Tag Archives: Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis For Simple Phobias

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Research shows that those who suffered significant trauma as children are at elevated risk of developing anxiety conditions as adults; simple phobias are one (amongst many) expression of such anxiety.

A simple phobia is an irrational fear of a single object, activity or situation (unlike complex phobias that may have multiple triggers, such as social phobia). The individual who has the phobia is fully aware that his/her phobia is irrational, but, despite this awareness, at the point of starting therapy has been unable to overcome it.

Research:

Whilst further research needs to be conducted on the effectiveness of hypnotherapy as a treatment for individuals suffering from simple phobias, several studies have shown it to be helpful (e.g. McGuinness, 1984; Rustvold, 1994).

How Is Hypnotherapy Used To Treat Simple Phobias?

One of the most effective ways of treating a simple phobia with hypnosis is to employ the method of desensitization and I explain the process below, using the example of arachnophobia (a phobia of spiders).

1) A deep sense of relaxation and safety is hypnotically induced in the patient.

2) The patient is instructed to visualize a small spider from a distance

3) The patient is instructed to visualize the same spider but from a closer distance

4) The patient is instructed to visualize an average sized spider from a distance

…etc…etc

The final stage might consist of the hypnotherapist instructing the patient to visualize picking a large spider up with a people piece of tissue paper and dropping it out of the window.

The idea is that at each subsequent stage the patient is gradually exposed, in imagination only, to increasingly, potentially anxiety-provoking ‘encounters’ with the spider. It is unnecessary for the patient to come into contact with a real spider.

Throughout the process, the client receives suggestions that s/he will feel relaxed, safe and in control.

When successful, this process has the effect of gradually and systematically ‘desensitizing’ the patient to spiders (ie causing the patient to stop responding fearfully to them in a way that is TRANSFERABLE TO REAL SITUATIONS).

Phobias, Logic And Reasoning:

Many individuals who suffer from phobias become frustrated that they are unable to overcome their phobia through logical and reasoned thinking given that they know their fear to be irrational; repeatedly telling themselves the object of their fears presents no threat or danger to them tends not to work which means cognitive based therapies may be unsuccessful.

When individuals try to cure their phobia by logic and reason they are using the brain’s left hemisphere.

However, the benefit of using hypnosis to treat phobias is that it taps into the brain’s right hemisphere and this side of the brain is involved in emotional processing, feelings, instincts and visualization, all of which hypnosis harnesses to help the individual overcome his/her phobia.

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Nine Key Recovery Targets For BPD Sufferers

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We have already seen from other articles published on this site that those of us who suffered severe childhood trauma are at much increased risk of developing borderline personality disorder (BPD) as adults than average.

We have also examined the symptoms of BPD in other posts so there is no need to repeat that here.

Instead, in this post, I will look at nine important goals that BPD sufferers may need to aim for on their road to recovery (different individuals with BPD have different sets of symptoms, so not all BPD sufferers will need to address every goal and different individual BPD sufferers will need to address their own particular combination of treatment aims accordingly).

 

1) Learn to deal with feelings of intense anger.

Many sufferers of BPD experience outbursts of severe rage which may, in part, be linked to damage done to the development of the amygdala (a brain region involved in the processing of emotions) during childhood ( caused by growing up in a chronically stressful environment).

The BPD sufferers is particularly likely to experience intense anger when events occur that remind him/her of his/her childhood trauma, such as being rejected or abandoned.

2) Eliminate self-destructive and impulsive behaviours.

These may include self-harm (eg. cutting), binge eating, excessive use of drugs/alcohol, unsafe sex, reckless driving etc.

The BPD sufferers, consciously or unconsciously, may be carrying out such activities in a desperate attempt to numb psychological pain. Psychologists refer to this short-term (and ultimately damaging) coping mechanism as dissociation.

3) Overcome intense fear of rejection and abandonment.

Many BPD sufferers intensely fear rejection/abandonment and may make desperate attempts to avoid it, including threatening/attempting suicide. This is connected to the fact that many BPD sufferers experienced deeply insecure childhoods, and being rejected as adults can trigger memories, and the corresponding emotions, of having been rejected/abandoned as children.

4) Stabilize interpersonal relationships.

Often, BPD sufferers fluctuate between idealizing and demonizing those they are emotionally intimate with, seeing them as ‘all good’ one minute and ‘all bad’ the next. Indeed, many BPD sufferers think in terms of ‘black and white’ in general, ignoring the shades of grey in-between. Such thinking is unhelpful and over – simplistic. Life is much more complex than that.

5) Improve self image.

Many BPD sufferers were excessively criticized and made to feel unlovable as children. They are then likely to have internalized these negative messages and, consequently, to have grown up to believe, erroneously, that they are ‘intrinsically a bad and unworthy person’.

6) Learn to cope with stress more effectively.

We have seen in other posts that a very stressful childhood can physically damage the brain’s development (eg. by damaging an area of the brain known as the amygdala) which can lead to severe over reactivity to stress as an adult (psychologists refer to this as emotional dysregulation or emotional lability.

7) Stop self-harming behaviour.

BPD sufferers often self-harm as a way of coping with mental anguish and distress; this is a form of dissociation. They may, too, threaten or attempt suicide in response to real or imagined rejection.

8) Find meaning in life.

Often, BPD sufferers experience life is being empty, meaningless, pointless, futile and absurd.

9) Eliminate paranoia.

Because many BPD sufferers felt constantly in danger and under threat during their childhoods, this was fertile ground in which to develop paranoid thinking which may worsen and become pathological in adulthood.

 

More Advice On BPD : Click here for very informative and helpful link.

 

eBook:

61VHBbAyGwL. UY250  - Nine Key Recovery Targets For BPD Sufferers

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

 

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Panic Attacks and The ‘Suffocation Alarm System.’

 

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I have already written extensively about the connection between the experience of childhood trauma and the consequential development of anxiety disorders later in life (eg click here).

One type of anxiety disorder that can be particularly incapacitating is called PANIC DISORDER.

images 14 - Panic Attacks and The 'Suffocation Alarm System.'

Panic disorder gives rise to both psychological and physical symptoms.

Psychological symptoms include fear, terror and, very frighteningly, sometimes the overwhelming (false) conviction that one is about to die.

Physical symptoms include a rapid heart beat, sweating, trembling, feeling faint or dizzy, and, OF PARTICULAR RELEVANCE to this article : HYPERVENTILATION.

 

WHAT IS HYPERVENTILATION?

It is also sometimes referred to as PSYCHOGENIC DYSPNOEA or BEHAVIOURAL BREATHLESSNESS.

In essence, it involves rapid and shallow breathing, alterations in levels of CO2 in the bloostream and having a sense of ‘not being able to get enough air’, breathlessness and suffocation.

 

HOW DOES THE BRAIN RESPOND TO SUCH SYMPTOMS?

In response to altered levels of CO2 in the blood, feelings of breathlessness and suffocation, it has been hypothesised that a kind of ‘SUFFOCATION ALARM SYSTEM’ is triggered, the brain having been, to all intents and purposes, tricked into believing it is currently involved in a life or death situation.

The researcher, Cohen, has carried out research that suggests this ‘suffocation alarm system’ is located in the part of the brain known as the AMYGDALA and that, in those who suffer the type of panic disorder which I have described, this system is OVER-SENSITIVE.

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Position of the AMYGDALA in the brain – it is likely to be dysfunctional in many individuals who suffer from panic disorder

 

Indeed, it is well established that the development of the AMYGDALA can be seriously adversely affected in individuals who have suffered severe childhood trauma (click here to read one of my articles about this).

Also, Cohen’s research indicates that the inheritance of a particular gene (ASICIa, for those who are interested) may predispose individuals to developing these problems.

images 22 - Panic Attacks and The 'Suffocation Alarm System.'

HOW CAN THE CONDITION BE TREATED?

– understanding the physiological reasons why one experiences the feelings of dread and fear that accompany panic attacks can, in itself, be a comfort. Once these are fully understood, the person who suffers from panic attacks can come to the realisation that having them does not mean s/he is ‘going to die’ (to read my article about fear of death, click here) or is ‘going completely and irrevocably insane’ (another common false belief of those in the grip of a severe panic attack).

– relaxation techniques such as hypnotherapy and mindfulness

– cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

– medication (if considering this treatment option it is essential to consult with a suitably qualified and experienced health professional).

 

RESOURCES:

Immediately downloadable hypnosis MP3 pack – Overcome Panic Attacks Pack : CLICK HERE.

 

NB It is important to rule out any possible physical causes which may underlie hyperventilation by consulting an appropriate medical professional.

 

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

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Traumas That Gay Adolescents May Face Growing Up

 

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Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Stress Related Disorders.

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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.

workbook cover - Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Stress Related Disorders.

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

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Childhood Trauma : Treatment by Hypnosis Combined with Other Therapies.

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Although hypnosis has been used for a very long time to treat the effects of trauma (for example, it was used effectively to treat soldiers who were traumatized by their experiences in both World War One and World War Two), in the 1990s its use became controversial and misunderstood. This was due to the fact that there had been some cases in which hypnosis was used to try to recover painful memories which traumatized indivduals were thought to have buried in their unconscious.

However, it was later found out that these ‘recovered memories’ were false. Despite this setback and because far more care is now taken in considerations of whether hypnosis should be used in an attempt to recover memories, hypnosis is enjoying something of a renaissance. It is increasingly being argued that hypnotherapy can be very effective in the treatment of trauma, especially in relation to facilitating the individual’s processing of (genuine) traumatic memories. Many believe that it is necessary for traumatized individuals to process their traumatic memories properly in order to gain relief from the anxiety they cause. Indeed, hypnotherapy is being increasingly used by adult survivors of childhood trauma.

One particular benefit of the use of hypnosis in the treatment of trauma is that it can give rise to feelings of DISSOCIATION which can help an individual protect him/herself from the full impact of the shock which would otherwise have been caused by the particular traumatic event which has occurred. It is a flexible therapy and is being used in innovative ways.

There is some debate about whether hypnosis should be seen as a treatment in its own right, or whether it should more accurately be seen as a procedure which, used in combination with other therapies, can augment the postive effects of those therapies.

The debate has not been fully resolved, but hypnosis is increasingly being used as an ADJUNCT to other therapies, enhancing their effectiveness. For example, hypnotherapy is now used effectively in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to give a therapy called cognitive hypnotherapy. It has also been used in combination with psychodynamic therapy (known as psychodynamic hypnotherapy). Initial results are encouraging and research is ongoing.

workbook cover - Childhood Trauma : Treatment by Hypnosis Combined with Other Therapies.

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

What Neuroimaging Tells Us About Hypnosis.

cropped childhood trauma fact sheet - What Neuroimaging Tells Us About Hypnosis.

Neuroimaging refers to a technique of examining which areas of the brain are active at any one time and can tell us something about how hypnosis works it involves the use of very expensive equipment which can display images of brain activity when the brain is involved with various tasks. I will start off by looking at neuroimaging in relation to the brain’s experience of pain.

NEUROIMAGING AND THE EXPERIENCE OF PAIN:

A study by Rainville et al (1997), using a brain imaging technique, showed that when a HYPNOTIZED subject was given the HYPNOTIC SUGGESTION THAT HE WOULD EXPERIENCE PAIN (ie he wasn’t exposed to a real painful stimulus), the degree of activity in a brain regions associated with the experience of real pain (SOMATOSENSORY CORTICAL AREAS) could be increased and decreased by the experimenter making the suggestions that the subject was experiencing more or less pain respectively.

Another study, by Derbyshire et al (2004), again using NEUROIMAGING, found that subjects given the hypnotic suggestion that they were experiencing pain showed a similar response in brain acivity. However, those subjects merely instructed to IMAGINE PAIN (WITHOUT HYPNOSIS) did NOT display the activity.

These studies suggest that, under hypnosis, without the application of a real painful stimulus, subjects can be caused to experience pain by the hypnotic suggestion that they will experience it. It seems, too, hypnosis is having a real effect, as merely telling the subject to imagine pain (without use of hypnosis, does not have the same effect).

It seems as if, according to such studies, effects of hypnotic suggestion are GENUINE, not only at the subjective level, but also in as far as they have been shown to EFFECT BRAIN FUNCTION IN A MANNER WHICH SHOWS UP VIA NEUROIMAGING: it appears that hypnotically suggested experiences CAN CAUSE SIMILAR BRAIN ACTIVITY PATTERNS TO THOSE WHICH WOULD BE CAUSED IF THE EXPERIENCE WERE REAL.

POSSIBLE APPLICATIONS:

If hypnotically suggested experiences have a similar effect on the brain as real ones, there follow implications for treatment of conditions that make use of exposure therapy, such as phobias (ie the person suffering from the phobia could be given the hypnotic suggestion that s/he was exposed to the feared object as part of the DESENSITIZATION PROCESS; that is, getting used to the object feared so that the fear it induces gradually diminishes over time.

A caveat, however, is that  studies of brain imaging in relation to hypnosis have not given consistent results; more studies into this area of research need to be conducted.

NEUROIMAGING, HYPNOSIS AND MOOD:

Marquet et al (1999), using a neuroimaging technique, discovered that subjects given the instruction, under hypnosis, to re-experience pleasant memories from their own lives showed significantly more activation in related brain regions (eg the PREFRONTAL CORTEX and OCCIPITAL LOBE) than when they they were merely instructed to imagine the same events (not under hypnosis); again, this suggests that the HYPNOTIC EFFECT IS A REAL ONE, with real, OBSERVERABLE effects on brain activity. Again, however, a lot more research needs to be conducted in order to clarify the relationship between hypnosis and its effect upon brain activity.

 

Resources :

To learn more about hypnosis or to buy self-hypnosis products, I recommend hypnosisdownloads.com.

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

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Repression Of Traumatic Childhood Memories.

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Repression Of Traumatic Childhood Memories

Most of us are familiar with the idea that people who have experienced severe traumas sometimes REPRESS the memory of them (ie. bury them deep in the unconscious where they cannot be consciously recalled). This process is known as REPRESSION.

This is thought to be an automatic process (ie. not under conscious control) which operates as a defense mechanism (when people deliberately try to push disturbing thoughts/memories out of conscious awareness, the process is known as suppression). Freud thought that such repressed memories festered in the unconscious, causing neurotic symptoms or hysteria, and that they needed to be brought back into consciousness and worked through in order for healing to take place.

Psychologists refer to the inability to recall traumatic events DISSOCIATIVE AMNESIA.

Many have claimed that repression of traumatic memories is very common. For example, one therapist, Renee Frederickson (1992), claimed: ‘millions of people have blocked out frightening episodes of abuse, years of their lives, or their entire childhood.’ Indeed, today, many psychotherapists regard uncovering repressed memories as vital to the treatment of their patients.

But what does the research indicate?

Loftus (1993) found that most people seemed to have no trouble recalling traumatic events, up to, and including, the Holocaust. Indeed, such memories disturbed many in the form of FLASHBACKS.

The scientific community has also become increasingly aware that the ‘memory recovery’ procedures some psychotherapists use, such as hypnosis, can generate false memories of traumatic events, due, often, to a combination of SUGGESTION and LEADING QUESTIONS. So, patients can be encouraged to ‘recall’ something that, in fact, never actually happened. Indeed, so powerful can the effect be that the patient may truly believe the ‘recalled’ event happened, despite documentary evidence disproving it.

HOWEVER, NOT ALL RECOVERED MEMORIES (EVEN AFTER DECADES) ARE FALSE (eg. Schooter et al. 1997) SO RECOVERED MEMORIES OF TRAUMA SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY AND CERTAINLY NOT DISMISSED. Instead, corroborating evidence should ideally be sought.

 

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

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery