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      • Medically trained hypnotherapist, Eva Houdebine combines hypnosis support and life's journeys.

      Eva Houdebine explores how silence can serve as a bridge to intuition, insight and resilience, particularly in the treatment of psychotrauma. This article offers a reflection on the conscious use of silence as an exchangeable gift between therapist and patient, unlocking new paths of healing and mutual understanding.

      Silence in a few wordsSilence in a few words

      Let's take a moment to define this very polysemous term of silence. It is often easier to define it by everything that it is not, as Hegel did with regard to nothingness (Hegel, 1929). Moreover, many definitions found given by dictionaries use negation or abstraction: “act of not speaking” (Le Robert, 2022), “absence of noise” (Larousse, 2022), “interruption of sound” (Larousse , 2022), etc.

      From an etymological point of view, the word “silence” in Greek can have two definitions: it is the opposite of speaking, or “less silence than tranquility, the absence of movement and noise”. It is interesting to see that here we are already talking about a state which is different from another.

      Regarding the experience of the therapeutic relationship, can we only define it through what is not? Silence in the relationship is both a space and a time, it is a full moment. I will call it the emergent moment. Far from being something that stops, it is the movement that restarts. Silence leaves, to begin with, space for everyone, therapist and patient, then for the relationship that takes place in this space. It is also a gateway to everything that may arise during the interview, whether unspeakable or invisible.

      Perhaps certain things need to be silenced ” as François Roustang wrote, such as ruminations for example or attempts at solutions if we look at it with a systemic eye. From the point of view of hypnosis, silence is also the way to tune into others without words, to enter into harmony with the body, to synchronize breathing, gaze and smiles.

      In our very dynamic world fascinated by communication, it can be complicated to find silence. When necessary, another perspective can be captured in this full moment. Besides, doesn’t our very first relationship with the world begin with silence? This suspended moment of tension when an infant is born, the moment which precedes the first cry, this moment which the mother must go through with all her tense attention and which already bears the beginnings of attachment.

      What power does this first silence have in the emergence of what will follow?

      Learn silence in therapeutic hypnosis

      Michelle Ritterman's Gift Exchange 

      Michelle Ritterman 's approach , inspired among others by Milton Erickson , places particular importance on silence. Particularly during what she defines as “the exchange of the gift” between the patient and the therapist. Indeed, during this moment when the patient has expressed what is problematic for him and thus offers it to the therapist, the latter must realize the magnitude of this gift and decide what he wants to accept of it. The description of this relational moment is interesting and fundamental for the relationship that will follow. When time is taken for this sharing, everyone has the freedom to offer and take what they are capable of in the moment. “Today you give me this, today I will take that.”

      Accompanying this stage with silence gives space to the patient's speech around what he is going through, it is a question of letting him resonate with the here and now, without adding meaning or a vision of the world. from the therapist. Through my experience I have observed that this silence also allows the patient to hear his problem as if he heard the echo of his own voice coming back to him. A hint of change creeps in and gives play to the problem.

      Milton Erickson said that “ silence can be observed as a way of suppressing the noise and interference of language ” (Milton Erickson, 1970). It allows you to punctuate the message while giving it the desired intensity so that it is impactful.

      Michelle Ritterman also emphasizes the value of silence on two other occasions during the accompaniment. First at the moment of the trance itself, once the secure relational place has been established and when the patient is asked to confront what he wants in relation to what is disturbing him. Silence allows all sounds, sensations, images or memories to emerge from the unconscious that could be interesting to observe in the situation presented. My own experience has taught me that the more silence settles and unfolds in time and space, the more relevant the content accessible to the patient is. This also refers to the notion of time and trance, Michelle Ritterman then quoted Milton Erickson: “You have all the time you need in the time you have ” who used this suggestion with patients whose time was limited in palliative care. There is a link here with silence which has a timeless dimension. This phenomenon is even more marked during trance where the perception of shared silent moments is particularly different from that in a state of consciousness, both in duration and intensity. So silence provides the time the relationship needs. It is outside of any unit of measurement and only observable by what is experienced as necessary. There is also a synchronization of breathing which takes place once silence has been able to operate in all its dimensions and speech can intervene again.

      On the other hand, silence strengthens empathy in the relationship. In silence, everyone can observe and feel that the other is taking the time to wait, to share a moment and a relationship, even before any listening and dialogue. So it can be very useful to use this observable criterion as a positive intention that connects us to each other.

      working with the emergence of insight with Dan Short

      working with the emergence of insight with Dan Short

      Dan Short often addresses the topic as a relevant tool for the therapy it has been introduced to us. It was during the session around “insight” that we were able to explore silence in its depth and effectiveness.

      First of all, experimenting with leaving space and time between each sequence of words allows a first step towards listening to the echo of the suggestion, both for the therapist and the patient by accessing the impact. of the suggestion. We can then observe the repercussions individually (from oneself to oneself) and in the relationship (between us). This latency also updates the rest of the statement which, without the silence, could have been determined by the therapist. Thus an instantaneous update with the effects observable in the moment takes place, the relationship fits better and resonates in a new field of construction. For example, I have started to induce a suggestion that I imagine to allow the patient to close his eyes, but the silence allows me to observe that he must first breathe.

      Now that you are here … (silence) with me … (silence ) listening … (silence) to your sensations … (silence) you may be able to … (silence) {the person takes a deep breath and lets out a long sigh as I was about to say “ close your eyes ”}… breathe, that’s it .”

      This simple example highlights the tuning that is refined to be as close as possible to what is necessary in the relationship.

      Working with the emergence of insight requires being able to be comfortable with silence in accompaniment. Indeed, if the idea here is to mobilize the unconscious as a source of new solutions, it is appropriate to use a method of approaching the problem different from that already in place with the patient. As it is common for permanent mental discourse to block the appearance of an insight, the introduction of silence allows this functioning to be put at a distance.

      However, it seems that silence must be introduced with certain fuses so that it is comfortable and not anxiety-provoking. Indeed, for patients whose resistance could be control, plunging into trance with a period of silence while waiting for something can be experienced as intolerable or even as a defeat. As Dan Short reminds us, it is important not to focus the person on the solution as such but more on the result to be observed in the days to come. To quote his words, we put the person in contact with “ something whose nature it is not necessary to know, nor to know how, but just to observe what it can change now that the difficulty has been overcome ”. By echo, the speaker allowing himself to be infused by the suggestion can allow himself to let the silence unfold and trust the process in the current relationship.

      The case of psycho-trauma with Julien Betbèze

      In the treatment of psycho-trauma, Julien Betbèze gives a special place to silence.

      A first point addressed concerns the importance of breaking the silence in which people who have suffered a psycho-traumatic event can live. This is a very interesting notion around the idea that silence can be a blocker on the path to resilience. In this silence, ruminations and flashbacks take place and it can also maintain astonishment.

      The second aspect insists on the need to welcome the patient's story in silence, in presence with this intention of being "on the bank" in a safe place to invite the patient, silence which allows us to avoid the error of make sense of the traumatic event.

      On the other hand, we can rationalize the behavior experienced via explanations concerning the chain reaction at the physiological and biochemical level. This will be able to open the door to a new time of integration of the suggestion “ this reaction is normal and natural, it is not your fault ”.

      From experience, the silence which follows this reconnection has something instinctive, even primitive, is not trivial. It unfolds with particular gravity, at its own pace, it short-circuits the way of thinking of modern man. The maddening and suffocating internal dialogue no longer makes noise. We breathe while suspending the pattern of guilt in the face of our wounded values. Perhaps we move from astonishment or surprise towards the sensation of rediscovering knowledge. We exhale while giving this silence room to intervene, we experience a very particular dimension. It's like a return to an energy of protection and preservation that we all share across the world and for millennia. If this dimension can be observed as such in the body and in the moment, then a powerful reframing takes place.

      The body in relation by Bruno Dubos

      To complete all these points of view, it is necessary for me to describe the impact of Bruno Dubos' module on my practice. Talking about silence without developing the idea of ​​the body in relation would seem to me to be incomplete at this stage. Firstly, observing the patient's body through the rhythm, the anchoring, the volume occupied, the use of its axes requires a pause before opening the discourse around what brings this person to come for a consultation . It then refers to how this contact, this relationship that is created, acts on the therapist’s own body. The introspection of this moment requires slowing down the pace at the start of the session. Take some time to breathe together, for example.

      Next comes the movement of the two bodies (patient/therapist) to assess what the comfortable distance will be. If the instruction is announced, the movement is done in silence, listening to the feeling.

      Afterwards it is the experimentation of bodies in relation which comes with the observation of the heat when the hands touch and enter into a trance to rediscover the fluidity, the energy of life. Finally, it is the observation of more targeted movements, depending on the need, such as the ante and retroversion of the patient's pelvis in relation to the therapist's hand, or the welcoming movements of the trunk.

      Silence is also the fact of leaving room for two other communicators: the bodies of the two people present. With this approach we cut out attempts at solutions or excesses in the discourse to bring bodily feelings to the forefront. An opening is created towards another possible experience which passes through its experimentation through the body in relation.

      Where to train in hypnosis?

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      A team of more than
      50 trainers in France
      and abroad

      of our students satisfied with
      their training year at LACT *

      International partnerships

      The quality certification was issued under
      the following category of actions: Training action

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