You might already know that hypnosis can help you to work through mental blocks including smoking, phobias, and weight management. But did you know that hypnosis can also help with anxiety, depression, and anger; it can help with motivation, self-confidence, and procrastination; it can help you to cope with loss and grief, and to manage pain.

Hypnosis works for these and a variety of other symptoms because it allows you to access parts of your unconscious that may be stuck repeating certain patterns. And the reason it works for many people is because unlike traditional therapy, a hypnotherapist is trained to teach you a variety of different techniques that are tailored to your specific life circumstances and subjective experience of the world.

“I left the world & felt a world” – Brenda Hillman (In The Trance)

One of the key differences between working with me as a hypnotherapist and working with a more traditional talk therapist is that I am not going to ask you to tell me stories about your life, your past, your relationship with your father, your mother, etc. Rather, I am going to ask you what it is you’d like to change, now. Because where it all began is in the past. Instead of thinking about beginnings, it’s how you feel now that is important.

And as you tell me what you’d like to change I’m going to set to work immediately showing you various mental strategies that might (if you’re ready and willing to learn) lead you to a place where you can experience change in how you perceive your life. Because one of the most successful things a therapist can do to help clients navigate difficult and conflicting emotional states is to offer what Melissa Tiers (author of Integrative Hypnosis) calls a “tool belt” of strategies that can be utilized in their daily life.

“What does not change / is the will to change” Charles Olson (The Kingfishers)

And if you entertain certain possibilities, your work with me might be even deeper because you’ll be aware of what’s happening on multiple levels of your somatic(body) and cognitive (mind) experience.

You already know the potential effects of stress on the body because it is repeated over and over again in the news media, from Newsweek to Dr Oz. Here’s a recap from WebMD:

  • Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
  • Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
  • The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.

The reality is that the world is an extremely stressful place. And if you’re not in a position to escape from this world (because you’ve got to live in it) then one solution is to change how you think about it. Many people confuse this notion with the mantra of “positive thinking” – “just think positive thoughts and everything will change.” Like Barbara Ehrenreich, this drives me crazy because what this attitude seems to do is lead people to a judgmental position of blaming other people – people who are poor, or struggling, or dying of cancer — for not thinking the “right” way. This is the blame-the-victim America that is causing even more stress and hardship.  The cycle of positive thinking is actually negative thinking and is not at all what I espouse.

So instead, I ask you to imagine the materials:

  • Your immune system and your thought processes are interrelated because emotions have a direct effect on your body and the way it responds at the cellular level. The progressive science behind this is called Psychoneuroimmunology.

And if you can imagine the possibility that you can control stress hormones with your mind, then you won’t be surprised to know that neuro-biology has finally caught up to what ancient meditation practices, William James, and poets from Olson to H.D. have said along: the mind does not stay still. And at the level of synapses, neurons, and neurotransmitters, the brain is malleable too.

So if you want to take it one step further, imagine this:

  • There are genes in those very neurons of your brain that are capable of being reprogrammed; so it is possible – controversial, but possible – that those and other genes in our bodies can be activated by input from our emotions. This is called epigenetics and means, as Time Magazine put it, “your DNA isn’t your destiny.”

And now you might now be wondering – so what does this have to do with hypnosis?

Simply this: If you can imagine that all these ideas are possible, then you’re already aware how capable you are of change.  And as you imagine that those neurons are not stuck in some pattern but are susceptible to being rewired in a myriad of different ways, you’ve already started the work. Imagine how easy it will be for you to see that the changes you want to make are already happening.

“I dreamt we were susceptive to language
that care might be agency’s complement
and form never more than condition
passing as body”

Eleni Stecopoulos, from Armies of Compassion