Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy FAQ
Q: What is self-hypnosis and why should I practice it?
One way of looking at hypnosis is that all hypnosis is essentially self-hypnosis. Think about all those times you caught yourself speaking to yourself, whether it is something encouraging and helpful or self-deprecating and critical. Or the times when you anticipate an event and start imagining in advance all the things that could go wrong. This self-talk and imagination of future events can be seen as self-hypnosis - you are shaping your beliefs and feelings with the running commentary and images.
It follows then that by consciously choosing our self-talk and more helpful scenarios instead of our minds running on auto-pilot we can change how we feel. Self-hypnosis can be applied to practice changing the things we say to ourselves, or it can be practiced as a relaxation skill, making it possible for us to have more control over our physiological, emotional and mental states. Practicing self-hypnosis at home will lead to accelerated improvement and will also enhance the work during the sessions.
Q: How many hypnotherapy sessions will I need and how frequently?
This depends on what you are seeking therapy for. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy is designed to support you in making the changes you want in as little time as possible. As every inidividual has unique needs, every person receives a tailored treatment plan after a detailed consultation. This is usually an estimate of how many sessions will be required, but if you are actively involved and practice at home, this can be sped up.
Depending on the issue you'd like to work on, you might require as little as 3 sessions, or up to 10. A typical number of hypnotherapy sessions is around 6 sessions. It is advisable to have them as close together, preferably once a week.
Q: Will I lose control while in hypnosis?
This is one of the most common misconceptions about hypnosis - that somehow, another person, a "hypnotist" can make you do things you wouldn't normally do. This is simply not the case. By contrast, learning self-hypnosis can help you gain greater control over your thoughts and emotions.
Q: Is there any proof that therapy works?
Both Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and hypnosis have a strong evidence base for their effectiveness, and are most widely researched out of all the "talking therapies". An extensive body of clinical research shows us the best available Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and hypnotherapy interventions for particular conditions.
There is very little research on energy work however. Most of the evidence for energy healing comes from anecdotal sources. It would be great if we could base all of our treatments on evidence. However, it hasn't been possible to research every single modality and therapeutic strategy. This would require a lot of work and funding.
In reality, most therapists employ a mixture of evidence-based practices, and those that are known to work from experience, adjusting to the needs of individual clients.
Q: What is conditioning and why is it important?
It probably sounds familiar and if "Pavlov's dogs" come to mind - you're on the right track. In brief, conditioning is a type of learning where two experiences become associated together either through repetitive co-occurence or through a one-off intense experience where they've co-occurred.
For example, someone who's been in a war zone and experienced strong fear during bombings might associate the sound of civil defence sirens that were on at the same time, with fear, although the sirens themselves don't pose any danger. Years later when they're out clubbing and the siren comes on as part of a song, they might experience extreme anxiety although there are no bomber planes and they felt happy just a moment ago. In other words, we respond to a situation as if the past situation is happening. Notice that consciously the person knows that they're safe and yet their body can respond in panic. This mechanism underlies a lot of different issues we might face. Luckily, it can also be used constructively, to resolve these learnt anxieties and re-learn healthier responses.
Q: Why is it important to listen to the guided audios at home?
To complement therapy sessions, I often provide guided audios for you to listen to at home in your own time. This enables you to practice the skills you are learning between sessions, whether you've come for help with your anxiety, to perfect your public speaking or athletic performance. A way to look at many of the issues we face is that they are aberrant responses that we've learnt in the past through conditioning.
Hypnosis isn't magic. Guided audios enable you to rehearse new responses e.g. a relaxation response to a certain word or a physical gesture, usually referred to as the relaxation trigger or anchor. This learning occurs through repetition of co-occurence of deep relaxation and the trigger. So later on we can apply our relaxation trigger any time we feel anxious, to induce an immediate shift in how we feel, think and behave. Similarly to the sirens described above, this has a more automatic effect than simply thinking "I need to relax" which by itself - as you're probably aware - wouldn't work.