Getting a “Handle” on Life: The Control Panel Imaginal Technique (C.P.I.T.)
A paradigm for enhancing control and enabling a person to affect the mode of experiencing was developed through imagining a set of buttons or dials which lead to changes in visual, auditory and kinesthetic experience. “Playing with the dials” leads to a change in the way a person experiences certain situations which up until then had been problematic. The various applications are described.
During a visit to a local Psychiatric Hospital for a staff meeting, I discovered, to my amazement, that all of the handles to the doors had been removed. Further inspection revealed that the staff went around with handles tied to their key-chains! I was very impressed with the fact that, not only were the inmates mixed up, bewildered and unsure about their grasp of reality, but here was the management removing their sense of the most basic competence: when you come to a door, you turn the knob in order to open or close the door. Imagine trying to open a door without the presence of a knob? How many tools, and what exerted effort is then required? When I allowed the full ramifications of the experience to sink in, I realized that many of those people turning to me for help were actually in a very similar predicament: In those situations which they found anxiety provoking, depressing, enraging, incapacitating, they were lacking the “handles” to adequately deal with the situation! Wasn’t it then my task to help them find and install those very handles which would make that subtle difference?
I shortly thereupon began to translate my revelation into practice: I began to propose to clients to begin to imagine different dials, knobs or handles which would make a difference in those difficult situations. My experiences during several months developed into a conscribed method with different stages.
I tell the story of my hospital experience, followed by a second story about building my Stereo equiptment kit. At the final stage, the dials weren’t tightened, and therefore didn’t work, the conclusion being that it isn’t sufficient to install; it has to be “connected” as well. The two stories provide the pre-hypnotic atmosphere, and tend to bring the client into a light trance.
The months of experience taught me that the dials needed to affect general experience, and not be symptom-specific ( ie: reduce depression, eliminate anxiety etc.). Therefore, in order to provide the framework for developing different functions, I begin to describe the different remote controls that we use, according to the sensory modalities which they utilize:
a)Color brings the dimension of affect. Removing the color brings in more distance, objectivity. Increasing the hue increases the affective dimension.
b)Contrast and sharpness vs. blurring enables one to play with definition or reducing the object’s impact through fading out of the sharpness.
c)Brightness or darkness introduces another affective dimension which often elicits mood changes.
d)Zoom in> pan out enables one to play with the distance to the object, focus upon small details>getting the whole picture.
e)Movement in time: Fast to slow forward/backward, pause. These dynamic functions provide possiblities of moving, skipping over obstacles, returning to past experiences, accessing future potentials, etc.
f)Fade in/out provide transition and succession.
a)Volume & intensity affects the experience of content, from shout to whisper.
b)Tonality: depth of bass, to sharpness of treble
c)Musicality: hearing a dialogue as an opera or musical can significantly change the experience.
The actual procedure entails several steps, following all of the pre-hypnotic suggestions:
1)“As you gently close your eyes, allowing yourself the freedom to fully focus and concentrate, imagine before you a kind of surface or panel. When you can see it or get a sense of it, let me know by letting your index finger (dominant hand) slightly rise (I progress only after getting affirmation, or enquire if there is no signal after a while. This is repeated for every step). Upon the surface, you will be able to imagine a certain button, knob, dial or handle. Who knows how you may translate my suggestion, giving your imagination full reign?! When you see or sense the dial, let me know. Reach out and fell the dial. Play with it, turning, pullind/pushing it, until you begin to get a feeling as to how it affects your experience”.
2)“Describe to me the effect”.
3)“Now allow yourself to play with it, discovering the full spectrum. How does it feel at each end? In the middle”?
4)“Now bring the dial to the position which makes you feel most comfortable at this time, and keep it there”.
5)Repeat 1-4 for each successive dial.
6)Now that you’ve installed these __ dials, go back to each one, and feel if you want to adjust any one’s position, now that you’ve added the other dials”.
7)During de-hypnotization, the client is encouraged to repeat the procedure, and to discover whether he or she feels that any other dials seem relevant fortheir life?
8)During the following session, the client is invited to now imagine one of the problematic situations which have been previously discussed, and to begin to re-adjust the positions of the various dials accordingly. Is there a need to add any new dials? How do the dials affect the experience of the problematic situation?
At this point, there is room for experimentation, discussion, repetition, substitution, and subsequent “working through” for each problematic situation.
J. Shaul Livnay (Weisbrot) PhD