very worthwhile for discovering what “away from” values exist in their values hierarchy and can help uncover SEEs that the client might not have consciously realised were still having a negative impact.

As well as, or instead of this, I would use the fast phobia technique. The fast phobia technique doesn’t have to be restricted to phobias only. It is a process which is very useful at desensitising the negative emotions that occur when triggered by stimuli so that the person can be around the stimuli without feeling negative emotions. This means there is the opportunity to be around things that used to make them feel a compulsion and no longer feel it.

The compulsion blowout method can be used to demolish the submodalities associated with the stimuli. Submodalities are the codes that we use to make meaning of our experiences and memories. When these are adjusted, the memory/experience will no longer work in the same way as it did in the past.

There is, of course, a lot of room for manoeuvre, as a therapist, I am flexible in my approach and will adjust techniques that I already know if I think there is a way of having them work in a more appropriate way for that specific client. Other techniques I have used have included advising the client that they can do as much as they like of one compulsion, but have to trade off another. This works really well for multiple compulsions as the list slowly whittles down until there is just one compulsion to deal with. By this time they have also built up confidence in their own abilities.

“I’m more confident to deal with the feelings.”

By Gemma Bailey
www.GemmaBailey.com