Alchemy Hypnotherapy and Sexual Abuse Survivors: Alchemical Healing with Debbie Unterman
by Lezli Censullo
It is estimated that one out of three girls, and at least one out of seven boys, are sexually abused by the time they reach the age of eighteen. This means that if you are currently working as a Counselor or Hypnotherapist, you are most likely already working with sexual abuse survivors who may or may not remember their abuse.
Alchemical Hypnotherapy offers the therapist a set of special techniques including Conference Room Therapy that complement traditional therapies to help the survivor integrate her experiences and change the abusive patterns in her life. Debbie Unterman is an Alchemy Trainer and Master Alchemist working in Atlanta, Georgia, who has come to specialize in working with sexual abuse survivors. This article tells the story of Debbie’s work with a very brave survivor who hopes that sharing her experiences will help others receive the help they need.
Uncovering Memories: The Power of Trance
Susan first came to Debbie for work in dealing with a host of physical problems, as well as to resolve her relationship with a father who had been physically abusive. When asked if there had been any sexual abuse, Susan replied, “Oh no, my father wouldn’t do that. I know I was never sexually abused.”
During their fifth session together, Susan went back to a time when Little Suzy was playing with her daddy: “Daddy, don’t do that. You’re touching me. I don’t like that.” Her world was falling out from under her. How could this be true? She must be making it up. Her father would never do that to her; he loved her.
Absolving the Child from Responsibility and Guilt
Alchemical Hypnotherapy allows people to run and change traumatic incidents from the past through a dramatic rescue mission. The “strange child technique” is very important here in order to educate the survivor as to the rights of the child to be free from abuse. According to Debbie, “Survivors are often sure they must have done something very bad to bring the abuse on. We need to show them that no child deserves to be mistreated.” In the ‘Strange Child Technique’ the therapist suggests to the client that some other small child, not the client, is being molested. Immediately the client’s adult self sees the absurdity of holding this other child responsible for the crime of molestation, and can then apply this insight to her own childhood situation. Susan says, “Working with the strange child technique has allowed me to realize that no child deserves to go through what I’ve been through. Not even me.”
Creating Allies for the Inner Child through Alchemical Dream-Work
“This is so hard,” claims Susan, “We (survivors of abuse) blame that child for so much. It takes so much pain to listen to what that little kid has to say.” Debbie further explains, “With Susan, as with many survivors, there was no functioning adult who was willing to acknowledge the Inner Child. Big Susan did not want to take care of Little Suzy.” A breakthrough came when Debbie prompted Susan to go into a recurring nightmare that Susan had from the time she was four years old through her adult years. In the nightmare Susan was being chased continually by a terrible monster. During the session Debbie suggested that Susan confront that monster and ask it why it was chasing her. The Monster replied, “I just want you to recognize me!” Suddenly the Monster transformed from a big hairy repulsive thing into a friendly green Monster who was now becoming little Suzy’s Protector. Susan explains the transformation, “That ugly monster changed right before my eyes into my little kid’s best friend. He told me that he loves me and wants to help me. The Alchemical Process has finally let me put that nightmare to rest and created for me a fuzzy friend inside.”
The Adult-Child Bond
The core of the Alchemical Process is to link the adult with the Inner Child in order to form a new family and give the child a new sense of security. Even after little Suzy found her Protector in her Inner Monster, it still took many months before Big Susan was willing to nurture Little Suzy. The crucial bond was finally forged while listening to an Alchemical Journey tape. Susan says, “I went into trance and suddenly I saw this little girl coming toward me on the beach. I went up to her and bent down as she reached up to me. I picked her up and held her in the air, saying, ‘Oh, Little Suzy!’ She sighed, ‘Mommy!’, her hands caressing my face.”
Dissociation and Conference Room Therapy
Most survivors learn to dissociate from, or numb, their bodies so they will not feel what is being done to them. They may actually leave their bodies and view the scene from a great distance above. Learning not to do this is extremely difficult for most survivors. Susan learned to do this as a very young child. As a result, she continued to remove Little Suzy in this manner from any source of pain as an adult.
During their Alchemical sessions, Debbie and Susan discovered a character within Susan they called M&M. M&M is the part of Susan who likes pain and who would take over whenever Little Suzy left her body. (M&M = masochism & masochism.)
Many survivors will inflict physical pain upon themselves. Susan, for example, deliberately cut herself several times. These tendencies resulted from a desire to punish herself as well as from an effort to externalize the pain she was feeling inside. Now, thanks to the gentle integration provided by the specific form of Alchemical Sub-personality work known as Conference Room Therapy, M&M has become Susan’s limit-setter who works with the Monster in the role of Protector. Susan explains, “M&M is the part of me that knows how to be tough and how to say NO.”
Public Exposure of the Guilty Party
Using trance and active imagination, the Alchemical Hypnotherapist has the tools to help the survivor not only accept her painful past, but transform her memories into important healing resources. One example of this is the “public exposure” technique. During one session Debbie suggested Susan call all the people of the community together in her mind for a public denouncement, through an imaginary caught-in-the-act candid camera style showing of her father’s crimes. Susan could not bring herself to do this, saying, “But he was so good. They’d never believe it. He was like a saint in the community.”
Debbie recollects, “So I decided to try and turn it around by using her own words. Utilizing a reverse suggestion technique, I told her instead to go ahead and give her father an award in front of the whole congregation for being a ‘saint.’ We even called in Jesus to give him the award. Susan was going along with this until the very last moment when Jesus emphatically stated, ‘Oh no, there’s been some sort of a mistake! This man has not been a saint at all,’ and went on to recount his crimes. Through this public reprimand of the guilty father, Susan was finally on the road to understanding and accepting herself as the innocent victim of abuse. This was a huge breakthrough.”
Accepting Memories: The “Split-off” Technique
Acceptance takes time. It may be important for the survivor to also work with a Counselor who specializes in healing sexual abuse during this period so she can have the support necessary to break through the barriers of disbelief and denial. The trust she has placed in her most essential support system (her family) must in some way be surrendered. Then with acceptance of the abuse, her whole world may change. Susan admits, “I worked every day for a year to accept the fact that an adult giant took advantage of my Little Child – raped me and hurt me and did everything to me that he could possibly do short of killing me. And yet, there is a part of me that misses my Daddy so much – that loves him so much and that just can’t believe that he would do that to me.”
Debbie explains how she was able to help Susan resolve this horrible dichotomy of feelings. “The Alchemical ‘split-father technique’ is extremely helpful here because it allows for the preservation of some feelings of trust and support. This technique allowed Susan to know and embrace the ‘good’ father she knew and loved, while punishing, repudiating, and banishing her abusive ‘bad’ father who she realized she had denied the existence of for so long.” Susan says: “From getting to know the Conference Room Characters inside me like Little Suzy, the Monster and M&M, I understand we all have many parts to ourselves. That’s allowed me to look at my father differently – I can now see both the horrible man who abused me and the father who loved me and played with me.”
The Importance of Homework
Susan now spends some time every day with Little Suzy and says this is invaluable. Homework is vital as it extends the benefits of Alchemical Hypnotherapy sessions and helps the survivor learn to depend on her own inner resources. Susan must constantly tell Little Suzy that she is a good little girl who deserves love and fun and hope. Little Suzy is finally learning to believe her father was a very sick man and that she did nothing to bring these experiences upon herself.
One homework assignment Debbie says she gives all of her clients, and especially those who are survivors of sex abuse, is to get themselves a stuffed animal that can represent their Inner Child and to hug it. “You always see little kids holding a blanket, doll or stuffed toy, or even sucking their thumbs, because it’s a natural way for children to self-nurture.”
She continues, “Adult clients inevitably feel silly when I tell them this is their homework, and I understand it because I was completely resistant myself. But I tell them to get over the embarrassment and do it anyway because it works. They need to trust that there is body memory that will soothe them in a way that goes beyond logic, and not be so caught up in their adult mind. Just do it. Keep it on your bed and allow your body to do what comes naturally. I think everyone should try it before they dismiss it.”
Expressing Anger Through “Etheric Plane Communication” (EPC) Can Lead to the Elimination of Physical Symptoms
It is especially important that the survivor be given the opportunity to express anger at the perpetrator. This may be extremely scary for the survivor and is something that Susan was not comfortable with for a long time. There is always secrecy around sexual abuse as the victim is forced to keep the secret for the perpetrator, which sits in her (or his) body as toxic shame. This is why the Alchemical technique of EPC is so important to the process of healing.
It is not necessary, or ever advised, to express anger by actually confronting the abuser in person. Confrontation may be dangerous or difficult (and will often be denied by the perpetrator), but the Alchemical process enables the survivor to express the anger in the totally safe environment of the therapist’s office and to achieve the emotional release and empowerment resulting from confrontation without endangering the survivor’s physical body. In fact this kind of Body/Mind healing can have just the opposite effect as Susan reports.
“I needed to get angry not only with my father, but with my mother, too, as the enabler, for letting it happen. Completing my communication etherically with both of my parents in my Alchemy sessions,” says Susan, “has resulted in getting a lot of pain out of my body that had been stored for years as physical diseases such as tumors, asthma and high blood pressure. My doctors were amazed by the changes. One dramatic difference was that my menstrual cycle began again after eighteen years after just my second session! There was a lot of anger released in that one.”
The Role of Inner Guides
In The Courage to Heal, an excellent resource for abuse survivors, Ellen Bass and Laura Davis discuss the importance of finding the spiritual part of yourself in healing. Most survivors feel terribly alienated and finding one’s Spirituality through Inner Guide work can be a very important tool in helping the survivor connect with inner sources of support. Alchemical Hypnotherapy is founded upon the use of Inner Guides and provides some of the most comprehensive technology of Inner Guide work currently available.
Susan’s Inner Guides have been very special for her. She describes one Guide named John: “John is ever-present and constant,” she says. “He is always there – just there – to put his arm around me or comfort and support me. He helps me learn to trust myself. The Alchemical process has allowed me to know that there’s a source of wisdom inside that I can trust and tap into for guidance.”
Susan now reports she has experienced profound and rapid changes as a result of her work with Alchemy. She went through what generally takes a survivor two to ten years with traditional therapy, in just one year. She has gone from a state of suicidal depression and desperate anguish, to having a whole new outlook on life manifesting in a new diet and health plan and new expressions of her creativity.
Susan exclaims, “My experiences with Alchemical Hypnotherapy have given me the ability to work through my painful memories and heal my childhood. I believe the ultimate form of therapy for survivors will combine traditional therapies with Alchemical Hypnosis to help the survivor learn to function as a whole individual. I decided to take the Alchemical Training in hopes of helping other survivors through the terror and torment that I’m now on the other side of. It’s definitely an amazing tool of self-empowerment!”
You may contact Debbie Unterman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 770-434-7488