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Complementary Healthcare Information Service - UK

Hypnotherapy - An Overview

Article written by Helen Lesser

 If you have been looking into the possibility of having treatment, or thinking about training to become a hypnotherapist, you will have noticed many different types of therapy available (for example -curative, clinical, evidenced-based, cognitive, eclectic) as well as those which diversify into other therapies (NLP, EFT or counselling for example).

When someone says they are an engineer, you know to ask more; to find out whether they may be a mechanical engineer, electrical, genetic or domestic engineer all very differentjobs.  The same applies to hypnotherapists.  We may all use a version of hypnosis, but we utilise the tool in different ways, to differing degrees and with varying purposes.

In an attempt to help you to decide which kind of hypnotherapy interests you, so you can channel your investigation more easily,  I have divided the most common therapeutic directions into what I see to be three main categories the what, the when and the why.

  • The what what are you feeling, what do you want to change, in whatway can these feelings be stopped? 
  • The when when did the symptom start, when was the first time youexperienced these feelings, when do they cause most difficulty for you?  
  • The why why did you react to that event by carrying the experience with you, why have your life event(s) left these effects within you, why does itcontinue to affect your life?

Cognitive or suggestion-based hypnotherapy, along with those that deal more with the conscious, analytical, thinking mind can provide quick results with the 'what' - the focus being more on speed of change rather than lasting effects.

Therapy which deals more on a subconscious level (often termed clinical or analytical hypnotherapy) is used to deal with the Initial Sensitising Event or trigger incident (the 'when'), perhaps helping a person to come to terms with past traumas or experiences, explain ordeal with the effects of life events.

When a person knows what triggers a symptom or knows their thought patterns or behaviour are unhelpful but are still unable to change them,  when it is necessary to deal with the 'why',to find out why a person reacted to their life events by developing a symptom or condition, then my preference is to use LCH (often referred to as curative hypnotherapy).  As this is the least common direction, perhaps a couple of examples may help to highlight the differences.

Let's imagine a person attends for treatment of a fear of flying. Scripted or symptom-focused therapy could enable that person to get on a plane and complete an imminent journey.  Visualising a particularly bumpy flight can prove to the person that they can live through such situations and therefore the fear can reduce accordingly.  This client may be helped to understand where their fear started and to rationalise that and a number of subsequent reinforcing events.

But why did they experience the fear in the first place?  Enduring a highly turbulent flight is rarely anyone's idea of pleasure and the stomach-dropping nausea of sudden altitude loss is something not easily forgotten but the vast majority of people will experience heartfelt relief when it's over and enjoy using the experience as a good story to tell.  Some will gain a thrill from the event,similar to enjoying the buzz of extreme fairground rides.  Others will take a while to put the experience behind them but steadily the trepidation of a recurrence reduces  with each subsequent 'safe' experience.

But what of the person who reacts to that situation by being unable to get on a plane without severe distress, or even not at all? Perhaps the phobia is such that the thought of going anywherenear an airport or a therapist who may 'make them' talk about it - is just too awful to contemplate. In this case, does there not have to be some reason why they reacted to that situation so much more strongly than everyone else? For such a person as this, dealing withthat reason, correcting the 'why' rather than the 'what' is the simplest, quickest and gentlest route.

What of a person suffering with negative thoughts?  Such a way of thinking can have serious impact on their confidence, self-esteem, self-assurance and can eventually lead to depression, anhedonia, crippling anxiety or social phobia.  While some clients will respond well to the use of affirmations and positive self-talk, others find this exacerbates the negativity.  Logically, they know that the only reason they are having to use these positive messages is because there is a problem there, so such affirmations only serve to reinforce the fact that things are not as they should be.

Talking through the times in their life when they have experienced particular feelings or negative emotion  can enable them to put those particular events to rest.  Time-machines, sadly, are hardto find so going back to un-happen the past is not an option!  Some hypnotherapists may use visualisation to enable a person to re-view or reframe those memories in one way or another.   Alternatively, identifying and reinterpreting the incorrect Core Beliefs which caused the individual to react to those situations so strongly, enables the effects of all the dozens or perhaps hundreds of reinforcing events to be automatically and swiftly neutralised.

Subsequent to that correction/reinterpretation, a person does not have to work to think positively, does not need to spend time altering their outlook or challenging their viewpoint one does not need to correct something that is not wrong!

Our understanding of the subconscious and of hypnotherapeutic interventions is constantly improving and advancing and all therapists need to pay constant attention to the progress tokeep their skills and understanding up to date.   If you are wondering whether to train tobecome a hypnotherapist yourself I would have no hesitation in saying 'Go forit' I've been in full time practice since 1982 and continue to find my job fascinating,challenging and immensely satisfying.

About the author:

Helen Lesser has run a successful private practice in Birmingham since qualifying in 1982. During her continued training and years in practice, Helen has significantly extended the boundaries and understanding of the theories underpinning curative hypnotherapy and has developed techniques and training methods which greatly facilitated the learning of Curative techniques, making the application of the therapy accessible to far more people. Evenutually, she took over as Principal of the Hypnotherapy Training College in 2001. Helen is an accredited member of the National Hypnotherapy Society and a full member of the Hypnotherapy Association. She is a registered Supervisor for the Hypnotherapy Society, a certified Examiner in Curative Hypnotherapy. She was continuously re-elected on to the Executive Committee by the members of a hypnotherapy membership association from its founding in 1985 until she retired from office in 2005. Using the experience and knowledge gained from private practice, along with the frequent interactions with other hypnotherapists and LCH practitioners to keep skills and knowledge up to date, Helen is constantly seeking ways to improve and advance both the application and the teaching of this unique therapy. A prolific contributor to the Knowledge Base (the information resource for LCH practitioners) Helen designs and facilitates workshops, conferences, guided discussions and complete training courses for those wishing to learn and qualify as LCH practitioners, hypnotherapists seeking to extend their current skill set and for LCH therapists in continued training or advancing their professional development.

Website: http://www.lesserian.co.uk/helen.htm

copyright © Helen Lesser

 

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