In a previous post called Tourette Syndrome and Hypnosis I introduced our new endeavor of trying hypnosis to reduce my son’s tics. Our doctor, who is a psychologist at a teaching hospital, seems to be real good. I am not sure if the difficulty of finding open time slots is an indication of a good doctor. Originally when we reached out to him, it was five months before we could get an appointment.
At this point, my son has seen this doctor three times. My son enjoys seeing him because the doctor is a big joker, and he is constantly testing to see if you are listening. My son’s remark to me was that this was the best doctor he ever had, which had been many. In these three appointments the doctor started to show my son how to do self-hypnosis.
The doctor calls this self-hypnosis process the Three and Six. The process starts off with deep breathing and the eyes closed shut. The rhythm consists of breathing in for three seconds and breathing out for six seconds. This wasn’t anything new for my son, because in the past he learned bio feedback, which also has a similar deep breathing technique.
While the deep breathing is going on, the doctor facilitated relaxation, by calmly describing the relaxation of the body, starting with the feet and working upward to the head. The doctor suggested that my son visualize a relaxing scene. Once again, he facilitated the visualization by suggesting different characteristics of the scene. An example would be, asking if it is a sunny day or if my son could feel the warm breeze. I have used visualization as a relaxing and focussing technique with my son since he was three years old. I found that if you focused using all of your senses on the distinct details of the scene, the more relaxed you could become.
One thing to note is that the doctor asked questions to my son throughout the session. I was surprised that the talking did not break the relaxed state. Once my son was relaxed, he described a specific visual item, which in this case was a stop sign. After asking my son if he saw it, he explained that when my son is having that feeling that the tics are going to start he should immediately go into the Three And Six mode and visualize that stop sign. He then told my son that the stop sign is very special and if you focus on the stop sign the tics will stop, or reduce in intensity and longevity.
While we were at the appointment the doctor also helped my son to visualize and apply self-hypnosis when he takes a shot for his diabetes. The goal was to teach my son how to use the self-hypnosis to not feel any pain. After focusing on a specific location for the shot, the doctor asked my son to rate the numbness of the spot, with zero being not at all numb and ten being completely numb. The doctor then had my son imagine the feeling of numbing ointment that we sometimes use. At the beginning of this session my son rated the numbness a zero. By the time the doctor walked him through the process of the self-hypnosis, my son rated it an eight. It was really remarkable.
Since these appointments, my son has been using the Three and Six technique both at school and at home. His teachers remarked that he is really giving it his all. At home he typically does it right before we have to change out his inset for his insulin pump, which has a needle poke for inserting the cannula, which is how his insulin is administered. We have found that the self-hypnosis process is practical when my son has a warning that the tics are going to start. If he doesn’t have the warning and instead immediately goes into a round of tics, which are pretty severe, the Three and Six method does not work. When this happens he can’t concentrate enough to calm his body down.
The doctor stressed that my son should practice the technique. He indicated that with practice the technique could become an automatic reaction for when the tics start. The key is practice. Unfortunately, practicing is not one of my son’s strong points, but we will keep working on this. The other thing we need to work on is to be more conscious of triggers for the tics. If he recognized a trigger, such as bright car lights at night, he could immediately do the Three and Six technique before the tics begin. Unfortunately, we mistakenly didn’t add appointments as we saw the doctor and as a result of this, we are stuck waiting until November for our next appointment, or waiting for a cancellation.
To be continued . . .