Hypnotherapy and how it works with counselling
Hypnotherapy is a powerful therapeutic technique that can be used alongside counselling. It is well known for its ability to work at a deep level with the subconscious mind. Hypnotherapy uses specialist relaxation techniques to support you to enter a state of deep relaxation where the subconscious mind is more open and susceptible to suggestion and change.
When people think of hypnosis, many people think of having their mind controlled, or TV shows that make a person dance around of stage or cluck like a chicken. This is not hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic technique used by an appropriately qualified therapist to help people sustain positive change by making positive suggestions working at a deep level with the subconscious mind.
Hypnotherapy is safe and natural and can be an effective method to support people in making positive changes to their lives. During hypnosis, it can simply feel like being in a very relaxed state, where you are conscious and would be able to stop the therapy at any time if you wished. We all experience these states throughout the day, for example, have you ever driven somewhere and forgotten how you got there? Or have you ever done something automatically without thinking, such as playing a musical instrument, typing on a keyboard or performing a dance routine?
Throughout our day, our minds run on subconscious programs which often give us automatic reactions to situations. Some of these can be positive and helpful, like being automatically able to drive a car. However, there are other programs which may be unhelpful and interfere with us living the life we want.
For example, a person who finds it difficult to say no and automatically agrees to everything without thinking about how it affects them, whether they want to do the request or whether they have enough time.
Counselling and hypnotherapy can help you to understand the reason for behaviours and support you to become more able to stop and notice before responding on autopilot.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.
- Frankl. V (2004)
The subconscious mind
Our subconscious mind often runs on programmes that were established long ago in our childhood. This can create a problem when the old programmes have not been updated and we are relying on maladaptive coping strategies which may have helped us cope in childhood, but are causing problems in our adult lives.
For many people, their subconscious mind may have developed coping strategies in childhood. For some, these could include people pleasing, avoidance or responding with anger as coping strategies to deal with difficult situations. However, as an adult, these strategies may be negatively impacting on their ability to build positive relationships and live a healthy and fulfilling life.
For the person who reacts with anger, this may have been a helpful coping strategy as a child when dealing with a childhood bully but could cause problems if we are still reacting this way in our relationships or at work, for example.
The good news is that the brain is malleable. Change is possible and both counselling and hypnotherapy can be an effective technique for changing learned behaviours and creating new neural pathways in the brain.
Both counselling and hypnotherapy can also be supportive in understanding the root cause of certain behaviours. For people who are unable to access this, there is a technique in hypnotherapy called regression which can help to identify the root cause of behaviours or past events that may have left a lasting impact on our lives. This understanding can for some be the key to understanding ourselves and supporting us in making positive changes in our lives.
You can think of the subconscious mind as an iceberg, as first illustrated by Freud. At the top of the iceberg, there are outward behaviours and reactions to the world and the conscious mind. Underneath the surface are the driving forces of our behaviours, our feelings and subconscious beliefs about ourselves and the world.
Counselling and hypnotherapy
I find that a combination of counselling and hypnotherapy can be particularly helpful. Both can be effective at looking below the surface and understanding the inner workings of the mind. In counselling, this can be done through talking and exploration. Counsellors are skilled at asking particular questions and creating a safe environment for people to explore their inner world and find the solutions to their problems which are right for them.
For people who may find talking difficult, hypnotherapy can be a good starting point and introduction to therapy. It allows you to access your subconscious mind while being guided by a hypnotherapist. It is within the relaxed state that the therapist will talk to you and help you in understanding your inner world, providing positive suggestions to support you in making changes.
Both counselling and hypnotherapy can help support in exploring blocks to change which can often be hidden at a subconscious level. Counselling helps to identify a person's strengths, and abilities and utilise these to support positive change. Good counselling also creates a set of conditions necessary to help support making change.
Counselling techniques and models can also be utilised within hypnotherapy. For example, I like using elements of the person-centred model of counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic models within hypnotherapy.
What can hypnotherapy help with?
Like counselling, hypnotherapy can help with a range of issues. It can help people with anxiety, stress, fears and phobias, sleep, OCD, depression, confidence, self-esteem, relationship issues, weight loss, goal achievement and many more. I have found that hypnotherapy complements counselling and they work very well together.
What to look for in a therapist?
When looking for the right therapist for you, it is important to do the research. Look into someone appropriately qualified and experienced, and who specialises in the area you would like help with. Many therapists offer online and in-person sessions, so look into what is the best fit for you.
The therapeutic relationship is key in supporting you in making and sustaining positive change so you must pick a therapist that is right for you. There are many counsellors on the Counselling Directory who offer hypnotherapy as well as counselling (alternatively you can visit their sister site, Hypnotherapy Directory). Or, if this article resonated with you and you would like to find out more, you can contact me via my profile.