Hypnotherapy for anxieties, fears & phobias

Hypnotherapy for anxieties, fears & phobias

There has been a great deal of published research into the use of hypnosis with fears and phobias. Occasionally, direct suggestions for relief of anxiety or phobias prove effective.

When direct suggestions are ineffective, there are many other hypnotic techniques that may be helpful. Actually, simply the process of induction and deepening generally relieves anxiety.

Hypnotically-facilitated systematic desensitization, a neurolinguistic procedure, is very helpful. The individual learns to gain a sense of internal control over the fearful or anxiety-producing trigger.

Advantages of hypnotic desensitization over traditional behavioral desensitization include enhanced scene visualization and the ability to give posthypnotic suggestions to encourage behavioral responses to the situations that were imagined.

Mental rehearsal of successfully coping with tense situations is another method for treating anxiety and phobic disorders. When low self-esteem is determined to be an aspect of the problem, ego-strengthening methods may be employed.

Because hypnosis exploits the intimate connection between mind and body, it provides relief through improved self-regulation and also beneficially affects the experience of self-mastery.

Hypnosis may be used to age regress patients to experiences immediately before they began to feel anxious. In this way the sequence of reactions can be studied by the individual.

This may aid in pinpointing the situations that elicit anxiety as well as the internal dialogue and imagery that evoke problematic responses. Age regression to times prior to the development of the phobia, when the patient was coping successfully, provide a resource state that can be anchored and brought to consciousness in times of high stress.

Age regression in hypnotherapy provides access to identifying causative conflicts or past experiences that are beyond conscious awareness. When traumatic events are found to be associated with phobic reactions, it may be profitable to facilitate an age regression and abreact the feelings associated with the experience.

Hypnosis has proven effective in the management of preoperative and postoperative anxiety, including situations in which the patient is in a crisis period. This can also apply to the treatment of dental phobia.

One common example of how hypnosis or hypnotherapy can be used to treat anxiety is in work with medical conditions and treatments that characteristically evoke significant anxiety.

These include dental procedures, surgical and post-surgical situations, lumbar punctures and bone marrow aspiration, chronic headaches, cancer, burn pain, gastrointestinal disorders, nausea, respiratory disorders, tinnitus, and obstetrics/gynecology.

One example is reducing anxiety caused by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a medical diagnostic procedure which requires a patient to lie in an enclosed space for about one hour.

This enclosure induces panic and claustrophobic responses in up to 10% of patients undergoing the MRI procedure. There have been many failed diagnostic studies due to patient intolerance, claustrophobia and panic. Hypnosis has been used successfully to alleviate these reactions.

It is interesting to note that phobic patients have been shown to be, on average, more hypnotizable than others. The essence of the phobic experience is not unlike that of the event of hypnosis, and the phobic experience might be a spontaneously occurring panic-filled trance-like or dissociative experience. Hypnotherapy assists the patient to learn more about his dissociative capacity and to learn to control it.

By: Diane Zimberoff

Stress: a state of mind

Everyone talks about being stressed, overwhelmed and anxious. The pharmaceutical and alcohol industries pray that you stay way. We know that unrelenting stress can lead to physical and emotional problems such as hypertension, ulcers, migraines and depression. But what is stress exactly? Is it tangible? Is stress a traffic jam, money or relationship problems?

The way people commonly refer to stress you would think it would at least be something you could see or touch. Maybe stress is more like the common cold; feels lousy for a while, then it either goes away or perhaps you just get distracted and stop thinking about it.

My clients learn that stress is a point of view, or a perspective. Two people experiencing the same situation can respond in very different ways. What pushes the stress button in one person can have no effect on another. So it’s not the situation or event but rather how it is perceived or interpreted.

To take it a step further; everytime someone with the fear of flying, takes off in an airplane, and experiences panic, the phobia becomes more deeply rooted. Over time, with repetition, the fear can spread. Soon the person feels uncomfortable driving to the airport, then he or she experiences discomfort just booking the flight, and then just the initial thought of taking the trip to begin with, can provoke a stressful response.

The bad news is that with repetition fear can spread and become deeply rooted; the good news is that the opposite is also an option. Relaxing confidence can become just as automatic, you can’t have one without the other. Think of the subconscious as a greenhouse, you can grow roses or poison ivy with equal efficiency.

Hypnosis is the only way to clean out your inner house, to uproot and delete the problem patterns, and to then plant the seeds supporting new preferred alternatives. By repeating the hypnotic process daily for a couple of months, the new patterns become just as deeply rooted as the problem patterns were.

My clients experience a series of sessions offering a variety of creatively effective techniques supporting healthy change. Most have never previously tried hypnosis, inspite of this the overwhelming majority feel a significant emotional release from whatever problem they had when they arrived. If you are struggling with a problem please consider hypnosis. It’s a powerful tool that’s easy to do and it feels fantastic.

By: Paul Gustafson RN CH

Depression vs. sadness

There is clinical depression which requires medical intervention and often times long-term medication management.  There are many people who wrestle with symptoms of depression which unfortunately are also routinely treated with medication.

I see individuals in my hypnosis practice who have been struggling for years or even decades with difficult situations, and overtime, they often experience chronic sadness, stress, insomnia, and depression-like symptoms.  Unfortunately the treatment of choice for these individuals is the same for those with clinical depression.

The wonderful benefit of hypnosis is that we have access to a profoundly deep level of thought. In deep-trance hypnosis individuals are guided to cathartically release past struggles, and to begin imagining solutions, strategies, and the success that they want to experience.

This forward thinking imagery is called future-pace technique and this is why it is so effective.  The subconscious does not know the difference between what is real or imagined.  So during hypnosis, the client is guided to envision how all their ultimate success will look and feel.

Clients receive a recording of the session for home reinforcement.  With the repetition, listening to sessions every day, the subconscious begins to establish inner changes supporting what it perceives as a new reality.

Whenever personal struggle the individual has endured that led to the chronic sadness is re-framed in a new light.  It’s amazing how quickly the one’s perspective can change as a result of such a deep mindful moment.  Problems once thought to be insurmountable are quickly seen more as temporary and manageable.

Regardless of the problems a client may carry into my office on their first visit, most feel surprisingly disconnected and free of the problem at the conclusion of the session.  Without repetition, that feeling of freedom is momentary.  By repeating the process daily for a couple of months the space between the new you and the old you continues to grow.

By: Paul Gustafson RN CH

Stress client’s first office visit

I recently had a 32 yr old client, Bob who struggles to find a comfortable life path. His parents divorced when he was very young and since then he has always wrestled with an undercurrent of anxiety, stress and fear.

Bob is intelligent and well read and he has explored mindfulness, meditation and pursued formal hypnosis sessions on a couple of occasions, but has never been able to crack the code to contentment.

My initial observation of Bob was how he seemed to be trapped in this difficult cycle of thought, stuck in the battle, unable to break free. I see this frequently with clients and even experience it myself. We get tracked in emotional patterns and overtime they take on a life of their own. As years go by these patterns become deeply rooted, leading individuals to feeling powerless and trapped.

After giving Bob about 30 minutes to ‘off load’ his story, I explained my theory of patterns and roots, and suggested he view hypnosis as a relaxing way of doing some internal gardening. I told Bob the reason he has struggled for so long is because he was only trimming his problems at the ground level. Whatever approach he used offered a temporary reprieve, but the problems always popped through the surface again. I explained to Bob that this is why diets fail; they are temporary conscious level changes with problems on a much deeper level.

Bob’s previous hypnosis experience was a total failure. Unfortunately there are way too many hypnotic hacks in this field receiving exorbitant rates in exchange for substandard service. He was charged $150 to sit in a woman’s office and listen to a CD. After learning of his experience I was surprised and delighted that he chose to give hypnosis another try.

I assured Bob that not only would I be conducting a live session, but that we would record it so he could revisit his in-office experience at home. The session I chose employed deep trance hypnotic techniques, which enabled Bob to descend beneath the stress and worry. Once I was satisfied that Bob was sufficiently relaxed, I used some pretty simple release therapy techniques that offered him a way to free himself from the past.

Once he imagined the suggested freedom, he was then guided to envision a new future completely free of past difficulties. I suggested during the session that he was free to consider just how amazing his life could be. This is called future-pace technique, a very powerful way to give deep inner thoughts the new blue print of change.

At the conclusion of the session, Bob was smiling and seemed confidently calm. His demeanor was completely different; he seemed transformed from a stress-obsessed victim to a casually relaxed guy just hanging out with his hypnotist.

I asked Bob how the experience was for him, and he just shook his head in disbelief at how refreshed and liberated he felt. He remembered the past problem, but at that exact moment, it felt as though it was no longer part of who he was. The problem went from defining him, to becoming just a memory of a past difficulty.

I explained  that with repetition, listening to his session daily for a couple of months, this feeling of relief goes from being the exception to becoming the rule. I also told Bob that research says that a little hypnosis goes a long way. Bob was exhilarated when he left the office and said he would be emailing me to schedule another appointment.

By: Paul Gustafson RN CH