The first time you go to see a Solutions Focused Hypnotherapist; it is unlikely that you will experience trance (hypnosis). That's because we like to spend a little time getting to know you and your reason for seeking help. The Initial Consultation meeting will last for about an hour and during that time, you will have the opportunity to find out more about the process, how many sessions you might need etc. We will talk about the brain in a way that you will understand and you will begin to see what is happening in your mind in the context of your issue, be that stress, anxiety, depression, a fear or phobia, a habit, a desire to be thinner, fatter or simply a feeling that you could do things a little bit differently in life. That understanding will really help you and we will go back to it at every opportunity during subsequent sessions. At the end of the initial consultation you will receive a relaxation audio download, or CD to take home. There is no obligation here, together we can discuss if hypnotherapy is for you. And in my practice, this session is completely free!
Thereafter, the sessions will be in two parts. The first half of the session is the talking bit, guided by your hypnotherapist. It is always relaxed, informal and often fun but of course, confidential. The second half is where you will experience hypnosis starting with a wonderful whole body relaxation. You will still be able to hear and you will be aware of noises and things happening in the environment around you, but you will be less interested in them. It's a bit like that feeling you get when you are fully engrossed in something like a book, or a film, or talking to a good friend; so engrossed that you become unaware of time passing. This is what we aim to replicate during hypnosis. It is a bit like relaxing on the sofa and listening to a good story on the radio.
When you are in a state of hypnosis (we refer to this state as ‘trance’), you will feel as if you are deeply relaxed and in a pre-sleep or daydreaming state of mind. You will be fully aware and in control at all times. Whilst your body and mind are relaxing, there is a lot going on under the surface deep within your brain – just as when you are sleeping; your brain is working very hard. In this state, you have access to your subconscious mind, at the same time as being able to maintain the link to your conscious mind. And in this state, we are able to bypass all of the normal waking defences of the brain, sometimes referred to as the Conscious Critical Factor or CCF (in a normal awake state, a conceptual or imaginary barrier exists between the conscious and subconscious filtering out anything that doesn’t match with our sense of self. In trance, this barrier comes down allowing new ideas and patterns of thought to enter the subconscious). Thus your mind becomes more open to helpful suggestions and your own inner dialogue. And my job is to guide you gently in making the changes you want to make.
We do this by using ‘guided imagery’ and this will help you to feel more and more relaxed. Of course, it is not always easy to relax, and so the hypnotherapist starts by using a progressive relaxation that helps you to relax every muscle in your body followed by techniques to help you get more deeply relaxed. Thereafter, we use imagery that will specifically help you and your subconscious to make the necessary changes. And we always end the trance session with a story or metaphor that continues the process of suggestion whilst in trance. At the end of this 25 – 30 minute session on the couch, we will gently invite you to return to full awareness.
When you come back to full awareness, you will feel rejuvenated, calm and refreshed. Whilst you are likely to enjoy the experience and not particularly want to get up from the couch, you will immediately return to full functioning mode and certainly be able to get yourself home or back to work!
After every session, it is important that you find some time every day to practice the relaxation exercise using the audio that you have been given. I encourage people to think of hypnotherapy in the same way they would think about going to the gym to strengthen a particular muscle group. You have to do it regularly and repeatedly to build the power and strength of the muscle. It is the same with the mind!
There are different types of hypnotherapy around. In my hypnotherapy practice, I use something called ‘Solutions Focused Hypnotherapy’. I particularly like this approach because, as the name suggests, if focuses on solutions rather than problems. For example, people often come and tell me what they don't want: “I don't want to be fat”, “I don't want to feel this way anymore”, “I don't want to be a smoker for the rest of my life”, “I want to feel less tired, less overwhelmed” etc. These statements have their origin in problem speak and arise from problem-focused thoughts, and we do that because the brain has a preference for problem talk. But we know that thinking about a problem is often unhelpful and causes more stress. The solutions focused approach gradually moves thought processes and dialogue towards how you want things to be or what parts of the problem are already resolved or are already going well. It doesn’t ignore the problem, but it does encourage a different way of thinking about it, and in so doing, begins the process of changing neural pathways and re-programming the mind (see “I’ll be happy when….”)
If you want to know more, or have any questions about the process of Solutions Focused Hypnotherapy, please do get in touch.