Fear Of Relaxing

© Helen Lesser 2005

Question:

I have a patient whose problem is that she has a fear of relaxing, of ‘letting go’.

I tried to minimise my use of the word ‘relax’ during the induction and all was fine until, during the Progressive Relaxation, I had hardly started when she opened her eyes – I reassured her and she seemed happy enough to continue as she then closed her eyes again.

We made it to the end of my standard Initial Induction but at the end she said she felt extremely uncomfortable throughout and a bit dizzy.

I gave her the CD and told her to listen to it at home.

Is her need to resist, to stop herself from going too far, going to prevent me from completing treatment?


Minimising use of the word ‘relax’ was sensible – using words like ‘drifting’ and ‘floating’, rather than ‘sinking’ and tranquil, serene, comfortable, rather than ‘deeply relaxed’ – would probably also be beneficial for this patient.

Reassurance is the key here. Allowing her to understand that being relaxed is not the same as losing control, that she will always have control and that you work hard with everyone to ensure they don’t ever have to use it because the treatment is so enjoyable and comfortable.

Sometimes, using an analogy can be helpful in this situation, to demonstrate who has control – the patient or the therapist (see below).

Giving her a CD to listen to at home was very definitely the right thing to do – she is more likely

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HelenLesser has written 286 articles