Tim Brunson DCH

Welcome to The International Hypnosis Research Institute Web site. Our intention is to support and promote the further worldwide integration of comprehensive evidence-based research and clinical hypnotherapy with mainstream mental health, medicine, and coaching. We do so by disseminating, supporting, and conducting research, providing professional level education, advocating increased level of practitioner competency, and supporting the viability and success of clinical practitioners. Although currently over 80% of our membership is comprised of mental health practitioners, we fully recognize the role, support, involvement, and needs of those in the medical and coaching fields. This site is not intended as a source of medical or psychological advice. Tim Brunson, PhD

Using Space and Time in Therapeutic Interventions



by Tim Brunson, PhD

Mental and physical pathologies exist. They are conditions and events, which are part of the reality that we endure every second of our lives. They arise based upon external influences and – whether ephemeral or lasting – they permeate our being in a substantial way. They are, however, also encoded in relationship to the other programs and patterns within our minds. It is their relationship with these previous experiences that tend to give undesired (and even desired) states meaning and become the foundation as to how we understand them. A fundamental attribute of hypnotherapy is the probability of altering the relationship of programmed phenomena in a way that changes meaning – and therefore possibly changing our experiences. Most likely the most potent phenomena that we can alter are those that are related to a person's concept of space and time.

We exist within space and time and never fully understand it. The three-dimensional area occupied presently by my body, the boundaries of the real estate to which I own title, and the infinity that we associate with the heavens above are examples of what we have come to call space. Time, on the other hand, may be judged or realized in terms durations, which we often refer to as brief or lasting. We experience and regard it as we endure impatience and anxiety or patience and calmness. Furthermore, as a sign of increasing civilization, we have refined our ability to measure space and time with atomic clocks, GPSs, yardsticks, and Swiss-made chronometers or Japanese digital devices, which we wear on our wrists. Yet, I still doubt that most people understand these concepts – or therapists really know how to address them within the context of a therapy session.

Albert Einstein challenged the simplicity that we traditionally associate with space and time. Essentially, he said that they are one and the same. That is to say, space cannot exist without time and vice versa. This may be difficult for many people to fathom or accept. However, all you have to do is to plan a trip or a major event in your life and notice the interdependence of location and scheduling to realize their intimate relationship. And then as we understand the role of movement, which is the change of spatial location at any given point in time, we introduce a dynamic into the space-time conversation. It seems that motion or movement has a tendency to alter how we change our relationship with space and time and create an opportunity to alter the meaning and our understanding of pathologies. A brief review of case studies previously presented by Sigmund Freud, MD, Milton H. Erickson, MD, and Richard Bandler, PhD, are replete with such examples.

These cases present numerous examples of how movement through space and time can be used therapeutically. One Ericksonian technique that I learned from Bill O'Hanlon, LMFT, was a simple exercise in which the clinician gets their client to address a problem within different time contexts. For instance, have a subject think of a problem. Then while keeping it in mind, have her say: "I have a problem," "I had a problem," and "Having had a problem." Should you ask her how this changed their perceptions, you should not be surprised if she report a mellowing of the original emotional impact that was associated with her initial experience of a thought of the problematic state. Regression analysis and even the Time-Line Therapy concept, which was developed by Tad James, PhD, also represent movement through space and time. Lastly, add to this list such everyday events such as scheduling and goal setting and you will most definitely appreciate how pervasive the movement consideration truly is.

Regardless, while I have made a firm case for the ubiquity of space and time (and the movement consideration) are both within our lives and therapeutic applications, I am not willing to conclude my exploration just yet. Considering that the underlying theme of Advanced Neuro-Noetic Hypnosis™ concerns the need for a plausible causal theory and the desire to discover new interventions, I want to take this topic much further.

One of the foundations of ANNH is Pattern Theory, which states that everything around us and within us is comprised of interrelated patterns. In turn these are made up of components or elements, which have structure, are encoded, and can be recalled or activated. These patterns resist change. Yet they will most likely adapt or entrain once there are external influences, which are sufficiently antithetical to induce a reaction. Pathologies are unwanted or undesired states in which patterns have a substantial disharmony with which we are unable to cope. Very simply, therapeutic interventions are events for which new environmental inputs are proposed. In order to work they must be sufficiently antithetical to permeate an adaptation.

Space and time have a meta-relationship with patterns as they cannot exist other than in its continuum. Whereas from a Neuro-Linguistic Programming view, beliefs, values, and Meta-Programs are filters (and patterns from a ANNH standpoint) that filter and affect how externalities precipitate internal states and behaviors, they too must reside within the realm of space and time.

Another way of looking at space and time is to observe how they are neurologically processed. For instance, Giocomo Rizzolatti, PhD, the Italian professor who introduced us to the revolutionary concept of mirror neurons, stated that our minds and bodies tend to react more intensely when we perceive an event as occurring in the present and within our personal space. Indeed, this revelation just may be the rationale behind many of the NLP and other brief therapy techniques which tend to use association and dissociation and the alteration of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic experience as a way of changing emotional states associated with a particular memory or anticipated occurrence. Again, this is yet another example of the alteration of our perception of space and time.

As human beings we have a choice. This is afforded by the wonderful suggestive and imaginative capacity provided by our superior frontal lobes. Couple this ability with an intention of purposefully varying one's concept of space-time through imagining alternative locations and employing intentional movement, the availability of alternative outcomes is literally unlimited. Additionally, the availability of "worm holes," which are the tunnels through wrinkles in the continuum and the resource that provides amazing opportunities for our fantasies, and quantum entanglements and you can take your imagination into universes limited only by your creativity.

Despite the fact that this may be mind-boggling (and mind-blowing) for those who have limited their therapeutic sessions to staid and approved (and mediocre) interventions, I want to assure you that my last statement may not be as far from the conventional as you may think. In fact, once you understand the basic theory of space-time interventions and revisit the standard approaches, which you were exposed to in your training, you will clearly see that the space-time issues of location and movement are integrated into every mind-oriented intervention that has ever been proposed. Once this is fully understood, there is a distinct possibility that therapy can be addressed in a way that recognizes the role of space-time in human neuro-physiological existence. Indeed, all interventions are some what a manifestation of an alteration of space-time location and movement.

Rather than considering space-time as an afterthought, which can enhance our understanding and appreciation of current interventions, I propose an alternate approach. What if instead, clinicians considered in every interaction questions regarding how their client or patient is experiencing location and movement within a space-time continuum. For instance, perhaps you could realize that a person suffering from agoraphobia or a cancerous growth is internally representing the experience in a specific place in space and time (to include most likely being completely associated) and have a movement-related interpretation of their condition – such as feeling stuck. Simple exercises that get them to change their space-time location and to increase their rate of movement (i.e. doing something), will have a significant impact on their internal state – and even possibly the likelihood of accelerating their healing. Likewise, a realization of how our minds and bodies accelerate transformation differently when we perceive space-time location differently could very well be the answer to the achievement of mastery in various endeavors.

The healing and helping professions have always accidentally and tangentially dabbled with space and time. However, a further understanding of this phenomena – especially in light of quantum theory and contemporary discussions in the field of neurology and mind/body integration – suggest that interventions based deliberately on its use should attain a more preeminent status. As we continue expand our concept of human existence and as science once again reconciles with the spiritual, I trust that further transformational avenues will emerge.

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