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How can hypnotherapists help improve mental health?

Improve mental health image for blog

How can hypnotherapists help clients improve mental health?

It may surprise you to know that according to a survey report tabled in the House of Commons, 1 in 6 people in the UK aged above 16 have experienced a mental health problem at least once in the past week. The proportion is even higher in women. Prevalence has also been increasing since 1993. Yet it is only in recent years that greater attention has been given to improve mental health.

Mental health concerns are considered a global challenge. This blog delves into how hypnotherapists can help clients improve mental health. Before that, we will provide a brief glimpse into the type of mental health problems individuals commonly face.

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Mental health definition

‘Mental health’ relates to how we think, feel and behave. A definition of mental health is that it is a term given to our cognitive, behavioural and emotional wellbeing. Whether good, or poor, our mental health will influence our physical health, our daily life, and our relationships. It is normal for our mental health to vary, at times feeling brighter, at others less so. Depending on our circumstances, our work, relationships, community or society (as well as many other things) can influence us, as does our genetic makeup and how we were brought up. Just as we are able to improve our own physical health, so we can improve our mental health. For hypnotherapists, they are also able to work with clients to enable them to make positive changes and also learn how they can help themselves.

 

Quality of mental health

Good mental health generally helps someone feel good about their life. They can have the resilience to cope with challenges and bounce back quicker and/ or more easily.

Poor mental health can relate to anywhere from feeling a little anxious, stressed or low mood, through to a mental health disorder. Life can see more of a struggle, and new challenges can seem more problematic as a result.

Whilst we may actively work to improve our physical health, such as with a healthy diet, hydration, sleep and exercise, it seems that to improve mental health is not always considered.

 

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Common mental health concerns

Stress

Stress is described by Mind as how someone reacts when they feel under pressure or threatened, commonly when they are in a situation that they don’t feel they can manage or control. The Health and Safety Executive have a different definition, which is particularly useful, talking of ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’. Each person will have a different limit for stress.

A survey by Statista states that 79% of the people in the UK said that they experience stress frequently. Stress leads to many health problems and costs the nation dearly, with 33% of short-term absences at work being attributed to it, according to the same survey. When clients seek hypnotherapy it tends to be for issues they are experiencing (e.g. physical or emotional symptoms) , yet working to improve mental health will be commonly part of an overall stress management strategy.

 

Anxiety

Anxiety is generally described as a feeling of unease, like worry or fear. This can range in intensity from mild to severe. It can very specific or generalised anxiety In addition, health-related anxiety is becoming more commonly discussed, particularly post-Covid.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview.

Anxiety is an equally severe problem (to stress), with approximately 6.6% of people suffering from it. Anxiety, if left untreated, can lead to a whole host of problems like hypertension, digestive, respiratory, and nervous system problems. A hypnotherapist will work with a client to help them develop tools to address their present anxiety and also apply those tools to future concerns, thus developing effective coping strategies and anxiety reduction/ prevention skills.

 

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Phobias

Harvard Medical School suggest that a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder with a persistent, excessive, unrealistic fear of an object, person, animal, activity or situation.  Commonly, someone with a phobia either tries to avoid the thing that triggers the fear, or struggles through, but with high levels of anxiety and distress.

According to some estimates by the NHS, the number of people who suffer from some type of phobia in the UK stands at 10 million. One reason why phobias are such a big problem is because they affect people across sex, social background, and age. Anyone can experience a phobia. Hypnotherapy is a superb therapy for clients who wish to improve mental health by alleviating a phobia.

 

Insomnia

Insomnia is often described as a common sleep disorder, where it can be hard to fall asleep or stay asleep, or someone wakes up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. People report still feeling tired when they wake up. Insomnia can lower energy and affect mood. It also can affect physical health, work performance and general quality of life.

Insomnia may be the primary issue. Or, it can be due to another mental health issue. The result of so many people suffering from mental health problems is that 1 in 3 people in the UK have experienced insomnia at one time or another. Insomnia has a cascading effect on the individual, leading to more problems like lower productivity, fatigue, mood issues, diabetes, and so on. To improve mental health with hypnotherapy, a client’s sleeping habits, behaviours and beliefs are considered and appropriate sleep hygiene developed.

 

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Depression

Depressive disorder, or depression, is a common mental health condition that can happen to anyone. According to the World Health Organisation it is characterized by a low mood, or a loss of pleasure or interest in activities or daily life. People might experience changes to the eating habits (eat more or less) and have disturbed or unrefreshing sleep. It is estimated that more than 75% of people experiencing mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries receive no treatment.

Depression, is considered by many to be the most widely spread mental health disorder. In the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics, 1 in every 6 adults experiences it. This statistic refers to adults who experience moderate to severe symptoms. The percentage is even higher when you take mild symptoms into account. Hypnotherapy is a great approach to improve mental health for those with depression, due to the wide range of approaches a hypnotherapist can choose from. This allows for a gentle yet highly targeted approach that is sensitive to the rate of change that the client can cope with.

 

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

The NHS consider PTSD to be a mental health condition which results from very stressful, frightening or distressing events. People may have a range of symptoms, such as flashbacks, insomnia and nightmares, and these may have a significant impact on the person’s quality of life.

According to the World Economic Forum, in 2019 1 in 13 people in the UK were suffering from PTSD. The numbers could be higher post-Covid. Both hypnotherapy and hypno-EMDR are very helpful in addressing symptoms of trauma and giving the client coping strategies that will help them engage with their daily life.

 

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Popular remedies to improve mental health

Counselling

Counselling is a talking therapy, focused on exploring thoughts, feelings and behaviours, in order to gain a better understanding of the self and of others. Sometimes the focus is on change, other times, it is about coping with the issues. There are many models of counselling, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Psychodynamic therapy. In the former, the therapist works to help you change how you think and behave through talking. The latter takes a therapeutic approach to discover the connection between a client’s past and present and change their mindset. Some critics of counselling suggest that insight, once gained, may not be acted upon, and that some talking therapies can also be lengthy in their duration.

 

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Medication

Whilst prescribed medication, or over-the-counter remedies, can be used to work on the symptoms of mental health disorders, they don’t necessarily address the disorders themselves. As a result, some clients find them lacking in long-term effectiveness.

 

Self-medicating

Some individuals will resort to unhealthy coping strategies, such as increasing alcohol consumption, increased reliance on junk food or comfort eating, or the use of recreational drugs.

 

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Seeking support from friends and relatives

Talking with friends and relatives about your problems will help you vent your frustration, and they might even offer a suggestion or two, but those are layman’s suggestions.
Therefore, at best, you can get a short-term reprieve from your mental health problems.

 

Improve mental health - seek support from friends

 

Self-Care

The mental health organisation Mind suggests that increasing self-care can have a significant impact in enhancing wellbeing and working to improve mental health. Their tips include:

  • Connecting with other people
  • Doing something creative
  • Engaging in learning activities
  • Improving sleep
  • Paying attention to physical health
  • Reducing stress
  • Spending time in nature (also gets exercise)
  • Taking time to relax

The NHS also offer some useful wellbeing enhancements suggestions, including promoting the learning of new skills, doing things for others, and having a healthy and balanced diet.

 

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Practising mindfulness

Many mental health issues have some element of excessively delving into the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness can help you take time out of this, by gently focusing on the present and being present in the moment. While this can help reduce the severity of the problem, it may not make the problem disappear.

 

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How hypnotherapists use hypnotherapy to help clients improve mental health

Hypnotherapy is a brief, strategic, collaborative, solution-focused and goal-focused talking therapy.  A hypnotherapist will generally explore the emotional, cognitive and physical aspects of the issue with the client, discuss the client’s goals and formulate a plan to help the client achieve what they want. Some work will be conducted more in a conversational hypnosis type of working (as though they are chatting) and other work will be in formal, eyes closed, hypnotic trance work.

A range of strategies will be employed, as most appropriate for the client. Some of this may include,

 

Resourcing and ego strengthening

The client is given resources and strategies so that they are better able to cope with a change process.

 

Behavioural change work

This works with a client’s behaviours and actions. During this form of therapy, the hypnotherapists help the client enter a hypnotic state in which the subconscious mind becomes more receptive. The therapist helps the client to modify certain behaviours through suggestions to change their habits or actions. The results are faster since the therapist communicates with the subconscious mind instead of the conscious one in the trance state. Mental rehearsal during this process enables the client to practice their new responses whilst in hypnosis.

 

Cognitive change work

Clients’ distorted ways of thinking, their limiting beliefs and unhealthy thinking strategies are examined and the therapist works together with the client to develop (and practice) new, healthier ways of thinking.

 

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Analytical change work

Another approach which a hypnotherapist can take is to explore the client’s memories in a trance state to find the start of the problem and gain insight. This insight enables the client and therapist to work together to find new ways of responding, without the original dsyfunctional ways of being.

 

Hypnotherapy to improve mental health – Case study

Rather than just sharing the theoretical ways in which hypnotherapists help clients to improve mental health, we will also share a case study.

According to a case covered in the National Library of Medicine, a client suffering from anxiety disorder was treated using hypnotherapy without the use of medicines. The 45-year-old client insisted on not taking medication to deal with anxiety caused by stomach issues. After multiple hypnotherapy sessions, the client indeed experienced relief from anxiety and other symptoms of anxiety like palpitations, cold sweat, and the root cause of abdominal pain.

 

Improve mental health - anxiety

 

Benefits of hypnotherapy to improve mental health

Solution-focused approach

Hypnotherapy focuses more on creating long-term solutions for clients, working through the problem, understanding its’ origin and purpose,  and finding a desired and achievable solution. As the direction of therapy is forward-focused, this helps avoid a client feeling immersed, regularly, in their problem state.

 

Faster results

Compared to other talking therapy options like counselling, the number of hypnotherapy sessions required to experience improvement can be significantly less. By working in a strategic and solution-focused way, and giving clients resources and strategies to employ outside of the session, clients can often feel that they are already moving forward after the very first session.

Improve mental health fast

 

Effective habit change

According to an article in MIT, 45% of our daily actions are initiated through habits. Consequently, most mental health problems that people suffer from are also initiated through habits, albeit bad ones. The reason why hypnotherapy is so effective is because it can effect habit change. There are numerous advantages of changing bad habits like:

• When you alter habits for improvement, the results are long-lasting.
• It’s possible to eliminate unwanted responses, behaviours and actions by replacing bad (undesirable) habits with good ones.
• Better habits improve your life overall; improving habits has a cascading positive effect on the client’s life.

 

Aids self-development

Apart from better habits, hypnotherapy can help you eliminate a self-limiting mindset, elevate your self-esteem, and increase your self-confidence. When someone is able to enhance their general mental health, not only can this benefit mental health issues, it can also improve their life holistically. Thus boosting resilience and reducing the impact of any future challenges, helping to maintain good mental health.

 

Improve mental health - self care

 

Long term results

As per a study published in the National Library of Medicine, even for complicated health problems like irritable bowel syndrome, hypnotherapy can provide long-term benefits. The study concluded that the beneficial effects of hypnotherapy lasted for at least 5 years in most patients, which speaks volumes about the effectiveness of hypnotherapy.

Another study  compared the long-term benefits of hypnotherapy and CBT among ADHD patients. It found that patients who used hypnotherapy experienced better improvement. The study concluded that hypnotherapy provided long-term relief to patients from core symptoms of ADHD.

 

Communication with subconscious mind

Within hypnotherapy, clients are able to engage fully, both with their conscious mind and their subconscious mind, thus working more broadly. This helps a client gain greater insight into how they function, and leads to more choice for the client about how they care for themselves.

 

Has a calming effect

Talking to a hypnotherapist about a traumatic experience or personal problems can be uncomfortable for many individuals. Uncomfortable situations can stress any individual. On the contrary, hypnotherapists can talk with a client both in and out of hypnosis. Working in a hypnotic state can help people remain calm and relaxed.

Not only that, hypnotherapy helps you develop better habits and behaviours, which further help you gain more control over your life, which further reduces anxiety. Thus, hypnotherapists have a calming effect on client’s lives, leading to improved physical and mental health.

 

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Conclusion

As seen from these benefits, hypnotherapists can help improve the client’s mental health in more ways than one. That’s the reason why hypnotherapists are in great demand. An increasing number of people who are suffering from such mental health issues are also taking the help of hypnosis to deal with their problems and lead a better life.

 

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– written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks and the HypnoTC team
(HypnoTC Director)

Dr Kate Beaven-Marks HypnoTC the Hypnotherapy Training Company

 

 

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