Hypnotherapy and NLP for Anxiety
by Menachem Schloss
Many people who suffer from anxiety will describe it as an extremely intense physiological feeling or state that happens to them involuntarily in certain situations. At times the anxiety could be so strong that it can seem like they are having an attack of some kind. In many cases the anxiety sufferer will first visit their GP Doctor and it will be the Dr who will refer them for Psychotherapy.
For many people it seems rather strange why the therapists is exploring the emotional reasoning's behind the anxiety when all they want is not to have that feeling again. “Can’t somebody just get rid of this feeling for me” … "do I really need to go into all this discussion?", etc.
What is Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)?
A quick note about NLP:
Although many people claim to use NLP in their therapy, one should be aware that there is a major difference between someone who is using NLP techniques and one who is actually practicing the methodology of NLP. Throwing any technique at a person is often not useful. In many instances a client may feel good from it but in the long term it will usually not change the problem.
NLP looks at what has to be happening for a problem to keep re-occurring. In the exploration, the NLP Practitioner will investigate the so called triggers of the feeling or behavior. A trigger may be something a person will see (sometimes in their minds eye), hear or feel.
It is not what you think, it is how you think of it:
Suppose a person is lying awake in bed on a particularly eerie night and all of a sudden they hear a door slam, the sound seems for some reason far louder and sharper than it actually is in reality.
Any person with a phobia will be able to affirm that the way they see or hear the object of the fear is out of the actual proportion. It’s not just the size and loudness that becomes out of proportion. The feared object can also be projected as closer than it is in reality. Generally speaking this way of internal processing applies for people with all mental health symptoms. As an example, a depressed person will commonly slow things down a lot in their mind and see their sad past clearly right in front of them whilst likely using a monotone for their internal dialogue. For a depressed person, any vision of a good future would look very distant and probably quite blurry.
The Neuro Linguistic (NLP) Perspective on Anxiety
Even though people tend to experience and speak of anxiety as a physiological symptom or diagnosis that happens to them, anxiety is very much part of a pattern which the brain (and body) has learnt and familiarized over the years.
People who get anxious in certain situations will usually do a lot of unconscious (unconscious means that they are not actually aware of completely) planning which in some ways can set the program for them to become anxious later.
This kind of planning will likely include picturing different ways the situation could turn out terrible this will frequently go along with a particularly loud internal self-talk. The dialogue will likely be about the worry of having the anxiety. All of the above will directly contribute to the intense anxiety feelings.
The objective of an NLP-Hypnotherapy session is to disrupt these unwanted patterns effectively and teach the client better strategies for coping in the future. This is so that the person would not be making those old associations in their mind anymore and instead they will be able to approach the situation with greater freedom of choice and with more flexibility.
Where Does Hypnosis Fit in?
For most people Hypnotherapy in and of itself is not enough of an effective tool to treat anxiety symptoms. So, although most Hypnotherapy sessions will have a person coming out feeling very relaxed and often inspired for change, the true test for whether it has worked is by checking out later on if the symptoms carry on appearing or not.
What is Hypnosis? And in What Way Can it Help?
Trance is a common phenomenon that people experience on a daily basis. This may be when one is in a very relaxed state of mind or when one is deeply involved and focused in an interesting book or movie. Either way it is a very natural state that occurs in everyday normal life. While experiencing Hypnotic trance a client will tend to feel like they are dreaming but they will always be very much aware of what is going on.
By Using Hypnosis one can get a client to a place where they can feel free to explore greater options and better solutions for their particular issue. One can also utilize hypnosis to help a client who has been very focused on seeing their problem in a particularly unhealthy way which has prevented them from changing, by directing the client to view their issue from different perspectives.
One of the powerful uses of hypnosis is that of the use of indirect suggestion. This style of Hypnosis is mainly based on the brilliant works of Dr Milton H. Erickson. When a client is given an indirect suggestion this will help to bypass any resistance that they may likely have towards the tasks or challenges that they may face both within and outside of the session. This kind of suggestion will often be embedded with the use of metaphors or storytelling.
Hypnosis as a Magic Wand
Hypnosis or Hypnotherapists should not be looked at as a magic wand. It is best to stay clear from any therapist who guarantee’s %100 results. Unfortunately these industries have created a fantasy reality where many people rely upon magical techniques and methods which do not exist. Each individual client has their own reality and these realities often come with complexities that need to be understood and evaluated by the therapist.
What Should you Expect of a Hypnotherapist?
Expect your Hypnotherapist to act professionally and ethically. When researching for a Hypnotherapist it is best to look for one who has had much previous clinical experience. Keep in mind that there are many popular Hypnotherapists and NLP Practitioners who are mainly busy with presenting courses and trainings and often these individuals have not had much experience in working with real life issues.
A Hypnotherapist should be expected to explore your problem and gather all relevant information. A good therapist will feel comfortable to answer any question that you may have about the session and the change-work. It is of vital importance that a client be honest with regarding any progress (or lack of progress) after the session. A Hypnotherapist who responds with “Don’t worry, the change is happening on a sub-conscious level” …is basically saying that they have no idea what they did in the session and they are relying on luck. To summarize, a transparent therapist is always a better idea.
Are There any Dangers in Using Hypnosis?
Hypnotic trance can have a powerful effect on a person. There are many cases where clients have made dramatic changes within just one session. Trance and the procedure for going in and out of a trance is absolutely safe. As with any therapy, you will want to make sure that you have full trust in the therapist.
What is the Procedure for This Kind of Work?The approach that I have personally found most useful in my work with clients is to have a brief discussion with the person over the phone after which I would send them notes via email to fill out and complete. All this takes place even before setting up an appointment for a session.
By doing this, I get to learn and gather much necessary information that also tells me if this is something that I could work with or not. Filling out these notes also saves a lot of time within the session. Often by answering some of these questions the person themselves will gain more clarity about their problem. (There have been cases on the odd occasion where the client filled out the notes and did not need to set the appointment afterwards because they had provided their own solution whilst answering the question).
The focus of the questions is to elicit what the client would like to gain out of the session. The most important thing for the therapist in this type of work is to understand from the client what is going on for them and what keeps them from changing.
The effectiveness of the NLP solution focused approach is that the therapist works completely together with the client, instead of creating their own agenda for the client. This gets the client to understand that the therapist is completely on their side and will do what it takes to help them, rather than (what other therapists tend to do) figure out new problems and spending time on stuff which has no relevancy to actually helping the client with their issue.
Article Written by Menachem SchlossMenachem is a highly sought after NLP Behavioral therapist & UK certified Hypnotherapist. He uses an approach which is solution oriented and outcome focused. He is a member of the (London) Harley Street based Just Be Well clinic as well as a Professional member of the Association for NLP (ANLP). Click here to visit Menachem's website
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