Targeting Pain – A Practitioners Guide to Relief - offers simple approaches to the complex challenges of assisting individuals living with chronic and/or painful conditions. In this program the reader explores insights, and techniques to apply immediately in their practice.
Whether you are a medical practitioner, therapist or caring friend, you will discover ways to be more effective in guiding your clients, patients or friends: The True Heroes, toward relief.
For the individual living the Chronic Identity, you may be surprised at how easily you can discover relief in these pages and recapture a greater joy in life.
Written by an individual who lives the program, you will find insights that only one who does so, can offer.
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What people are saying about Targeting Pain
“Dan Cleary masterfully makes the complex mental, emotional, and physical concerns of addressing pain relief easy to read, follow and understand. This is the most complete guide to pain relief I have encountered. It is filled with practical examples, elegant, yet simple language and offers a variety of techniques which bring immediate results. This is the best How-To book for every practitioner who encounters pain in his/her practice. Targeting Pain is right on target!” Anna H. Spencer, PhD, Founder: International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association®.
"No Better Book for Unerstanding Pain. Targeting Pain by Dan Cleary is the best book available for understanding pain and how to simply change our thought process and focus to greatly reduce or eliminate pain. This book has been added to the required reading for students of Infinity Institute International. Dan Cleary has once again found a way to explain the keys to wellbeing in simple and effective ways." James Duncan, CHt - President, Infinity Institute International, Inc.
"Excellent! Dan Cleary's has a talent for explaining the difficult in the simplest of ways. Dan is one of the best hypnotists I have met who focuses on pain management. His book is easy to read and the ideas are simple, yet can have profound results for those that implement them with their client's or patients. I highly recommend this book."
W. Wood - Utah Hypnosis
"Valuable resource for the professional hypnotist. The author shares his perspective as not only a hypnotist but as someone who has had to cope with his own chronic pain problem as well. The concepts Cleary shares about creating expectations that are both optimistic and realistic are alone worth the cover price and have either not been covered or not addresed in enough depth in any of the other texts I have encountered in the 15+ years I have been in the hypnosis field. Get this book if you want to help people with pain and other health problems."
James Malone - "New Jersey Hypnotist" author of Calm Your Tinnitus: The Less You Fear It, The Less You Hear It.
"A 'must read' for someone who wants to assit people in pain! When you want to learn most effective ways to assist your pain client/patient, read this book and then read it again. Cleary has a way of writing that is easy to read and yet, you will discover new thoughts and ideas each time you read this book. Written by someone who has walked his talk for over 30 years, Cleary knows all the ins and outs and has found ways how to have a life while living with pain. He knows from his personal experience what works and what doesn't and has a talent with words. After reading this book for the first time, you will have discovered new ways of thinking about pain and your way of working with your patients/clients will change right away. When reading it a second or third time you will find even more subtle tips and tricks. Study Cleary's language and you'll know what I mean."
Okka Holthuis - Rainbow Healing Center
Excerpt from TARGETING PAIN
I am a trained hypnotist and a hypnosis instructor; I have no formal medical training. The conclusions expressed in this guide are based upon my personal experience living with severe, chronic pains secondary to a brachial plexus avulsion and the insights gained assisting clients for over twenty years.
For the first five years after my injuries I was unable to sleep in the conventional sense; remaining awake for twenty-four to thirty-six hours before collapsing into fitful sleep of three to four hours at a time, awakening in tears. Then I found hypnosis. Within a week I was sleeping six to eight hours a day, discarded most of the medications that I had been taking and reduced alcohol usage. Hypnosis literally saved my life. Since then I have spent over twenty-five years developing more effective ways to access relief and share what I have learned.
This program doesn’t promise single-session, life-long relief and yet I have seen that happen as well. This program is about assisting your client/patient to regain a sense of control in life and develop the skills and abilities to live more fully.
Whatever is happening in the life of an individual, perhaps we can all agree that; when we feel better, we heal better. Even in cases where the diagnosis may be considered to be terminal, the simple approaches described here can offer great benefit for the individual.
Whether you are a doctor, nurse, physical therapist, hypnotist or an individual assisting a loved one, this program will make a difference in your life and in the life of those you care for.
In my experience, the question of what hypnosis is or is not is often misunderstood. To me and in the context of this program, what we refer to as hypnosis, whether guided by a hypnotist or self-accessed, is a form of communication.
Life is a series of stories and while there are times when the stories we tell ourselves free us, there are times they limit us as well. This program is about rewriting our stories of life in ways that open greater possibilities and joy in ordinary things, making who we become extraordinary.
There are techniques in conventional hypnosis, NLP, and other approaches and they too are stories in their own rite. Many of the techniques discussed and embedded in this program are effective most of the time, with most people. However, in this program you will discover that the most important technique is the relationships we develop and the flexibility we maintain when assisting others.
A consideration we can explore is while modern medical and psychological developments are at times seemingly magical, science still cannot identify what the experience of life may be for any individual. There are no set answers, no magic bullets. There is only the individual’s experience and how they relate their life to the world around them.
We cannot ‘FIX’ people; we can assist them to live more abundantly and learn to use innate skills and abilities that we all possess, in ways that enhance the experience of life.
Thank you for your curiosity, caring and sense of adventure as you open this phase of exploration.
Addressing pain relief and chronic conditions is a topic that we could discuss for years because by definition, chronic conditions continue for years. The impact in the life of an individual living with chronic conditions is what I refer to as Chronic Identity and is perhaps one of the most misunderstood aspects that we can begin to address as we consider this topic.
I find that many practitioners are often more concerned with their abilities to address chronic conditions than the individuals they assist. Perhaps this may be a result of initial training, the stated severity or duration of the condition, or even the prognosis of the diagnosis.
It is vital when assisting people with chronic, painful conditions that we accept a basic understanding:
‘THE PATIENT IS NOT THE DIAGNOSIS!’
We are addressing the experience of the individual, rather than the diagnosis. Whatever the diagnosis or prognosis may be, this simple understanding moves us from the Pass/Fail situation of fixing something that is broken, to the certainty of success, in that every client has the ability to change their perception. “When we feel better - We heal better!” The remarkable effect of this simple credo is that clients often improve beyond expectation or explanation.
In my experience most chronic sufferers come to see hypnotists anywhere from two to six years after the onset of their condition. There are exceptions of course and yet, the medical model usually takes as long as two years to thoroughly explore diagnosis and treatment. By the time most clients have lived with their situation for six or more years, most have given up hope of functional relief.
As more and more medical practitioners are becoming aware of the benefits offered with Mind/Body approaches this is beginning to change. By using the simple approaches in this program the practitioner can often assist the individual to change the way they address the situation and interrupt the patterns before they become chronic.
When individuals live with painful signals it often seems that in the moments before sleep, when all outer distractions begin to fade, the signals are most notable, making the transition from wakefulness to sleep challenging. Through time and experience individuals can develop a habit or expectation that makes these moments a time to avoid or shorten. Pushing oneself until overcome by exhaustion or the use of medications or alcohol are common ways to slip beyond those moments more quickly. Unfortunately these methods can also interfere with the quality of rest and limit the restorative powers of our bodies. Simply telling a person who lives with chronic painful sensations to get more sleep is like asking them not to think about the paisley elephant in the living room.
How do we begin to assist these clients? Imagine how it would be if you were to awaken in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and as you shuffle through the dimly lit rooms, you stub your toe. OUCH! See yourself there, hopping up and down, screaming silently into the night to avoid waking the entire house. OUCHOUCHOUCH!
Now as you imagine that instant, notice the rest of your body and you may recognize that the muscles of your back, shoulders, hips and virtually every muscle of your entire body is tensing, even though the ottoman that attacked you is unlikely to strike again. The only area that is actually sending a signal is your toe and yet your entire body carries the message in reaction to those painful signals. When the source of those signals causes the rest of our body to react in a truly threatening situation we are protected; prepared for fight or flight. When the source of those signals is either sending an incorrect signal or the signal no longer gives useful information and fight or flight are unreasonable options, all those other muscles reacting will eventually begin to break down and develop painful signals of their own. The emotional state of unresolved conflict also begins to deplete our energy reserves and the habitual response of living in fight or flight mode robs us of the ability to rest and digest.
Referred pains can become the opening portal toward relief. Individuals dealing with chronic issues often feel that the painful signals control their life and most have lost track of the difference between the actual signals and the referred physiological and emotional reactions. When we assist our clients to notice the difference between the signals they feel, the way they feel about them, and the referred pains that aren’t part of the original situation at all, they may experience the return of a sense of control in life. Discovering that they have the ability to make even small changes can have profound impact in their life immediately.
As it happens, the previous paragraphs contain valuable information and resources beyond those stated overtly. When we recognize that virtually every muscle reacts to signals that seem to announce crisis, we can accept that the body has an incredible communication network already in place and functioning. Suppose that we can use that system to announce comfort, joy or relaxation. The message we send can be modified through intent and practice. Also, I have been referring to ‘Pain’ as ‘painful signals’ or simply, ‘signals.’ The word PAIN always hurts. It is supposed to, the word pain is a descriptive part of our survival system and when everything is at its best, pain is a good thing. When the system no longer delivers valid warnings, it no longer serves us. By referring to the mistaken sensations as signals, we begin to objectify them, separating the individual from the signal.
Simple progressive relaxation can provide relief for those referred pains mentioned earlier and yet, the client has come to address ‘THE PAIN’ and relaxation may seem to be unapproachable. How do we bypass the immovable wall of pain for a client who knows with certainty that it cannot be assuaged? We put the pain on the agenda for later. It seems simple and yet it usually works well.
When a client comes in and we begin to listen to the story of the experience they know so well, we simply say: ‘Okay, we’ll get to that in a minute but first, so we can discover the most effective ways to address that (here again objectifying the painful signal) I’d like for us to play with your imagination for a few moments.’ This tells the client that whatever comes next isn’t about ‘fixing’ their pain, which has been tried by many, for years, ineffectively, or they wouldn’t be there. This also removes the challenge of pass/fail and tells them that for the moment we will do something else and by the way, that something may be interesting or playful in itself. I wonder how curious you could be to explore your imagination to discover something interesting. This is just the beginning.
What happens next depends upon the moment and the client. We can ask them about their children or grandchildren or wonder aloud about something funny or dear to them. In doing this we shift the awareness from telling us about the pain in their life, to telling us about their joy. In listening to them and watching their physical expression we can often find ways they already know to feel good. When we see them begin to shift in telling us about the things that are important or dear to them, we can covertly develop anchors or assist them to enhance the sensations they express.
Suppose that they smile when describing a grandchild, we might nod, smile and state enthusiastically that there is nothing like the love of a grandchild. (If appropriate, you may touch them on the shoulder or hand as you say this. It is a physical anchor to go with the anchors of smiling and the enthusiasm.) You may add a statement to the effect that it always feels good to think of the example they mentioned and any time they want to feel good, they know how.
Do they have hobbies or interests that we can use as a resource? Their occupation may offer skills and abilities we can use in designing effective relief strategies they can incorporate easily in their life. Remember that taking what they know how to do and doing it differently is generally easier than teaching them a whole new way of doing something. A musician may be able to ‘tune out’ discomfort, an accountant may determine that investing more energy in the old reactions simply doesn’t add up.
What we are doing is developing resource states to use in other ways later. Suppose that we could be aware of our emotional states, which state would you rather be aware of: joy or pain? Okay, that seems to be a no-brainer.
When we evoke joy or laughter and anchor it, then begin to explore challenges and return to joy or laughter and collapse the anchors, we can literally rearrange the way we think about challenges.
Exploring our client’s ability to imagine a Safe Place, a Place of Confidence or Resource, is a more formal method of doing the same thing described above with joy, laughter and grandchildren. These are all ways of engaging the client in using their imagination as a resource and can be used in tandem or individually depending upon the client and the level of rapport that we enjoy.
Ask the client to describe their favorite place in nature or a personal spa where everything they see, hear or feel is there by choice and feels good. I suggest that this is a place of their own, where they can be comfortable by them self.
Is there an area of their body (removed from the area that is uncomfortable) that they can notice and allow to be so filled with comfort that it feels wonderful (remember the communication system and how we imagined that if it can send a message of crisis, it could send comfort? Do it now!) Allow the sensations in that area to begin to fade until they can notice that area as though they were watching someone else’s hand or foot. In this way we are dissociating from an area that has little agenda of its own and helping them to experience the Mind-Body connection free from challenge.
AND… ‘If I can do it there – I can do it anywhere.’
Daniel F. Cleary is an internationally recognized Pain Relief Educator and Hypnosis Instructor.
A member of the Chronic Club for over thirty years, he lives the program you find within. Dan has dedicated his life to assisting others in their journey toward relief.