Please note that some of the information in this hallucinations case study (including name) was changed in an effort to preserve confidentiality.
Cindy was in her mid 20’s when she sought therapy for anxiety and depression; Cindy also experienced visual and auditory hallucinations on a regular basis, as often as several times a week and sometimes more or less often. Cindy would hear noises, never voices and would also see various abstract shapes. The presence of hallucinations tended to increase Cindy’s feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as making her feel paranoid about her safety and her surroundings.
Although in the first three months of therapy and treatment we focused mainly on her feelings of depression and anxiety as well as the emotional trauma she experienced on a consistent basis throughout her childhood, her hallucinations came to a temporary halt. I instructed her to keep a journal so she can easily keep track of her hallucinations when and if they resurfaced. As a result of her effort we were able to find a pattern to how and when hallucinations emerged.
For the next few months Cindy’s hallucinations would surface in situations of stress and particularly when she felt depressed, isolated, and alone.
As a result of identifying this pattern and pinpointing specific feelings that triggered her hallucinations we were able to understand the areas where Cindy needed focused attention (the times she felt alone).
Being able to figure out where her hallucinations came from (rather than ignoring them of just medicating her) and the function they were serving (making her feel like she is not alone) helped Cindy become more aware of her emotions as well as become more in touch with herself and her needs.
The presence of hallucinations dropped to an average of once a month mostly because she had been willing to put in the effort and time to get to the bottom of her emotional struggles and because she was consistent in her therapy (for several months Cindy and I would meet 3 times a week for intensive therapy). As a result, Cindy understood what was going on with herself emotionally and realized how she can help herself during the times when hallucinations resurfaced. Eager to delve deeper into the causes of her struggles she was willing to try an experimental method of therapy that I have devised for people who experience hallucinations as a result of catastrophic childhood trauma.
My method of treatment is fairly intense both for myself and Cindy; we meet for 2 hour sessions either in my office or at her home (someplace she felt most comfortable) for a total of 5 sessions. We begin by talking briefly about any issues that might distract her from the session and then we begin by means of a hypnotic induction (this might sound a bit mysterious but it is only a standard beginning to any form of hypnosis). I use hypnosis only in long term therapy and only after a minimum of 6 months of depth talk therapy.
Once Cindy is induced in a hypnotic trance and is ready and comfortable we begin the talk therapy portion of the session, while Cindy is in a hypnotic state.
I have found that by first inducing her and then talking while she is in that state allows her mind to be more open and her defense systems and natural resistance decreased. She continues to be in control of herself while at the same time being able to dig deeper in her unconscious mind (with my guidance which consists of asking questions) at a much faster rate than without the hypnosis.
Cindy and I had 5 sessions (10 hours) with Cindy reporting improvements in her mood, depression, anxiety, and paranoia (that accompanies her hallucinations) and a further decrease in experiencing hallucinations to an average of once every 3-4 months. Aside from these benefits, Cindy is better able to manage her hallucinations by using the tools she discovered during her consistent therapy sessions.
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