How Hypnotherapy Can Change Your Thinking and Your Health
guess, like many of us who’ve seen stage hypnotists and their ‘quack like a duck’ antics, I didn’t fully understand what hypnotherapy was until I tried it. I mean, it’s practically portrayed in movies as a superpower and is usually delivered with the implication that the patient isn’t in control, so it was with a little trepidation that I decided to undertake a session with clinical hypnotherapist, Rebecca Haydon.
Rebecca is a qualified Hypnotherpist and Neuro-linguistic Programming Master Practioner, based in NSW. During the session, which was conducted with surprising effectiveness via Zoom, Rebecca, though sincere, logical and incredibly skilled, didn’t demonstrate any superhuman powers and wasn’t even wearing a cape, quickly smashing that stereotype. And most importantly, it was me that was in control of the entire process. I never felt uncomfortable, pushed or manipulated. In fact, I left our meeting feeling more in control of my own thoughts and actions than I had in a very long time… and rest assured I have yet to make any unintentional bird noises.
Instead, what I’m making is progress.
So, what is hypnotherapy
First let’s look at what hypnotherapy is not. Hypnotherapy is not entertainment. Nor is it a means of manipulation or controlling a person’s mind to get them to do or behave in a way they don’t want to. Simply put, hypnotherapy is complementary therapy that provides tools that allow us to access our subconscious.
Rebecca explains that every day we’re making decisions or reacting to life from our subconscious mind and because we take on most of our subconscious programming from the ages of 0-7 when we don’t have an analytical mind, we tend to take on beliefs that aren’t necessarily the truth. When those beliefs are carried subconsciously into adulthood, most of us don’t realise or understand that it is these programmed beliefs that are behind many of our behaviours, both positive and negative. However, when these behaviours negatively impact your life, your health, or the lives of people around you, hypnotherapy can assist in changing the subconscious beliefs driving those damaging behaviours.
“Hypnotherapy allows us to access the subconscious mind and for you to be consciously in the subconscious. Here we can change thoughts, feelings, traits and behaviours you no longer want and start tapping into a new reality of behaviours, thoughts, feelings, traits and attributes you do want,” says Rebecca.
“Many people come to me as a last resort, but I believe hypnotherapy should be the first option because of the considerable impact it can have on behaviours in a short amount of time. Hypnosis can focus a person’s attention in ways that allow them to receive suggestions that can positively change their thoughts and behaviour.”
Disorders that can be helped by hypnosis
There are many disorders that can be assisted by professional hypnotherapy.
“Working predominantly with women, the themes I usually see are confidence and self-worth. The lack of confidence and self-worth can manifest in weight issues, binge eating, body dysmorphic disorder and confidence issues. These are mainly what I work with when it comes to my practice and hypnotherapy for women,” says Rebecca.
But hypnosis can also help with everything from nail biting, excessive drinking, gambling issues and smoking through to improving self-esteem, sexual problems, disordered sleeping, phobias, panic attacks and migraines. It can also assist with the management of anxiety and trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and obesity.
Rebecca herself has had particular success in the area of weight loss. “A lot of the weight issues I see come from deep rooted beliefs that women take on from a young age. Whether that’s not feeling worthy enough or feeling they have to be a certain weight to be loved. Hypnotherapy allows my clients to see that they get to feel the feelings they believe the weight loss will give them, now, not when they have lost the weight. I see people transform from blaming their situation and negative behaviours on external forces to ditching the excuses and moving forward in a positive way.”
How does hypnotherapy work?
In my hour-long session with Rebecca, which honestly felt like a chat with an old friend, we talked about a few areas of my life that I was looking to improve. While there were several issues to address, mostly related to self-esteem, we decided to focus on why I turn to food that my body reacts badly to whenever life amps up the stress (and let’s face it, for most of us, that’s been a daily thing over the last few pandemic-fuelled years).
There were no spinning watches or trancelike states, in fact we spent the whole session talking, which made it not unlike a traditional therapy session. The big difference was that Rebecca spent much of our session gently probing beneath the surface to reach my subconscious level so she could begin the work of reprogramming the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that were no longer serving me.
“I call it peeling back the onion. You may have a surface level understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing. For example, you might think you’re drinking nightly because you’re busy and tired and it helps to take the edge off, but when we dig a bit deeper through hypnotherapy, we may discover the real reason you’re drinking. Maybe you’ve never felt good enough because of something a parent or teacher or ex-partner said to you once. Through mindset coaching and hypnosis, we peel it right back and get to the root cause of the behaviour,” says Rebecca.
Rebecca definitely managed to peel away a few layers of this onion, revealing several ‘aha moments’ along the way. As someone who has never found traditional psychology helpful or effective and actively dislikes the naval gazing and forensic dissection of the past, I loved that the focus of hypnotherapy wasn’t in trying to fix the distant past, but in finding new ways of thinking to move forward.
Following the session, and after me completing a simple questionnaire, Rebecca prepared me a bespoke hypnosis track, which at about 25 minutes long, I have been playing and practising daily. After using the hypnosis track the first time, I felt a bit drowsy, probably because I’m not used to feeling completely relaxed, but after several days I finish the track feeling upbeat and positive and after just a week I’ve started noticing slight unconscious changes to my normal habits. It would seem results like these are common.
“I have a lot of clients tell me they have been in therapy or counselling for years and not seen much of a change, yet after one or two sessions with me they are blown away with how future focused and empowered they feel,” says Rebecca.
As for me? As someone who prefers to look forward than backward, the session I did and the follow up practice I’ve been taking has seen me start to replace my negative thinking patterns with positive ones, and I’ll be signing up for more.