Clinical hypnotherapy refers to the use of hypnotherapy techniques during trance. Clinical hypnotherapy involves the use of specific hypnotic techniques to bring about changes in behaviour. Hypnosis is only the first step in hypnotherapy. Hypnosis itself does not do anything except make you deeply relaxed. This is very pleasant but does not by itself make significant changes.
In order to change behavior reliably it is necessary to understand hypnotic theories of behavior. At present there are many competing and incompatible theories of hypnosis, and no one theory is accepted by everybody. Each theory has led to the development of different techniques for change. These techniques are delivered using one or more of the basic hypnotic approaches.
This theory states that there are essential core beliefs about the self. These are beliefs about Identity, Behavior and Capability. There is also an associated area of beliefs, usually not consciously examined, about how to survive in the world. These can be expressed as Rules. Accepting this theory gives a useful and effective target for hypnotherapy techniques.
This theory of clinical hypnotherapy states that much unconscious behaviour arises from the inappropriate use of generalized solutions in specific situations. The essence of the theory is that people over-generalise from experience and distort current information to make current situations appear to be the same as past situations. Accepting this theory offers an elegant and consistent way to deal with many recurring problems and phobias.
This theory of clinical hypnotherapy states that many of the problems people have are the result of constantly thinking of negative outcomes. The constant repetition of negative words and images has the effect of hypnotising their own mind. Hypnotizing yourself maintains and worsens the Behaviour Cycle. Accepting this theory leads to therapies based on teaching people how to stop their negative thoughts and how to replace them with helpful positive thoughts. The result is often rapid and permanent improvement in many aspects of the client's life.
This theory states that behaviour that is automatic and seems to be outside the client's control is the result of conditioned responses. The human mind is adept at learning to generalise from repeated experiences and once a satisfactory response has developed to deal with a class of events, then the mind makes these responses automatic and removes them from conscious awareness. The client is then forced to use an inappropriate behaviour in response to events which are overgeneralised. Accepting this theory leads to a set of powerful techniques for removing anchors and conditioned behaviour.
This theory states that the human mind has a learning mechanism that takes input from the world and creates memories of those inputs and associated behaviours. However, under certain conditions the mind can lose contact with its own memories and thus appears to have lost the resources needed to deal with particular situations. Accepting this theory leads to a therapy which seeks to identify and consolidate similar resources and thus re-connect the mind with appropriate memories of how to deal with its problems.
There are three main ways of effecting change in hypnotherapy: Direct Suggestion, Indirect Suggestion and Metaphor methods.
Direct suggestion hypnotherapy is the simplest and most direct way of affecting the subconscious mind. Direct suggestion has the advantage of being easy to formulate, easy to understand and easy to deliver. It has the disadvantage of being so plain and direct that the subconscious mind may reject the suggestion if it conflicts with core beliefs. The structure and wording of direct suggestions needs considerable skill to achieve maximum effect.
Indirect suggestion hypnotherapy was developed to avoid the disadvantages of direct suggestion. Indirect suggestions are elegant and subtle and slide around the subconscious mind's resistance to direct suggestion. The disadvantages of indirect suggestion are that they are difficult to construct on the fly, and they can sometimes be so indirect that the subconscious mind either does not react at all, or takes the wrong meaning from them. There is a long standing debate as to whether direct or indirect suggestions are best. Research suggests that both are equally effective when done well.
Metaphors are a form of indirect suggestion when they are delivered as stories that invite the client to identify with the events in the story. Metaphors can also lead the client through a specially prepared situation using action metaphors. The most sophisticated use of metaphor uses the client's own metaphor or reality and works with the client interactively to develop their metaphoric representations and find resources that will allow them to remove whatever is blocking their development.
Cognitive Modelling is a type of metaphor modelling. It is widely used and is the basis of much of the therapy used in NLP and in CBT. Cognitive modelling consists of getting the client to visualize their problem as a particular situation, and then guiding them to mentally alter that visualization.