What is Hypnosis?
The National Council for Hypnotherapy describes hypnosis in the following way:
‘Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state that we all experience at various times and in various depths throughout the day. The experience of hypnosis has been described in many ways but is often explained as a streamlined state of focused attention. Many people describe hypnosis as feeling similar to daydreaming, when they are neither fully alert, nor asleep. Everyone’s experiences and therefore descriptions of hypnosis will vary because all trance states feel different to different people…..Some people describe hearing every word the therapist says, while others find their mind wanders; many people lose track of time when they are in hypnosis. How aware or unaware you are during the process is unimportant and does not affect the efficacy of the session.’
The experience of being in trance is therefore a feeling that you probably will already be familiar with. Even the lightest of trances can be incredibly beneficial, as here we have more direct access to the Subconscious brain, which is usually shielded to us by our very active Conscious brain. During trance, the Conscious brain is encouraged to relax, and both minds are able to focus on the same beneficial thing. We can utilise this stage to encourage positive change, specific to each client.
This very natural state is similar to what we experience during our REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is when we process all of our new or stressful experiences from the day before, so you can begin to see how useful it might be to emulate at times! We can encourage our brain to continue the processing of stress and stored negative patterns of behaviour, in a climate of our control.
Origins of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy/ Clinical Hypnosis
‘Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a model of excellence that uses interventions that WORK.’
The origins of using hypnosis in a clinical setting began with a German doctor, Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815.) Although not particularly successful in his medical treatments using the therapy during his own lifetime, he began the process of determining the role that imagination and suggestion could play in the mind of a sufferer, and the term/ word ‘mesmerised’ was coined after his death.
The foundations of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) are supported by the approaches of several notable sources. The known founder of Clinical Hypnotherapy is Milton Erickson, a Psychiatrist, who was a firm believer in finding solutions. Between the 1950’s up until the end of his life in 1980, he had continued to develop and refine his techniques in the practice of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy.
From the early 1980’s, and influenced by his work, Psychologists Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer continued to develop the idea of focusing on wellness, and finding solutions. They expanded these techniques and developed the use of ‘The Miracle Question,’ to allow clients to focus on their preferred future, rather than the illness itself. These techniques provide the basis for Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) and for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.
In addition to this, much research has been done into the benefit of explaining the neurology, the science of the client’s brain, making SFH a ‘brain-based’ therapy. The client has an understanding of how their own brain works, why their issues have manifested, and therefore what can be done about them.
In the early 1990s, David Newton developed a brand new approach to Therapeutic Hypnosis. This brought together all of the most successful elements of the approaches outlined above, the solution-focused approach, hypnosis and the neuroscientific understanding about the brain- and formed Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.
Thousands of people have benefitted from it since, and will continue to benefit!
What happens during the Initial Consultation?
This is simply a time that we spend getting to know one another! I have a few questions, and at this stage we will generally discuss what encouraged you to seek therapy, but the extent/depth in which we do this is totally up to you.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is primarily concerned with how to help you move confidently and comfortably forward in your life, towards your goals, and to this end, after the initial consultation, we do not focus on your past issues. For some people, this is a relief, as they have potentially spent years discussing their very difficult past experiences and challenges, but understandably, to some clients, this is a different and perhaps unusual way to approach their problems!
In SFH we have a good reason for working in this way. We do not give any of our precious time or energy to the problem, we spend the time instead focusing on the practice of wellness. This is when the Client feels at their best, their most resilient and when the solutions that will ultimately allow them to regain control of their life, will present themselves.
The way that we form and strengthen our behavioural patterns is to keep using them- just like building a muscle! So every time we form a new pattern, and we use that pattern, it becomes stronger. In traditional talking therapies, a person is asked to discuss a problem over and over again, in detail and with emotion, and modern studies have begun to show that this can actually produce a barrier to moving forward healthily. We can make sense of this by imagining ourselves walking through a forest on a very well-trodden path. If you keep walking that path, it becomes deeper, wider. But if you choose to create a new path, trample your way in a different direction, the old path becomes overgrown, and eventually, it disappears. Such is true for our neuropathways and patterns. This is how we strengthen our memories, how we learn and how we consolidate our new knowledge- through repetition.
As I have previously mentioned, I came to this from a counselling perspective, and I know how important it is to spend time recognising your feelings about events that have happened in the past, and feel supported. That is what this first session is about; I want to understand why you’re here.
But after this first week, I won’t ask you to focus on those reasons again. Because in Solution -Focused Hypnotherapy, our primary concern is to help you feel stronger, move you forward, and to do this we need to forge new paths together.
What does a session look like?
Each session is 55 minutes long. Firstly, I will ask you to consider and reflect upon your past week, focusing on all of the positives, big and small, that will have occurred. We move on to positively prepare the mind for hypnosis, using visualisation and guided conversation. This is very beneficial, and ensures the best possible outcomes from Hypnosis.
Hypnosis typically lasts for about 20-25 minutes.
Between each session the client is asked to listen to a hypnosis download every evening as they fall asleep. Think of this like a teeny bit of therapy that you can benefit from every day- don’t skip it, it is very important!
I am currently working both in-person from my clinic space at Cockenzie House, and online using Zoom. I have had huge success working online- please don't feel that working this way is a compromise as it has proven to be a very effective platform for therapy.
If you would like a quick Zoom tutorial prior to your session, I am more than happy to help!
Will I be in control?
Yes, always! Clinical Hypnotherapy is not stage therapy. There are no swinging watches, there are no embarrassing chicken dances. The client is always aware and fully in control of their own actions. Although some studies do tell us that some clients find it easier than others to quickly relax into hypnosis, almost all do benefit from it. If you can daydream, you can be brought into hypnosis. It is a very similar feeling to losing yourself in a good book, daydreaming whilst walking, or driving along a route that you’ve been down many times before.
You might perhaps lose track of time, but it is always very relaxing, and most people find it enjoyable!