Category Archives: Mindfulness And Hypnosis Articles

Recovering Our Self-Esteem : 6 Key Elements.

Recovering Our Self-Esteem : 6 Key Elements.

If we have experienced significant childhood trauma, such as parental rejection, our self-esteem is likely to have been severely damaged. However, it is possible for us to rebuild it.

Branden (1994) identified six key foundations upon which the development of a healthy level of self-esteem is built; these six building blocks of self-esteem are as follows:

THE SIX KEY FACTORS THAT UNDERPIN A HEALTHY LEVEL OF SELF-ESTEEM:

1) Being consciously engaged with the present

2) Being accepting of oneself

3) Taking responsibility for oneself

4) Having a definite and meaningful purpose in life

5) Having personal integrity

6) Having a capability to act in an assertive manner when necessary

Recovering Our Self-Esteem : 6 Key Elements.

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1) Being consciously engaged in the present :

When a young child is playing, s/he becomes ‘lost’ in the present, utterly mentally involved with the activity and living entirely in the here and now.

As adults, we tend to lose this ability; instead of living in the present we dwell on/ ruminate about the past (as is often the case for people suffering from clinical depression) and/or worry about the future (which frequently occurs, often to an obsessive degree, in people who suffer from an anxiety disorder), rarely living for now.

Whole lifetimes can be wasted in this manner, possibly spent using drink and drugs in a futile attempt to recapture this childhood mental state of unsullied psychological purity.

However, we can train ourselves to live more in the present through the practice of mindfulness meditation. Indeed, research into the positive psychological effect of mindfulness meditation had yielded impressive results.

2) Accepting oneself :

This means accepting both one’s good qualities and bad (after learning from our mistakes and undertaking not to repeat them we need to forgive ourselves, acknowledging we are a highly fallible human being, like everyone else, rather than torturing ourselves with guilt. Also, making mistakes ourselves can give us empathy for others around us who make mistakes too, and help us not to judge them.

3) Taking responsibility for ourselves :

If we deny any responsibility for our own lives, we deprive ourselves of the motivating belief that we can significantly contribute towards the shaping our own destinies.

4) Having a definite and meaningful purpose in life:

This could be finding one’s true vocation (rather than a job one would rather not do due to financial necessity) which may involve downsizing and living a less materialistic life.

And, of course, some find meaning through religion, spirituality or a political or social cause.

5) Having personal integrity :

This means living an authentic life that is true to who we are, developing our own moral code based on personal reasoning and attempting to live by it.

6) Having a capability to act assertively when necessary :

A key component of this is to value our own needs and not allow ourselves to be exploited by others. This means having the strength and courage to stand up for ourselves in a firm, but not aggressive, manner.

Resource:

Recovering Our Self-Esteem : 6 Key Elements.Ten Steps To Solid Self-Esteem. Click here.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How Hypnosis Changes The Brain

How Hypnosis Changes The Brain

We have seen from many of the articles that I have previously published on this site that significant childhood trauma can actually physically damage the developing human brain; in particular, it can adversely affect the development of a brain area called the amygdala, which is involved in emotional processing.

However, we have also seen that, because it is now known the brain can change itself in positive ways when we are adults (due to a property of the brain known as neuroplasticity), this damage can be reversed.

The use of mindfulness meditation has been shown in research to help the brain recovery from the physical damage done to it in childhood, and, now, recent research has shown hypnosis, too, can change the way in which the brain works and in a manner that can be detected through the use of brain scans / brain imaging.

 

HOW HYPNOSIS CHANGES THE BRAIN:

Kosslyn, a researcher from Harvard University, USA, carried out an experiment on colour perception which involved eight participants.

Each participant was shown brightly coloured rectangles and, under hypnosis, instructed to imagine the colour ‘draining’ from them. This resulted in brain activity that caused them to pereive the brightly coloured blocks as gray.

How Hypnosis Changes The Brain

The reverse was also true; when instructed, under hypnosis, to ‘see’ gray blocks as brightly colored, they did indeed, due to the change in brain activity caused by hypnosis, perceive the (in reality, gray) blocks as colored.

(For those who are interested, the brain activity of the participants was measured by employing the use of PET [positron emission tomography] scans.

It is also highly important to note that when the participants were asked to perceive these color changes taking place but were NOT under hypnosis, the same changes in brain activity and color perception did NOT occur: this demonstrates that hypnosis used in the experiment was having a very real, measurable and observable (via brain scanning) effect.

This effect is thought to work, Kosslyn explains, because under hypnosis the brain’s right hemisphere, which deals with, amongst other imagination and expectations, is ACTIVATED (whereas the left hemisphere of the brain, dominant when the individual is not under hypnosis, operates more according to logic).

Kosslyn suggests that it might very well be the ability of hypnosis to activate the right hemisphere of the brain that also lies behind the success that hypnotherapy can have when it is used to treat problems such as insomnia, anxiety, pain management and other difficulties in which a person’s psychology plays a pivotal role.
How Hypnosis Changes The Brain

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How The Brain Can Change And Recover From Harm.

 

How The Brain Can Change And Recover From Harm.

Whilst the basic structure of the brain is formed by early childhood, this physical structure changes throughout life as a result of our experiences and learning.

A well known example of this is relates to a study of London taxi drivers (who undergo years of extensive training to learn their way around the London streets) ; it was found, through the use of brain scans, that as a result of this training the part of their brain that deals with spatial awareness actually increased in size.

This ability of the brain to physically change throughout life is due to a quality it possesses called neuroplasticity.

The main phases of brain development and change can be divided into 3 stages. I briefly describe each of these below:

1) The Precritical Phase:

This occurs during early childhood. During this phase, the brain’s neurons (nerve cells) are formed, as are the connections between them.

These neurons communicate with each other by the process of electro-chemical signalling.

The brain consists of about 100 billion (100,000,000,000) neurons and each of these neurons may be connected up to 10,000 other neurons.

Mind-bogglingly, this means that our neurons communicate with one another via a network of about 1,000 trillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) connections (known as synaptic connections).

2) The second phase relates to the changes that occur to the brain after childhood as a result of our learning and the experiences (eg. see example of London taxi drivers above).

3) Later life : If the brain does not receive adequate stimulation, its processing ability may be adversely affected, as may memory. However, brain training exercises can help to prevent such deterioration.

BRAIN DAMAGE REVERSIBILITY:

How The Brain Can Change And Recover From Harm.

We have seen, in other articles that I have published on this site, that severe childhood trauma can harm the way in which the brain develops.

However, such harm to the brain is frequently reversible, at least in part. Two ways in which the brain is able to repair itself are:

– by developing new connections between neurons

– redirecting specific brain functions to alternative brain regions.

Furthermore, studies now reveal that, in certain situations, the brain is actually capable of developing new neurons.

APPLICATIONS TO ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION:

Meditation, visualisation and repeated hypnosis/self-hypnosis that enhances relaxation has been found to alter the brain in a beneficial manner. These changes help to dampen down negative emotions such as depression, anxiety and anger; also, they help both the brain and the body to heal themselves.

How The Brain Can Change And Recover From Harm.

Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

 

 

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Cognitive Hypnotherapy : Combining Hypnosis With CBT

 

Cognitive Hypnotherapy : Combining Hypnosis With CBT

The practice of cognitive hypnotherapy derives from recent discoveries in psychology and studies of the workings of the physical brain (neuroscience).

As can be inferred from the name of the therapy, it is a hybrid of cognitive behavioral therapy (click here to read one of my articles on CBT) and hypnotherapy (click here to read my article on what brain scans reveal about the effectiveness of hypnotherapy).

The use of hypnotherapy is becoming increasingly mainstream. For example, many dentists now use hypnotherapy in order to reduce the anxiety of their patients. Also, it is used by some doctors in connection with certain medical procedures. Likewise, cognitive hypnotherapy is becoming more and more widely used as evidence for the effectiveness of hypnotherapy continues to build up.

Scientific Studies

One study has shown that some individuals, when under hypnosis and told the back of their hand is being rubbed with poison ivy (when, in fact, unknown to the hypnotized individual, this is not true – the back of their hand is, in fact, only rubbed with a completely harmless plant), the hypnotized individual develops a rash anyway.

Another study involved showing hypnotized individuals black and white photographs. However, whilst in the hypnotic state, they were instructed to imagine that the black and white photographs they were looking at were in colour. Brain scans made during this procedure revealed that the brain was indeed responding by processing the visual information as if the photographs really were in colour.

 

Cognitive Hypnotherapy : Combining Hypnosis With CBT

There is also much scientific evidence for the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in the treatment of many psychological conditions; one of the first to combine CBT with hypnotherapy was Trevor Silvester in 2001; he also included in this new type of hybrid therapy elements of neuro-linguistic programming, cognitive theory and positive psychology.

Cognitive hypnotherapy is usually a relatively short form of therapy, often only requiring a few sessions, and helps people to change their mindset, attitude and style of thinking. Many report improvement after just one session.

To read more of my articles about hypnosis click here.

For self-hypnosis downloads, click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Can Hypnosis Help With Mental Illness?

 

Can Hypnosis Help With Mental Illness?

I have written in other articles on this site about how helpful I have found self-hypnosis in my own (I hope) continuing recovery (although I have, of course,undertaken many other forms of therapy as well, some of which can be read in the ‘David’s Own Experiences’ section of this blog – seee MAIN MENU).

In this post, I want to give a concise, summarized, general overview of both how and why hypnosis can certainly benefit those suffering from a variety of psychological conditions due to mental illness.

What Are The Psychological Mechanisms At Work That Underlie The Effectiveness Of Hypnosis?

These mechanisms include:

– a deep state of concentration

– highly focused attention

– an elevated state of awareness

– a change in our perceptions (eg studies have been conducted demonstrating that hypnosis can be used by individuals to block the perception of pain – some dentists use it instead of anaesthetic, for example)

– increased motivation

Ways Of Experiencing Hypnosis:

The experience of hypnosis can be achieved:

a) by using self-hypnosis (eg using an MP3 or CD)

b) with the support of a fully professionally qualified therapist (although this can be very expensive)

Two Main Types Of Hypnotherapy:

a) SUGGESTION THERAPY – Once under hypnosis people become more susceptible to therapeutic suggestion and are more likely to respond to these suggestions. Because of this, suggestion-based hypnotherapy is often beneficial in helping individuals who are trying to change their patterns of dysfunctional behaviours ( such as over- eating/comfort eating). This type of therapy can be achieved utilising self-hypnosis.

b) ANALYTIC THERAPY – This type of therapy is employed to help the individual uncover the underlying cause of a psychological disorder which the person may have blocked off from conscious awareness (but see the Important Information About Hypnotherapy section below). This type of hypnotherapy requires working with a fully trained, professionally qualified and experienced therapist.

Can Hypnosis Help With Mental Illness?

Status Of Hypnotherapy Within The Discipline Of Psychology:

In 2001, The British Psychological Society (BPS) stated:

Enough studies have now accumulated to suggest that the inclusion of hypnotic procedures may be beneficial in the management and treatment of a wide range of conditions and problems encountered in the practice of medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy.’

Examples Of Conditions That Hypnotherapy Can Help With:

These include, amongst many others:

– fears

– insomnia

– pain management

– general anxiety / trauma-related anxiety

– phobias

– grief / loss

Important Information Relating To Hypnotherapy:

– individuals suffering psychosis should avoid hypnotherapy

– hypnotherapy should not be experienced under the influence of alcohol or drugs

– using hypnotherapy to try to recover ‘buried memories’ should be undertaken with caution due to the possibility of ‘recovering’ false memories (click here to read my article about this)

– hypnosis should only be used for pain relief once the cause of the pain has been diagnosed by a medical doctor.

RESOURCES:

Hypnosis:

For those who wish to try self-hypnosis, the most professional site on the web, in my view (which is why I have chosen to affiliate this site to it), is Hypnosis Downloads available by clicking here.

Can Hypnosis Help With Mental Illness?

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

 

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Is Your Anxiety Caused By Hyperventilation? A Look At The Science.

Is Your Anxiety Caused By Hyperventilation? A Look At The Science.

Hyperventilation (deriving from HYPER = TOO MUCH and VENTILATION = AIR MOVEMENT) refers to a type of breathing which is too deep and too rapid.

Such breathing results in :

1) too much oxygen

and

2) too little carbon dioxide

entering the blood stream.

Indeed, severe hyperventilation can result in the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood stream falling by 50℅ within sixty seconds.

Why is a reduction of the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood undesirable?

A significant reduction of the normal amount of carbon dioxide circulating in the blood stream is undesirable because it raises the pH levels in nerve cells.

This, in turn, makes the nerve cells too excitable and can trigger the fight/flight response (click here to read my article about this). The physiological effect of this can then lead to symptoms such as those I list below:

– sweating

– dizziness/faintness/light – headedness

– tingling sensations in the hands and feet

– rapid heart beat ( also known as tachycardia) and/or heart palpitations

– chest pains/heart burn

– a dry mouth

– muscle tension and/or muscle spasms

– shortness of breath/a choking sensation

– difficulty swallowing

– fatigue and/or feelings of weakness

Such symptoms of anxiety can occur very quickly once we start to hyperventilate ; within a minute, in fact.

 

Lack of awareness:

Many people whose anxiety is linked to the fact that they hyperventilate do not realise that their maladaptive breathing style is significantly contributing to their symptoms. Indeed, many do not realise that they are hyperventilating. I myself hyperventilated for years without being properly aware of the fact and without fully appreciating how important it is to train oneself to stop doing it. I suppose an (irrational) part of me felt that such a simple change could not make a significant difference to how I was feeling.

 

Two main types of hyperventilation:

These two types are:

1) At rest, breathing from the upper chest instead of from the diaphragm

2) At rest, breathing through the mouth instead of the nose

Many people who suffer from anxiety breathe from the upper chest whilst at rest. Whilst breathing from the upper chest is normal when we are in imminent danger (as it prepares us for ‘ fight or flight’ by introducing extra oxyden into the blood stream) and evolved to help our distant ancestors avoid danger from predators (eg by feeding muscles with extra oxygen to help them run away from the threat as fast as possible), such breathing was designed by evolution to be a temporary response triggered by a life-threatening, physical danger – so it only rarely serves a useful purpose for us today.

On the contrary, in fact, continuous, chronic breathing in this way can effectively permanently trap us in the ‘ fight/flight’ response.

This, in turn, can lead us feel under threat, nervous, fearful and in danger chronically.

 

Examples of conditions to which hyperventilation can be particularly relevant:

The three examples are :

social phobia

PTSD/flashbacks (click here to read my article about childhood trauma and PTSD)

panic disorder

1) Social phobia:

A person with social phobia may have their tendency to hyperventilate triggered by stressful social situations. The hyperventilation, in turn, will lead to increased symptoms of anxiety which can then result in the person’s hyperventilating becoming more severe still. In this way, a vicious cycle can develop (see below).

Is Your Anxiety Caused By Hyperventilation? A Look At The Science.

2) PTSD/flashbacks:

A similar vicious cycle may occur when anxiety symptoms are triggered by a flashback.

3) Panic disorder:

In extreme cases, the vicious cycle of anxiety/panic can increase symptoms of anxiety to a level at which a panic attack occurs.

Is Your Anxiety Caused By Hyperventilation? A Look At The Science.

Based on the science above, some people find that breathing into a paper bag helps when experiencing a panic attack, as doing so increases carbon dioxide levels in the blood stream and returns them to normal.

Resource:

Learn Deep Breathing Relaxation Techniques Rapidly. CLICK HERE.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Anxiety, CBT and Neuroplasticity

Anxiety, CBT and Neuroplasticity

It is a relatively new discovery within psychology that the brain physically changes throughout our lives (not just during childhood and adolescence as many previously supposed).

Just as the brain’s physical development can be harmed (eg certain types of severe childhood trauma can interfere with the development of the amygdala, which, in turn, is related to the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD)click here to read my article on this), so, too, can its structure and functionality be repaired and enhanced by therapeutic interventions; the harnessing of the power of such  beneficial interventions has come to be known as  SELF-DIRECTED NEURO-PLASTICITY.

Self-directed neuro-plasticity essentially involves us teaching ourselves to think and act in new ways that can positively shape and control the functioning of our physical brain, altering its structure to our advantage and ‘re-wiring’ it in helpful ways (click here to read my article about how the brain can ‘re-wire’ itself).

 

Anxiety, CBT and Neuroplasticity

 

HOW THIS RELATES TO THE TREATMENT OF ANXIETY

A recent research study, conducted by the psychologist Schwartz, involved patients suffering from an anxiety disorder being treated with a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) technique (called ‘mindfulness‘). CBT, to explain it in very basic terms, is a form of therapy based on the premise that by changing how we think, we can change how we act and feel, and, furthermore, that many psychological disorders have at their heart a faulty thinking style that causes distress. CBT seeks to correct this faulty thinking style.

But back to Schwartz’s study. He found that those treated with CBT improved to about the same degree as would be expected had they been treated with medication. This having been established, Schwartz then arranged for these improved patients to be given a brain scan (specifically, for those interested, a PET scan, or positron emission tomography scan).

This revealed that certain NEURAL PATHWAYS in the brains of the patients had undergone significant change. Specifically, there was seen to be, after the CBT therapy had been completed, significantly greater activity in the patients’ ORBITAL FRONTAL CORTEX.

FUTURE IMPLICATIONS

As research into neuroplasticity continues and more experiments, such as the one outlined above, are conducted, it is likely that more and more psychological disorders will be amenable to interventions that exploit the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, providing us all, even those with conditions  thought to be deeply entrenched, a good deal of hope that we can get very significantly better.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Infographics : What Mindfulness Is and Its Benefits

Infographics : What Mindfulness Is and Its Benefits

The first two infographics AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE help to explain what is meant by mindfulness, whilst the third lists some of its benefits.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MINDFULNESS CLICK HERE TO READ ONE OF  MY MANY  ARTICLES ON THE SUBJECT OR CLICK ON ANY IMAGE BELOW FOR MINDFULNESS TRAINING.

OR : FOR DETAILS OF MY EBOOK, AVAILABLE FOR INSTANT DOWNLOAD ON AMAZON, ENTITLED ‘CHILDHOOD TRAUMA, MINDFULNESS AND HYPNOTHERAPYCLICK IMAGE BELOW :

Infographics : What Mindfulness Is and Its Benefits

 

INFOGRAPHICS :

Infographics : What Mindfulness Is and Its Benefits

Infographics : What Mindfulness Is and Its Benefits

Infographics : What Mindfulness Is and Its Benefits

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)