Giselle came to see me because she was feeling anxiety about her relationship with her boyfriend. They had been together for a year and had plans to go to University together later in the year. Giselle was anxious because her boyfriend was currently working abroad. She was concerned about being able to trust him when they were apart. She told me that the relationship was great and she had absolutely no reason to doubt his feelings for her but the anxiety was with her the whole time they were apart.
During the case history taking it emerged that two years previously, Giselle had had a serious relationship with someone who had moved abroad to work. They had planned that she would join him. Soon after moving however, the ex-boyfriend told her that he didn’t want her to join him after all. Giselle felt devastated. When I asked her how she now felt about all this, she said that she still felt anger towards him and that her current boyfriend might do the same thing to her.
Since it was very apparent that Giselle was still being affected by the previous relationship, I decided to use a technique with her that comes from Gestalt Therapy and is known as “two chair work”. This is a technique that allows the client to access the feelings which are still affecting them and which need to be expressed.
In hypnosis I guided Giselle to envisage a peaceful place in her mind so that she could access feelings of relaxation and safety before doing the “two chair” work. Then I asked her to imagine she was in some neutral place with the ex-boyfriend and that he was sitting opposite her at a distance that felt comfortable. I then encouraged her to silently and mentally express all the feelings she still had about what had happened as thoroughly as she could. When she indicated to me that she had done that, I then suggested she hear his response.
At the end of the session, Giselle told me she had been surprised at the strength of the feelings she had accessed.
We made an appointment for the following week. When Giselle arrived, she told me that she had felt fine all week and that all the anxiety she had felt had cleared up. We simply used the session to affirm that the changes that had taken place would stay with her and that she was indeed free to move forward. Six months later, she tells me she is still fine.
Comment: This is a classic example of how feelings from the past can affect our behaviour and our emotional responses in the present. By facing the old feelings and expressing them in this way, Giselle was able to move forward unhampered in her current relationship.