Very Important! Before doing this activity please check out the history and reasoning behind this Hypnosis / Meditation Activity. I encourage all therapists to do this on themselves before doing it with a client. See the link below to get to this page:Learn More About Hypnosis / Meditation Meet Your Fear Animal Here
Who is your "fear (animal, reptile, insect, object) symbol"? This technique will help you find it and your life will never be the same!
*Please note: This is an online virtual therapy session activity, but it can also be done with in person therapy.
Directions for Hypnosis / Meditation Meet Your Fear Shadow Part of the Self:
1. Use the client's chief complaint / issue of the session, or a recent past memory, or a flashback to a deeper traumatic experience as the base of this exercise.
2. Before doing the Hypnosis / Meditation Meet Your Fear Shadow Part of the Self make sure that your client has established their "safe place". Using breathwork as the induction to the meditation, ask the client to do ten rounds of breathwork to relax the client back to their safe place (To hypnotize the client you will use a deeper induction).
3. Bring the client out of the meditation / hypnosis and ask them to go back to the negative fearful feeling and bring that feeling up to a 7 or 8 out of 10 on intensity scale. Allow the client time to do this.
4.Once the client tells you they are at at least a 7, or higher, ask the client to go into another tab on their search engine and search for "Animal Species of the World Images". Make sure it is on the "image" part of the search. (Note: I usually prep my client before the hypnosis / meditation about what I am going to ask them to search for on another tap of their computer to make it clearer for the client and not take the client out of the hypnotic / meditation trance).
5. Allow the client time to scan a few pages of animal images (reptiles, insects, and objects can also be included if the client is not resonating with the other animal images. Remind your client that their subconscious mind will let them know when they have identified their fear part by giving them signals such as tingling, lack of breath, stomach, throat, chest sensations, etc.
(Note: I usually tell my client that whatever resonates and speaks to them is the fear animal and they will know the animal when they see it).
6. After your client has chosen it's fear animal it's the therapist's turn to translate it to the client. The therapist will put into the search engine this wording:
To dream of a _(Client's Animal)_.
Several websites from dream translations will come up. The therapist allows the client to be the ultimate translator. I start off by reading just the headlines of the dream sites to the client. The client always will find some truth in the translation.
7. Discuss with the client how the translation part the client has chosen relates to the client's fear and what is the "fear animal" trying to say to the client? What does this "fear animal" need? What is this "fear animal" not getting? There is so much to find out from this activity about the client's fear!
8. For homework the client can do their own search on the "fear animal" and I encourage them to send me any information they find that connects them to the "fear animal". Use this information in your next session with the client.
The client will also be encouraged to find a miniature (Or picture) of this "fear animal". I express the need to connect with this miniature during the week. My hope is that the client can connect, talk to, and listen to their "fear animal" especially when they are feeling "fearful". They can learn that the fear is not as frightening as they thought. Many of my clients have learned to love this part of themselves and bring this part back to themselves and become whole again.
Other Ideas to Build Client Rapport with the Fear Animal:
- Give the animal a name
- Keep this miniature of the animal with you and keep it safe. Talk to it in times of stress.
- Watch videos of this animal
- Draw pictures of this animal in a safe place
- Start using positive symbolism with the animal (Think jewelry, stationary, posters, etc. to bring this animal to your everyday life).
I continue to refer back to the "fear animal" in future sessions to bring stronger bonds between the "fear animal" and the client. This is a very powerful technique that changes how the client sees the negative feelings of the parts of self. It is rewiring the brain to a more positive outlook.
When we can look at our fear and see that it is a healthy part of ourselves we can tame this fear and bring it back to ourselves. We learn to use self care and kindness to this once connected part.
Self Reflection from Dr. Stangline's Fear Animal:
My own shadow animal is a panther. I met her years ago when I was doing a sand tray exercise. She is my ultimate protector. I have her tamed. She sits on an imaginary tree limb always watching out for me. My goal is to be more like a house cat, or kitten for most of my life. But, I let my panther know that if I need her I will immediately bring her out (Think in case of a serious situation such as a life threatening situation).
My panther loves that I pay attention to her when I start to feel fearful feelings and sometimes when I am not feeling fearful feelings. She is defiantly a part of my life and a part of my self. I remind her that I will only tap into her for a life threatening event and then I will utilize her amazing power and strength! My Panther is my super hero! Her name is "Queen Sheba". Sheba is so beautiful with her dark, shiny fur and emerald green eyes (always aware and watching to keep me safe).
It is also incredibly safe for me to remind myself that I have such a powerful creature that came out of my "fear" that wants to watch over me, protect me, and is always waiting for me when I need her! She is tamed now, but always at the ready for my safety needs. I can't imagine life without her!
Disclaimer: This website and its content is intended for trained licensed mental health professionals and school certified mental health professionals to use for their clients / students at their own discretion.
*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed mental health professional immediately.
"Beyond Art Therapy" is the concept from Dr. Stangline that combines all creative fields in therapy. It is not the traditional "art therapy" but goes beyond to include sand tray therapy, play therapy, mindfulness, meditation, color therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a vast majority of other therapies.
For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.
Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.
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