What are the differences between Self Hypnosis, Meditation and Mindfulness?Self hypnosis, meditation and mindfulness are growing in popularity. It’s not surprising when these self-help disciplines can be used to reduce stress and anxiety, and even help you achieve your goals. When you have mastered one or all of them, you can be in charge of easing the symptoms of some serious underlying health issues. When teaching self hypnosis to my hypnotherapy clients, I have often been asked if there is a difference between self hypnosis, meditation and mindfulness. Purists may not agree, but I believe that each discipline can take similar paths but they do have some distinct differences too. If you want to take “de-stressing” matters into your own hands, which one should you develop? Let’s compare and contrast each discipline so that you can decide which one to take on your self-help journey.
Let's discuss hypnosis firstIt is a fairly common misconception that “hypnosis” is something that can only occur with the help of some external or professional guidance using a hypnotic induction. It may be hard to believe, but you cannot be hypnotised unless you want to be hypnotised, even though it might look like mind control in those hypnosis films. You ultimately choose which suggestions to accept or reject; the “power” exists within you and not the person hypnotising you. Externally guided hypnosis happens then, because you allow someone else to guide your “self hypnosis”. And during a state of hypnosis you are more receptive to a hypnotherapist’s suggestions that you have agreed are part of your treatment goals. Hypnosis, in its broadest definition (no, not the one used by authoritarian styles), is a state of altered awareness and you are constantly drifting in and out of hypnosis throughout your day. It happens nearly always by accident, when a person is doing some routine and repetitive task, such as doing the dishes or walking the dog. One moment you’ll be at the park with your dog, and next you’ll be at front of your house door without having any conscious recollection of how you got there. Your mind decided to take a stroll down memory lane while your legs carried you home. This is an example of hypnosis when your mind is “zoning out”; it goes into subspace and retreats into some peaceful place within itself. This state of awareness is similar to daydreaming. Everyone has done this as some time in their lives. Can you remember doing this in school? Depending on your priorities, your subconscious mind may want to put aside a calming daydream and solve a problem or anxiety, something that is open-ended and needs to be closed for you to then feel relaxed again. You might do this on the commuting to work, preparing and prioritising your working day ahead of you. The process of altered awareness can also happen when you “zone in” and concentrate on something so intensely that you shut out external distractions. An example is when reading a good book; you block out those house noises that you may otherwise hear and disturb you (the ones that irritate you when you are struggling to get to sleep). You can also “zone in” when you attend a live performance of your favourite artist and are so taken by the show that you lose track of time and forget about your worries. In this situation your subconscious mind is prioritising the external situation over other “internal” issues, allowing you to be fully absorbed in the show.
What is self hypnosis?The situations above describe how hypnotic and self hypnotic states can happen incidentally. In a formal context, self hypnosis can be defined as using a process, usually involving relaxation techniques, to intentionally induce yourself into a state of concentrated, heightened suggestibility. Affirmations, your imagination and visualisation may then be used to access a present or future desirable state. It may also be used to reframe the meaning and the emotions of a past event.
How do you perform Self Hypnosis?First identify some affirmations that are the positive form of your negative state that you wish to change. For example, if you are anxious about giving a presentation, your affirmation could be “I am feeling more relaxed and confident with my presentation as I rehearse my content”.
- Find a comfortable location away from irritating noises (it takes a well-practised self-hypnotist to work with these!) Find a supportive posture such as sitting down in a comfortable chair or lying down on a bed in a slightly inclined position (so you don’t fall asleep too easily).
- Relax by using breathing techniques and then focus on parts of your body feeling heavy in sequence e.g. from head to toe. You can keep your eyes open or closed. Focus on a few words that assists your mind to drift down into a pleasant state of heaviness e.g. with each out breath let your inner voice say “relax deeper”.
- State and repeat your affirmations (internally/silently or externally out loud). Visualise the positive situation and the positive feelings more intensely with each repeat of the suggestion for a period of time e.g. ten minutes.
- Exit your hypnotic state by counting upwards, feeling more alert with each count until you feel alert. Gradually open your eyes if you closed them. Your session of self hypnosis is complete.
MeditationIn the simplest terms, meditation can be explained as a participative activity in which you silence your thoughts, tune in to your inner self and find peace and tranquillity. Meditation itself is a wholesome activity in which you induce a mode of consciousness; it is not meant to lead to anything else.
How is meditation done?There are certain steps that you can follow in order to meditate successfully. In its most basic form, these steps include:
- Finding a nice, quiet place in which to settle down in and feel comfortable.
- Then, you close your eyes and begin a basic breathing exercise that involves slow, full and deep diaphragmatic breathing.
- After this, you focus on nothing but the sound and pattern of your own steady breathing. Cleanse your thoughts and empty your mind of any other thought. You can continue for as long as you like staying focused on your breath.
- When you have achieved this for a period of time, you can open your eyes. Stand and stretch your limbs and then carry on your day as planned.
How is self hypnosis different from meditation?By following these stages in self hypnosis and meditation, it can be easy to mistake one for the other since the first few steps in each discipline are very similar. You will notice that in order to be able to focus into your affirmation more intensely the first three stages of meditation can be used. Both self hypnosis and meditation also involve an end process or awakening. Self hypnosis and meditation are clearly not the same disciplines however. There is no phase of ‘directed positive change’ in meditation, unless you consider the shift from an active state to a passive quietened state sufficiently directed. Meditation is an activity with no ulterior purpose other than to find inner peace and tranquillity. Some styles of meditation achieve this by visualisation, contemplation, chanting a mantra or focusing on something external or on an energy point (chakra) during the third stage. Some styles of meditation also incorporate movement such as walking meditation or during the practice of martial arts. Self hypnosis is different in this regard. During self hypnosis there is a goal in mind; an end purpose of transformation. Hypnosis and self hypnosis is nearly always induced in order to make some sort of change so that the person being hypnotised can achieve something*. The goal can be relaxation, but most self hypnosis usually goes beyond this. For example, one might want to use self hypnosis to break a bad habit, quit smoking, dig up an old half forgotten memory to reframe it, boost self confidence, control pain, lift depression, overcome insomnia, reduce anxiety, and so on.
*I say ”nearly always” because on rare occasions, I have had some clients who just wanted to experience what “directed hypnosis” felt like. I asked them if they wanted to change any aspect of their lives and they said no. The hypnosis session ended up being a relaxation session (sometimes called “relaxatherapy”). Instinctively, I integrated suggestions of confidence and ego boosting into their consultation. At the end of the session they were relaxed and appreciative of the experience. They were able to tell the world that they had been “hypnotised” today! So was this relaxation session a “directed meditation” or “guided visualisation” sometimes used in Yoga? I think that this type of session was common to all of these processes.
What is mindfulness?Mindfulness can be described as a state of non-judgemental, heightened awareness in which you consciously and deliberately pay attention to something in the present. What you pay close attention to can be internal processes like your current thoughts, emotions or sensations in your body. You can also pay close attention to external processes that are occurring in your surrounding environment. Through the practice of mindfulness and focusing on the present experience, you can access an enhanced state of calmness, concentration and clarity. Mindfulness helps to temporarily create distance from the default functioning of the mind that can be overwhelming. The mind is constantly connecting with the past in order to anticipate the future, but it may not always connect with it in a way that benefits you. It can easily exaggerate the emotional learning of past events, predicting catastrophes that rarely happen. Mindfulness sidelines these distractions, capturing the essence of just being, feeling, thinking, sensing and existing in the present. As a perceptual style of processing then, mindfulness can be therapeutic. The (physical) past is put to rest from a perspective that it cannot be changed, so why ruminate over it? Whilst anxiety about the future can be threatening and remains uncertain, so why try to control it? The only time to exist is “in the now”. Mindfulness enables you to take heed from this philosophy and channel your attention, your energy and your desires on to what is happening to you “right there and then”.
How is mindfulness done?Mindfulness can be practised in many situations and during various activities. You can be mindful when walking, gardening, painting, eating, travelling on a bus, whilst sitting in the park observing nature around you etc. You can also practise mindfulness during more passive activities. Here’s one mindfulness activity, focusing on breathing:
- Choose a peaceful place in your house away from any distractions. Get comfortable in a chair with your body supported and your eyes closed.
- Imagine your breath being visible. As you inhale with your abdomen, follow the flow of your breath as it gets inhaled through your nose, past your windpipe and down into your lungs. Notice the changing sensations in your abdomen, diaphragm and ribcage.
- As you pause before exhaling, observe the air resting at the bottom of your lungs, circulating for a few moments. Then as you exhale follow the air being breathed up through your chest and out through your nose. Notice the air circulating just outside of your face as you pause, before inhaling the air again.
- Repeat this process with several breaths.
- Then allow your mind to roam, observing your thoughts at a distance. Accept these thoughts as they fade in and then fade out, being replaced with the flow of your breath once again.
- Your mindfulness session is complete. You can open your eyes to return to your day.
How does mindfulness compare to self hypnosis?Whilst relaxation may be experienced at some point during or after having practised mindfulness, it is far from being a technique in which you “relax” the mind. Instead, during mindfulness, you are aiming to arouse your senses, being more aware of those subtle processes that mostly tend to happen in the background. In other words, you are “zoning in” to whatever is happening in this moment, such as your tuning in to emotions or feelings. This might involve examining the tension within a part of your body right now and having felt it, you can now readily release it. This is a different approach to pushing something aside, even suppressing it, for it to come knocking at your door at a later time. So how does mindfulness compare to self hypnosis? In many ways, they complement each other and by developing one technique, you may find that it helps the other one. They both help you to “zone in”: Mindfulness’s perceptual style of focusing your attention is very similar to the “zoning in” state of altered awareness used in self hypnosis (mentioned above in the description of hypnosis). Zoning in would benefit you in areas if your life such as increasing your concentration levels at work and helping your listening abilities during conversations. They both improve your mind-body connection: Thoughts and emotions create physical changes in your body and you may not always appreciate at the time of which thought is causing which sensation. Generally speaking, positive thoughts can create relaxed sensations, whilst negative thoughts can create sensations of tension. By zoning into these negative thoughts and emotions, mindfulness can be used as a diagnostic tool to establish which unconscious thought is triggering this physical tension. The tension in your shoulders might relate to you being anxious about giving a presentation next week and is the source of keeping you tense, irritable and awake at night. Having established this, you now have a goal for the self hypnosis. Using self hypnosis you can then create affirmations to help you visualise confidence in your presentation, reducing your anxiety-related tension in your shoulders and helping you to sleep better at night.
How does mindfulness compare to meditation?When you consider the mindfulness breathing practice above, parts of it could be used as a lead into meditation (and self hypnosis). In this specific context, it has many similarities. Some people advocate that “breathing mindfulness” is a type of meditation activity. This is perhaps one of the main general differences. Mindfulness is a state of mind or quality of awareness that can be applied anywhere. However, meditation is an activity or action; something that you do whilst sitting, focusing, chanting or walking etc. Now consider a mindfulness practice when you drink a cup of tea. How you are holding the cup, the weight of the cup, the movement of your arm and hand as you bring the cup closer to your lips, the look of the tea, the steam rising from the tea, the initial smell of the tea as you bring it closer, the increased salivation, the slight inhalation of breath to sip some tea, the feeling of the tea (liquid) in your mouth, sensing the temperature in your mouth, the taste of the tea, where you taste it, the changing smell, the feelings as you swallow the tea, the changing taste and aroma in your mouth after you have swallowed it. There are lots of sensory experiences to be aware of in this mindfulness activity of tea drinking! Mindfulness tea drinking would not be considered a formal meditation for the purists however. But some informal styles of meditation state that you can meditate during absolutely anything – if you insist that you are meditating when knitting for example; then you are meditating!
Self hypnosis, Meditation and MindfulnessIn this attempt to explore differences between self hypnosis, meditation and mindfulness, it can be recognised that each discipline has features that overlap with another discipline. The practice of one discipline is likely to benefit the practice of another, if only from the awareness and practise of breathing techniques and postural changes. The individual experience or benefit derived from each discipline however can be varied. Your definition of each discipline will ultimately determine how you approach and participate in each activity. Societies (whether Eastern or Western, secular or religious) have different cultural and philosophical values that can emphasise how to approach each discipline and the potential gains to be achieved from it. In hypnotherapy as a treatment, the hypnotherapist can integrate many approaches that can still be classified as hypnotherapy. For example, some hypnotherapists will actively promote that they teach self hypnosis. Or the way that suggestions are formed may teach aspects of meditation or mindfulness whilst in a hypnotic state. There can be many benefits of incorporating a broad treatment approach as this evidence suggests when treating stress and anxiety. From the discussion, I would summarise the following benefits: Self Hypnosis: helps you to achieve a change or personal goal through the internalisation of suggestions. Meditation: helps you to still your mind to bring you inner peace. Mindfulness: helps you to heighten your senses and makes you more aware of everything inside of you and around you.
For more information on self hypnosis, meditation, and mindfulness techniques contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff.
The Various Types Of HypnotherapyIt can be immensely useful being aware of the various types of hypnotherapy, whether you are aspiring to be a hypnotherapist or a potential client wanting treatment. Hypnotherapy is a domain that offers a huge toolbox of treatment techniques. Various approaches can be applied for different clients with different conditions. Each style of hypnotherapy can have its respective benefits when a client presents a specific need. Understanding the types of hypnotherapy can improve your therapeutic skills as a hypnotherapist. As a client it can help you appreciate what to expect in your hypnotherapy session and be treated in a way that matches your expectations. I have used all hypnotherapeutic approaches in my experience, and am flexible enough to adapt my approach when the situation demands it. My training included all of these various types of hypnotherapy styles even though my qualification has the classification of “Clinical Hypnotherapy”.
Types of Hypnotherapy: Solution Focused HypnotherapyAs the name suggests, this type of hypnotherapy focuses on achieving solutions to your issues rather than deconstructing past problems. From a solution-focused perspective, delving into the past is considered ineffective. Solution focused hypnotherapy can generate impressive and tangible results. It is used by a great number of hypnotherapists and can be implemented with just about every client. The approach is employed as soon as you are asked the question “what is your goal?” If you have a ‘fear of public speaking’, then your treatment is aimed at ‘confidence in public speaking’. Your ‘public speaking’ situation is analysed and the treatment is staged in measurable progressive steps, assessing where you are now and how your public speaking confidence can increase. This is one of the types of hypnotherapy that has a focused interaction where the hypnotherapist helps you tap into your inner resources and capacities. It assumes a level of motivation and commitment on your part, as you are provided with homework tasks that move you towards the achievement of your goal. You will mutually set fixed interim goals and hypnosis will essentially be used to guide you to your destination. Eventually, you will become familiar with your inner strength and solution-seeking abilities to access your psychological wellbeing. Does it have any shortcomings? Some of the mutually agreed goals in solution focused approaches can overly focus on symptoms. Symptoms can be coping mechanisms of deeper unconscious problems that are ignored until the treatment comes to standstill. The deeper unconscious issues are also known as the causes or “why” you behave as you do. For example, you want help to reduce your weight, but your weight gain is an unconscious defensive reaction to childhood abuse (i.e. you stay overweight to be less attractive to potential abusers; a form of Secondary Gain.) In your solution-focused treatment, you are asked “what is your goal?” and respond to the question appropriately “to lose weight”, because your reason for gaining weight is unconscious. Your treatment can then plateau unless the solution focused hypnotherapist is also trained to uncover past causes using other hypnotherapy techniques. Without this training, the weight loss solution would be temporary. When causes are uncovered, the solution can take a more successful treatment pathway, treating the cause and the symptom together.
Types of Hypnotherapy: Ericksonian HypnotherapyThis style of hypnotherapy is named after one of the most prominent figures of psychiatry and hypnosis, namely Milton Erickson. He believed hypnosis to be a natural state that we involuntarily encounter several times a day. Erickson’s informal approach to treatment matched his beliefs about hypnosis. He was renowned for using indirect suggestions and storytelling in which his patients may not have known that the treatment had formally started. Unlike most direct (and authoritative) types of hypnotherapy, the Ericksonian style attempts to access the client’s behavioural, cognitive, or even analytical levels in a way that speaks to the subconscious rather than the conscious. As an approach, it uses symbolism, metaphors, stories, and implicit suggestions that help the client not only collaborate, but also adopt the healing message or command within the suggestions. Many hypnotherapists call themselves Ericksonian, but they may be very far from using the true approach that Milton Erickson devised. It may be helpful for all types of hypnotherapy to make room for this kind of creativity. The Ericksonian approach requires the hypnotherapist’s inner judge and subtle creative capacities to be employed. They need to be very sensitive to client’s distinct problems and profiles to ensure that the indirect suggestion or story yields the desired effect. For these reasons, clients with excellent visualisation skills and reflective abilities should be encouraged to seek hypnotherapists who employ Ericksonian tools. Changes within the client can be quite deep and profound when these techniques are used effectively. It can be used to treat (but is not limited to) addiction, OCD, pain management and habit control.
Types of Hypnotherapy: Analytical HypnotherapyAnalytical Hypnotherapy borrows primarily from the school of psychotherapy. It is also known as hypno-analysis and curative hypnotherapy. It can be used to treat a number of conditions including phobias, negative emotions, depression, psychosomatic symptoms etc. Being analytical in its approach, this method of hypnotherapy investigates the client’s hidden causes that are creating issues. Fundamentally, it analyses your behaviour, reactions, and beliefs by using probing questions. It asks ‘’why’’ and seeks to identify the root impulses behind the said problem. When the true causes are brought to the surface, you will be guided to think and respond differently to them. As a result, positive and altered behaviours will be the new positive change to your health. Whilst the hypnotherapist works together with you to get to the core of an issue, the object of the session will be to obtain insight and understand the real dynamics that are controlling your life. You will be more self-aware of your psyche and the nature of your behaviour, and therefore will be able to take control and change negative behaviour. In the treatment of a phobia for example, analytical hypnotherapy aims to discover and treat how your panic response attached itself to the phobic stimulus e.g. a spider. It also validates how the “wrong” childhood association has been carried into adulthood. The adult mind knows that this connection is irrational and unhelpful but is consciously unable to access where these feelings originate. Using Hypnoanalysis, the adult mind can go back and reinterpret the event, releasing the fearful emotion created as a child.
Types of Hypnotherapy: Behavioural HypnotherapyBehavioural hypnotherapy is probably the most direct and immediate types of hypnotherapy in its working methods. There are no disguised suggestions or analysis of issues. Instead, behavioural hypnotherapy focuses solely on the behaviours, (present or future ones) that the client demonstrates. In the first session, the hypnotherapist takes note of all the negative behaviours that the client has accumulated. Judged simply as learned behaviours, both the client and hypnotherapist proceed to agree on the appropriate changes and positive behaviours that are desired. Hypnosis is used to integrate these changes until they are firmly established. You are advised to keep practicing self hypnosis even after treatment is over, so that you have personal control over the new behaviours. Behavioural hypnotherapy is useful for behaviours such as negative habits (nail biting, habitual drinking and smoking). It can also be used to modify the finer details of behaviours such as specific eating habits that are contributing to weight gain.
Types of Hypnotherapy: Cognitive HypnotherapyAll types of hypnotherapy have a specific focus, but what is “spoken” in the mind is the main focus of this style of hypnotherapy. Whether you are battling with phobias, anxieties, or lack of concentration, cognitive hypnotherapy will help you get rid of the thinking patterns, beliefs, or feelings that you are dominating you. Cognition here is believed to be at the heart of your negative behaviours and psychological harm. In other words, the cognitive hypnotherapist will work with you to replace unhelpful thoughts and bad beliefs about the world so that the subconscious is in tune with a ‘’healthy’’ thinking conscious. Once identified, common cognitive distortions such as over-generalisation and catastrophic thinking are realigned using hypnosis. The assumptions of this style of hypnotherapy derive from the theories of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. And the common process that unites these theories is the change of bad ‘’actionable’’ thoughts in consideration for your goals, values, and needs.
Types of Hypnotherapy: Past Life RegressionThis is one of the types of hypnotherapy to have an unconventional view of the client’s problematic behaviours and issues. By using hypnotherapeutic techniques, it addresses a client’s problem with the belief that it is affected by a ‘’previous life’’. So, the causes and logic that are thought to drive any kind of issue are believed to come from “past life” experiences. Clearly, this belief is always implemented with respect to the client’s own beliefs. So, it may be found that some hypnotherapists interpret the past life belief literally, whilst others use it metaphorically. When an issue is at hand, the client and hypnotherapist observe the emotions and behaviours then travel together to a regressed interpretation of it in the past life. The issues will be understood in the context of past memories so that they are given real meaning. The issues are treated using other types of hypnotherapy. In the end, this type of hypnotherapy can work well with some clients by providing them with insight and understanding into their issues. And this can help the client take back control or cut the ties from harmful past lives’ memories. An example of its application includes the treatment of phantom pain in which the client was convinced was a trauma in a previous life. When the client was regressed to a past life, it is found that they sustained an injury to that limb that was left untreated. The therapy involves “treating” the past life injury so that the current life pain can be released.
Types of Hypnotherapy: Hypno-PsychotherapyThis is a merged type of hypnotherapy where both the contents of hypnotherapy and psychotherapy work together to solve problems. Psychotherapy is, in essence, an analytic approach that tries to trace back psychological problems to a cause. It has views on emotions and psychological impulses that can be given rise either from a traumatic event, childhood attitudes, or some bad parental conditioning. So, with the addition of hypnotherapy, hypnosis and relaxation techniques are used to further the process of psychotherapy in the sessions. For example, a cause can be attributed to your very first trauma with airplanes which became the root cause for your flying phobia. You may not be aware of it or simply forgot it, but the hypnotherapist will work with you to uncover these causes and tensions that are behind any complication or disorder. Most types of hypnotherapy try to work within the client’s psychological perspective, but this type leans more toward allowing understanding to take place in the client’s way of thinking.
Types of Hypnotherapy: Clinical HypnotherapyClinical hypnotherapy is normally the implementation of hypnotherapy techniques in a clinical environment such as a hospital of GP practice. It gives the impression of being a more “effective” treatment than other types of hypnotherapy, but may include very a similar application of techniques. Not all clinical hypnotherapists are really “clinical” ones unless they are medically qualified. “Clinical hypnotherapy” became popular as a hypnotherapy qualification during the late eighties and nineties to distinguish it from stage hypnosis, when the boundaries of hypnosis as a “therapy” and artistic stage show were blurred. Thus the term “clinical” emphasised that the hypnosis was therapeutic. Clinical hypnotherapy can be concerned with treating medical conditions such as stress-related skin issues, chronic pain, IBS, psycho-sexual disorders and psycho-somatic conditions, but is not limited to treating only these conditions. So, while many types of hypnotherapy exist, this type of hypnotherapy can focus on treating those conditions in which traditional medicine approaches has been unable to treat.
Types of Hypnotherapy: Regression HypnotherapyThe basic premise for this style of hypnotherapy is dissipating a problem issue by regressing back to its initial formation. In the example of treating a phobia, regression is executed by taking the client’s mind to past incidents related to the phobia. The hypnotherapist uses a combination of hypnotic techniques to access negative (or positive) memories related to the client’s goal. By safely re-experiencing the event, the client will understand the self-limiting beliefs and emotions surrounding the event that triggered the phobia. They can then start to reinterpret these beliefs and emotions using the adult mind. Not all use of regression is helpful or reliable when accessing certain traumatic events, especially if the hypnotherapist has a biased view of the client’s history. For regression hypnotherapy to deal with your past events, it is important to seek a hypnotherapist who is well-versed in using regression hypnotherapy techniques.
Types of hypnotherapy: Other Therapies & TechniquesHypnotherapy is a vast domain. It is definitely not limited to the various types of hypnotherapy already mentioned here. Generally, the types of hypnotherapy already discussed are more dominant in hypnotherapy sessions given their suitability to client’s problems and needs. But, it is common for hypnotherapists to use other types of therapy, with or without certification. One such type of therapy is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP is a system of communication skills for psycho-therapeutic ends. NLP certified therapists may also take courses in hypnotherapy because they both use mind reprogramming techniques. Their combined knowledge allows them to use these skills that may take longer to treat using traditional counselling methods. But, it doesn’t end here. Certain hypnotherapists also pursue counselling qualifications and offer both hypnotherapy and counselling. The counselling techniques can be effective in creating rapport and directing the use of suggestions when using hypnosis. Unless the client has specified their treatment style, does it really matter how they get there as long as they ultimately still achieve their goal? Other therapies such as Time-Line Therapy draw from NLP and are concerned with the treatment of negative emotions and anxiety disorders. It assumes that the unconscious mind is a linear timeline of events. Relaxation techniques including hypnosis are used to help the client to release painful emotions connected to traumatic events. It can be very effective in reducing negative emotions such as depression and post traumatic stress disorder. Some hypnotherapy techniques have classifications that aim to distinguish themselves from other types of hypnotherapy. Integration hypnotherapy (also known as Parts Therapy) for example, considers your personality to be composed of various parts. These parts have been formed from good and bad past experiences and now serve specific functions of the inner mind. These parts want what is best for you but can be in conflict when you desire or have to cope with change. Parts therapy aims to resolve these inner conflicts and desires by allowing the parts of your personality to communicate more freely. Parts therapy can be usefully applied when a client says that “part of me wants to do this, but the other part of me wants to do that!” It can deal with many conditions where anxiety is the restraining emotion and the desire for confidence is the inspiring emotion. It can be used to treat unwanted habits like smoking and weight issues where momentary urges inhibit the achievement of long terms goals. Integration hypnotherapy approaches can be varied, drawing from other modes of therapy including Ego State Therapy and Gestalt Therapy. How you use these modes of therapy will depend on the situation, the client and experience of the hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapy has no shortage of new techniques that claim to be more effective than older ones. Some techniques complement a new scientific trend. One such example is Gastric Band Hypnotherapy, which followed the development of gastric band surgery for obesity. With Gastric Band Hypnotherapy it claims that you can lose weight by visualising that you have had the same (Gastric Band) surgical procedure, but without any medical risks involving surgery! There is a vast domain of specific techniques used in hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy schools teach different ways to hypnotise clients e.g. using “a handshake” method, not just by using voice induction. Then there is an abundance of visualisation techniques that can be used to induce a depth of relaxation or “trance” and rapidly treat certain conditions. Commonly taught visualisations include ‘’The Arrow’’, ‘’The Swan’’, and ‘’The Kinetic Shift’’.
Types of Hypnotherapy: SummaryThis article has listed the various types of hypnotherapy. With experience and skill, the hypnotherapist can adapt the specific treatment approach or technique to the individual situation with some excellent outcomes. Hypnotherapy is only limited by the imagination of the hypnotherapist and their skilled ability to apply creative visualisations when it is deemed to be helpful in the session.
For further information on the various types of hypnotherapy and how hypnotherapy can help you, contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff.
The Causes Of A PhobiaWhat are the causes of a phobia? If you’re unusually terrified of small insects or the idea of using a lift or elevator by yourself, then you’re not alone. Phobias are considered to be a very common psychological condition in both men and women. It is estimated that nearly 10 million people in the UK have a phobia of some kind. A phobia is defined as an extreme or an irrational fear of a situation, object, location or animal. It typically emerges during childhood and persists into adulthood. Experts offer several explanations for the causes of a phobia, and this includes evolutionary theories and behaviourist theories. A phobia may also range from mild to severe and can be termed simple and complex, but it’s good to know that whatever terms are used, they are treatable. Some phobic sufferers are highly responsive to hypnotherapy and can respond to treatment very quickly, whilst others require a cognitive behavioural approach to alleviate their phobia. Sometimes the combined approach can be the solution to alleviate your panic attack commonly associated with all phobias.
Genetic Causes of a PhobiaResearch by the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta has suggested that the causes of a phobia can be hereditary. The study involved mice that were given a mild electric shock after being exposed to the smell of cherry blossoms, making them associate pain to the smell. The offspring of the mice several generations later were also exposed to the same smell. Surprisingly, the new generation of mice also reacted in fear of the smell of the cherry blossoms, even though no amount of electric shock was applied to them. Since the biological and genetic makeup of mice and humans are similar to each other, the research suggests that phobic memories may also be passed down through the genes of your human ancestors. Genetic causes substantiate the part that “nature” (as opposed to “nurture”) plays in acquiring say, an emetophobia through the inherited experiences of your family line. This is without the influence of any choices that you might make throughout your life to prevent having the emetophobia in the first place and what you might have learnt from your parents. When you are old enough to understand your emetophobia and appreciate how it affects you, the avoidance and panic reactions are already dominating your lifestyle. But this does not mean that you can’t choose to have treatment for your emetophobia and change its imprint on your biology. Furthermore, with successful treatment of your own emetophobia, you are less likely to pass it on to your future offspring. The theory posed from the genetic research suggests that what you pass on to your children can be negative (in the case of passing on the emetophobia). By the same argument, what you pass on could also be positive, in terms of transferring to your children a calmer reaction to sickness (vomit) when the emetophobia has been treated and removed.
Environmental causes of a phobiaGenetics alone though is probably not enough for a phobia to develop in every individual; environmental factors play a significant role too in the causes of a phobia. Directly experiencing a traumatic event creates such a strong future association between the event and an intense feeling of fear. Let’s say that you’ve been attacked by an animal like a dog. Even if the event only happened once, it could influence you to have a strong aversion to animals especially dogs (cynophobia) thereafter, no matter how cute an animal might look to others. And the same progression of events can happen if you have been struck by lightning or frightened (traumatised) by the sound of thunder (astraphobia). Environmental causes of a phobia have a significant impact through life into adulthood particularly when the traumatic events have been experienced as a child. A fearful event in childhood can leave a deeper and immediate imprint in the highly sensitive and developing young brain than a similar traumatic experience caused in adulthood. Furthermore, some of the childhood initial sensitising events (ISE) can be easily forgotten by adulthood, causing the growing individual to be confused about the nature of their phobia. For example, a child who has been involved in a car accident in the back seat of a two-door car may subsequently assert the desire to be a passenger in the front of the car. With an obliging parent, the child’s claustrophobia remains hidden and may not become apparent until as a teenager, they are “forced” to ride in the back seat of a teenage friend’s two-door car. The situation creates a panic attack for the teenager. So can phobias be caused in adulthood? It is very unusual for phobias to be caused in middle adulthood. As explained above, it is more likely that the initial sensitising event (ISE) in childhood has been forgotten. Or the “simple phobia” has progressed and developed into a “complex phobia” involving other fears, social anxiety and panic disorder. This situation can emerge in the following example:
- As a child you have a “simple” spider phobia (arachnophobia).
- Whilst standing on a step ladder, you see a spider and your reaction causes you to fall off the step ladder causing a height phobia (acrophobia).
- The fear of heights progresses into claustrophobia when, as a teenager, you experience intense fear when riding on a rollercoaster (in which you feel trapped and also involves heights).
- Since you were unable to vacate the ride once it started, it causes a panic attack and extreme embarrassment in front of your teenage peers (social phobia).
- Then, in adulthood, a series of stressful events raises your general anxiety. Since many of the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety are the same, you feel like you could have a panic attack at any moment and in any location. You are locked in anticipation in fear of having a panic attack and this is enough to trigger your panic attack (panic disorder).
- In order to avoid the social humiliation of having random panic attacks in public places, you stay home to try and cope with your condition. You feel safer being housebound (agoraphobia).
Indirectly learned causes of a phobiaThere are cases when the causes of a phobia are learned from trusted authority figures closely related to the phobic person. For instance, if children see one or both of their parents having an unusual fearful reaction to snakes (ophidiophobia or ophiophobia), they are also likely to imitate the fearful reaction to snakes to keep themselves safe from harm. This trust in “knowing what is safe or harmful” can extend to other people considered as authority figures by a child. It can include respected relatives in the wider family, older siblings, teachers or close friends during teenage hood. Indirectly learned causes of a phobia can also extend to observation from indirect learning situations. Seeing a live trauma in the television news, reading a convincing story or article, or even watching a recorded documentary can stimulate or reinforce a developing phobia. Even seeing a dramatic film containing convincing fearful reactions to say, an emetophobia can arouse suspicion about the depicted danger of vomit, fear of contamination from another person or the fear of choking on one’s own vomit.
Stress and PhobiasIs long-term stress among the many causes of a phobia? During prolonged periods of stress, it is common to experience anxiety and depression. This generally diminishes your ability to deal with excessive situational demands. It can increase your fear and anxiety of those stressful situations recurring again in the future to near-phobic capacity. Take for example when a mother has a traumatic pregnancy, a traumatic child birth and post-natal health issues for both the developing baby and herself. Depending on the events surrounding these traumas, she could be very fearful of another future birth trauma. Or she may also have lost trust in the medical profession and feel high anxiety when she needs to trust the medical profession again in the future. In the example above, the constant state of heightened alertness surrounding the stressful birth trauma could be the “cause” of the phobia. Or, depending on the previous trauma history, the stressful events can serve to reinforce previous fearful beliefs created from an earlier health trauma, making the hidden health phobia “conscious” to the mother. Whether as the ISE or reinforcing event, a tokophobia (fear of pregnancy or childbirth) and/or iatrophobia (fear of doctors and the medical profession) is established due to the numerous stressful situations and events.
Psychodynamic Explanations for the causes of a phobiaThere are several causes of a phobia, but psychodynamic theorists offer their own explanations for the “cause” of them. They argue that reactions to phobias are the mind’s defence mechanism against repressed feelings of anxiety that have been experienced in childhood. These repressed feelings are considered too painful to consciously deal with and acknowledge later in life, so these feelings are then displaced onto associated situations or objects. The situation or object becomes the phobic stimulus to avoid, thus protecting the individual from having to deal with these painful repressed emotions again. Or put another way, the situation or object associated with the phobia is not the source of the anxiety; the cause is related more to the product of unresolved conflicts within the various parts of the person’s mind. According to psychodynamic theorists, when the mind’s “conflicts” are centrally treated, the repressed emotions can be safely released, thereby disconnecting the phobia and the associated anxiety.
Causes of a phobia: The impact on your neurologyThe combination of these various causes of a phobia (including genetic traits, childhood interactions with your family and your personal direct and indirect life experiences) can ultimately determine how your brain develops and functions when you perceive a threat and cope with your phobia-inducing object or situation. The part of the brain responsible for controlling fear is called the amygdala. For a phobia sufferer, the right amygdala is considered to be highly sensitised and reactive to phobia-inducing stimuli causing the intense distress (or panic attack) commonly associated with phobic reactions. Where there is long-term trauma, this part of the brain may be generally over-reactive. Also notable amongst phobia sufferer's neurology is a higher expectation (anticipatory anxiety) that you will encounter your object or situation of distress. This is termed “expectancy bias” by researchers and is associated with lowered activity of the lateral prefrontal cortex and visual cortex parts of the brain. This under-activity results in an absence of cognitive control to distinguish between “imagined” and “real” threats related to your phobia. Thus with an arachnophobia, you will have a panic attack when you see some black fluff because you are certain that it is a real spider. You are also convinced that, having seen a spider in one location e.g. under the sofa, that it will keep reappearing in that same location, despite that spider being previously removed.
Causes of a phobia in therapyUltimately, the goal of a phobia treatment (using self-help or with a therapist) is to be relaxed in your phobic situation/location or relaxed with your phobic object/animal. There are many different ways to achieve this goal. This article has aimed to explore the many causes of a phobia, rather than trying to find ways to treat it. But does knowledge of the causes of a phobia have any practical application in resolving a phobia in therapy? It can be partially helpful, and this would depend on the individual enquiry. For example, if you are locked into your obsession about knowing why you have a fear of germs (mysophobia), then your obsession can block your access to a treatment solution. Learning that it’s a family trait and not your fault can ease your obsession particularly when you also learn that many of your forgotten childhood experiences involved fearful reactions to germs. With this knowledge, a mysophobic can accept it and “learn to live with it”, even if it does mean being fanatical or compulsive about cleanliness. Another enquiry might relate to the irrationality and confusion of your complex phobia situation. How can a simple phobia such as a fear of holes (trypophobia) lead to your agoraphobia? Understanding and rationalising how your fears and their reactions have transformed your “simple phobia” into an isolating agoraphobic situation (complex phobia) can be helpful. You can now be realistic about a proposed treatment plan and the time it usually takes to undo complex phobias, rather than hoping for a quick-fix and abandoning therapy prematurely Some therapy clients have uncontrolled panic attacks (panic disorder), are irresponsive to anxiety control techniques (relaxed breathing) and have forgotten what situation or object is triggering their panic response. By using a psycho-therapeutic approach with hypnosis, it can help you identify the “cause” of your unconscious phobia. Regression hypnotherapy can then be used to create emotional understanding and release the fear contained in those childhood experiences. This is an example of how applying a solution to a client’s past “cause” can benefit a client where a solution-focused approach is struggling to make progress. You could say that it’s still “solution-focused”, but you are regressing back to ISE’s to treat it.
Causes of a phobia: conclusionResearch would indicate that the many causes of a phobia relate to both nature and nurture. Where one cause is evident in a particular phobic person, does this mean that they are more responsive to a certain type of therapy? Perhaps this is another matter for further research.
For further information on the causes of your phobia and how hypnotherapy can treat it, contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff.
How To Choose The Best HypnotherapistFinding the services of the best hypnotherapist can be difficult if you have never experienced hypnotherapy before. And even if you have experienced it before and the outcome was negative, then there could be several explanations for this. Definitions of hypnosis and its use as a therapy are open to interpretation. And it goes without saying that every practising hypnotherapist is different to one another! What filters into your treatment will be a mix of the hypnotherapist’s life experiences, their hypnotherapy training, problem-solving ability, treatment experience, personal qualities etc. These are just some of the dynamics that live on the hypnotherapist’s side. Then consider what you bring into the treatment – your treatment issue and the specific background that individualises your problem. And not to mention the collaboration of all of these processes! Phew! When you take these various factors into account, it’s no wonder that it can be challenging weeding out the best hypnotherapist from a bad one. Finding the best hypnotherapist is not rocket science, but it shouldn’t be done hastily either. Failing to vet your hypnotherapist could mean that you end up wasting your time and money. If you want your condition to be successfully treated using hypnotherapy, but have no idea how to choose the best hypnotherapist then read on...
The best hypnotherapist has hypnotherapy credentialsFirst ensure that your hypnotherapist is a member of a recognised hypnotherapy association. With a registered hypnotherapist, if you are unhappy with any part of your therapy, you can contact the association who will investigate your complaint. Some of the bigger associations include the General Hypnotherapy Register and Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council. The CNHC register is approved as an accredited register by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. This professional body is accountable to Parliament for maintaining standards of patient safety and service quality. Patients who ask medical staff to recommend a hypnotherapist have been advised by the Professional Standards Authority to recommend those hypnotherapists registered with the CNHC – how’s that for a seal of approval? As a registered member of an association, your hypnotherapist will hold a recognised hypnotherapy qualification, professional indemnity insurance and will follow a strict code of ethics which will include maintaining Continued Professional Development. With the latter, it means that your hypnotherapist is actively developing their knowledge of hypnotherapy in practice and is probably passionate about their subject.
The best hypnotherapist has experienceAn experienced hypnotherapist is more likely to have developed their knowledge, skills and expertise with “real” clients. In this experience, strategies are employed and techniques are refined with efficiency and effectiveness. With knowledge and practise comes confidence to appreciate what to do – and what not to do when treating different clients with different conditions. With experience, you can acknowledge how to manage the subtleties in each individual case. How much experience is enough to develop confidence? In my opinion, a hypnotherapist who has worked five to ten years is developing their craft. That’s not to say that a novice cannot help a client, but they may still be in the experimental phase of their career where they “try this and see what happens...” The novice hypnotherapist feels less confident about adapting their treatment if your mind is not fully accepting their suggestions. The quality of the experience is far more important than just the quantity of treatments given by your hypnotherapist however. The quality can be defined by dealing with a variety of medical conditions and having an understanding of their background causes. But the quality of that experience can also be affected by the hypnotherapist’s life experiences outside of hypnotherapy. Are you more convinced of a hypnotherapist’s treatment of your fear of public speaking if they have extensive experience of public speaking themselves? Do they have a medical or health-related background experience that helps them to understand what’s behind your presenting issue and not just understanding the presenting symptom? Some hypnotherapists advertise that they specialise in treating certain conditions, having attended CPD workshops, extensively researched the condition or had personal experiences with the condition. This may “qualify” them to treat your condition more than a “general” hypnotherapist, but in practice it may only be evident that they are more qualified when you begin your course of therapy. This is because a symptom may be connected to other core issues e.g. a client’s weight gain (symptom) may be related to their low self esteem (core issue). A specialist in weight loss may have very little experience of treating low self esteem, whereas a general hypnotherapist with a wider knowledge base may be able to treat both issues effectively during the course of your treatment. On the subject of experience, another important feature is that...
The best hypnotherapist has broken away from generalised scriptsAs a member of the public, are you aware that one of the novice hypnotherapist’s basic tools is a pre-written generalised script? Yes, an “expert” hypnotherapist has used their experience to write a script called (for example) “panic attacks” and you can access these on YouTube and various phone apps to help you deal with your panic attacks. They may have been supplied on the hypnotherapy training course and can be found easily in hypnotherapy textbooks. The script features a mix of generalised and specific suggestions for treating “panic attacks”. Some of the generalised content will be ignored by you and some of the pertinent suggestions that connect with your issues will focus your mind into your issue and be more readily accepted. The novice hypnotherapist is likely to hypnotise you and then read the script verbatim as part of your treatment. There’s nothing wrong with this approach; it’s still considered “hypnotherapy”. But the experienced hypnotherapist is likely to have developed a repertoire of “panic attack” suggestions and is confident enough to apply what has been discussed in the consultation into your individualised treatment “script”. This gives your treatment relevance and usually more positive change than an approach that is generalised with the hope of making a connection with you. Please note that there is a multitude of dynamics in hypnotherapy that can influence a successful outcome in your treatment that includes using relevant personalised suggestions. Another issue that can affect a successful outcome is...
The best hypnotherapist has a broad skill setUsing relevant personalised suggestions to help you achieve your goal is the building blocks of a hypnotherapy treatment. But when your unconscious mind partially accepts or resists these suggestions, does your hypnotherapist have other hypnotic techniques to assist you or do they continue with a generalised “relaxatherapy” session hoping that it does the trick? The best hypnotherapist can creatively employ a variety of techniques including regression, hypno-analysis, and the use of stories and metaphors to release blocks. They can work with your mind when progress is slowing down. With experience, the effective use of these techniques can be adapted into your treatment quickly and confidently. The combination of a broad skill set and experience ensures your hypnotherapist can choose options to adapt your treatment program when issues develop in the moment. The unskilled novice is more likely to adopt a “one treatment fits all” approach. Another issue that can influence a successful outcome is when...
The best hypnotherapist values the importance of building rapportWhen you have a strong rapport with your hypnotherapist, you are more likely to accept their suggestions in the hypnotic induction and throughout your therapy. Building rapport is a two-way exchange of many dynamics that helps you feel that you “connect” with your hypnotherapist. When you have rapport with them, you trust them, you believe that they can help you, and you believe that they have the skills to treat your presenting condition. Rapport is built during many stages of the treatment. It can happen in the enquiry stage when seeing an informative article about your condition, or when speaking on the phone or during an initial consultation. During these situations, there are many opportunities to offer you insights that they understand your problem and can help you. It continues throughout the treatment and is displayed by good listening skills, the hypnotherapist’s voice (an important tool in hypnotherapy), and even their non-verbal gestures. What your hypnotherapist says resonates strongly with you and develops a deep conviction that they are passionate about their subject, they understand your problem and they will assist you to achieve your goal. Rapport is often helped by succinctly explaining what happens in your treatment and how you will benefit. It involves answering your questions and concerns about any aspect of the treatment in an open, honest and reassuring way. When there is rapport, it ensures that you feel confident and secure during all stages of your treatment. Without rapport, the treatment process collapses. This can happen for a number of reasons including a mismatch of expectations. If given the opportunity, the best hypnotherapist will attempt to close that gap, but will readily accept that when there is a weak rapport, it’s better to refer the client on to another source of help. Strongly connected to rapport is...
The best hypnotherapist has empathyShowing an understanding of your presenting condition and the emotions that you bring into your treatment is just a small part of having empathy. An experienced hypnotherapist will demonstrate this understanding by asking appropriate questions but will also be prepared to listen to your individual responses, reassuring you of any concerns. The hypnotherapist’s listening skills may be part of their nature, part of their training or has been developed by dealing with real hypnotherapy clients. In whatever way that it has been acquired, you will very quickly feel this connection deepen when they have empathy (which is far more than just a feeling of sympathy). Your treatment will be explained in a way that helps you to understand what is going to happen and how you can benefit. When there is empathy, you feel ready to discuss your issues and trust that there will be no judgement from your hypnotherapist.
The best hypnotherapist is able to apply the right balance of hypnosis and therapyAn understanding of “hypnotherapy” requires an understanding of both “hypnosis” and “therapy” to be able to achieve an effective hypnotic treatment. Some hypnotherapists make better “hypnotists” and others make better “therapists”. The balance of these two concepts can influence the hypnotherapist’s approach to your treatment. This balance can usually be found in their advertising literature but becomes obvious very quickly in the hypnotherapy treatment stages. “Hypnotists” emphasise the power of hypnosis over you to create change, whereas “therapists” emphasise the power within you to help you change. Whether the style of approach comes from the hypnotherapist’s personality e.g. extrovert/introvert, their training, or their experience in practice, the ability to adapt the approach to the individual is important. It will influence the building of rapport (see above) particularly when it meets your expectation about hypnotherapy. Where they “sit” on the continuum of hypnosis and therapy, and where you feel comfortable with their position will influence a successful therapeutic outcome.
The best hypnotherapist is not (exclusively) a stage hypnotist offering hypnotherapyA stage hypnotist’s art is entertainment and some of it can be very entertaining. But does a stage hypnotist’s skill transfer into therapy? A stage hypnotist who dabbles in hypnotherapy may not have undergone any “therapy” training or supervision. That’s not to say that they can’t help people lose weight and quit smoking, for example, by using suggestions targeting those respective conditions. It’s when those conditions are connected to deeper emotional issues like depression or low self esteem where the symptomatic “quick-fix” has limited affect and can expose an underlying emotional issue that needs continued support. As mentioned in the previous point regarding the “balance of hypnosis and therapy”, if you really want an exclusive stage hypnotist to “use their hypnotic powers” to treat you, then you can make an informed choice when their hypnotic modality is openly advertised. Most respectable hypnotists and hypnotherapists will advertise their profession, the conditions they treat, their location and their professional association membership. The latter can be verified by spending a bit of time researching the stated hypnotherapy association online. Some hypnotherapy associations will not permit membership for those who perform stage hypnosis, whilst others are open to membership provided that the hypnotist/hypnotherapist has a relevant hypnotherapy qualification.
The best hypnotherapist does not make exaggerated claims about hypnotherapyWouldn’t life be easy if...when you have an emotional or behavioural problem, you consult with a hypnotherapist, they “put you under” and the problem is fixed! This is the view often portrayed in the popular media with anecdotes of miraculous changes that happened in one session. Hypnotherapy is generally considered a short-term therapy (in relation to other talking therapies) and can often produce rapid results when a number of therapeutic conditions are in place. The problem comes when a hypnotherapist advertises a “quick-fix” guarantee without any prior knowledge of your presenting problem and historical background. When you are desperate, it can seem tempting to sign them up for a quick fix, but therapeutic change usually takes a few sessions of hypnotherapy, and here’s why: Advertising that a condition like smoking cessation will “be treated in one session” for example assumes that the hypnotic approach has been scientifically tested and controls were in place when it was researched. But very few hypnotherapy treatment strategies have been tested in this way. It is difficult to reliably test hypnotherapy because it involves so many variables (as mentioned in the introduction). Thus you are unlikely to create a guarantee that everyone will get the same outcome regardless of what the client brings to the treatment process. As an additional point, when you are desperate to have a condition treated, it’s easy to misread an advert that states: your condition “can be...” treated in so many sessions. You are likely to interpret it as it “will be…” treated in the stated number of sessions, only to be disappointed when your treatment takes longer than you originally thought.
Choosing the best hypnotherapist – other considerationsThis section is less about what makes the best hypnotherapist and more about the other issues that might limit your choice when making an appointment with the best hypnotherapist. Treatment costs – Prior to booking, ensure that you are fully aware of the cost, the length of each session, and methods of payment. Cheaper fees may seem attractive at first but could end up being money down the drain with a hypnotherapist who lacks the experience to deal with your presenting condition. Likewise, you don’t want to book with a hypnotherapist who charges extortionate fees without there being a good justification. In my opinion, a fee that is say, five times the average fee would almost need to offer a guarantee to justify the cost. Paying upfront for a course of hypnotherapy – Be wary of paying upfront for a course of hypnotherapy sessions to save money before you have even met the hypnotherapist. It’s wise to try one or two sessions first and then review how your treatment is progressing without a huge initial financial commitment. Since each course of hypnotherapy can vary between one client and another, paying upfront for a course can be called into question. What are the terms if you achieve your goal early or wish to terminate your treatment early? Is there an option of a pro rata refund (which would seem fair)? Type of practice – Consider if you would prefer to have your treatment in an established practice or the hypnotherapist’s home. Clients usually feel more secure in a practice and often feel that the whole treatment process is more professional. The location of the practice is something that is usually identified early in your research. Google tends to favour proximity when you search online. It’s obviously convenient having a practice close to you, but some treatments are worth the journey when it gets results. Cancellation policy – Ensure that you understand the terms of any cancellation policy. A hypnotherapist who rents from a professional practice is more likely to have stricter cancellation terms. This is not surprising when the hypnotherapist will have paid a rental fee to accommodate your session and will lose that fee if you do not attend. Availability – Check that the hypnotherapist can be available at the times and days to suit you. Their general availability to maintain continuity between each session is also important. Hypnotherapists who practise part time or who have various other non-clinical commitments may not be able to maintain a treatment schedule to help you. Your past hypnotherapy experiences – When you have had a bad experience of anything, it’s easy to over-generalise the experience and extend that feeling of failure to all. With a previous negative outcome with hypnotherapy some might say “I had hypnotherapy once and it didn’t work, so I’ve done hypnotherapy now!” There are good and bad hypnotherapists, just as there are good and bad medical practitioners. The results that you get will only be as good as the individual hypnotherapist treating you. Some clients are also ready to admit that with a previous attempt to change a habit like smoking for example, they were not ready or motivated to quit smoking when they tried to stop smoking with hypnotherapy maybe ten years earlier. The value of personal recommendation – A personal recommendation from someone you know can build trust and belief into your own treatment process with the recommended hypnotherapist. Even with a personal recommendation however, it’s still advisable to go into the treatment with an open mind and respect that everyone’s background and presenting condition is different. Keeping an open mind is particularly significant when the person recommending you made rapid progress in their treatment. This might influence you to expect the same rapid outcome for yourself. If you don’t get the same results, it’s not uncommon to think that you have personally failed the treatment in some way. This is not the case however; no two situations are identical in hypnotherapy. And finally...Trusting your gut feeling usually works – Trusting your gut feeling is often considered a good basis from which to make a decision. When choosing the best hypnotherapists too, it’s a good format to use. Take note of some of the points in this article and do a reasonable amount of research to find the best hypnotherapist for you.
For further information on how hypnotherapy can help you, contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff.
Anticipatory AnxietyAnticipatory Anxiety is a symptom that creates and maintains the various forms of anxiety disorder including phobias, panic disorder and generalised anxiety. It is characterised by a heightened state of alertness and obsessive worry before a stressful event is about to happen. You can waste hours or even days going through every possibility of the upcoming event, running “what if...”- scenarios without being able to focus on a helpful solution. Whether it is a job interview, a social meeting, or a public speech, anticipatory anxiety will take over your mind for the remaining period of time that you have left before the event starts. In its essence, anticipatory anxiety happens because of your nature to try to predict how things will happen and your attempt to remain safe from harm. We are individuals who make use of anticipation to function well in everyday life, but someone with this form of anxiety expects a lot of these situations to be real disasters or catastrophes. This state is also reinforced when past experiences in life have left you with a deep sense of disappointment or shame that has sunk into your unconscious mind. Now, the unconscious alerts you with this stressful anticipation to avoid similar episodes and their associated recurring anxious feelings again in the future.
How does anticipatory anxiety affect you?Anticipatory anxiety influences you to obsess about the catastrophic scenarios that are likely to happen. Avoidance tactics are considered to prevent your future distress. You might even lose focus on the tasks you are required to prepare and end up being haunted by what can humiliate you and guarantee your failure. You are generally fooled into believing that these anxious situations will happen, when in reality they rarely do happen. The physical symptoms of anxiety can be triggered at an early stage of knowledge of the event. You are likely to have varying degrees of stomach “butterflies”, sweaty palms, and a racing heart (palpitations). The body can get very distressed because of these symptoms, and as a result, anticipatory anxiety becomes a huge physical discomfort to your well-being. These symptoms, moreover, become a serious form of anticipatory anxiety when you begin to focus on them in ordinary and daily events, and for long sustained periods of time. It is normal for people to have reasonable levels of worry about important future events, but the alertness should resolve itself as the event passes. With the prolonged form of anticipatory anxiety, the symptoms persist much after the event. And the more debilitating this anxiety gets, the more you will experience psychological problems too. For example, you may develop insomnia, depression and constant panic attacks. Eventually, if anticipatory anxiety has been experienced for periods of more than a month, it becomes a chronic state of anticipatory anxiety.
What causes anticipatory anxiety?Many of the causes that contribute to developing anticipatory anxiety are related to past experiences. At some point in your life, you were faced with experiences that aroused extreme fear or a suffocating shame within you. Such experiences, if they get reinforced, tend to set deep roots in your psyches and render you avoidant and phobic to those stressful events in the future. In addition, some people may develop panic attacks that build up because of extreme stress. With the knock on effect of this situation and repeated negative reactions, the sufferer becomes not only afraid of the events, but also of your own anxiety symptoms or the panic attacks. As a consequence, you become locked into this fear of symptom-reaction or “panic about panic”. It can render some sufferers helpless influencing a state of agoraphobia in its progression. General anxiety is not excluded from this either. If anxiety troubles you at every turn in your life, anticipatory anxiety becomes a symptom of it when too many stressful incidents keep giving you anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, anticipatory anxiety may not be just conscious but may descend into an unconscious form when it creeps into your dreams. Thus, it is very advisable for any person suffering from it to learn about some of the coping techniques that reduce this anxiety and eventually break you out of the cycle of anticipatory anxiety.
Coping with Anticipatory AnxietyPrimarily, anticipatory anxiety can be seen as a state of mind where different ideas are affecting your psyche. It is a line of emotional thinking that zooms in on all the disastrous and negative outcomes that can harm your self-esteem and well-being. Let’s briefly explore some common coping techniques. They all need further development and practise to be helpful in dealing with your anticipatory anxiety. A powerful way to bring the anxiety into a halt is to interrupt the emotional anxious thinking with positive thinking. It won’t be apparent to you how much effect a positive thought can help you until you can employ and master the use of them. The state of mind suddenly shifts to a stronger and more relieving way of thinking. In other words, the anticipation can be translated into a positive reality as this immediately stops the physical stress and breaks the habit of anxious “over-thinking”. Another technique that can reduce this anxiety is the act of changing your focus of attention. When your attention has been set on something completely different, the anticipatory anxiety stops taking over your mind and has fewer effects on you. Moreover, a change of focus of attention can give you the strength to not succumb to excessive worry. This is because your selected attention decides what mindset you can have. The use of your attention, though, need not be limited to motivating thoughts. You can reduce the anticipatory anxiety even by focusing on the nature of your anxiety or your breath, without analysing it or judging it, just becoming mindful of it. This is the basis of mindfulness. Lastly, you can ask questions that alter your mode of thinking to balance out the negative anticipation. For instance, you may ask about the possible good things that can happen in the short-term and long-term if those bad scenarios might happen. Or by accepting that it’s going to be bad anyway, you can ask yourself how you may recover from the situation and build coping resources in the process. In so doing, you can motivate your state of mind to drop the anxiety and entertain the confident ideas and expectation that you deserve to have. More self help techniques can be found here: ways to deal with anticipatory anxiety.
How can hypnotherapy help you deal with anticipatory anxiety?Hypnotherapy can break your obsessive thinking patterns As you become more anxious, your view of reality will favour that which confirms your anxious reality; in your anticipation, you become convinced that these catastrophes will ensue. In the relaxed state of hypnosis, you can detach this reality and be helped to view the positive alternatives. Hypnotherapy can help you to visualise the anticipated event as a successful event Positive visualisation changes the neural pathways in your brain. When you can picture the dreaded event e.g. a public speaking presentation, as one in which you are coping with, the journey leading up to the event can feel less traumatising. With less anticipation, you can then be left to cope with the event itself, accessing the resources needed to deal with the demands in that moment. Hypnotherapy is an excellent way to assist your visualisation abilities enabling you to maximise the potential of your imagination. Hypnotherapy can help you reframe your past experiences When you have anticipatory anxiety, the emotions from past traumatic events continue to alert you to similar situations to prepare for another upset, sometimes exaggerating the nature of the future event. But when the emotions from those past traumas are reframed and released, they can become experiences to learn from. Using regression techniques, hypnotherapy can be used to revisit an “open” negative past experience, safely reprocess its meaning and close the event so that you can view future situations as challenges. Hypnotherapy can be used to restructure your avoidance strategies Avoidance is one of the main symptoms of anticipatory anxiety. Whilst the “avoidance voice” is there to protect you from harm in the short term, it creates a bigger obstacle to overcome in the long term. Hypnotherapy can use analytical methods to access the decisive “parts” in your mind and employ their resilience to confront the situations that you would previously seek to avoid. Hypnotherapy can alleviate your anticipatory physical symptoms Your physical anxiety symptoms like heart palpitations and tense breathing patterns can convince you that your fear is “real”. Hypnotherapy can used to alleviate your physical symptoms and view them as separate from your current distress, helping you to feel relaxed and ready to confront the situation when needed.
SummaryIn summary, anticipatory anxiety is one of the psychological disorders that can burden your life. Most of the time, it becomes nurtured because of the stressful life that you have led in your past or through some developed phobias e.g. social phobia. Your past experiences may overwhelm you now because you previously lacked the tools to handle emotional situations back then. That’s why it’s important to appreciate what anticipatory anxiety is, how the various symptoms can affect you and be ready to confront those situations that cause you excessive worry. Then, you can learn relevant coping techniques and apply them when anticipatory anxiety is dominating your life. Furthermore, it is important to seek professional help if you are struggling with anticipatory anxiety in your daily life. Coping techniques can place you back into a measure of stability. Therapy such as hypnotherapy can strengthen and help you develop new coping strategies in a relatively short treatment course.
For further information on how hypnotherapy can help you deal with anticipatory anxiety, contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff.
Tips To Help You Cope With Anticipatory Anxiety
Are looking for help to cope with anticipatory anxiety? Anticipatory anxiety is better known as the "fear of fear." It’s a very appropriate term because unlike normal anxiety, anticipatory anxiety causes you to fear your own anxiety symptoms; you end up chasing your own panic attacks and as a result, you create more panic attacks. In its chronic form, anticipatory anxiety is also known as panic disorder.
For those who are asking whether it's normal to have this kind of anticipation, the answer is both yes and no. It's normal to feel anxious about a huge event, such as your first date, a driving test, a job interview, or a speech. It only becomes a problem if it seems to be occurring on a regular basis and on events that you generally wouldn't consider to be that overwhelming.
So what can you do to help you cope with anticipatory anxiety? There's no specific formula that works for everybody, since different people will have varying degrees of symptoms. Nevertheless, there are general ways that can help you minimise the impact of worry and fear when they come. Sometimes working with just one anticipatory anxiety tip that resonates with you can be more effective than attacking it with several, particularly since some tips may appear to contradict others! What will help you as an individual can depend on how your fear is progressing and your core beliefs.
Tip 1: Establish the basis of your fear
A common first step to help you cope with anticipatory anxiety is to start by asking yourself on what are you basing your fear. You may have experienced a trauma in your past that justifies you anticipating that trauma again, but put the trauma into the context of the bigger picture. How many similar events (not involving you) have ended successfully without trauma? It’s important to reach out and expand all of the other experiences (the factual evidence) that you are ignoring at the emotional level. So if you have a fear of flying, visualise yourself in the many millions of flights taking off and landing successfully to reassure your anticipation. Your panic attack will have no connection with the success of your next flight, but it will ruin the enjoyment of your journey should you decide to fly. Take control of your anticipatory anxiety and you can trust your pilot will take care of your flight for you.
Tip 2: Interrupt your fearful thoughts
Another tip to help you cope with anticipatory anxiety is to interrupt your fearful thoughts. Fearful thoughts can spiral out of control and keep you trapped in your anxiety. Your imagination can just keep expanding each anxious thought until your symptoms are distressing you.
Once you notice that you are beginning to feel overwhelmed because of a particular thought, interrupt that thought with a positive one. Let's say you're worrying about losing your job. In such a scenario, you will be anticipating feeling worthless and dwelling on the follow-on catastrophes such as losing your house or your partner abandoning you. Your positive thought may relate to identifying why you are good at your job or what skills you can develop (with training) to maintain your employability. More often than not, this change of thought can interrupt your fearful thoughts and help you to cope with anticipatory anxiety. Italso keeps the negative thoughts from taking over your mind and emotions whenever they come back.
Tip 3: Imagine the best-case scenario
It's interesting that the human brain is designed for protection. When the nervous system is aroused, it gets ready to prepare for the worst. That's the downside though. Since its priority is safety, the brain automatically surveys for the worst-case scenarios so that it can prepare the body just in case. This is not a problem for the average person. For individuals with anticipatory anxiety, however, this can be a huge predicament. You’ve probably heard and used the phrase “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” It’s a common technique used in cognitive therapy to restructure your catastrophe and can be very useful for certain people in different situations. Do you find that when you imagine the worst case scenario though, your imagination draws you towards the worst-case scenario, as if you are doomed? If it does, then you will probably benefit by imagining the best-case scenario. Yes, be bold with the power of your mind and change your emotional journey! It won’t always give you control over the external situation, but it can give you an immediate feeling of calm by imagining the best outcome. This can be a huge step towards learning to cope with anticipatory anxiety.
Tip 4: Learn to relax
In a busy world like ours, it's very easy to overlook the fact that our mind and body need relaxation. You are more susceptible to worry and anxiety when your mind is not rested. To cope with anticipatory anxiety, you need to make it a habit of taking a “Time-out” at least once in your day. That doesn't necessarily mean not doing anything. There are many activities that you can engage in that can help your mind and body rest. Identify what you enjoy most. Gardening, reading, writing, hanging out with friends, yoga, exercising, and yes, even playing a sport! – All of these activities will help keep your mind relaxed and rested, if not during but after the activity. If you are curious about doing “mind work”, then “passive” relaxation can be just as effective. Consider meditation, mindfulness and breathing techniques to lower stress and anxiety.
Tip 5: Take a step out of your thoughts
It can be so easy to be convinced by your thoughts when you live inside of them. The potential to be pulled into believing those worst case scenarios (explained in tip 3) can leave you feeling helpless, despite those situations rarely ever materialising. Several authors emphasise the ability to be the observer of your thoughts rather than being your thoughts. This is a way to effectively “hack” the natural anxious thinking process and create distance from its influence. To help you cope with anticipatory anxiety using this tip, you’ll benefit by getting into your mind zone (suggested in tip 4) where you can calm your mind and slow down the pace of your thoughts. You can then use your imagination to visualise stepping out of your anxious thoughts, leaving them behind and appreciating the freedom it gives you to choose where you want to take them. Feel empowered when you access a deeper relaxation, confidence or self-belief. All of these can be your liberation from anticipatory anxiety.
Tip 6: Get enough sleep
Just as anxiety can keep you up all night, aiming to get enough sleep can help you to cope with anticipatory anxietymore effectively. The two simply have such a strong relationship, and that relationship is bi-directional. This means that if you want to treat one, you also need to treat the other. When it comes to sleep, however, the key is to get 7 to 8 hours a night and establish good sleep hygiene practices. This will help improve your morning mood and levels of irritability. To improve the quality of your sleep, you need to slowly eliminate activities that stimulate your mind before bedtime. This may include reducing caffeine intake, limiting your screen time, and tailoring your environment to make it more conducive for sleeping. Learning how to guide your mind to sleep can also be helpful.
Tip 7: Face the problem head on
The motivational phrase "face your fear" may be a bit of a cliché, but it’s actually an excellent way to cope with anticipatory anxiety. For the pragmatist, it’s the antidote to being left “in-waiting” for the situation to arrive with nothing to do, which typifies anticipatory anxiety. You may be ready to “flood” your experience and jump into the deep end by tackling the situation head on. Many would prefer a graduated or controlled exposure dealing with smaller parts of the situation to build confidence. If you have a fear of public speaking for example, then consider how you can start in “safe mode” developing public speaking skills whilst gradually increasing the size of your audience, the authority of your audience and the importance of the presentation task. These are common issues that when controlled, can help you develop your public speaking confidence.
Tip 8: Seek support
Whether from family or friends, it’s crucial that you have someone to support you in order for you to cope with anticipatory anxiety. When you think that you’re the only one who has anticipatory anxiety, it makes you feel more embarrassed and self-critical. It helps to have someone close whom you can share your thoughts with, and someone who can offer his or her support when you’re overwhelmed.
Finally, it’s critical that you seek professional help from a therapist or hypnotherapist. This is especially true when you are suffering from chronic anticipatory anxiety or panic disorder. With hypnotherapy, so many of the tips offered in this article can be suggested to your mind without conscious interference. You will also benefit from a huge reduction of anxiety when you are in hypnosis.
For further information on how hypnotherapy can help you cope with anticipatory anxiety, contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff.
Hypnotherapy in practice: What happens in your consultation?Hypnotherapy in practice can be very challenging to understand. The inexperienced client usually feels as though hypnotherapy uses techniques and principles that are mysterious. But how hypnotherapy works in practice is based on key steps and techniques that hypnotherapists are embracing to improve hypnotherapy treatment outcomes. In light of this, the main purpose of this article is to clarify the approach hypnotherapy uses and how its treatment plan can help you.
Hypnotherapy in practice: The hypnotherapy consultationAs with any therapeutic approach, the hypnotherapeutic process begins with a consultation session. This step is emphasised because it can help determine the path which the treatment procedures will take. By using the consultation process, the hypnotherapist is not only informed about your formal details and identity, but they are also provided with a case history about your life, medical history, and personal lifestyle. In addition, this step can define the goals and direction that the treatment should take and how it can benefit you. Without these objectives in mind, the treatment process will not solve your individual problems, nor achieve the desired therapeutic results. The background issues inform the hypnotherapist about the key features of your personal struggle to achieve your goal. You, in turn, are also educated about the issues that you want to resolve, what is holding you back and the treatment plan that the hypnotherapist will suggest to help get you there. One of the most important elements in hypnotherapy is the effective use of hypnosis. Since it is a technique that requires the application of suggestions, the hypnotherapist will want to make sure that you are realistically educated about its principles and benefits. This is an important stage in the treatment process to ensure your collaboration. The hypnotherapist will then identify your strengths and determine your hypnotic suggestibility. You are likely to benefit far more from treatment approaches that match your personal profile, rather than using generic approaches (or scripts) that hope to connect with your issues in an arbitrary way.
Hypnotherapy in practice: The therapy stageGenerally, hypnotherapists adopt approaches that work within a three stage treatment plan. In the first stage, the hypnotherapeutic process essentially tries to prepare your most suitable state for treatment. You are encouraged to engage with the hypnotherapist and helped to acquire psychological resources and the resilience to undergo the treatment process. As soon you demonstrate this readiness, the hypnotherapist then (secondly) introduces you to the treatment phase where varied hypnotic techniques and treatment procedures are directly addressed to your issues. Finally, you move to the last stage where the new behaviours and positive responses are maintained and secured. This is especially crucial to ensure that the new responses are fully learned and integrated so that the old behaviour patterns do not re-emerge. It also takes into account adjustments within the treatment strategies that are based on your continuing feedback. As stated earlier, the use of hypnosis is likely to be predominant in the treatment process. So, you will notice some of hypnosis will be used to relax you during the hypnotic induction. Whenever a treatment session is to be conducted, you will be given suggestions to create imaginary places or access points through which you can feel highly relaxed and responsive. It is in this way that treatment suggestions make an impact. The client often considers the feelings created during the hypnotic induction to be the treatment, but this is rarely the case unless your goal is to feel relaxed. Actually, the most important part of the treatment process is the effective application of hypnotic techniques that help your achieve your goal. In its most basic form, hypnosis involves the use of suggestion techniques that are either direct or indirect. The direct suggestions are explicit instructions that the hypnotherapist uses to obtain immediate and clear responses from you. The indirect suggestions, however, are softer ways in which the hypnotherapist can access your responses. Usually, the latter helps you feel less as a subject and more as a partner in the therapy process. In the end, hypnotherapists employ both types of suggestions to suitable circumstances and in different degrees to contrasting clients. Advanced techniques such as analysis and regression can also utilised to further reinforce the treatment where suggestions have a limited effect.
Hypnotherapy in practice: SummaryHaving clarified some techniques in hypnotherapy, it should be understood that the therapeutic process is a highly dynamic one. The hypnotherapist usually has to do a lot of work to ensure that the treatment takes place within different time-frames. As a result, there is a myriad of techniques and procedures used in the process apart from the general use of hypnotic suggestions. It is not surprising that hypnotherapy gives a mysterious impression because it approaches different goals with special care and distinctive therapy management. Your treatment can involve many individual features that supplement your progress. These can include homework tasks with controlled desensitisation and practising self-hypnosis to help with the management of your emotional state in specific situations. It is important for the hypnotherapists to know and use these general procedure-stages. It is also essential for hypnotherapists to educate themselves on the various hypnotherapeutic solutions and benefits when applying a breadth of therapeutic techniques. When you are being treated by hypnotherapists who adopt these therapeutic strategies, you can be assured that you will receive a professional hypnotherapy service tailored to your individual needs and with maximised goal-oriented benefits.
For further information about hypnotherapy in practice,
contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff.
Common misconceptions of hypnosis: What does hypnosis in movies do to the public’s perception of hypnotherapy?Despite hypnotherapy gaining ground as a respected therapy, there are still some common misconceptions of hypnosis that affect the public’s perception of hypnotherapy. What does the thought of being hypnotised do to you? Do you imagine that you are going to be put into a deep trance-like state of sleep and then commanded to do things against your will? And if you are considering consulting with a hypnotherapist to help you conquer your phobia, stop smoking or lose weight, do you believe that you could get locked into your hypnotic state and my never come out of it? Well, if you do then I doubt that you are alone in this belief; misconceptions of hypnosis are still widespread.
Misconceptions of hypnosis: "Get Out!"Where do these stereotypes come from that create this perception of hypnotherapy? If you’ve never reliably researched something or had numerous experiences of it to enlighten you, it’s easy to accept hearsay or be influenced by the media. With limited knowledge of something you may believe that what is being portrayed in the media is factual. There are still some modern films that want to send those shivers down your spine and show hypnosis as mind-control. Get ready for a spoiler alert! Take for example in the thriller film “Get Out”, in which the star Chris is hypnotised by his girlfriend’s mother in order to imprison him. The film is worthy of a view for the suspense (if you like that sort of thing), and very deserving of its Oscar award, but don’t take the hypnosis too seriously. The portrayal of hypnosis is exaggerated on many levels, but let’s just looks at one of those.
Sowing a seed of beliefIn the film, Chris is tricked into being hypnotised against his will. The portrayal of hypnosis assumes that hypnosis can be used to overpower the subject and make him do things that he doesn’t want to do. If only it could! Wouldn’t everyone learn hypnosis to have this power over people? This misconception often entices the novice hypnotist to read a book on hypnosis and then fantasise that they can impress their friends with hypnotic powers. It might also encourage those who have been convinced by the mass media to sign up for a stage hypnosis training course and learn “hypnotic secrets” to control the mind of others, particularly if they somehow missed some essential points from that hypnosis book. Again, like the media, stage hypnosis shows are similar situations in which the public are given the impression that the stage hypnotist has power over their subjects. But this is very far away from reality of hypnosis; the power that the stage hypnotist has over their subjects it that which is given over to them by their subjects. Should I have mentioned another spoiler alert before you book your stage hypnosis training course? Oh, well! Too late!
The power tripWhen you enter the hypnotherapy clinic, the “handing over of power” exists on the same level; the only power that the hypnotherapist has over you is that which you are ready to give to them. When this “power” has been given openly, a therapeutic relationship (or team) is formed and you are open to accept the hypnotherapist’s suggestions. You are then in a position to collaborate further with your hypnotherapist and be helped to achieve your goal. There are many stages in the client-hypnotherapist interaction that can affect the readiness to hand over this “power”. Even before the appointment, it can include seeing convincing advertising literature that draws your attention and in the rapport that is built up during your initial enquiry e.g. in the telephone conversation that you have with the hypnotherapist before making a booking. Then during the consultations, the hypnotherapist’s expertise (qualifications, knowledge, experience, style of communication etc.) is used to further convince you that they can help you achieve your goal. (More information on the many factors that build client expectation can be found in this hypnosis test and the article that follows it.)
Misconceptions of hypnosis discussion: Power in hypnotherapyDoes this mean that this hypnotic “power trip” created by the films and stage hypnosis is all negative for the perception of hypnotherapy? I think that there may be situations where that “power” can be worked into the process for short-term therapeutic gains. In other words, if (as a prospective client), you are so convinced that hypnosis “makes you do things against your will” and the hypnotherapist is prepared to tactfully play along with your beliefs, the hypnotic experience could create that massive jump-start for you to achieve your goal just because you believe that you have been “hypnotised to do it”. And it could have long-term benefits depending on how much you believe in the magical “power” of hypnosis that is so often portrayed in those movies. I’m not suggesting that creating this “hypnotic power trip” situation is appropriate for every client and hypnotherapist. It might suit the “authoritative-styled” hypnotherapists who want to use hypnosis to portray that they have “power” to change clients against their will. And when they have a “hypnosis film believer” client in front of them, the outcome can be very effective. But when used as a “power-trip”, the situation is unlikely to build long-term self-confidence in the client’s own beliefs; confidence remains pinned to hypnosis or the hypnotherapist. But this comes back to establishing fundamentals in the whole treatment process. What is the precise nature of the client’s goal? Do they want a short-term fix or long-term fix? Is building “self” confidence part of that goal? Then consider, what are their underlying beliefs (about the power of hypnosis) that support the goal? If the client has just seen the film “Get Out”, as a hypnotherapist you may have some idea about their beliefs and how you want to employ those beliefs during the treatment. There are many other misconceptions of hypnosis. What has shaped your beliefs about hypnosis and hypnotherapy? Enjoy your next hypnosis movie!
For more information on how hypnotherapy can help you,
contact Richard J D'Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff
Making hypnotherapy goals work for youStating your hypnotherapy goals or what you want as the outcome of the treatment is an important part of any therapy, not just in hypnotherapy. If the initial contact (by email, phone or face to face) has not already established this, a trained hypnotherapist will ask you directly about the nature of your goal (or presenting condition). They will then (re) confirm the goal during your consultation and may give some mention about the treatment methods used to help achieve it. Sometimes the goal is clear and the treatment can proceed with both parties sharing the same understanding about the direction of the therapy e.g. “I want to stop smoking”. On occasions, the nature of the goal needs further clarification to ensure that it is attainable since you may be confused about your own condition, how it continues to affect you and what could be a potential solution e.g. when you have suffered abuse in the past. The following points can clarify the nature of your hypnotherapy goals:
That the goal can be (reasonably) definedSome hypnotherapy goals are unrealistic and may expect far too much from a short course of treatment. Wanting to be completely “free of anxiety forever” (implying a cure) is an example of an unrealistic goal in hypnotherapy. Stating the goal more specifically can help you to establish the goal or progressive goals in your treatment program. For example:
- With a fear of flying, your goal could be stated as “to be more relaxed during your next flight”.
- With weight loss, your goal could be stated as “to eliminate unhealthy snacking in between meals”
- With social anxiety, your goal could be “to learn how to relax when socialising.”
How you will know that the goal is being (or has been) achievedSometimes identifying that the goal is being or has been achieved is obvious and is connected to the defined goal (explained above). The treatment thus ends and it is mutually acknowledged as being achieved. In some cases where several issues affect the achievement of a goal, intermediate goals may need to be set to show that progress is being made e.g. when weight management goals are being treated, but weight gain through comfort eating is found to be related to anxiety and low self esteem. The latter may need to be treated concurrently, adding anxiety management and self esteem building goals to ensure that the healthy eating patterns are long-term. Additionally, the arrival of (what is initially considered to be the achievement of) “the goal” may still require continued treatment to secure its conclusion e.g. when a smoker has just stopped smoking during the early stages of the treatment but still feels vulnerable about lapsing into smoking again. They have indicated that previous lapses have occurred due to stress. Stress management goals would also be necessary to help secure the goal of stopping smoking for a sufficient period after initially stopping smoking. Imagining the arrival of your goal as a future goal-achievement “lifestyle scene” is a useful strategy in goal setting. It can create an open pathway for your mind to explore what happens when the goal is achieved in its entirety. The scene can be accessed by asking the questions “Imagine that you have gone through a successful process of change, how would you know that you have arrived? What would you be sensing, feeling, communicating and doing in the new situation X when this change has taken place?” These questions can almost create a momentary hypnosis. When you immerse yourself into that scene, it can project you into the experience of your goal and can demolish some established negative “anchors” (or connected internal responses that are inhibiting you from achieving it). In addition to asking the question, the client can benefit by visualising it when they are in hypnosis to intensify the desired state.
That the goal can be achieved in a realistic timeframeThis can involve a discussion about the estimated number of sessions required to achieve your goal. It can also give some indication of the duration of the course of treatment (estimated number of weeks and potential frequency of visits to treat the condition). You can expect these figures to be estimates since every client brings a different background to their treatment, but it’s worth asking these questions to gauge your treatment plan. Stating when you want to achieve your goal by can help set up a schedule of treatment consultations (number of possible sessions before a deadline e.g. the date that you are giving a presentation). It will also help to identify the time available to work on any proposed homework tasks. Some hypnotherapy goals have continuous targets e.g. when you have a fear of public speaking and you are giving a series of presentations at regular intervals. Treatment progressions can be revised based on the feedback that you give in the subsequent session following each of your presentations. Unrealistic timeframes usually involve last minute bookings with a demand for a cure of your condition. An example can include wanting one of those “I’ve done nothing about this until the last moment, but am still hopeful for a cure” treatment for your fear of flying, when you are flying tomorrow! Even though some clients can respond quickly to hypnosis, it’s more realistic to expect help to “control” some of your fear symptoms at this short notice, rather than outright cures.
That the goal can be achieved in view of (or in spite of) any personal history, medical issues or situational factors that might affect its accomplishmentWhen your goal is not “blocked” by background traumas and conflicting beliefs, you can usually set a realistic goal and achieve it independently; the process does not need therapy (external help) to accomplish it. The impact of past doubts and internal conflicts however can harm your ability to achieve your goal. Therapy then becomes an option to objectively deal with your internal conflicts, reframing these negatives and maximising the focus into your goal so that you can see a clear pathway into its achievement. A professional hypnotherapist will discuss your medical history, background of the condition and lifestyle issues in the earlier part of your treatment, usually in the initial stage of the first consultation. These details can help indicate the extent to which the presenting condition or goal is being “weighed down” by other core issues. Sometimes when a client is highly suggestible to hypnosis, the goal can be treated in isolation of these core background issues and rapid change can take place. (You can assess your level of suggestibility here.) However, it is more common for these deeper background issues to need reframing to help you feel that the goal is detached from your negative history and can then be freely accessed. To illustrate this, consider the following example. You suffer with panic attacks (this is your presenting condition) and you want to be able to control them (this is your goal). Hypnotic techniques are used to treat the panic attacks but are only partially helpful. Further enquiries into your background reveal post traumatic stress disorder and childhood abuse (cause of your conflicts). The emotions related to the abuse are reframed in your treatment and the panic attacks are subsequently eased (your goal is achieved).
SummaryDiscussing the hypnotherapy goals is an essential part of the treatment process. Openly examining the nature of your goal can have several benefits including:
- Establishing a direction for the treatment.
- Clarifying if the initial expectations are realistic.
- Helping you set up an early positive “anchor” with the goal so that it can then be accessed and reinforced in the hypnotic treatment.
- Identifying a timescale to achieve the goal.
- Reframing what conflicts are stopping you from achieving your goal.
- Building rapport between you and the hypnotherapist