Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a type of ‘talking therapy’, that combines the use of psychotherapy with hypnosis. Hypnosis or ‘trance’ is a very natural, relaxing state, encouraged by using guided relaxation, where the mind can relax and then focus on thoughts and suggestions that might be useful. As a modern psychotherapeutic approach, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy uses practical, structured, and well-researched strategies to help people make significant, positive changes in their lives in a relatively short period of time. Crucially, in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, therapists look at what the client wants to achieve (the solution) rather than at whatever prompted them to seek help (the problem).
What is hypnosis and is it safe?
Hypnosis or trance describes times when we experience a shift in our conscious awareness. Trance used during hypnotherapy is very different from the kind of things we might see in ‘stage hypnosis’.
In our day to day lives we all naturally go in and out of trance states many times during the day – perhaps when we are driving, reading a good book or even washing the dishes. In this relaxed state, we experience changes in our conscious awareness – almost like being in a day-dream. During this time, the unconscious mind is more aware and can focus on helpful suggestions and thoughts.
Trance is a very natural and safe state. Contrary to what you might see on the television, trance is not mind-control! When we are in a trance state we are still in control, and we process and decide whether information or suggestions are useful to us or not and will not accept or do anything against our will.
Being in a trance is a very relaxing experience – and it is something that all of us will frequently experience in our daily lives. In fact, experiencing changes in our conscious awareness is a vital part of our existence as humans – we need times where we can relax, reflect and consolidate information, and utilise different parts of our brains for different activities.
From a scientific perspective, changes in conscious awareness can be demonstrated using Electroencephalography or EEG, which is a method of recording electrical energy in the brain. Our brain wave activity changes all the time, particularly as we enter different phases of when we go to sleep. When your therapist uses guided relaxation and mental imagery it can encourage you to go into a trance state, which causes a natural shift in our brainwave patterns. This means that we might shift from being in a fully alert mental state (like when we are hectic and busy working during the day – as shown by beta brain wave activity) into other states. As we are guided into deeper levels of relaxation, the brain demonstrates more alpha and theta wave activity, where we feel calmer and more relaxed but can also visualise images and reflect on different ideas that may be useful to us.
This is why Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be so beneficial, because it combines powerful solution-focused discussions, followed by encouraging a relaxing trance state so that the ideas and solutions discussed can then be explored and utilised by the brain for positive benefit.
How is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy different to other types of hypnotherapy?
Unlike other forms of Hypnotherapy, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy uses a specific structure, which incorporates several aspects of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) and combines these with an understanding of how the brain works, in combination with using trance. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is also different, as it doesn’t require the therapist to ‘dig into’ a person’s past, as this is not deemed necessary to help the person formulate plans and best hopes for how they want to move forward in their lives in the future.
How does Solution Focused Hypnotherapy help?
At its heart, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy focuses on the present and the future and not on the past. A Solution Focused Hypnotherapist will ask clients to consider their preferred future, for instance asking solution-orientated questions such as: “what would be better if the problem had improved?” or “What would have changed?”. This enables the client’s possible solutions to become more obvious and gives the client a goal to work towards.
Hypnosis itself reduces anxiety, and this is done very simply through relaxation and visualisation, allowing the client to focus on the positive aspects of their life that encourages a shift in perspective.
Through working with the client in a collaborative way, Solution Focused Hypnotherapists can also help individuals experiencing confidence and self-esteem issues. It can also help (if necessary in conjunction with medication) in addressing aspects and symptoms of stress, low mood, anxiety (including panic attacks), and in helping people to cope better with physical issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and certain chronic pain conditions. Specific phobias such as fear of spiders, water, flying, and public speaking can also be minimised, along with painful memories and traumatic experiences.
How many sessions will I need?
Usually clients are seen for 8-12 weekly sessions. However, at the initial consultation the therapist will be able to give you a more accurate amount. Some clients have less, some more as there are many factors to consider. In terms of more specific issues like a phobia, usually only 4-5 sessions are needed. For clients coming for quitting smoking it is 1 session of 2 hours.