My style of coma work usually begins with consensus, or everyday, reality.
I do an in-depth interview with the family members/close friends, and try to find out as much as I can about how the person got into the coma, what medical concerns I might need to know about while working with the client, and what the medical prognosis is. While this prognosis is important information, it is only the beginning of the broader picture: it indicates what is probable without mind-body interventions, but not what is possible overall.
I also ask about many aspects of the person’s life prior to the coma, as well as their behaviour while in it, trying to gather as full a picture of them as possible. All this helps me begin to put together a theory of how the person’s life was emerging, which offers clues into how I might facilitate their process. I begin to take all of this information and make a theory about what the person is doing in this state, and therefore what some of the pathways back to consciousness might be.
When I am with the person in the coma or vegetative state I tell them my idea and carefully watch for their feedback, which may be extemely subtle. If I notice feedback to any part I can then begin to expand working with it. For example, a man I mentioned family troubles to started crying in the comatose state, and this fit my theory that what he was doing in the coma was trying to develop a more feeling, sensitive part of himself.
Research Before Beginning the Coma Work:
1. Who are the family members/friends I am talking to? How are they? What is their attitude towards the person, that is are they depressed, hopeful etc. How nervous are they about me coming in? What is the family relationship like with the hospital or nursing home? What is the economic scene like, and is this a major source of concern for the family?
2. I gather the details around who is who in the family in terms of their roles, their attitudes, their levels of involvement with the client.
3. I gather the details around the medical condition, including details of the medical state when the person went into coma, any progress that has occurred since then, the outlook for recovery, and any medical concerns that are present about my working with the person. For example, should I be careful not to get the blood pressure too high?
4. I collect information on how the coma happened, remembering that the whole experience has a dreamlike nature, so for example if it was an accident, exactly how it occurred, or if it was a stroke, what went on right before the stroke? the last 24 hours before the stroke.
5. I ask the family for details of what they have experienced with the person, including what are the general trends they have noticed, in terms of coming closer to awareness, going further away, staying the same, progressing then stopping at a certain point, etc.
6. What has the family noticed about changes in specific channels of perception? New movements, eye movement and seeing; hearing changes and sounds; presence in relationship?
7. Is the family aware of any big night dreams, especially childhood dreams, the person had, or any repetitive dreams? How about early life shaping experiences as a child?
8. Has the person had other near death experiences or been knocked unconscious before that the family is aware of? Were there recent events near the person going into coma including major frustrations or other difficulties in the following areas: family, relationship, work, religion or spirituality, addictions, money, any areas of struggle being their whole self. What parts of the person’s life did they tend to marginalize? For example, were they always working and never resting or playing? Were they mostly rationale and marginalize they feeling natures?
9. How was the person emotionally before the coma – was there any history or hints of depression? Was the person open emotionally? What feelings were marginalized?
10. How has the person been in the coma-minimally responsive state? How is this state a balancing or compensation for the pre-coma state? For example, maybe the person is very active in this state, and was very passive before; or fighting a lot in this state, or very gentle in this state? aggressive normally, or very much feels like the person is on vacation. What clues does this give me as to what they are doing in the coma?