Hypnotherapy is a fantastic way to create powerful changes, but how does hypnotherapy work? In this blog, you’re going to learn just that! First, we start with a little hypnosis.
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is hypnosis plus therapy. So, in order to have hypnotherapy, first you need hypnosis. Hypnosis is a state of mind used to make somebody more receptive to suggestions. Whilst hypnotised, the ‘conscious mind’ is bypassed, and the hypnotist (or hypnotherapist) speaks directly to a clients subconscious mind. That is why hypnotherapy often takes a lot less time than other talking therapies, because change happens on a deeper, subconscious level. To learn more about what hypnosis is and how it works, check out this blog on the topic.
There are many ways that a hypnotherapist can hypnotise their clients, but at the end of the day, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. So, whatever the ‘hypnotic induction‘ method used during a hypnotherapy session, a client will be in their own individual state of hypnosis. Once hypnotised and in a nice deep state of hypnosis, that’s when the ‘therapy’ begins.
There are four key types of therapy that hypnotherapists use, behavioural hypnotherapy, cognitive hypnotherapy, analytical hypnotherapy and regression hypnotherapy.
Changing behaviours and habits with hypnotherapy
Behavioural hypnotherapy is usually the first port of call for most hypnotherapy clients, as many people come for hypnotherapy with a habit or behaviour they would like to change, or a new way of responding they want to develop. Behavioural hypnotherapy approaches help clients to recognise their unhelpful behaviours and replace them with new, healthier behaviours.
A popular term that you may have heard, ‘solution focused hypnotherapy’, fits nicely here too. When a client wants to be rid of an old behaviour or habit, a well-trained hypnotherapist will work from a solution-focused perspective to move that client towards a positive goal or ‘solution’. Generally, behavioural hypnotherapy clients know what they want to be doing instead of their problem behaviour, so it is the hypnotherapists job to clarify that perfect solution, and help move the client forwards to their goal.
To learn more about behavioural hypnotherapy, check out this blog.
Modifying thoughts and beliefs with hypnotherapy
The next type of hypnotherapy approach is cognitive hypnotherapy. This is all about helping clients to recognise and replace unhelpful beliefs, and to gain control over their thoughts. Cognitive hypnotherapy approaches are used to help a client understand what they are currently doing, or thinking, and to understand that there was probably a positive purpose for it originally. However, now that way of thinking no longer benefits the client, those beliefs and thoughts need to be disputed and replaced with new ways of thinking.
Thoughts often lead to behaviours and vice versa. So, a professional hypnotherapist will usually work both behaviourally and cognitively to help clients get the desired result. Many different conditions have both behavioural and cognitive elements, such as; smoking, weight issues, stress, anxiety, phobias, insomnia, pain, and many more. As such, if you are learning hypnotherapy, it is integral that you have a thorough understanding of behavioural and cognitive hypnotherapy approaches.
To learn more about cognitive hypnotherapy, check out this blog.
Gaining insight and subconscious change with hypnotherapy
One of the tools that truly makes hypnotherapy stand out from other talking therapies, is analytical hypnotherapy. Analytical hypnotherapy can help clients to generate insight over the course of just a few sessions, or even one session, where in an analytical psychotherapy session, it could take months or years! Our subconscious mind often knows what is best for us. However, all too often, clients consciously get in their own way. With analytical hypnotherapy, a client can connect to their deep inner insight and learn how best to move forwards to the life they desire.
As well as gaining insight, analytical hypnotherapy methods can also be used to directly create subconscious change. This change process can happen without the client having any conscious understanding of what they need to do beforehand, thus making it a truly powerful approach. Generally, though, a good hypnotherapist will work with behavioural and cognitive hypnotherapy approaches first, before going the analytical route. This is because it is better to ensure the client is aware of what they were doing and what they need to do to reach their goal. Also, the two preceding approaches require less ‘internal processing’ from the client, meaning they will likely get results faster, and without feeling unsettled during subconscious processing, which can occasionally happen.
To learn more about analytical hypnotherapy, check out this blog.
Overcoming past issues with hypnotherapy
The final hypnotherapy approach that most hypnotherapists use with clients, after using the other three, is regression hypnotherapy. Sometimes known as regression to cause, this type of therapy involves connecting clients to past events in order to either gain insight, or so that they can interact with those memories in a different way. Regression is most often used to help with phobias and traumatic events, however, it can be used for a multitude of different purposes, even for positive resource building.
Generally, regression hypnotherapy is a last resort, because most client issues can be dealt with using behavioural, cognitive and analytical hypnotherapy approaches. The majority of clients, even those who have had significant past traumas, can often reach their goals without ever needing to revisit past negative events. That said, regression is the tool that a hypnotherapist would use if behavioural, cognitive and analytical approaches hadn’t solved the problem.
If using regression with clients, ensure that they have first been ‘stabilised’ and have sufficient ego strength and resources to deal with any unhelpful or unwanted experiences that might come up when reconnecting them with past significant memories. Unfortunately, there are some hypnotherapists who do not do this, and end up re-traumatising their clients. There is no good reason for this, and it is very unprofessional. Where possible (and it usually is), leave regression as a last resort, just in case you need to go back to a past event that is keeping them stuck.
To learn more about regression hypnotherapy, check out this blog.
Hypnotherapy is not a one-way therapy, and it is not just ‘done to’ the client. In fact, like any other therapy, the client has to engage too. Many of the world’s top hypnotherapists set clients short and long-term targets, as well as giving them homework. The more engaged a client is in their therapy and change process, the shorter and more effective that process is going to be.
I hope this blog has helped to give you an understanding of how hypnotherapy works. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me personally with any questions you have about learning hypnotherapy.