What IS Solution Focused Hypnotherapy?
It’s certainly gaining attention as an effective therapy for a wide range of issues these days, but what is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, how can it help you, and how does it differ from other therapies?
I’m biased, of course, but I really believe that Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) is a game-changer, offering an empowering, forward-looking approach to wellbeing and positive mental health. Nothing gimmicky, no trademarked promises of unrealistic outcomes, but positive therapy based in good sense and solid neuroscience.
We all know the traditional image of Psychotherapy – the client on the couch, excavating all the pain and trauma from their past to offer the sage ‘shrink’, who nods and makes notes, ready to impart their wisdom.
We all know the traditional image of Hypnotherapy – the zonked client in the chair, watching swinging watches, passively regressing to past experiences or visualising maggots in chocolate (or some sort) under the control of their therapist.
We do have couches and comfy chairs to be sure, but the approach of SFH is very different and not nearly as ‘woo woo’ as you might expect – it’s a pragmatic approach created by David Newton over twenty years ago, rooted in the hypnotherapeutic approach of the great Milton Erickson, the pioneering approach of Solution Focused Brief Therapists Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer, and the latest learnings from neuroscientific research.
To turn all that into a digestible bite, we believe that:
… how down-to-earth is that?!
We therefore see our role as one of empowerment and facilitation rather than diagnostics and advice, or to put that more simply, we help you explore what your best life would look like, and identify the skills and resources you already have to make that a reality. We then use trance work to help you visualise that future, engaging your subconscious in recognising opportunities to make it a reality. There’s no mystery about how it works, in fact during your Initial Consultation we tell you exactly how the brain works in relation to your challenges, and exactly how Hypnotherapy will help your specific issues.
As such, you may be surprised at how ‘painless’ the process is – we’ll be looking to your preferred future, rather than focusing on the problems of your past. If it’s helpful you can share as much of your past as you like, of course, and we can discover together how the wisdom and resilience, ‘survival skills’ you gained from those experiences can help you forge a new, better future. You may be pleased to discover just how little we focus on problems, even specific ones that you’ve come to us with! Our belief is that, if you are feeling profoundly better and empowered about your life as a whole, you’ll make the decisions you need about any specific issues quite naturally. As such it can be very helpful for issues around PTSD etc, as you won’t have to ‘dig up’ that past trauma and re-traumatise yourself all over again. You can move on.
I always say there’s a fast and a slower track to SFH. The fast track is that: it’s pleasant! You’ll gain knowledge in the Initial Consultation to help normalise your experience and start regaining control, and hypnosis is so deeply relaxing you can take a break from anxious and repetitive coping strategies to gain perspective and start feeling better immediately.
The slower track is that we work with your brain’s amazing neuroplasticity to form new, more helpful mental pathways (thoughts/habits), while letting old, unhelpful ones grow over. This takes around 6-8 sessions as a (very) broad average. As this is a more gradual process it means the changes can feel quite natural, not down to any intervention at all!
Because we’re solution-, rather than problem-focused, you may be surprised at how enjoyable SFH sessions are. That’s not to say we indulge in toxic positivity or brightsiding – there’s nothing worse than opening up, just to feel invalidated or belittled. We’ll start from where you are. There’s no more fulfilling experience than to see one’s client identify the strengths and wisdom they have, then to make that better future they create for themselves a reality. Of course, if you’ve built that future yourself with the support of your therapist, rather than followed a preset programme imposed on you, you’re much more likely to make those changes permanent.
The first half of a SFH session, therefore, is talking therapy, where you’ll have the opportunity to explore your preferred future, and the resources you can use or develop to attain it, with the help of careful solution-focused questioning.
The second half of the session is hypnosis itself. Trance is a very natural state that we pop in and out of many times a day, for example if you drive somewhere perfectly safely but can’t remember the route, or get ‘lost’ in a good book or piece of music. There are no weird tricks to ‘put you under’, we just use careful, soothing language patterns to relax you physically, then mentally, then to encourage you to accept helpful suggestions and images for your own benefit. There’s nothing weird about it at all! If you imagine being ‘lost’ in that good book, for example, and I sit beside you and suggest that you share skills and resources with the main character of the story, you may find it easier to see those parallels, while if I suggest you have blue hair, also like the main character, assuming you’ve not got blue hair you’ll just shrug it off as untrue or unhelpful – it’s the same in trance. You’re aware throughout the process and will reject anything that doesn’t sit right with you. In trance we can use a quirk of the brain – that it can’t tell the difference between real, and vividly imagined experience – to your advantage. We’ll encourage you to visualise that bright, empowered future, deeply and wholeheartedly. This engages your subconscious to move towards realising those goals quite naturally, building the aforementioned new, more helpful neural pathways, en route.
Because of its holistic approach to wellbeing, SFH can be effective with a very wide range of issues including anxiety, depression, stress, low self-esteem and confidence, feeling ‘stuck’, PTSD and co-dependency, as well as problems caused by phobias and unhelpful or repetitive habits (OCD, smoking, eating or drinking problems, nailbiting etc). You may be surprised that it can also help with more specific medical issues such as the effects of menopause and perimenopause, and managing chronic pain. Because it’s client-centred it can be effective with all ages and diversities of clients, too.
I hope that’s given you a helpful overview of SFH: how it works, and how it differs from problem focused therapy. If you have any questions, or would like to find out more, do get in touch!
Check out more Snippets and FAQs for information on Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.
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