Psychotherapy & Hypnosis
Most people have some understanding of Psychotherapy but may be less familiar with Psychotherapy that involves hypnosis. There are a lot of myths and mysteries about hypnosis. Some people may have seen a stage show, and have certain ideas about hypnosis. Also, people may believe that all hypnosis is good for is for changing habits such as smoking, or dealing with fear of flying. However hypnosis it is a powerful tool for facilitating deeper therapeutic change. This section aims to provide a bit of information on Psychotherapy and the use of Hypnosis.
What is Psychotherapy and is it for me?
Psychotherapy has been around for over 100 years, originating with Sigmund Freud's Psychoanalysis and, since then, has diversified into many different types. Psychotherapy is a type of psychological treatment that helps individuals experiencing mental health conditions and emotional challenges. Psychotherapy is able to reduce symptoms and distress but can help identify and address psychological root causes that lead to mental health conditions and emotional challenges and help people function better, improve emotional well-being and facilitate healing from life trauma.
You can read a little more about Psychotherapy on the UKCP website, here.
Psychotherapy is similar to Counselling as both are talking therapies, and sometimes the distinction may be blurred, as many counsellors offer psychotherapeutic counselling, and psychotherapists may occasionally offer treatments that are less focussed on deeper emotional and psychological issues and more on just listening to a client.
Psychotherapists work in many different ways. Talking is a feature of all psychotherapies, but there may be differences in the amount of conversation, and some therapists work with art, clay, bodywork and other nonverbal approaches to help clients learn about themselves and grow towards freedom from conflicts. The important thing to remember is that psychotherapists work towards the well-being of the client.
There are different perspectives and philosophies to working with clients. I am working from a person-centred perspective, in which I view clients as capable of growth and change and value their autonomy, individuality, and right to self-determination. By helping clients in each of these areas, I can help ensure that clients working with me psychotherapeutically can achieve goals that matter to them and experience emotional well-being and freedom from the problems that brought them to the party in the first place.
What is Hypnosis and how does it work?
The public often know about hypnosis through popular stage shows on TV or from other entertainment. Such representations often gives a misleading picture of hypnosis as sensational, mysterious, or even worrying. The idea of a hypnotist having a special power to make people do things that they are not aware of is often how people think about hypnosis, raising suspicions or fears of losing control. Based on scientific evidence modern day hypnotherapists view hypnosis as a state of focused attention and heightened suggestibility, often accompanied by deep relaxation. During hypnosis, a trained therapist can guide their client into a state of focused attention, a trance-like state, where the conscious mind becomes less active, allowing the therapist to communicate directly with the subconscious.
Think about driving a car or a bike or any other activity. We often do these things in a state of focussed attention thinking about other things while performing the task (e.g. driving a car or making a cup of coffee) - and only switching back to the task at certain times. Much of the brains functioning is automatic, including how we store and retrieve memories or activate certain beliefs and patterns of behaviour. By accessing this automatic level hypnosis can help clients make changes to the patterns that are causing clients distress or conflict.
Some practitioners of hypnosis work with scripts for particular problems, such as stopping smoking, anxiety, or insomnia or to boost self-confidence and help clients with more entrenched issues that stem back to childhood. My approach to working with hypnosis is to put the psychotherapeutic element first. Hypnosis is one of a number of tools that can help clients with change. Therefore I do not to assume that one size of script fits all clients. I work individually with clients to facilitate change using hypnosis that is person-centered, and that contributes to clients overall growth as a person, helping them reach their personal potential.
What is the difference between Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a type of psychotherapy. The way I work is based on the training I received in hypnotherapy at the National college for hypnosis and psychotherapy. This training focussed very much on training in psychotherapy using the skills of hypnosis to facilitate change to clients problems that are often more deep-seated. This contrasts with training in the use of hypnotic instruments only in which the deeper aspects of people's problems may be ignored by treating the symptoms using a script but not the root causes. As I am currently continuing my training towards UKCP accreditation (the highest level of psychotherapy training) I am committed to using hypnosis to facility change psychotherapeutically.
What happens during a typical session?
Sessions vary depending on the stage of therapy, and may not necessarily involve a great deal of hypnosis. Other sessions may be more strongly focussed on hypnosis.
Clients often bring important things at the start of the session that require attention to where they are currently. Sometimes time spent listening and talking through particular experience is an important part of the healing process. At other times, based on the client's sharing of experience, hypnosis can be planned for specific purposes, based on previous sessions or form what a client brings within a session.
Importantly any use of hypnosis will only happen with clients fullest consent and will only be suggested if there is a purpose and a goal relevant to the client's life. In some cases clients close their eyes during hypnosis or they may keep their eyes open. In other cases clients may not remember the hypnosis part of a session, and may come back into the room feeling refreshed confident or noticing some change but are unable to put their fingers on what exactly has changed. Often clients start to notice after the session that the problem has lessened, that they view the world differently, enabling them to experience the possibilities that change brings and contributing to healing and growing. After some time they find their original problem has been resolved, and are curious to look for ways of addressing other issues.
The best way to know what a session is like is to try out an experience. I work with clients with respect to their dignity and their comfort zone, and introduce hypnosis at a pace that feels safe to clients with their fullest consent.