About Hypnotherapy

 

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Hypnotherapy enables you to harness the immense power of your own mind for your own positive wellbeing. Contrary to myths of “altered states” or “mind control”, hypnosis is a natural state of focused awareness in which you become more responsive to suggestions, both your own and those of the therapist – but only those you choose to accept! With evidence-based cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy, you and the therapist work together to decide on what is best for you and you take an active role in your therapy. You learn to use your mental powers for you own greater benefit, while the therapist uses her expertise and skills to guide your progress and facilitate the therapeutic process. You are in control at all times and you decide what your therapy goals are. The “down-side” is that this is no “magic pill” – you will need to take responsibility for your own health and progress and put in a certain amount of “work” for yourself. So this is not for someone looking for a “quick-fix” and expecting the therapist to “fix” them. The up-side is that it will be immensely rewarding and will provide you with skills you can transfer to many areas of your life, giving you a greater sense of self-confidence and self-efficacy.

The experience of hypnotherapy is usually relaxing and empowering. It is totally safe, provided (as with any treatment or therapy) that it is used in a responsible and professional manner. It is also drug-free! In fact, it has been described as a “non-deceptive mega-placebo”, ie. it harnesses the mind’s own innate powers to effect a cure! And it is also one of the briefest of psychological therapies, on average requiring between 4 to 6 sessions, so it can be much more cost-effective than many other therapies. So, can you think of any reason why you shouldn’t give it a try?

Information on what hypnotherapy can help with, answers to some frequently asked questions, and some other useful information are given below.

What Can Hypnotherapy Help With?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  What is hypnosis?
  How does it work?
  What does hypnosis feel like?
  What if I can’t be hypnotised?
  What if I can’t visualise very well or I don’t have much imagination?
  What is a “trance”?
  What if I disagree with the suggestions being given?
  Can I be made to do things against my will?
  Can I get stuck in hypnosis?
  Can a hypnotherapist “cure” my problem?
  How long will it take? / How many sessions will I need?
Other Useful Information
  What is “Clinical” Hypnotherapy? / What is “Evidence-Based” Hypnotherapy?
  Why “Cognitive-Behavioural” Hypnotherapy?
  What evidence is there that hypnotherapy is effective?
  What is Hypnotic Regression? / What is Hypnoanalysis?
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What Can Hypnotherapy Help With?

Hypnotherapy can help with a wide range of conditions and problems.

Research findings provide the most support for the use of hypnotherapy in:
– Anxiety conditions (fears, phobias, panic attacks, social anxiety, performance anxiety)
– Pain management (eg. arthritic, dental)
– Sleep problems
– Certain stress-related conditions (eg. IBS, asthma, skin conditions, migraine)

Hypnotherapy is also frequently used to help with:
– Unwanted habits or behaviours
– Habitual worry
– Public speaking / Stage fright
– Sports or other skills performance
– Exam or interview nerves
– Presentation nerves
– Chronic tension
– Low self-confidence/self-esteem
– Assertiveness
– Creativity
– Stress reduction/management
– Anger management
– Emotional reactivity
– Habitual negative thinking
– Improved relaxation skills
– Problem-solving skills
– Setting and accomplishing goals

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is essentially a state of enhanced suggestibility. It can be viewed as a naturally occurring state in which the critical faculties of the mind are calmed and the attention is focused inwardly in the imagination. In hypnotherapy, the focus is on the therapeutic suggestions, whether they be of physical sensations, mental imagery, or positive thoughts and feelings. You experience a state similar to hypnosis when you are lost in a day-dream, intensely absorbed in a piece of music, or when just falling asleep or waking up from sleep. Dr. James Braid (1795-1860), an eminent Scottish physician who first coined the phrase “hypnosis” and debunked much of the psychospiritual misconceptions and misleading notions surrounding it, described it as “focused attention on a dominant expectant idea”, pure and simple!

How does it work?
In hypnosis, you will be given suggestions that will help you achieve your goals for treatment. It is important that you imagine going along with the suggestions rather than analysing and judging them. The process of inducing hypnosis is designed to help you suspend your analytical and critical thought processes and any negative or unhelpful beliefs you have about hypnosis or your abilities to change. By bypassing the mind’s critical faculties, you are able to establish new beliefs, new positive ways of thinking and feeling, and new ways of behaving and acting in previously problem situations. Like learning a new skill (eg. playing the piano, learning to play golf), learning new thoughts, feelings and actions takes practice, persistence, motivation and a positive attitude. Although it may seem common-sense, there is now scientific evidence in the area of brain science called neuroplasticity to show that practices like mindfulness and meditation – which have much in common with techniques used in hypnotherapy – can bring about actual physical changes in the brain, as new nerve connections are established and reinforced.
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What does hypnosis feel like?
People describe different experiences of hypnosis and there is no single specific feeling to describe that experience. In fact, hypnosis is actually more of a mental state of focus, imagination and belief. However, feelings commonly associated with hypnosis include feeling both mentally and physically relaxed, physical sensations of heaviness, or conversely lightness or “floating”, feeling calm and peaceful, feelings of warmth, feeling detached from thoughts and outside influences, feelings of mental stillness or clarity, losing track of time or time seeming to pass more quickly. Some people worry that they will fall asleep in hypnosis, or that they will be somehow “unconscious” and out of control. People rarely fall asleep in hypnosis, as they are being asked to focus on a variety of therapeutic suggestions, which requires concentration. Sometimes, if you become very relaxed, you may feel as though you have drifted off and not heard some of the suggestions given to you. However, this is usually only for a few seconds, then you become aware of the therapist’s voice and words again. It doesn’t matter, as the therapist will repeat suggestions in several different ways to make sure you hear and can follow them. While in hypnosis, you remain consciously aware of everything that is going on. You are always in control and you can bring yourself out of hypnosis any time you like. However, usually it feels so comfortable and peaceful that you wouldn’t want to!
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What if I can’t be hypnotised?
In principle, everyone can be hypnotised, so long as they want to be. You should be able to benefit from hypnotherapy if you relax, maintain a positive attitude, and go along with the hypnotherapist’s suggestions. As mentioned above, hypnosis is essentially a state of heightened suggestibility. It is true some people are generally more suggestible than others. However, the vast majority of people are able to respond to hypnotic suggestions. And even those small number of people who have so-called “low responsiveness” to suggestions can be trained to become more responsive to hypnotic suggestions. Hypnotic skills training is something that is generally incorporated into the initial hypnotherapy sessions, to help you find it easier and quicker (with increasing experience of the process) to enter hypnosis. You may also be given self-hypnosis techniques to practice at home, which will help you respond to suggestions more quickly and easily.
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What if I can’t visualise very well or I don’t have much imagination?
Some, but not all, hypnotherapeutic techniques involve imagining or visualising mental images. Some people worry that they are not very good at picturing mental images or that they need to be very creative and imaginative to respond to hypnotic suggestions. Well there are many different alternative types of suggestions that can be used, such as positive statements, feelings/emotions and bodily sensations. But, quite often, people underestimate their ability to visualise mental images or use their imagination. Where did you go on holiday last year? Can you recall a place you went to, or a beach where you went swimming? What is your favourite movie? Can you describe a particular scene or character from it? If you close your eyes, can you recall and describe what your living room looks like? These are all examples of mental imagery. Even people who may find these exercises difficult can still develop greater visualising ability with practice. However, for the purposes of hypnotherapy, you really don’t need to picture things in graphic detail – you just need to get a general impression or feeling of the ideas being suggested. And importantly, if you have a positive attitude, you will probably do much better than you may have anticipated!
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What is a “trance”?
Trance is historically a word that has been used in association with hypnosis, and the popular assumption is that hypnosis involves some kind of altered state of consciousness (or unconsciousness) – trance – in which the person is out of touch with the world around them and their mind is under the control of the hypnotist/hypnotherapist. These assumptions are complete misconceptions and are largely due to the “sensationalist” images of hypnosis perpetuated by stage comedy hypnotists, film and television, and other entertainment and commercial media. There remains controversy among hypnotherapy researchers and practitioners whether hypnosis involves some kind of altered state of consciousness (“trance”) or is a naturally occurring state involving focused attention, inward absorption, and use of the imagination (the so-called “state” versus “non-state” argument). Some therapists simply use the word “trance” interchangeably with “hypnosis”

Whatever the view or theory, it doesn’t really matter, the results are the same. The important points to make are that, during hypnosis or “trance”:
– you are not “out of touch with reality”;
– you can come out of hypnosis whenever you want to;
– your mind is not “under the control” of the hypnotist/hypnotherapist;
– you cannot be made to do anything you don’t want to do;
– you can’t get “stuck in” hypnosis or a “trance”.
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What if I disagree with the suggestions being given?
During your initial consultation, and also throughout your treatment, you and the hypnotherapist will together identify suggestions that you feel comfortable with and are consistent with your goals for treatment. Hypnotherapy is a collaborative process, not a dictatorship! And even if the hypnotherapist inadvertently uses a suggestion that you find uncomfortable or inappropriate, you can simply ignore it or change it mentally into something you are happier with. The hypnotherapeutic processes will incorporate many types and variations of suggestions to help you accomplish the changes you want to make. So you don’t need to feel you will be missing out if you ignore or miss one or two!
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Can I be made to do things against my will?
This is a common misconception and is the result of the false images of hypnosis perpetuated by stage comedy hypnotists, film and television, and other “sensationalist” types of media. Whilst in hypnosis you are aware of everything that is going on and are completely under your own control. You choose to go into hypnosis or not, and you choose whether to respond to suggestions or not. No-one can make you do anything you wouldn’t want to do and no-one can make you do anything that you are not aware of doing or cannot control.
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Can I get stuck in hypnosis?
This is another misconception perpetuated by entertainment-type “hypnosis”, which has nothing to do with hypnotherapy or hypnosis as experienced for therapeutic purposes. No-one has ever become “stuck” in hypnosis. You can bring yourself out of hypnosis any time you want. If you go very deeply into hypnosis so that you feel very deeply relaxed and/or detached from the “outside world”, you may feel as though you don’t want to or are not able to “come back” very quickly – you may feel as though you are drowsy or just too comfortable. However, at the appropriate time, the therapist would give you more active suggestions to bring your awareness more fully back to your surroundings. If she didn’t, or if you were practising self-hypnosis at home, you would eventually either “awaken” yourself naturally or just drift off into normal sleep.
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Can a hypnotherapist “cure” my problem?
A hypnotherapist doesn’t “cure” anything. You do that. The therapist provides the guidance, knowledge, skills, experience, proven techniques, environment, personal space, sensitivity, confidentiality, understanding and opportunity to help you to make positive changes in your life. In particular, cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy is not a passive process whereby you simply sit back in a chair whilst the therapist “waves her magic wand”. It is important that you want and are ready to change, are motivated to put in the efforts needed, are patient, have a positive attitude towards your therapy, and are willing to take an active role in your treatment (eg. using your imagination to go along with suggestions, carrying out homework assignments). Research has shown that there is a greater chance of a successful and sustained outcome of therapy when clients are motivated, have positive attitudes and expectations, and actively participate in the therapeutic process. Hypnotherapy is a collaborative process, in which the therapist and client work together to achieve the desired goals of treatment.
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How long will it take? / How many sessions will I need?
The number of sessions needed varies from person to person and according to the particular issue being addressed. Hypnotherapy is considered to be one of the briefest effective forms of psychological therapy available. In general, between 4 and 6 treatment sessions are often sufficient, but fewer or more may be needed in some cases. Your treatment plan and the proposed number of treatment sessions required will be discussed during your initial consultation. As your treatment progresses, your needs will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and your treatment plan and the number of proposed sessions may be modified accordingly. The aim, however, will always be to complete your treatment satisfactorily in the minimum number of sessions.
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Other Helpful Information

What is “Clinical” Hypnotherapy? / What is “Evidence-Based” Hypnotherapy?
Many hypnotherapists proclaim to practice clinical hypnotherapy, but what does this mean exactly? Well, first of all, hypnotherapy is all its guises can profess to be “clinical” in that its intention is therapeutic, ie. for the positive health and wellbeing of the client. This contrasts with stage (comedy) hypnosis, which is purely for entertainment purposes and has little to do with hypnotherapy or any kind of therapeutic process.

Over and above this, however, “clinical” also implies a structured, methodical approach to treatment, the goal of which is an objective (discernable and measureable) improvement in the client’s condition or problem. Therefore, it is important at the outset of treatment that the client and therapist identify and agree on the goal(s) for treatment – ie. exactly what it is that the client wants to change or achieve through hypnotherapy; and also that the client’s goals are in fact realistic and achievable. The therapist will then evaluate the client’s problem and discuss methods and techniques to use to help the client achieve their treatment goal. Once agreed on, this forms the treatment plan – the general guidelines and overall format that the therapy will take. During the course of therapy, progress is usually assessed at intervals, and if necessary, the treatment plan can be modified accordingly.

In this modern age of evidence-based practice, it is important for a clinical approach to also employ techniques and methods that have been shown to be the most effective therapeutically. This might seem obvious, but with many types of “therapy” this is not always the case! In a large meta-analysis of psychotherapies (which looked at several hundred research studies), the most effective therapies were found to be cognitive therapies, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy. At AJR Hypnotherapy, I endeavour to use as far as possible methods and techniques of clinical hypnotherapy that are the most appropriate and effective for each client’s particular problem and for achieving the desired goals of treatment.
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Why “Cognitive-Behavioural” Hypnotherapy?
Cognitive-Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) – sometimes shortened to Cognitive Hypnotherapy – combines two of the most effective psychological therapies around: Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Hypnotherapy. As mentioned above, CBT and hypnotherapy have been found to be among the most effective of a wide range of psychotherapies that were evaluated in a large meta-analysis (a scientific method of analysing a very large number of research studies). CBH is not a new type of hypnotherapy so much as a refinement of many techniques that have been used historically in traditional hypnotherapy, combined with other evidence-based techniques. Furthermore, many of the techniques used in modern Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) were adopted and adapted from methods used traditionally in hypnotherapy.

Cognitive-Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) employs a common-sense approach to the theory and practice of hypnotherapy. It uses hypnosis to help clients change unhelpful behaviours (actions, habits, physiological responses, reactions) and emotions (feelings, sensations) primarily by addressing and changing unhelpful thought patterns and beliefs (cognitions). To help speed up the therapeutic process, a multi-modal (multiple-method) approach is often used which aims to address and help bring about changes in (unhelpful) thoughts, emotions and behaviours from a number of different angles.
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What evidence is there that hypnotherapy is effective?
Hypnotherapy is one of the most researched of all therapies. Hypnosis and/or hypnotherapy have been referenced in over 11,000 scientific studies to date. Research specifically supports its effectiveness in the treatment of anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, habit/behaviour changes (eg. smoking, weight loss), pain management, sleep disorders, stress reduction, confidence building, sports performance, post-operative recovery, and certain physical conditions that are exacerbated by stress (eg. irritable bowel syndrome [IBS]). Evidence for its effectiveness in many other areas (eg. overcoming stage fright/performance anxiety, enhancing creativity, combatting depression) continues to grow.
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What is Hypnotic Regression? / What is Hypnoanalysis?
Hypnotic regression (also called Hypnoanalysis) involves guiding a client, under hypnosis, back in time, usually to some traumatic event or to uncover some “hidden” memory from their past, which is thought to be the cause or origin of a present day problem. The theory is that the event must be uncovered and the associated “repressed” feelings must be released before the client can move on in their life.

This is a largely out-dated theory that can have a disempowering effect on clients. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that “false” (inaccurate or imaginary) memories can be created. More up-to-date theories make a distinction between an “originating” cause and a “maintaining” cause of present day issues. So although a past traumatic event (or series of events over time) may have led to or contributed to a present day problem, the present day problem tends to be maintained by an ongoing belief that was set up in the past. Thus, an event or events in your childhood may have led you to develop the belief “I am useless”. But it is the maintenance of that belief in the present that is holding you back, and this can be dealt with in Cognitive-Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH), by working on examining the evidence for this belief, disputing it and ultimately replacing it with a healthier belief such as “I am a worthwhile person”.

Having said this, some people do find it beneficial to recall and “exorcise” a past trauma or difficult memory. However, the benefits may come from the fact that they believe, having revisited the problem event, that they no longer have a problem. If a client wishes to undergo hypnotic regression in order to gain more understanding about some past traumatic event or negative memory, then this may be a therapeutic option for them. However, the therapist may wish to exercise some caution, as some clients can be re-traumatised by “re-living” a past difficult event. In such instances, this would not be helpful or recommended – indeed it could be more damaging to do so.

In other situations, hypnotic regression can be useful to help a client recall positive (happy, relaxing, comforting) experiences – for example, where a client is very distressed and either cannot immediately recall feeling any better than they do right now, or needs to have a comfortable, “safe place” to go to in their imagination while in hypnosis.

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Satisfaction Guarantee

I cannot guarantee the outcome of therapy, as this depends as much on the client’s motivation, efforts and attitudes as it does on the therapist. However, if I accept you as a client, I will always endeavour to use my professional skills, knowledge and expertise to the best of my ability to help you achieve your goals for therapy; or, if I feel unable to do so, I will refer you to another competent professional as soon as possible. If you are dissatisfied with the service you have received during a treatment session, or you feel that I have not addressed your therapy needs in a thorough, professional and/or competent manner, please let me know within 30 days after your treatment session and I will either give you a refund or provide another session free of charge.