Important Note Before Reading

As you explore the case studies and narratives shared on this blog, I would like to offer some important considerations:

Illustrative Purpose: The stories and experiences shared here are intended to illustrate the coaching journey. They are narratives that reflect common themes and outcomes in coaching, designed to provide you with insights into how the coaching might unfold.

Unique Experiences: It's crucial to remember that each individual's journey in therapy and coaching is unique. The stories presented here are not one-size-fits-all examples but rather serve to highlight the potential paths and breakthroughs that coaching and therapy can facilitate.

Not a Substitute for Professional Advice: These narratives are not intended to diagnose, treat, or provide specific guidance for personal health issues. They are educational and illustrative tools meant to offer a broader understanding of the process.

Client Confidentiality: All stories shared here are with the consent of the individuals involved, and details have been altered to protect their privacy.

Encouraging Professional Support: If you find resonance with the stories or face similar challenges, I encourage you to seek professional support. Therapy and coaching are personal journeys, and a qualified therapist or coach can provide you with tailored guidance suited to your individual needs. Feel free to reach out for personalised support.

Feedback and Questions Welcome: Your thoughts, feedback, and questions about the content shared here are always welcome. They enrich our collective understanding and provide valuable perspectives that benefit all readers.

Remember, these narratives are here to inform, inspire, and encourage reflection. They are stepping stones to understanding the profound journey of personal growth that therapy and coaching can offer.

Recently, Alexander, the new director of a burgeoning film company, came to me for an online session. Alexander was under immense pressure due to workplace conflicts and personal doubts. He was torn between his need for effectiveness and recognition on the one hand and self-doubt on the other. This case study sheds light on Alexander's transformation as he rediscovered his inner strength through hypnosystemic coaching. With his consent, I share his story to demonstrate how true leadership strength can develop through self-reflection and emotional intelligence.

Navigating Uncertainties in Leadership

Alexander was frustrated by the dynamics at work and felt undermined by the subtle aggressions of some colleagues. These feelings contrasted with his usually confident behaviour. He struggled with anger and a need for control, which he deemed inappropriate, especially as they arose out of necessity. Instead, he wanted to manage the situation with inner strength.

The hypnosystemic approach can effectively address challenges like those Alexander faced. This approach fosters positive changes in mindset, behaviour, and perception, and eases handling stress and crises. It focuses on activating inner resources and exploring new perspectives, leading to a better understanding of one's strengths and abilities. Thus, hypnosystemic coaching enables individuals to better comprehend and articulate their needs and emotions.

Accessing Inner Resources: Understanding Hypnosystemics

A key technique involves using the "sides model"1. This imaginative exercise invites clients to project their feelings into the physical space around them. Surprisingly vivid inner images emerge from this, revealing important information about underlying issues and needs, enabling constructive handling of these.

The core of this method lies in how the subconscious stores information. It forms associative networks of experiences, comprising body sensations, inner images, and emotions. A common example of such an experiential network is the smell of freshly baked cherry cake, which can evoke vivid childhood memories in many people. Such memories are always present in the brain but become accessible only when the corresponding network is activated, i.e., made conscious. The same mechanism is utilised in our imaginative exercises. By visualising their inner images, clients activate relevant experiential networks and gain access to underlying needs. Once these needs become clearer, they can be consciously processed and reorganised.

Uncovering Inner Conflicts with the Hypnosystemic Approach

This approach, however, goes even further. It is based on the idea that people rarely experience a problem with their entire being but rather with specific facets or parts of themselves, that is, with experiential networks2. Normally, these networks harmonise with each other, and we hardly notice them. In certain situations, however, they can prioritise different needs and come into conflict.

A common example is the decision between flying and taking the train for a holiday trip, where different parts advocate for sustainability or time efficiency. By externalising these parts, their needs can be negotiated and harmonised. This process might sound complex, but it unfolds quite naturally in practice as it builds on familiar aspects of one's personality.

As Alexander engaged with his inner world in this way, two symbolic figures emerged, representing different parts, or experiential networks, of his psyche:

First, a "dominating shadow" appeared. A threatening, controlling presence, symbolised by a heavy hand he felt at his throat. Alexander was all too familiar with this side of himself, now manifesting as an intimidating, older man. He recalled how he made himself small in his childhood to avoid standing out and being ridiculed. This network of experiences had helped him then. Alexander described how this self-minimisation had since gnawed at his self-confidence. Time and again, he took criticism overly personally and struggled to assert himself and respond nuancedly and appropriately to the demands of his environment. He described this feeling as a mix of sadness, anger, and low self-esteem throughout his body. I noticed how his posture increasingly collapsed as he explored this feeling. This is a common observation. These experience networks involve the whole body, and thus, body posture can change depending on the activated network of experiences.

On the other hand, there stood a "protective guardian", a youthful and inspiring figure, radiating trust and optimism. This part of Alexander, resembling a heroic character from a film, symbolised for him abilities like self-assertion, creativity, and vision, as well as empathy and adaptability. However, these were hardly effective as the "dominant shadow" occupied most of Alexander's inner world, leading him to excessive self-defense. As Alexander explored this side, his posture was open and confident.

The Turning Point: Acknowledging Feelings and Resolving Inner Conflicts

Once the clients' needs become clear, we reach a turning point in the coaching process. These needs form the core of our work and often revolve around central themes like connection, recognition, or security. At this stage of coaching, it's about developing a balanced understanding of the different needs of the inner parts relevant to the situation. Particularly interesting is the discovery of repressed parts, often embodying deep-rooted pains and unfulfilled needs, thus unconsciously influencing the current situation.

The actual transformation begins when clients consciously and empathetically turn to these suppressed or painful parts. This often happens through consciously feeling and acknowledging the hidden pain within these parts. Such an approach allows for the reduction of tensions and promotes a cooperative dynamic between the inner parts. This harmonious cooperation of inner parts is key to resolving deep-seated inner conflicts and paves the way for sustainable change and development.

In Alexander's case, a significant moment was reached when he began working with the contrasting sides of his personality. He allowed himself to feel the deep sadness of having had such a challenging childhood, and he managed to acknowledge this feeling. He also realised that he could still be lovable, curious, and playful. The previously dominant shadow, which criticised and pressured Alexander, became more thoughtful and began to acknowledge Alexander's efforts. This part of Alexander, which once offered protection during a difficult phase of his childhood, was no longer helpful in the current situation. Alexander thanked this part for its protection and made it clear that he would now give more space to the "protective guardian" in his inner world.

This allowed the "protective guardian" to flourish and appropriately advocate for Alexander's need for self-care and effectiveness. This part, which Alexander perceived as his true self, subsequently helped him develop inner harmony and self-confidence. By valuing his own abilities and needs, he gave the protective guardian more room to unfold. He now felt this part throughout his whole body as confidence and self-assurance. He knew that this part was and would be an important resource in his life.

Strength and Self-Acceptance through Integration of the Inner Emotional Landscape

Alexander understood the deeper meaning of the network he perceived as the 'dark shadow'. It had developed as a protective mechanism to shield him from situations that might bring criticism or rejection. This realisation enabled Alexander to harmoniously blend his assertiveness and emotional sensitivity. Recognising and integrating these contrasting aspects of his personality led to a renewal of his self-worth, endowing him with deeper inner strength and resilience.

He reported feeling more in control and noticing a significant reduction in physical tension. Additionally, he recognised that anger didn't necessarily need to be suppressed or seen negatively but instead could become a valuable indicator of boundaries being crossed. This insight gave him the strength to maintain his boundaries without becoming aggressive. He also felt less vulnerable, bolstered by his enhanced emotional intelligence and self-efficacy. This newfound confidence was also fuelled by remembering the original reasons he had chosen his profession.

Alexander's experience demonstrates the effectiveness of hypnosystemic coaching in overcoming emotional and psychological challenges, especially for those in leadership positions. It further highlights that conscious recognition and processing of emotions and physical sensations can profoundly influence personal development, leading to a more balanced and harmonious self-understanding.

If you are facing similar challenges, remember that embracing your fears and uncertainties is the first step towards profound transformation. Pushing them away only works for a limited time. Also, you don't need to have such a challenging past as Alexander did to benefit from this coaching.

Hypnosystemic coaching could be the solution you need. With my support, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your motivations, overcome your fears and doubts, and achieve your full potential through emotional intelligence. Don't let fears and doubts prevent you from living the life you desire. Take the first step towards your transformation today and book a hypnosystemic coaching session with me.

References

1. Peichl, J. (2019). Einführung in die hypnosystemische Teiletherapie [Introduction to Hypnosystemic Parts Therapy]. Carl-Auer Verlag.

2. Schmidt, G. (2020). Einführung in die hypnosystemische Therapie und Beratung [Introduction to Hypnosystemic Therapy and Counseling]. Carl-Auer Verlag.

Van Rijn, R. H. (1633). The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. [Painting]. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Storm_on_the_Sea_of_Galilee#/media/File:Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_Galilee.jpg

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About the Author Benedikt Schmidt

My name is Benedikt Schmidt and I'm a psychologist and coach who specialises in helping people find the clarity, motivation, and inspiration they need to create a life they love. Whether you're feeling stuck or looking to connect more deeply with your body and emotions, I'm here to help.

With Follow The River, I share the 13+ years of experience of my own personal development, as well as the knowledge that stems from working with clients, psychological training and my research work as a positive psychologist for the European leader of positive psychology, Professor Ilona Boniwell.

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