Today was my first (and last) hypnosis appointment. I’ve been curious about hypnosis for awhile now. I’ve read blog posts and research studies over how it can be a useful tool in childbirth, both to keep the blood pressure down and as a way to reduce the overall pain of contractions. It’s taken me awhile to find someone my insurance would cover, so I was THRILLED to finally have an appointment.
The therapist (yes, he’s a licensed psychologist) was about 10 minutes late. He came rushing down the hall, hurriedly gave his lunch order to the receptionist, and ushered me into his office. I was directed to sit in a brown leather recliner that was a cross between a dentist’s chair and Freud’s couch.
As I had anticipated, we spent some time discussing my reasons for wanting hypnosis. I explained that I knew it could help keep my blood pressure low, which will aid me in waiting till 5 cm to get my epidural, and because I wanted help processing the birth of the Menininho, because it still causes me a great deal of anxiety. The therapist had me describe what happened with the delivery, then moved on to some general medical history and finally family history.
“Well,” he said “I know it seems to you like you’re having anxiety about your upcoming birth because you had such a terrible experience with your first son’s birth. But it’s obvious to me that this goes much deeper. You clearly have some deep-seated abandonment issues stemming from your father’s illness and death, and those are just playing out in fears about your doctors treating your poorly.”
Could that BE any more Freudian?!
If this had been a regular therapy appointment I would have known that was my cue to leave. But, instead of saying “No, you’re crazy, I really am just upset about the birth,” I smiled and said “Oh! I can see how that might make sense. It never occurred to me before,” because I really wanted to get on with the hypnosis.
He went on. “There are also symbols in your life that are causing you anxiety that you probably don’t even realize. We need to figure out what those are so that you can reverse those feelings of anxiousness that happen for seemingly unknown reasons.”
Ok, fair enough.
So, the therapist reclined my chair and ran me through a quick hypnosis exercise to make sure I was hypnotizeable (or whatever the word is). That worked. “Ok, now you put yourself under,” he directed. He told me to visualize and describe my ideal birthing experience, which I did. Then, I was to visualize the opposite of that. Predictably, I became very anxious, almost came out of hypnosis, and had trouble articulating what I was seeing. He suggested I go back to the thoughts of my ideal birthing. Once I was again relaxed, he had me come out of the hypnotic state.
“Ok, well, any questions? No? Great. Here’s a list of directions…do this 3-4 times a day. Good luck with your delivery!”
Yah. That was IT. One session, like 40 minutes long. All of a sudden I’m supposed to be able to resolve all my life issues, find hidden symbols, and birth this child, all on my own. I actually think there is something unethical about introducing some potentially anxiety-producing issues to a client (the supposed connection to my father and subconscious symbols) and then shooing them out the door without access to further treatment.
Clearly, this guy was a quack. I still believe hypnosis can be useful, but it looks like it won’t be as useful for me as I’d hoped. I mean, I have no idea how to stay in the hypnotic state while anxious, let alone while I’m having painful contractions. So, if you have books to recommend that I read, please let me know! (And yes, I know about hypnobirthing and hypnobabies, but I don’t have the $300 to drop on the classes.)
Also, this post doesn’t sound as funny as I actually thought it was. It’s way funnier if I tell you in person. Just know then, that I’m not bitter but rather amused.