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14 May

Self-Hypnosis vs One-to-One Treatment

If you can do it yourself, why pay for expensive therapy? After all, with DIY jobs around the house you often end up with a better quality job than when you pay a so-called professional to do it for you.

Self-hypnosis is great for those times when you want to just re-program your automatic thinking and behavioural processes. The very act of spending time every day with you, caring for you, in a state of deep relaxation, is hugely beneficial. Using your imagination, in this state of deep relaxation, to set up an intention for your future and to plant messages in your subconscious mind without conscious interference is an excellent way to manufacture beneficial change in your life.

When you visit a skilled hypnotherapist you are with someone who is listening to you and caring for you. To have someone listen to your story, without judgement, is of itself hugely therapeutic. You are also with someone who notices details – what you talk about, what you don’t talk about; what your mood state is; and most importantly – a skilled therapist will notice and seek to address the real causes of problems.

Let me give you an example: say you have a problem with confidence.

The self-hypnosis route would perhaps have you repeating a mantra along the lines of “I am filled with confidence in all situations” or “I feel confident and find myself expressing my thoughts and ideas fearlessly in meetings and conversations”. Accompanied, maybe by a visualisation of you, in a situation where you have lacked confidence, behaving in a confident manner and feeling feelings of success and achievement.

A hypnotherapist would probably have you engaging in that sort of visualisation during your therapy anyway, so why bother paying all that money when you can get it for free if you DIY.

Well, for me at least, lack of confidence is not as simple as that. Lack of confidence is about fundamental belief in self, and it is this belief in self, or rather lack of belief in self that I would seek to correct using hypnotherapy. Lack of belief in self is the result of early programming by those adults who had the greatest impact on our development as a young mind. So the problem is quite deep rooted and consequently needs gentle, loving guidance to discover how this lack of belief in self came to be present. In other words it is important to teach, and experience, the huge difference between something you believe about you and something that is true about you. This doesn’t happen with self-hypnosis. So if your lack of confidence is the result of one highly critical parent always finding fault, then therapy would seek to correct this; if it is the result of over protective parents who were excessively fearful of you taking risks – like climbing trees, or going out alone – then therapy has a different problem to solve. There are other reasons why an individual might lack confidence – early classroom experiences with a teacher who doesn’t love children or the job, or a highly sensitive physiology… The problem with self-therapy is the lack of experience at understanding self, and correcting the real problem.

Another area where an experienced therapist is beneficial is in the area of challenge. We are constantly making up ideas about our world that simply aren’t true. More than one person in my consulting room has considered themselves a total failure. They’ve never succeeded at anything and they never will. If you believe that you believe it and because you believe it you will not seek to change it because no one seeks to change what they see as a truth. But if you believe that you always fail at everything you do, doing self-hypnosis to achieve success isn’t addressing the fundamental belief that is in error. It’s like using self-hypnosis to win the lottery and never bothering to buy a ticket.

However, as soon as anyone tells me they are a total failure, or they never succeed at anything, I have to challenge it. And my challenge is always successful and I can always point out several occasions in anyone’s life when they have been successful. They just never see it because their erroneous belief about themselves blinds them to their successes. What I also do is challenge the meaning of success to them. Usually it’s lots of money, promotions, material possessions, good relationships, and so on. They fail to see small successes, like still being alive after x number of years, like having raised beautiful children, like passing a driving test, like honouring others by being punctual, like gifts to charity, like small acts of kindness to strangers… there are successes in everyone’s life. The real problem with feelings of failure in life is an inability to see, to honour, and to appreciate the small successes. Just allowing someone to look at themselves and their life from a different perspective is like lifting a huge burden off their back, and that’s even before the hypnosis starts and is used then to reinforce these new learnings.

So your friendly neighbourhood hypnotherapist is actually providing you with something more than you can do for yourself. The best course of action is to have a consultation or two with a hypnotherapist in order to establish what the real problem is and to receive guidance and training in how to use self-hypnosis most effectively. That way you get the best of both worlds.

Self-hypnosis is highly beneficial and I would encourage you to try it out, just recognise that it has limitations.

Michael J Hadfield D.Hyp., MBSCH

So, what do you think?