Dr. Carolyn Daitch is a Ph.D. psychologist with over 30 years of experience, during which she has received many honors, including multiple Presidential awards from the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and a lifetime achievement award from the Michigan Society of Clinical Hypnosis, of which she was former President. Currently she directs the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Farmington Hills, MI. Needless to say we were thrilled to have her as a guest author at the Self Esteem Shop and greatly respect her work, and for taking the time to be a part of Meet the Authors!
1.) How did you become interested in treating people who have anxiety and difficulty managing their emotions?
It’s true that necessity is the mother of invention. At the clinic where I first worked as a psychologist, I was referred a number of patients who had the unrelenting and overwhelming anxiety reactions typical of panic attacks. I still remember how many of my clients had their first panic attack at Sears, right down the road from my office. Why Sears? It actually makes sense: the store exit was hard to find and when people with panic don’t have a way to escape quickly, full panic attacks are more easily triggered.
The intensity of my clients’ symptoms severely limited their day-to-day functioning. At that time, there was a dearth of effective medication, and the primary treatment modality among psychotherapists was psychodynamic. I really wanted to help these people, so I began to develop approaches to treat their symptoms that worked more quickly than talk therapy. My interventions were informed by cognitive behavior strategies combined with hypnosis and mindfulness.
My fellow therapists were, and still are, tirelessly looking for new strategies and the best treatment approaches out there to help their clients, including those suffering from anxiety. Many of them, seeing the success my clients experienced in reducing their anxiety asked me about my treatment approach or referred their clients with anxiety disorders to me. Finally, I assembled the most effective of these in my first book, The Affect Regulation Toolbox.
2.) How are your approaches different and more effective than others for treating anxiety and affect dysregulation?
I have a wide variety of interventions that are effective with anxiety, which allows me to design a treatment plan that reflects each patient’s individual needs and temperament. Also, having that range of options, I often combine several approaches, such as cognitive behavioral treatment, mindfulness, EMDR, and hypnosis. Also, I have created several guided imagery CDs targeting specific anxiety issues, which my clients use at home. This enables them to make progress more quickly and confidently.
3.) Isn’t it difficult to use hypnosis with people who are anxious?
Actually, not at all. Clients often tell me that they are too nervous to be hypnotized, and I reassure them that the research indicates that anxious individuals have high hypnotic susceptibility. Good hypnotic subjects have three qualities: a good imagination, the ability to focus attention, and sensitivity to bodily stimuli. Anxious people usually have great imaginations. Indeed, they often can imagine every possibility that can go wrong. They also focus very well, having lots of practice, unfortunately, focusing on their worries. And they tend to be hyper-alert to physical sensations and stimuli, worrying that something is wrong with them.
4.) Aren’t clients afraid of losing control in hypnosis?
If a client is uneasy about hypnosis, I explain common misconceptions about it, reassuring them that they are in control at all times and can change any of my suggestions to ones they prefer. For instance, I might suggest a client imagine walking down stairs, and she might change that to taking a slow elevator to a lower level. I tell them that they can open their eyes at anytime if they are uncomfortable. I also explain that we all have an observing part of ourselves, I call the Watchman, always in the wings during the trance experience, on alert if any thing in the protocol doesn’t fit for them. Although it rarely happens, if a client still does not want to use hypnosis, I can draw on many other effective interventions for treatment.
5.) You have written three books before The Road to Calm Workbook, which was recently published. What was your purpose in writing this one?
It is a follow up to my first book, The Affect Regulation Toolbox, which was published in 2007 and won an award for the best hypnosis book from the Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
Because so many clinicians had asked me about my treatment approach, I wrote that book for professionals who worked with clients suffering from anxiety. The Road to Calm Workbook, co-written with Lissah Lorberbaum, is aimed at helping a wider audience that includes laypeople with anxiety problems. Further, this workbook offers tools for a broader range of emotional challenges than I covered in the Toolbox. For example, in addition to the applications to anxiety issues, the workbook offers strategies for common struggles we all face from time to time, such as loneliness, feeling depressed, hopeless, frustrated, angry, misunderstood, abandoned, among other emotional triggers. So it helpful to any of us humans who deal with the ever-changing onslaught of emotions elicited by stress and interpersonal triggers. The workbook provides explicit toolsets in written form, on audio recording, and on an app. Yes, there is an app for that!
6.) Do you have any suggestions for therapists to help them work with anxious clients?
You need to individualize treatment for each client. The strength of many of the treatments for the disorders lies not in one modality’s approach but in the combination of interventions from an array of therapies. I encourage you to plan ahead before sessions and afterward to make brief notes about what you’ve learned about your client that you can incorporate into subsequent interventions.
As you proceed it is crucial that you attend to the moment to moment, and often unexpected, responses of the client and redirect the interventions accordingly. This immediate response to the client’s verbal or non-verbal reactions assures the client you are listening and that his or her responses are understandable, valid and respected. Challenge yourself to change course from one direction to another as you apply the tools during a session. A skilled therapist traverses through a session like a river: when water meets resistance, it changes course and continues in one fluid motion toward its goal.
7.) You also write about becoming flooded with emotion in relationships. How can the Road to Calm Workbook help relationships?
All committed relationships grapple with conflict. In my experience, conflict itself is rarely the problem; it is the knee-jerk, unrestrained escalation of discord that tends to undermine trust and intimacy. Although challenges are inevitable in relationships, emotional flooding is not. The workbook helps you gain awareness of your own emotional triggers in your relationships such as perceived criticism, judgment or misunderstanding. And it teaches you can catch your reactions before they cause emotional flooding. The strategies help you self-soothe and gain perspective so you can be more in control when you attempt to repair ruptures in your relationships.
8.) We always like to hear about what is in the works from our authors. Do you have any future projects & workshops that you would like to mention here? What is the best way for our readers to contact you for additional information?
Podcast with Dr. Charles Parker: AD/HD and Anxiety January, 2017 |
In Office Training/ Master Classes Farmington Hills, MI: January 8, 2017: Structuring Anxiety Groups Sunday, January 8th, 2017 |
February 12: Hypnosis and Habit Disorders | March 5: Anxiety and the Family
March 10: Imago Relationship Therapists of Michigan: Power Tools for Relationships , Livonia, MI
March 18: American Society of Clinical Hypnosis: Diminishing Pre-surgical Anxiety
April 8-9 Imago Relationship Therapists of Souther California, W. Los Angelos, California
May 8-9 Anxiety Treatment, Portland and Eugene Oregon
Dr. Daitch can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 248 626-8151