allison_icon.gif bella_icon.gif

Scene Title Specialties
Synopsis Bella goes in for therapy of her own, and Allison uses her specialty technique: hypnosis.
Date April 3, 2010

Allison's Office

It's a nice afternoon…if you don't mind freezing temperatures and six feet of snow. But it's nice and warm inside the office building that Allison works out of. Her offices are fairly small, since it's just her, though the waiting room is comfortable and the receptionist friendly. Since Bella has an appointment, she's shown in, and rather promptly as well.

Inside, the office looks more like a living room than an office. There are couches and chairs, and a coffee table, even a mini-fridge, but no desk to be seen, or file cabinets. Nothing to really mark it 'office'. The doctor is sitting in a chair, one leg crossed over the other, with a laptop set on the end table beside her.

At Bella's entrance she looks over and smiles, rising smoothly to her feet. "Hi there. Bella, right? I'm Allison," she says, offering her hand with the greeting.

Bella is not looking her best, but it's not her fault; she blames all the troubling factors. She's hugely poofy in a big winter coat, her red hair just barely held under a big black beret that resembles nothing so much as a massive non-pareil thanks to its liberal coating of snow. Add to this her clumsy motion with the help/hindrence of a crutch, and the good Dr. Sheridan is not cutting an impressive figure. But she at least tries to play it off as adorably awkward, as she smiles ruefully and hastily tugs off her mitten, offering a chilly hand to her fellow practitioner.
"Right on the money," she says, giving a firm shake, "I've been meaning to catch you, make your acquaintance, but my mobility has been kind of limited. But I figure… I've got a niggling disorder I need worked through so… two birds, one stone?" She pulls off her hat and looks around, "Any place I can brush myself off without wrecking the floor?"

Allison smiles. "Anywhere is fine. There's been a lot of snow tracked in this week, so a little more certainly won't hurt anything, I promise. And make yourself comfortable, please. Then we can get to the two birds that you've brought," she says, reclaiming her hand and offering to help with the coat, without directly mentioning the crutch.

Bella shakes her beret free of snow, then unzips herself, her slight figure emerging from the down-stuffed cocoon. She hands the coat off to Allison with an expression of gratitude, though not before depositing each mitten in the coat's pockets, then pries off her faux-fur lined boots, taking extra care with the injured leg. She then swings over to a couch and lowers herself onto it, giving an 'oof' and then a sigh of satisfaction, rubbing at her eyes with the back of a hand. She gently massages above her injury, then carefully, ever so carefully, lifts one leg to cross over the other. She straightens her back… and is ready.

Allison hangs the coat up on a coat rack in the corner, the boots set underneath it. Then she moves back to her chair, returning to the position she was in when Bella entered. Smile included. "You said that you've been wanting to make my acquaintance? Why is that exactly? I wasn't aware that my name had been spread around that much already."

Bella gives a small laugh, evidently embarrassed, if only mildly, "I'm sorry. I'm not representing myself very well. I'm here as a client, because I have a problem, but I've been meaning to make your acquaintance because we are co-workers," she taps her chest, "Dr. Isabella Sheridan, practicing psychiatrist, with a specialization in Evolved psychology. You and I share common benefactors, not to put too fine a point on it. Which is important for my being a client, too, since I can't risk full disclosure with an outside therapist."

"Ahh," Allison says, smiling and nodding. "Yes, I suppose that does make sense. I'd love to talk shop with you sometime. Clearly I'm well versed in Evolved psychology, but it's not my specialty. So I'm always happy to learn a little something new. And it's a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Sheridan. I always enjoy meeting like minds." She doesn't pry about the problem Bella has, but seems content to let the other woman bring it up.

Bella waves her hand dimissively, "If you're well versed, you can call yourself a specialist. The Evolved have been a matter of scientific record for such a short space of time that knowing /anything/ is expertise, relatively," she says, "But yes, I'd love to have a chat with a colleague. Our more active co-workers can be charming (some moreso than others), but distrust of psychology and psychologists seems to be kind of a fad," she grins, "Though maybe you get past their prickles and prejudices. If so, you'll have to tell me how."

Allison looks amused. "The first two I really met here had an instant dislike of me because of…well…not so much my profession as my ability. But that's my cross to bear, and I will certainly tell you if I figure out how to get around that. Besides, we're here to talk about you, not how I'm settling in," she says with a brillian smile.

Bella nods appreciatively, "See, this is why I needed to come in so badly. My ability to talk about myself and my problems has totally atrophied," she says, "Okay… me. Me, me, me…" The redhead quirks her lips to the side, trying to think of where to begin. "My leg," she finally says, indicating the wounded limb in question, "It hurts. When it's not supposed to. I suffered an injury, previous to this one, which was then fully healed. But I noticed that, under certain conditions, I would experience psychosomatic pain in the place where I was injured. I figured it was a conversion disorder, brought on, I think, by a feeling of lost control, over my life, over situations I was in charge of. But knowing that didn't make it go away, so obviously I have issues I am not able to confront. Hense… me being here. Seeking help. Because the physician cannot heal herself."

Allison glances down at the injured leg, and makes a soft hmming sound. "How did you first injure your leg? And what sort of conditions have you noticed that make the pain flare up again?" Then she looks back up and gives a reassuring smile. "You've heard the saying about a lawyer who has himself as a client is a fool? Well, the thing about doctors is that occasionally we can overanalyze, or miss things because we're simply too close to the problem. So don't see it so much as being unable to heal yourself, okay?"

Bella makes another hand wave, "Sure, sure," she says, "Sorry. Okay. I was shot in the leg by a man who kidnapped me, a private practice client of mine who was using me as a bargaining chip to negotiate with our mutual benefactors. It was… very frightening. The first time I ever was really, truly afraid for my life. So…" and here she would offer her analysis of the effect this must have had on her, but she stops herself; she is /not/ the therapist here. Allison is, and it's both a matter of respect and of efficacy to let her do her job, instead of trying to do it for her. "So… yes… it flared up, I noticed, when things went wrong. I was running a project, big budget research project with sensitive parameters. And when things went bad, my leg started hurting again. And then when a man broke into my home and held me at gunpoint, and then another man broke down my door and held /that/ man at gunpoint. I was feeling pain /then/ as well." Bella wrinkles her nose, "Note, I don't purposefully court danger. There are just rather a lot of mentally ill, well armed people running around this city."

"Oh, there are a lot of mentally ill, well armed people running around quite a lot of cities," Allison says with a wry smile. "I find it interesting though, that the pain flares when you're in a situation similar to the one that caused the initial injury. Research projects may not be exactly the same as being shot, but there is definitely stress there. And the gunpoint…well, that's fairly obvious on its own." There's a quiet moment where Allison gets a thoughtful look on her face. "Have you, since the injury, been in a stressful or dangerous situation where the pain didn't flare up?" she asks curiously.

Bella frowns, "Honestly," she admits, "I'm not sure. I haven't been keeping track. I… well… my leg was much less painful than I'd expect it to be when the project finally came crashing down and my facility was attacked by a crack team of machine-gun toting Evolved paramilitary types. I remember it /did/ hurt, but not as much because I was distracted by my trying to escape with my life." She lifts a hand to her brow, rubbing it. "Jesus, when did my life become an episode of 24?" she reflects.

Allison gives a sympathetic smile. "At least life will never be dull? But try to remember. If there was a dangerous incident where your leg didn't hurt, it could help us figure out how to stop the pain from flaring up everytime you're in a similar situation."

"I'm all ears," Bella says, spreading her hands, "I know that in that situation, I /needed/ my leg to work so that I could escape. Given, it's not that it /didn't/ hurt, it's that it hurt just enough that I could still get around. It was /the/ most dangerous and stressful experience, on paper, but it didn't hurt more than…" she pauses, "I… should mention: the man who held me at gunpoint, you know, in the incident I mentioned where the /other/ man broke down the door? Well, the first man, he was the same client that shot me in the first place," a grim, tight smile stretches Bella's lips, "And I guess I shouldn't skip mentioning that the /current/ injury I have was caused by the man who held the first man at gunpoint, and that it was /he/ that originally healed my leg when it was first injured." A pause, "Is that all clear? It sounds impossibly complicated when I say it like that, but I get the impression you're a very smart cookie, Dr. Richards." Bella's smile is back to being pleasant, if a little impish, but hardly drawn or grim.

Allison gives another sympathetic look, this time a wince. "Oh ouch. That is complicated, but I think I follow you. I don't blame you for having issues after all that. I think anyone would! And please, call me Allison. Now, before I go into the options for therapy that I think might work, I have another question. What was your original injury if it's not the current one? I know you said you were shot, but where? The same place?"

Bella lifts her brow with a skepticism aimed not at Allison but at… maybe God? "Oh yes. Exactly the same place. A sort of… message or lesson from the second man? Who, I should mentioned was /also/ a client of mine, private practice, referred to me by the /first/ man. Not my finest therapeutic moments, those. But yes, I was shot just one the first time, here," she indicates the spot on her leg, "while being held captive in some sort of big metal boat. And then I was healed, but proceeded to be shot again /twice/ in exactly the same place, while in my office."

"Three times total in the same location? I think maybe I should consider kevlar clothing while seeing patients," Allison says, shaking her head. "It's sad how some people act and resist the help given to them. But you…you I think I can help," she says, the smile returning. "Are you one of those therapists who is highly skeptical about hypnotism? Or have you used it yourself?"

Bella head tilts as she regards Allison with an interest that is, for just an instant, clinical in its bent. "Hypnotism?" she echoes, "Hmmm. I am skeptical of how it has been used in /some/ cases, but I'd be ignoring considerable amounts of very real evidence suggesting its efficacy…" the redhead finally gives a small laugh, "I'm sorry. Talking in circles. No, I'm not skeptical, at least not from the get-go. But I've only rarely used it myself, a few times during my rotation, and never actually gone through a hypnotic procedure as the subject."

Allison smiles. "Well, hypnosis is my specialty, and I've had a great deal of success with it. And I think that it could be very helpful to you, in order to disassociate danger with the pain in your leg. To remove the trigger, essentially. There are other methods that may work, but few that could potentially work as quickly or thoroughly."

"Your specialty, really?" Bella says, sounding very curious indeed, "I'd like to hear you thoughts and opinions on it. My professors and instructors never had a very high opinion of it, and I admit I have a sort of instinctual wariness, but I'm absolutely willing to have biases like that corrected."

Allison nods. "Really. I use it in a great deal of the cases that are presented to me. You could say it's how I got recruited by our benefactors, even," she admits. "It's really a very simple thing, though. I don't imagine that it would take more than a session or two, unless the trigger is rooted very deep and secure in your mind."

"What's your method?" Bella inquires, "And I'm your client now. I place myself," she dips her head, "in your capable hands."

"My method is, admitedly, a little unique. But the basis is the same. I'll have you get comfortable, in any manner you choose, then I'll guide you into what most people call a trance," Allison begins to explain. "Once you're in that state, you'll still be able to hear everything I say and remember it all if you choose to. That is, unlike popular fiction suggests, entirely up to you. Then I'll guide you through some recall exercises, before working with positive reinforcement to break the link your mind has between pain and dangerous situations."

Bella taps the side of her nose, "All right," she says, "Let's see this unique method of yours."

Allison smiles and motions to another of the couchs. "Find a place where you can be comfortable. And I mean truly comfortable. Not quite the point of falling asleep, but nearly there. It's a great deal harder to do it when a person is uncomfortable. Especially physically."

Bella smiles, "I think I'll stick with this one," she says, "But I'll lie down, a least." She gingerly moves to lie herself out along the couch, guiding the leg with gentleness and care, placing a pillow under her head, before folding her hands over her stomach and closing her eyes.

Allison waits until she's laid down and her eyes are closed before she begins speaking again. Though her voice normally is hardly unpleasant, it takes on a softer, more lulling sort of tone now. And unseen by Bella, her eyes change to a black-ringed silver color. Clearly not a normal shade for anyone. But when she hypnotises someone, she doesn't settle for normal methods, but uses her ability to enhance whatever effect she may achieve by her skill alone.

"Okay, now I want you to just breathe deeply and relax. There is nothing to hear but my voice, the sound of your heart beating. Nothing to worry about but for each breath. Each one is slow, easy, and relaxes you a little bit more," she murmurs, and the words have more weight than they did a minute ago, helping to relax Bella and slide her into a light trance.

Bella is intellectually receptive to the notion of hypnosis. However, the very pathology that compelled her to come in, her fear of losing control, makes it initially a little difficult. But much less difficult than Bella imagined. The lingering thoughts Bella has as she begins to lose herself in the trance are impressed thoughts, admiring the level of Dr. Richard's craft. Step by step, she descends into a properly hypnotic state, her breathing becoming slower, her cheeks flushing very slightly as her body heat increases fractionally.

Allison continues to speak in that soothing voice about breathing and relaxing until she's satisfied that Bella is far enough under. Then she sits back and relaxes. The hard part is done now. "Bella…I want you to go back to the first time that you had phantom pain in your leg. Can you do that for me? You won't actually be there, just your mind will, so you'll be perfectly safe. Nothing can hurt you. But you can see, and hear, and I want you to tell me about the situation, with as much detail as you can," she prompts.

Bella's voice is vague in the trance, her lips moving just enough to get the sounds out, but she enunciates clearly enough. "I'm going to take the Metro. My leg is healed fine, and so I run to catch the train even as the door is closing. It's stupid, I know it's stupid, but I stick my umbrella in the way of the door as its closing. And it clamps down, even though it's supposed to notice and reopen. And I'm standing there and I am scared the train will start moving and I'll just be stuck holding onto the umbrella and smashed or something. And I should just let go but I don't think about it, and then I'm tugging on the umbrella and my leg hurts, even though it shouldn't. I'm scared and tugging on an umbrella and my leg hurts. But then I get the umbrella free, before the train starts. I'm okay. And the leg starts feeling better."

Allison nods, out of habit more than anything. "And the next time you experienced the phantom pain, were you scared for your well-being?"

"No. The next time," Bella says, still in the level tone of one in a trance, "I had come back from work late, and I remembered I left my keys at the office. And I had just taken the last bus home and I was just so frustrated, it felt like everything was going wrong. And it hurt again. Not too badly, but it hurt, I felt it."

Allison again nods, her head tilting. "The amount of pain, is it relative to the amount of frustration or danger? The more you're stressed, the more it hurts?"

"I think so," Bella replies, "But it's not just stress. Hard work, problems I'm tackling, a big workload, they don't bring the pain. It's unexpected things. Things sliding out of my hands. Losing control. Losing my grip on things. It /hurts/…" There is strain in her voice as she goes down this path.

There's a silent ahh and Allison smiles a little. "Okay, Bella, I want you to stop remembering for the moment. I want you to come back to now, okay?" She waits a moment to give the woman time to do so, and again her eyes flash silver. "You will no longer associate pain with surprise or fear. When you lose control of things, your old injuries will no longer pain you. Do you understand, Bella? Can you do this?"

The bad line of thought breaks off, but immediately after, the hypnotic influence is re-established. Bella's breath catches just once, then returns to the normal rhythm. She doesn't answer in words, but instead she gives a single nod and a sound of hazy assent.

Allison leans forward slightly, elbows resting on her thighs. "There is no reason for an old, healed injury to pain you anymore, is there, Bella? It's healed now. It won't hurt you anymore. It's gone, disappeared."

This elicits another sound of assent, and a slight twitch in the injured leg.

"Good. Now I want you to focus on your breathing again. Each breath now brings you back towards wakefulness. And when you wake, you will feel perfectly relaxed, and as well-rested as if you'd had eight hours of sleep," Allison continues in the same lulling voice. "You will remember everything, and you won't hurt from old injuries anymore. Frustration and stress aren't painful anymore. Now come back, wake up. Bella…wake up now." Though as soon as she gives that order, her gaze drops, to better hide her oddly colored eyes.

Bella rises, breath by breath, back into a state of standard consciousness. Her eyelids flutter and she gently pushes herself into a sit. She rubs at the corner of one eye with her thumb, then turns to smile at Allison. The averted gaze provokes a moment of concern. "Are you okay?"

Allison looks up and smiles after just a few seconds, when her eyes are hazel once more. "I'm fine. It's just that keeping a sort of monotone can be taxing on the throat. It means no coughing or clearing your throat." Which is why she goes to the minifridge for a bottle of water, and she grabs one for Bella as well, offering it to her. "how do you feel?"

Bella takes the water in hand, nodding her thanks, and twists off the top. She takes a quick swing before answering. "Rested," she says, "Which is to be expected. As for the leg, well.. hard to say until it heals properly again. But what's your opinion? Do you predict success?"

Allison laughs softly as she sits back down. "Oh I always predict success. It may take another session for your psyche to accept the suggestion, but I think you should expect to see some results after today."

"Then I'll go forth feeling hopeful," Bella says. She takes another quick drink before screwing the top back onto the bottle. "I was surprised you put me under so quickly. You've got a real gift."

Allison smiles and inclines her head. "Thank you. I did say it was my specialty. I've been using hypnosis for several years now. It's why I'm so confident in using it to help people."

Bella slowly turns herself so that she's sitting normally again, and lifts her hands to smooth out her hair. "Well, I'm sold. I'll be back. Shall I work out my next appointment with your receptionist?" she grins and adds, "I've got to get one of those for my own practice."

Allison laughs and nods. "Yeah, she'll set you up for next time. I'd give it a few weeks before we try hypnosis again though. Just to let things sink in, so to speak."

Bella takes a hold of her crutch and draws herself to her feet. She leans forward, extending her hand towards Allison. "Will do," she promises, "and thanks so much for your help. It's been a pleasure meeting you. When we finally finish up dealing with this problem of mine, maybe we could hit a bar, talk shop? My treat."

Allison rises and takes the offered hand, then moves to retrieve Bella's coat and boots to bring them to her. "It was my pleasure. And shop talk sounds wonderful. You have my number," she says, smiling.

Bella dons her coat, with a little help, and zips up. Soon her boots are on as well, as are her mittens and, as the finishing touch, she affixes her beret to her head. She gives a puffy-coated salute. "Until next time," she says, and hobbles out the door.

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