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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.

 

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

Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Stress Related Disorders.

childhood_trauma_effects

Stress can be defined as the perception that the psychological demands being made upon us exceed our ability to cope with them. It has been well documented that the experience of stress (especially chronic stress) is linked to both physical and psychological disorders.

Sometimes, if the stress experienced is very severe, such as in the case of suffering protracted childhood trauma, the condition of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop. For example, research carried out by Donovan et al., (1996) found that childhood physical punishment was strongly associated with the later development of PTSD.

Indeed, childhood trauma in general (be it sexual, emotional, physical, or a combination of these) very significantly increases the probability of developing PTSD later in life – one of the reasons for this is that such adverse early experience can greatly lower our later ability to cope with stress. Thus, as well as being badly affected by stress in childhood, we are also, as a consequence, then far more vulnerable to the effects of stress in adulthood.

Siegel (1996) identified three specific categories of symptoms of PTSD; these are :

A) INTRUSIVE SYMPTOMS (eg flashbacks, preoccupation with trauma related thoughts which are extremely hard to dispel from the mind)

B) EMOTIONAL NUMBING (eg the inability to experience feelings of pleasure – this is formally referred to as ANHEDONIA)

C) HYPERAROUSAL (extreme and uncontrollable responses – for example, the startle response – to trauma related stimuli)

REASONS WHY HYPNOTHERAPY MAY BE OF PARTICULAR BENEFIT TO SUFFERERS OF PTSD :

Hypnotherapy may be particularly beneficial for those who suffer from PTSD due to the fact that there is an analogy between the above three types of symptoms and the three major components of hypnosis. The three components of hypnosis which are analogous to A, B and C above are :

A) ABSORPTION

B) DISSOCIATION

C) SUGGESTIBILITY

Let’s look at why the analogy exists in relation to A, B and C :

A) Because those with PTSD have deeply absorbed their traumatic experiences, it is likely, too, that they will be able to effectively absorb information provided to them whilst in hypnosis

B) Emotional numbing is a form of dissociation (you can read my article on dissociation by clicking here). As hypnotic trance is also a form of dissociation, it is likely that PTSD sufferers will be easily able to enter into the hypnotic trance state

C) Hyperarousal involves heightened responsiveness. This suggests that those who suffer from PTSD will be highly responsive to therapeutic hypnotic suggestions.

HOW ELSE CAN HYPNOTHERAPY HELP THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM PTSD?

Hypnotherapy can help the individual with PTSD to DISTANCE THEMSELVES and DECENTRE from the immediacy of their traumatic experiences.

Also, hypnotic suggestions can be given that help the individual restructure and modify the memory of the trauma in a way that makes it less distressing

Furthermore, it can reduce, or eliminate, any feelings of self-blame the individual may have in connection with their trauma.

THE TELESCOPE TECHNIQUE :

The telescope technique is sometimes used to help individuals recover from PTSD : under hypnosis,  the client is instructed to imagine ‘viewing’ his/her trauma through the wrong end of a telescope – using this mental image, the client is told s/he can increase the length of the telescope to make the trauma ‘look’ yet more distant and tiny. The client practises this technique, and variations of it, throughout several hypnotherapy sessions. Eventually, s/he will be able to apply the technique at will without the assistance of the hypnotherapist. Whilst the technique may sound a little facile, many have found such a technique, or techniques similar to it, can be highly effective at reducing feelings of anxiety and distress connected to the trauma.

childhood_ trauma _workbook

Above eBook now available for immediate download on Amazon. $9.79. CLICK HERE.

Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Hypnotherapy to Break Vicious Cycle of Anxiety.

childhood_trauma_effects

Hypnosis can be combined with cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to effectively help break the vicious cycle of anxiety. For many sufferers of anxiety, a vicious cycle of worry often develops which will often comprise the following five stages:

1) A specific situation or event (internal or external) triggers the initial automatic anxiety response.

2) Specific automatic, apprehensive thoughts are triggered about what could happen

3) The individual switches into ‘anxiety mode’ with the accompanying unpleasant symptoms and bodily sensations

4) The individual experiences ESCALATING WORRY. This can include expecting a catastrophic outcome and assuming one is utterly helpless. As a result, maladaptive (unhelpful) avoidance, escape and safety seeking behaviours frequently take over.

5) Frantic attempts to control and/or eliminate the anxiety (paradoxically making it worse).

Why does trying to control and eliminate the anxiety paradoxically make it worse? This is due to something called the REBOUND EFFECT – by trying to exercise thought control, the unwanted thought tends to come back at us all the harder. In other words, when we try deliberately not to think about something, we can actually think of little else. For example, try very hard not to think of a pink elephant for the next 30 seconds and see what happens! Cognitive hypnotherapy can help us to overcome this problem by training us to ACCEPT our anxiety, which leads to it becoming less intense and less painful.

Another way cognitive hypnotherapy helps us to overcome our anxiety is to help us to ‘ACT AS IF’ we are not anxious. By thinking what we would be doing if we were not anxious, and then just doing it anyway, is a very effective way of loosening its grip.

Thirdly, cognitive hypnotherapy can help us to not get caught up and enmeshed with our worried thoughts – it does this by helping us to take a more DETACHED view of them (for more on the benefits of this, see my post on MINDFULNESS).

A fourth way cognitive hypnotherapy can help is allowing us to EMOTIONALLY REVIEW whatever it is we are worried about. In essence, this means IMAGINATIVELY EXPOSING ourselves repeatedly to what we are concerned about so we EMOTIONALLY HABITUATE to it – this emotional habituation to our concerns weakens feelings of anxiety connected to them.

Finally, cognitive hypnotherapy can help us see that our feelings are connected to our thoughts, and that our thoughts may be inaccurate and full of errors. The type of thinking errors that lead to anxiety and which cognitive hypnotherapy can help us to overcome are as follows:

a) PROBABILITY – anxious thinkers tend to greatly overestimate the probability of the bad outcomes they are expecting happening

b) SEVERITY – even if the feared outcome does actually occur, anxious thinkers tend to greatly overestimate how bad it will be

c) VULNERABILITY – anxious thinkers also often greatly overestimate their vulnerability, whilst underestimating their ability to cope

d) SAFETY – anxious people tend to overlook evidence that they will be safe from what it is that they are concerned about. Also, they often overuse maladaptive (unhelpful) safety behaviors, such as avoidance, which can, in the long-term, worsen the anxiety.

Some specific techniques cognitive hypnotherapy can help individuals develop which are very useful for reducing anxiety are as follows:

i) PERFORMANCE ACCOMPLISHMENTS – this technique helps the individual focus on times in the past when they HAVE COPED with something that caused them anxiety and realize that they can cope in the future too.

ii) VICARIOUS EXPERIENCE – here hypnotherapy is used to help the individual imagine how others have coped (or would cope) in a similar situation and then to imagine how they themselves could cope in a similar manner.

iii) VERBAL PERSUASION – hypnotherapy can help develop the technique of giving oneself positive and helpful self-instruction and activate appropriate cognitive interventions (thought processes).

iv) LOWERING EMOTIONAL AROUSAL – hypnotherapy, too, is very effective for helping individuals develop deep relaxation techniques.

childhood_ trauma _workbook

The above eBook is now available for immediate download on Amazon. $9.79. CLICK HERE.

Best Wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery
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