Therapy without diagnosis or treatment?

Dec 21, 2022

I do not diagnose or treat people or couples. Yet, I have helped several hundred couples improve their relationships, avoid a divorce, and in one case, have a peaceful separation. People ask me how I can do couple’s therapy without diagnosis or treatment. If you are wondering the same thing, read on as I explain how I do what I do.

I like to start defining what I mean by a couple: any two people who want to improve their relationship. I work with three types of couples:

  1. Marital, even if they are not legally married. Any two consenting adults in a romantic/sexual type of relationship I define as a marital couple.
  2. Business. Most “couples” in this category are business partners who are not seeing eye-to-eye, thus affecting the health of their business. Occasionally the “couple” is a boss/employee, or two parallel co-workers who are not getting along.
  3. Family, very often siblings. Sibling rivalry can be a big problem even among adults.

About 70% of the couples I have seen in 25 years are marital, with the remaining 30% split equally among business and family relationships.

How does a hypnotist, philosopher, engineer, know “what is wrong” with people? How do we fix it? These are common and fair questions.

I do not believe that we “fix” people or relationships. We help people remove unconscious blocks to their own joy. I also insist on the motto:

There are no relationship problems, there are personal problems that affect relationships.

Okay, so how do I know what blocks to remove and what problems to address?

I use five ideas. I learned these five ideas from various philosophers, and from my own observations and mistakes. I studied these ideas mostly to help myself. Later I found five books that encapsulate these five ideas very well. I read these and other books on the topics to help myself.

Five ideas presented in five books. That’s it. Not all 5 ideas apply to all couples.

Since these ideas seemed so powerful to me, it seemed fair to discuss them, as I understand them, with clients who were struggling in their relationships.

Without fail, people identify one or several of those ideas to be lacking in their relationship. We then discuss how to implement the idea or overcome a habit.

The process may last several sessions because there is a lot to discuss. There are also frequent interruptions as couples often think of the therapist as an arbiter who rules on who is right on a particular topic. We are not. And we do not.

I quote the names of the books and their authors to the clients. I stay away from suggesting that clients read the books, except for two of them, which I will explain later. I do not tell clients NOT to read the books, I just do not emphasize that they SHOULD read them. I found that when one part of the couple likes to read, if I ask them to read a book, that one person will read it and then use the author as the new de facto arbiter in their relationship. That is counter-productive.

In one way or another these five ideas were a part of every couple I have been able to help… and not much more, for real. The five books I currently quote, because I think they express these ideas so well, are:

  1. A Course in Miracles, by Foundation for Inner Peace
  2. Attached, by Amir Levine
  3. The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
  4. The Way of the Superior Man, by David Deida
  5. The Queen’s Code, by Allison Armstrong

All of these are very popular books; you can find them anywhere. The first three ideas/books apply to everyone. The last two I only discuss with marital couples. I do not necessarily discuss these ideas in the order presented above. I start with the same idea the couple presents to me when they come in for their first session. I start where they start.

I discuss three ideas from A Course in Miracles: holy relationships, forgiveness, and choosing again.

A Course in Miracles explains that relationships have a purpose! I loved reading that in ACIM because since I was a kid, I used to say the same thing. I have journal entries from high school noting that the purpose for a relationship is growth, with pleasure being the reward for growing.

I do not think that ACIM states it as I did; but the notion of a purpose for relationships is deeply imbedded in the Course. Holy relationships, as opposed to ego-based ones, fulfill that purpose.

Whereas ego-based relationships are based on we can do for one another, almost as an exchange, holy relationships are based on forgiveness. In ego-based relationships people evaluate one another and measure the value received from their partners. So long as people perceive the exchange to be equitable or better, the relationship is preserved. A break happens when the perception is that the exchange between them is no longer even. A holy relationship, on the other hand, based on forgiveness, is about giving, instead of receiving – as in fore-giving – giving before you receive.

Nobody is perfect, yet, in a relationship, for whatever reason, we do expect the other person to be perfect, even if we are not, and that, sometimes called a “judgement” creates the problem. Giving even when we do not receive may be okay for a short period of time, but long-term it is almost impossible to sustain. ACIM does not advocate “not receiving”; it just says that the expectation to receive is not the reason for giving.

ACIM acknowledges that in our human condition we “sin”, we make mistakes, but it also shows us the importance and power of choosing again. This is what I help couples do, forgive and chose again, on their way to a holy relationship.  

Forgiveness is not an easy topic in therapy because we all struggle with the con-fusion between forgiving someone and condoning, accepting, liking, or forgetting what they did. We also have the unconscious belief that not forgiving makes the pain of what happened go away, or less likely to happen again.

We discuss the aspects and use hypnosis to implement their choices. The conversations can intertwine with other topics… it is not linear… it is emotional, often heated, and convoluted. Somehow, I feel that all of my life made me uniquely suited to thrive in, and enjoy, that process.

On our way to a holy relationship attachment style incompatibility often comes up. People do not attach to one another emotionally the same way. Some require more emotional and even physical distance to feel comfortable, while others feel insecure and stressed without close contact and support. You can see how that combination in a couple can create a huge problem: the more “desperate” one party becomes with the apparent indifference of the other, the more the “distant” party prefers to stay away. It is a dangerous vicious cycle.

Attachment styles have been studied since the 1960. Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby are typically credited with the birth of that theory. Although our attachment style seems to be established in very early infancy, hypnotists have found unique ways of helping those who want to, change, heal, and develop awesome relationships.

Sometimes a couple is in distress not because of attachment incompatibility, but because they simply do not feel fulfilled and loved by one another. This is very interesting, because when I ask these people whether they love one another they invariably and emphatically say “yes”. When I ask if they think their partners love them, they say “yes”. But, they still do not fill fulfilled.

This scenario is exactly what Gary Chapman wrote the book for. It turns out that we do not all communicate love the same way. Some people are more verbal, others like to give and receive gifts, for instance. If a person needs to hear the words “I love you” 20 times a day to feel loved, no amount of gifting will fulfill them. The gifting party will also feel depleted because they say, I buy the person gifts every day, yet the person continues to nag… “I do not know what is wrong” they say.

Hypnotists have developed unique ways of helping people identify the preferred love language of their partners AND to express love to them in THEIR language. What a blessing for so many couples!    

Finally, sometimes marital couples experience what I call “loss of polarity”. Masculine men like feminine women, and feminine women like masculine men. Some people feel more fluid in their gender identification, therefore preferring a partner who can display the opposite polarity at times, thus complementing them. Either way, polarity is the key to attraction. I have a great way of helping couples increase polarity and attraction.

I ask the man to read the Queen’s code. I ask the woman to read the Way of the Superior Man. I ask both parties not to disclose or discuss the book they are reading with their partners.

When each partner is done with the book assigned, we discuss the book and the main ideas in it. I ask the client - these are individual sessions, not couple – whether they would like a partner that would incorporate more of the characteristics they read about. I invariably get a resounding “YESSSS”.

I then ask them to read the other book, men now read Deida’s book and women now read Armstrong’s book. I tell them that the way to elicit what they want from their partners is to become more of what they are about to read. They read the book and we discuss what they read.

People typically discover all kinds of impediments to their gender energies; women feel afraid and vulnerable when in their feminine role, and men often give up on their masculine energy. Once again, blessed hypnotists help them restore their natural gender energies.

Yes, the process described here can take many months… there is a lot to discuss. The most common phrase I hear from clients in this context is “nobody ever explained it to me that way…” Yet, this process goes well beyond an explanation.

The “magic” that makes this process so effective is that it NOT only educational. Much of what people call therapy today is a sad substitute for education. Not only do clients tell me that, but I also have been to many therapists who tell me to read books and explain ideas to me in ultra-simplistic terms, to the point of not being useful. One therapist would send me dozens of links to internet pages she liked and ask me to read them. Is that therapy? Or a stunted attempt to educate? Speaking of education, and this is not therapy, if you are interested in this topic, I recommend the book, The Philosophy of Therapy, available on Amazon.

Back to the topic, even when a person understands something, a change does not follow automatically. I used to illustrate this point to students with the story of the previous owner of a house I purchased. It took me months to remove the smell of cigarettes from the house; even the AC ducts had to be replaced. The smell of smoke was really bad, impregnated into the very fibers of the house, because the previous owner smoke A LOT in it. The point is that the previous owner was a lung surgeon; he probably knew about the effects of smoking on the lungs, but he smoked heavily. You see, knowing something does not necessarily change it.

When a client understands something and asks me “how do we change that?”, I answer, “I am glad you asked”, and proceed to discuss hypnosis and the subconscious mind. Hypnosis makes it possible to make changes at the source, or in the source code, as computer programmers would say.

The process we use with couples is powerful and effective for several reasons: we do not diagnose anyone, so no one feels that they have a problem. We do not treat people, so they open up and participate, instead of passively receiving treatment, as a patient would. We discuss ideas that have been validated by millions of people worldwide and shown to be a part of great of great relationships. We do not prescribe behavior. People feel educated without being lectured.

Most importantly, however, we make actual changes at the core of each person. It is the true changes, at their core, that cause the relationship to move forward, evolve, heal and function as a venue for growth and source of pleasure.




Two Step

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