Monthly Archives: February 2012
I had a really bad childhood and I don’t remember it all. What if stuff comes up during hypnotherapy that I don’t want to know about or I’m not ready to deal with?
One of the advantages of hypnotherapy is that you and your hypnotherapist are always in control of the situation. A difficult or painful memory will not come up until you are absolutely ready to — and want to — work with it.
Hypnotherapy’s object is to change behavior. To do that we are changing habits by “retraining the brain.” It doesn’t matter what caused the habit to change it. Events like panic attacks can be removed without ever bringing up what caused them. In any case, we always ask the subconscious first if it is ready to handle any memories and scary memories will never surface until you are ready for them. When you are, we’ll examine the memory while keeping you completely blocked from the emotions. You’ll know what you felt, but without feeling scared, pained, fearful, or any sort of negative emotion. Then the emotions themselves are removed. The memories remain, but not the emotions that used to be connected to them.
I’m scared of spiders. It used to be that if I saw one, I’d have a panic attack but now even a picture of a spider causes me to panic. Can hypnosis help me?
What you have is a phobia, specifically arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. While fears and phobias are very similar, a fear is when you get panic attack symptoms that are triggered by something realistic while a phobia is when the panic attack is triggered by irrational and sometimes unknown factors. Usually, as in your case, the phobia will become more and more easily triggered until it becomes a significant problem in everyday life. However, for all the discomfort, a phobia is essentially a habit and very easy to handle in hypnosis. At no point do we bring up the actual feeling of the panic so that the person feels completely safe and comfortable throughout the experience.
Phobias are usually created when someone experiences feeling panicked, terrified, physical pain, or the fear of impending danger and then associates it with something around them, whether or not what they’ve associated the feeling with caused or played a part in creating the negative feeling. Very often the trigger is only marginally related to the original emotion. Since you’ve been scared of spiders since childhood, chances are that it’s based on a psychological experience. But phobias based on truly traumatic experiences, such as abuse or physical trauma are much rarer than people think. You may have been scared by something other than the spider, saw a spider, and “pinned” the blame on it. Maybe someone bullied you with a toy spider and you became scared of the toy and not the person.
However, phobias that develop in adulthood are quite often due not to something psychological, but physiological, i. e., due to hypoglycemia or a lack of sugar in one’s system. This mimics a panic attack and the person associates that shakiness and panicky feeling with something around them. People skip breakfast or eat poorly, get that panicky feeling later, and suddenly they begin to develop a phobia around whatever they were doing or where they were when the feeling hit them — driving, eating a specific food, or taking tests (when a person is already pretty nervous to begin with).
Ironically, for such a potentially life-disrupting condition, a phobia is fairly simple to manage. The technique of systematic desensitization allows for the person to feel absolutely calm and then imagine that when they wake up they’ll no longer have any irrational responses to anything. From then on when the trigger is referred to or seen they associate it with comfort and relaxation and the negative symptoms disappear. The client is able to think about the phobia trigger and the fear is gone.
It will often take one to three sessions for a phobia to resolve. A phobia that was produced by a significant trauma is very different since we need to diffuse the incident and all the additional damage it has caused. This requires more time and may require working in partnership with a psychotherapist.
When you posted earlier that hypnotherapy was only like the theatrical hypnosis shows in that people are hypnotized, I got curious. When you see those shows it’s always a big joke about that person who claims they “can’t be hypnotized” and always is (at least in the show). But really how often does this happen? Are there people who can’t be hypnotized, even if they are coming to you for therapy?
I’ve been doing this since I was 12, a very long time now, and in my experience nearly everyone can be hypnotized. The few exceptions have been those people who really did not want to be hypnotized because they, mistakenly, thought they would lose control. And, I get those people partially under before they are too uncomfortable to continue. The fact is, you are ALWAYS in control. You hear everything that is going on, we talk while you’re in hypnosis, and you can stop the session at any time.
The fact is everyone is in hypnosis everyday. Hypnosis is that 30 minute period before you naturally fall asleep when your imagination becomes more active and your conscious mind is turning inward. Another familiar example is when you’re reading and completely wrapped up in the book. The biggest difference between that type of hypnosis and what we do in my office is that you are focusing on my voice.
When I put you in hypnosis, it feels like a daydream only I’m guiding you through it. At the beginning of the session, we discuss what your goals are or what behaviors you want to change. From this, I learn the language of your subconscious mind which thinks in images. Some people are more visual or kinetic, so I can figure out how to phrase things and what sort of imagery to use. And then, after I put you under, everything I say is what you’ve told me that you want to hear. You’ll hear every word I say although you might drift off once or twice. When I see that, I’ll bring your attention back to me. Everything in hypnotherapy is based on being comfortable and safe.
I’m trying to get healthy but I’m always in a rush and fast food just seems like the easiest option. Can hypnosis help me?
Here we have a few goals to tackle — the first is to get you in control of your schedule so you can get everything you need done comfortably on time and we need to train you so that you no longer think of fast food as an option. Schedules are fairly easy once we discover the right one and avoiding fast food isn’t so hard — imaging driving down a busy street and as far as you’re concerned you don’t see any place that has a drive-thru!
But the underlying issue is making you your first priority and taking control of your life. Luckily, you wouldn’t be asking me this question if you didn’t know that you needed to make the change to a healthy lifestyle.
The way you get through the day is a series of habits and these ones are all relatively easy to change. By the first session we’ll be finding convenient and creative ways to reaching your goals. Making lunches and dinners over the weekend to take to work become second nature. Just the thought of eating a fast-food burger becomes unpleasant once I link it to how every bite can be doing damage to your body. And you won’t leave my office without beginning some sort of exercise regimen even if it’s just stepping side-to-side twenty minutes before you go to sleep at night. We’ll come up with more and it shouldn’t be long before you’re living your life the way you want.
Hypnosis is all about changing habits, getting your subconscious to stop associating something with a behavior that you don’t like — like smoking.
I cannot stop smoking and would like to know if hypnotherapy can work for me. Sam
In nearly every case, yes. The techniques I use have about a 90% success rate and usually take from 2-8 sessions, depending on the situation. Obviously, someone who has been smoking since they were ten takes longer than a 28 year-old who started in college. Ultimately, however, the only deciding factor is if you are really ready to quit now.
First ask yourself “WHY DO I WANT TO QUIT?” If the answer is that my doctor told me to or my wife did, it’s going to take longer because we’re going to be spending a few sessions getting you to want to quit for your own sake.
No matter what, smoking cessation will require you to do some work. I’ll have you cutting down regularly, smoking in unfamiliar and uncomfortable places all while we replace the habit with something positive. If you smoke for social reasons, I’ll teach you to be comfortable without anything in your hands. Breakfast is coffee and a cigarette? You need a better start in the morning to begin with and this is a great time to take control of your health in every way. If your cigarette is your best friend, well, there are a lot healthier ones out there and we’ll find one you like even more.
We’ll need a check-in session three months after we’re done and three months but the six month can easily be done by phone.