Behavior Modification Case 3

This case involves a 23 year old female who was running her bank account dry by trying to keep up with all the latest trends so she could fit in and be socially accepted. She would buy things specifically for every occasion. She had tens of boxes of clothes, shoes and fashion accessories as her closet had long since given up its last available space.

Her behavior was so chronic she even went to buy new clothes just for her appointments with me. This was totally unnecessary as I do advise people to dress comfortably and jeans and a T-shirt are fine.

During the discovery session it was fairly obvious she lacked self-confidence and self-esteem. Her purchases were meant as a confidence boost that was running her broke. Once she was comfortable talking to me her natural personality started to come through and she turned out to be very pleasant to talk to.

As the discovery continued it was learned that both her parents were heavy drinkers and drinking started the moment they got home and continued until they passed out or went to bed each night. When her parents were drunk she experienced verbal abuse but no physical abuse. She moved out just after her 18th birthday and stayed with friends until she could afford her own apartment when she was 21.

Her job paid fairly well as she was a personal assistant for three upper managers in a company with about 600 employees. However it was a task driven subordinate job that sometimes involved going out for food. This left her with no real chance to develop her self-confidence and to learn to think for herself.

The approach in therapy was to first make her feel good about herself so she would have less reliance on how she dressed. I used the example of working at a company that all the employees had to wear identical uniforms and I gave UPS as an example. There she was banned from wearing anything other than the company provided clothing. Her initial reply was expected and she said she would not work in a place that uniforms were required.

As therapy progressed, targeted hypnotic suggestions were focused on her self-confidence and self-esteem. There were no real suggestions to stop excessive buying other than she would have money to do things she wanted to do. The reason for this is the excessive shopping was the effect of the upstream cause of her verbal abuse.

After about 6 weeks she was very happy to have money for fun, and that was a first for her. It was always go where her friends wanted to go and never decide for herself. She even started to give away some of her barely worn older clothing to good will. As a bonus to successful therapy, she started to have a boyfriend as she was too self-conscious before to do more than look.