So, today I’d like to talk to you about Hypnotherapy and how it’s used to treat anxiety and depression.
I guess, from the outset, I should say that hypnosis isn’t a therapy. Hypnosis really is just a state of mind. And the thing that makes hypnosis useful as far as therapy is concerned is it gives us access to your unconscious.
Now, that access can be used in a few different ways. One way that access can be used is by putting information in, which is probably what a lot of people think hypnotherapy is. A hypnotist getting someone into trance and giving them positive suggestions to reduce their anxieties or to give them a more positive outlook on life. That is one way of using hypnosis. And typically I would do that with someone, but before I do, I would like to sit down and talk to you about past, present, and how you want the future to be. To get a real mud map of you and your life, about how things have been when you were growing up, what things trigger what thoughts and what feelings, what that causes you to do, when you’re able to overcome that and when you’re not able to overcome it. So I get a real good idea of what’s going on, and perhaps, have a few little insights into, perhaps, what could be driving the problem.
Typically then, in the second session, I would get you into hypnosis and give you all those positive suggestions based on all the positive changes that you want to make for yourself. And typically I would record that session LIVE so we can get that recording onto a CD or an mp3 for you to use at home because you need a reinforcement of all those ideas so they will become integrated and become a part of you. The thing about hypnosis that makes suggestions work so well is that the critical factor of your mind becomes more relaxed so that those ideas are much more readily accepted and, indeed, acted upon(especially if they’re your ideas and they’re in line with what you want for yourself).
So that’s what I call suggestion therapy. Essentially, it’s me giving you useful suggestions while you’re in a nice relaxed hypnotic state. But the thing is that doesn’t touch a problem because anxiety isn’t the problem, which may sound like a very strange thing to say. See, we have these brains that are always patterning things. We always use a process of patterning in order to try and make sense of the world around us. And we are continuously referring to past experiences – information from past experiences – in order to ascertain what’s about to happen next. And if something in our past has either hurt us, or frightened us, or upset us in some way, then that experience kind of gets tagged unconsciously and then we’re unconsciously on the lookout for anything that may vaguely resemble that. So that when we find ourselves in a situation and, perhaps, our unconscious mind refers back to that past experience completely outside of the conscious awareness, where our unconscious kind of goes “Oh, that’s just like that thing that happened when we were two, or five, or ten, or whatever. That wasn’t good”; and then it sends it off those alarm bells, like the beating heart, the shortness of breath, the churning stomach, and all those symptoms of anxiety that we experience. And that’s your unconscious mind doing its best to help you. It’s giving you a very strong warning signal that you’re in some kind of danger, either physical or emotional.
So, me giving you all the suggestions in the world in trance or out of trance isn’t touching any of that. So what we really need to do is find out what it is your unconscious mind keeps referring back to that’s letting it think that you’re in danger. So, in this way, we’re using hypnosis once again, but not so much to put ideas in, but to pull that information out. So, using that access to pull information out so you really have a deep understanding of where the anxiety comes from. So you discover the root cause of it. Firstly, you get an intellectual understanding of that. “Ah, no wonder!” You learn why this makes you feel this way, or that frightens you, or why you get frightened in this sort of situation.” But more importantly than that, is you get an emotional understanding about why you feel the way you do. And essentially, by doing that regression work, finding out the root cause of your problem, what I’m really helping you to do is to untangle yourself emotionally from that experienceor event in your past.
Now, that event may be what’s called a repressed memory, where it’s currently completely outside of your conscious awareness, or it could be something that is within your conscious awareness, but you haven’t made the connection between the two. Or it could be something that’s within your conscious awareness and you have made the connection – you do have an intellectual understanding of where the cause of your anxiety comes from -, but you’re still emotionally tangled up in it. Essentially, it doesn’t really matter which one of those three it is. All that matters is we get back to the root cause of the problem and get it sorted so that it doesn’t tug you back by those emotional chords anymore; so that you’re free to move forwards.
So, that is the second line of attack that I would take in helping you to overcome anxiety, or depression also. Although, with depression, we’re more looking at any beliefs that may be running around in your head at an unconscious level that may be causing problems. And so, when I’m helping someone with depression, we’re really looking at any of those beliefs; and when we come across a belief that looks like it’s causing problems, then we use hypnosis to access the memories to find out where you learned to believe whatever that belief is so that we can resolve that, both intellectually and emotionally.
Now, the other part of the problem is that you, like the rest of us humans, develop habitual ways of looking at things and thinking about things. And so, what we need to do is to give you some tools that are helpful in helping you to undo the habitual side of your problem and to form a whole new habit. And the way I do that is a real integration of mindfulness, and self-hypnosis, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Essentially, here, what I’m helping people to do is to habituate new neural pathways in the brain – ones that feel a lot better than the ones that are currently being used.
So, it’s these three, I guess, fairly independent approaches that I work together with each person in quite a different way. One way is just using pure suggestion; and that’s what we do on the CD so that you receive suggestions about being more calm, more relaxed, and able to see things in a more positive light. The second approach is resolving the root cause of the problem; looking at what’s really driving it at an unconscious level. And the third approach is the building of new neural pathways. I give you tools and techniques that you can use so that you can consolidate the changes you made and you improve progressively long after you finished seeing me in therapy.
So, I hope I have been able to explain the ways I use hypnotherapy in helping people to overcome anxiety and depression.