by Michele Ritterman

Michele Ritterman was a student of Milton Erickson, Salvador Minuchin, Jay Haley.
Doctor in clinical psychology, specialist in hypnosis, author of works on the subject of hypnosis and family therapies, among others: "Using hypnosis in family therapy" She has worked among other things
on the subject of trance as a symptom .
Michele Ritterman : I am in Costa Rica, it is a privilege to exchange with people all over the world, for whom it is important to take care of others.
Our work is important, we participate in creating a more human civilization. What can I offer you today? I studied with Milton Erickson, the father of hypnotherapy (the use of hypnosis in a therapeutic process) with Salvador Minuchin, father of systemic hypnosis and with Jay Haley (of the Mental Research Institute).
It emerges from my work that each symptom is suggested by the close entourage and by society.

Today we receive a lot of messages about the covid. Each symptom can be a window through which we can see a problem, a family, society. As therapists, the more we know about the uniqueness of the situation, the more we can understand that situation and help. Because each problem is unique. How to treat anxiety?
MR : First of all, it must be said that anxiety “belongs” to a person, the feeling of anxiety is unique to each person.
I ask my students the following question: what do you think of when you think of the color red? If they ask their customers the question later, they will see that the answers are very different depending on the individual. For example, one person will answer that the color is that of a rose and will remember the smell of a rose, another will think of blood and will remember the death of the animal he loved, etc. For anxiety, similarly, each makes a particular association. The questions we ask allow us to better understand the meaning of the problem or trance state in the person we are trying to help. About the implications of what we are experiencing today, the virus is teaching us things about our own importance as individuals and as members of collectives that help each other.

What is happening is an opportunity to understand what it means to be "human" today. We remember that we belong to something that is bigger than us, this helps us, and also helps us to help our customers. Should we talk about fear or anxiety in the context of quarantine?
MR : Either one or the other, it depends on the patient or client.

There is a general state of anxiety in the world, there is anxiety on a global level, everyone is asking questions: what risk am I running, will it get worse... At the individual level, or as a member of a family, we rather feel fear. Everyone is looking for what they can do, what they should do, how to do the best thing. Fear is an emotion that has deep and personal roots. As professionals, we want to be perfect, always better, but we also have social anxiety and uncertainty. Facing a person, we must determine if he feels fear or anxiety. We must contextualize the emotion: talk about the fear of a person at a given time, in a given situation. What are the particularities of Ericksonian hypnosis?
MR : Before Erickson's work, hypnosis was not a process, it was about specific and targeted interventions (on addictions for example).
Its contribution was to activate the mind, the unconscious of people and their potentialities, their skills to find resources and change, but not only for a punctual change. One of these skills is imagination, especially in children.

From a fear in a child, we research what he is afraid of precisely, and we help to find in them something that allows them to feel at peace, happy, or loved. They can imagine something they either have or don't have, like a little dog. We can suggest that a “secure” person will always be “inside themselves”, that they will always love them. There are people who have only one happy memory in their life and this memory is their resource. So we accompany a person to find within themselves a place that helps them feel safe, where they can rest, breathe, even for a short time. So much for Ericksonian hypnosis.

What self-hypnosis tools can we give our patients to help them reduce anxiety during the crisis period?
MR : If you work with a family, the first thing to observe during the meeting is the content of the exchanges between the members of this family, in the room, trying to determine what makes them anxious: it can be money problems, transfers: "you remind me of Aunt Margaret", etc.

Then we can do a "counter-hypnotic induction", for example: close our eyes, breathe together... We talk about fears, we don't hide them, we suggest going to a different space where we can contain these fears one by one. one, we offer messages that contain and/or contextualize the fear (this situation that you are experiencing now is different…). Articles on my site explain all this. I recommend using subjective personal time and not clock time. Words transcribed by Pascale Baratay Lhorte