Hypnosis does not involve a swinging watch. That’s for stage magicians, not therapists. Instead, therapeutic hypnosis is the practice of letting go, of relaxing deep into yourself, of accessing old feelings that have been walled away. It is being used increasingly to help relieve anxiety and depression. It’s about reclaiming inner, buried resources.
For example, with hypnosis, Jennifer (not her real name) was able to visualize her graduation from college and get in touch with her feelings of pride and accomplishment. She remembered the beaming faces of her parents as they congratulated the first in their family to earn a college degree. She had forgotten these feelings and was fixated on her self-doubt. Now, with hypnosis, she could call up these feeling when she got mired down worrying about the criticism she received at work. This was the major goal of our work together; easing her anxiety and giving her tools for the future. She learned and practiced therapeutic hypnosis in our work together. She was then able to “go inside” on her own, whenever her anxiety was starting to grow.
Tom was overwhelmed by financial woes and concerns about his physical health. He thought he could never plow through his depression. But after working for several weeks in therapy on self-esteem, he was able to break down his cloud of self-doubt into smaller and more manageable pieces. Guided imagery and therapeutic hypnosis proved valuable for him as well. Under hypnosis, he first saw his financial worries as a huge bear eager to pounce on him. By suspending his conscious worry of “I’ll never make it” and going deep into his memory bank, he recalled his feeling of power, of “being at the top of my game” when he first became a teacher. He saw that he was good at it. He helped his students break up work into separate pieces. He could do that for himself. Gradually, he was able to call up his old feelings of strength and turn the huge bear into a small, friendly one. His transformation took time, but less time with hypnosis than with regular talk therapy.
All of us have pass experiences which our conscious mind has closed down. Although some are painful, others are examples of feeling super competent or successful. Our conscious mind, when mired in a depressed or anxious state of mind, may shut down the times we felt competent. Guided hypnosis can unlock these experiences. They can be anchored in your mind so that you can call on them in current situations. Hypnosis can also break harmful habits such as smoking and/or alcohol abuse.