When a reactive-pattern such as sea-sickness or migraine develops it can often become fixed until the patient subconsciously re-learns a different response. The inner mind needs to be reminded of this new way of thinking and feeling periodically and this was the partial aim of therapy with Heather.
Other criteria were to uncover the reason why she had chosen this particular way of responded to something she loved doing. Heather was a natural sea-farer - she loved the freedom of sailing on the boat more than anything but her sea-sickness was naturally spoiling her enjoyment of it.
She booked three sessions of hypnotherapy to coincide with her return to sea and she proved to be an excellent subject, capable of achieving deep trance. Sea-sickness had overtaken her one day after sleeping on top of the boat's battery so it was natural to assume that the fumes inhaled during Heather's sleep had triggered the nausea. However, she continued to vomit on subsequent journeys even when travelling in different climate conditions. The first session was used to teach Heather how to dissociate herself by visualizing herself outside her body. Thus she could 'distance herself' from any possible future discomfort.
Imagery of lying in a hammock - rocking gently from side to side - was coupled with suggestions to 'go with the flow' (the rocking of the boat). At this stage no exploratory work was carried out because Heather's focal point was in dealing with the sea sickness, should it return. This was not intended to anticipate the continuation of sea-sickness but provide comfort from knowing that she had tools to use if necessary.
Ideomotor signals were set up in session two and it was established that the cause behind this particular episode of sea-sickness was related to feelings of guilt - a) for something she felt responsible for, which allowed her to return to the sea life that she loved and b) to feelings that she didn't really deserve to be happy and living this life of freedom. During the course of the hypnotherapy Heather was able to realize that she wasn't responsible for the guilt-causing event and even if she had have been - she knew that she'd always done her best and that some things were out of her control.
She also came to realize that she was entitled to be happy and didn't have to always please other people or put their needs first.
By the following week Heather was already feeling differently about going back to sea - much of the nervousness had disappeared. But she remembered that the pattern of being sea sick had actually originated about ten years previously and felt that the cause hadn't been fully uncovered.
This time Heather regressed to the first time she was both physically sick and afraid. She recalled that she was 7 years of age, alone in the house and was sick after eating something she didn't want - because it was offered to her by someone she loved and she didn't want to hurt their feelings by refusing.
The smell of the seafood nauseated her and she was crying and scared. Heather was asked to visit her younger self and 'do whatever needed to be done to make things alright'. Her adult self was asked to evaluate the situation and report on the real reasons why this pattern of behavior had begun.
She said that Heather had felt frightened to say no to the seafood because she felt weak and insecure about the people she loved.
She was able to find strength in the knowledge that she was in touch with her deepest self which would protect her in all situations.
Heather was then asked to gather together any uncomfortable feelings pertaining to her sea sickness - the nausea, feeling weak and insecure and others that had cropped up, and clump them together into one big uncomfortable mess. She visualized a chest on the boat and experienced herself putting these uncomfortable feelings into the chest, closing the lid and locking it securely, before hauling the chest up and over the boat and into the sea.
Asked how she felt, Heather said 'light' - she loved the feeling of being free and experienced the feelings of lightness spreading up through her body and into her mind. The feeling was then anchored and she was given a post hypnotic suggestion that her subconscious mind would remind her conscious mind every 12 hours whilst she was on the boat, of this feeling of lightness. Every 12 hours was chosen because Heather had previously stated that she generally was sick after the first 18 hours of sailing.
Heather was also taught how to use self-hypnosis, in addition she was given a relaxation cassette to listen to on her journeys.