Afraid of Hypnosis

Afraid of Hypnosis - A close up of a person talking on a cell phone - Clinical depression

As clinical hypnotherapists, we work in close cooperation with the medical field.  Doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers and therapists refer to us patients whose conditions prove resistant to traditional treatments.

Because our profession is still not fully known and understood, it can be a difficult decision for many to visit a clinical hypnotherapist for the first time. Occasionally, our colleagues in the medical field mention one of their patients could greatly benefit from hypnotherapy but is “too afraid” to make the appointment. This is one of the reasons why a number of us offer a complimentary initial consultation to first-time clients. It takes the pressure off making the first appointment with a hypnotherapist. Knowing there will be no hypnosis conducted during the initial consultation, no fee incurred and no obligation, makes it less stressful for someone to come in to discuss the nature of the work we do and how it can benefit their specific situation, challenges and goals. The initial consultation allows new clients to realize we are professionals, operating in a clinical setting, with proven methods in no way related to esoteric practices, voodoo or mysticism. Mostly, it is an opportunity for them to discover what hypnotherapy truly is, ask any questions they may have and discuss in which ways hypnotherapy can help them overcome the obstacles to their well being, success, balance and peace of mind.

There are two main causes for the common misconceptions about hypnotherapy. The first one is the fictional distortion of hypnosis by the movie industry and by works of fiction in general. Though fiction now tends to give a more accurate picture of hypnosis, not so long ago, it was portrayed as some sort of eerie sleepwalking state in which someone entirely relegated the control of their mind to the hypnotist. This image was blown to such proportions, we still hear today perfectly intelligent individuals declare they want nothing to do with hypnosis because they are not willing to abandon the control of their minds and thoughts to someone else. The second source of misrepresentation comes from the entertainment shows presented by stage hypnotists. In the same manner that on-stage magicians, called illusionists for that very reason, rely on clever tricks to give their audience the illusion they are actually performing magic, stage hypnotists rely on the art of illusion to give their audience the impression their selected subjects are under their full control. The truth is, the volunteers performing on stage remain perfectly in control of their own minds. Stage hypnotists are expertly trained in the art of selecting their subjects. Using precise, accurate and subtle psychological tests, they select individuals whose desire to perform, entertain and create laughter is a predominant interest. Given the right opportunity and suggestions, they are acting on stage as they would naturally do in front of their friends and family.

Contrary to popular myths and legends, and to the dramatization occasionally portrayed by the movie industry, hypnosis is not a state of unconsciousness in which we lose our self-control or enter an eerie trance similar to a sleepwalking state. On the contrary, we are more aware of our surroundings and in better control of our decisions while under hypnosis than we are in our regular conscious state. A person in a state of hypnosis is acutely conscious, fully aware of everything taking place around them and in complete control of every one of their words and actions, including their physical, mental and emotional states. Hypnosis is a natural state of focus and relaxation in which we are capable of accessing more of our mental abilities. Rather than losing control, when we are in a state of hypnosis, we gain control over pieces of our lives, actions and behaviors we did not have control over before.

Common myths about hypnosis also include the belief that some people are not capable of being hypnotized and the fear of staying stuck in hypnosis. Everyone is capable of being hypnotized, as long as they have the desire to be, and the mental ability to focus and follow simple instructions. And no one can stay stuck in hypnosis. Hypnosis is a natural state of being, which we go in and out of often during the course of the day, when we are engrossed in a movie, a lecture or a book for instance, or when we are driving and our mind drifts off while remaining fully focused on our destination. If a person were to be placed in a state of hypnosis and the hypnotherapist would suddenly leave the room, the person might simply open their eyes or, if they are tired and feel comfortable with their surroundings, they might fall asleep for a moment, as naturally as they would at night, and wake up on their own.

Most of us go through life using at best a mere 3 to 5% of our mental capabilities. Hypnosis is one of the most powerful techniques available to gain immediate access to more of the potential of our mind. Being able to access more of the potential of our mind enables us to create instantaneous and lasting changes in ourselves, in our lives and, ultimately, to alter the direction of our paths.

As our colleague Don Mottin, Vice President of the National Guild of Hypnosis, puts it: “The only negative side effect of hypnosis is not to use it.”

Unsolved Mysteries of the Mind

Unsolved Mysteries of the Mind - A close up of a screen - Royalty-free

The nature of our work, as clinical hypnotherapists, consists in diving into the unsolved mysteries of the mind. Because our field is still not fully known and understood, people often come to see us as a last resort. Hypnotherapy is not the first option that comes to mind when someone is faced with a debilitating problem. More often than not, they turn to us after having tried every possible traditional treatment, program and path, when nothing has brought them durable relief. For this reason, we regularly work with people who have reached a profound state of despair and hopelessness. Because every other method, treatment or program they tried seems to have failed, they have grown convinced nothing will bring them relief. Some are on the verge of giving up.

When a problem or condition proves resistant to a great number of attempts, methods and treatments, it is often driven by a cause buried deep within the subconscious mind. I like to compare the different levels of our mind to the image of an iceberg. The conscious mind is merely the tip of the iceberg, visible above the surface of the water. The subconscious mind is the gigantic, all-powerful driving force hidden below the surface. Attempting to alter behaviors, reverse debilitating conditions or repair post-traumatic sequels by addressing them via the conscious, critical, analytical part of the mind will only prove successful if there is not a cause, buried within the subconscious level of the mind, driving the problem in the opposite direction. The effort would be similar to attempting to move an iceberg by its tip in one direction, while the submerged mass is being driven by oceanic currents the other way. You might have a short-term illusion of progress, but the larger driving force under the surface will regain its momentum and obliterate your efforts.

The reason we have powerful and permanent results with clinical hypnotherapy when all other methods have failed is because we don’t fight against the currents. Instead, we dive head in to the very depths of the epicenter to uncover, understand, analyze and resolve the cause of the problem. In many ways, it could be labeled archeology of the mind, in that we dig deep beneath the surface to uncover and study the past origins of a present human behavioral problem.

We can sometimes we can be consciously aware of the initial sensitizing event triggering a current behavioral problem, yet interestingly, understanding the functioning and reasoning behind the problem on a conscious, analytical, intellectual level does not necessarily enable us to heal from it and release it.

Other times, the original cause of a problem escapes our conscious mind entirely. This is the case in traumatic memories that have been blocked, repressed or denied on a conscious level.

Diving to the epicenter of the problem, revisiting its cause, uncovering the initial sensitizing event at the subconscious level, allows us to process it in a new light.  Removed from the pressure and urgency of the event in actual time, distanced from the intensity of the original emotional charge, we are able to shift our perspective of the initial trauma, to repair the wounds left behind, restore our sense of self-worth and heal our self-image.

Peritraumatic Dissociation

The Alchemy of Adversity - A woman sitting on the floor - Childhood trauma

Dissociation is the normal response of our central nervous system when we are faced with intense physical harm, fear or terror we are unable to avoid, escape or shield ourselves from. In a state of dissociation, we undergo a partial or complete disruption of the normal integration of our conscious and psychological functioning. We can no longer feel physical pain, shed tears, access or express emotions, communicate or interact with others. We become disconnected from our physical bodies and emotions.

Dissociation is a natural response we share with all living beings. In the wild, when an animal is pursued by a predator, through the length of the chase, the prey is very much engaged in the form. Fully present in its body, it is actively immersed in the flight mechanism aimed at saving its life. Yet, the instant the predator’s jaws closes on its throat, the prey’s body instantly becomes limp and loose. Dissociation allows the nervous system to shield itself from a level of physical, psychological and/or emotional harm, the intensity of which would be impossible to absorb.

The dissociative state in wildlife and human beings is characteristically recognizable by the dazed, faraway, glassy, disconnected stare we get when our lives, physical safety, emotional well being, or all of the above, have been suddenly, violently altered.

Peritraumatic dissociation is the clinical term used to refer to dissociation at the time of the trauma. Clinical studies of peritraumatic dissociation have shown it to present a greater risk for chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and posttraumatic symptoms. Importantly, peritraumatic dissociation predicts risk of PTSD independent of the level of traumaexposure and general dissociative tendencies.

Experiencing with peritraumatic dissociation early in life, especially when the state is endured repeatedly, permanently stretches the flexibility of the boundaries between the conscious and subconscious levels of the mind. Journeying back and forth between the conscious state and the subconscious, dissociative state, at an early age, establishes a lifelong pattern or instinctive habit to retreat to the dissociative state whenever an uncomfortable experience is encountered. Adult victims of childhood peritraumatic dissociation can find themselves subconsciously retreating to a dissociative state anytime their level of comfort is altered.

Symptoms of dissociation resulting from trauma may include depersonalization, psychological numbing, disengagement, or amnesia regarding the events of the abuse. While peritraumatic dissociation provides a temporarily effective defense mechanism in cases of severe trauma, in the long term however, dissociation is associated with decreased psychological functioning and adjustment. Other symptoms sometimes found along with dissociation in victims of traumatic abuse (often referred to as “sequelae to abuse”) include anxiety, PTSD, low self-esteem, somatization, depression, chronic pain, interpersonal dysfunction, substance abuse, self-mutilation and suicidal ideation or actions.

Hypnotherapy allows us to back in time to the initial sensitizing event (ISE). We may not always be consciously aware of what the initial sensitizing event is. In many cases, what can be viewed as an insignificant event from an adult perspective, was in fact an event of great emotional impact on a small child. While the event appears lost to the adult consciousness, it remains an active survival tool to the inner child we carry within, an engrained reaction that has become instinctive when dealing with similar triggers. When the sensitizing event is reinforced by other life events, a pattern of behavior, or survival techniques, are set in place that become extremely resistant to change in the conscious mode. Reframing the initial sensitizing event with hypnotherapy enables us to work at the subconscious level and heal the trauma wounds of the past.

Weight Loss and the Subconscious Mind

Weight Loss and the Subconscious Mind - A person wearing a blue shirt - Weight loss

We are often asked how hypnosis works with lifelong issues like weight mastery.

The subconscious mind has a powerful control over every part of our lives, from the functioning of our very organs, heart, liver, lungs, breathing ability, etc. to the storage and management of all our memories, experiences, learning and functioning capacities. Very often, events, situations, words, traumas, memories we might not even consciously remember play an important role in the deeply engrained habits, behaviors and actions of our day-to-day lives.

A child who, for instance, witnesses a family member’s illness and notices the person’s weight loss, could very well, without consciously realizing it, establish a subconscious association between weight loss and illness, potentially death. Once this association is imprinted in the mind, it becomes a lifelong, deeply rooted protective mechanism. Later on in adult life, no matter the attempts, the willpower, the methods, if the subconscious mind is imprinted with the belief weight loss leads to illness, potentially even death, a survival mechanism will kick in and resist any and every attempt to lose weight.

Hypnosis enables us to go back to the cause and examine the initial sensitizing event with an open, objective and adult mind to bring clarity and understanding to the actual cause of the problem. The cause is never the weight or specific behaviors in themselves, but issues such as low self-worth, perceptions or beliefs buried deep within the subconscious mind. By going back to the cause, not only do we uncover that this protective mechanism is no longer needed, but we realize it has in fact been hindering the health, well being and happiness of the person. Once this comprehension is achieved, everything thereafter suddenly unfolds in a beautiful, harmonious way. When the cause is dissolved, the problem disappears.

Your Weight Loss Goals

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of weight loss with hypnosis, we offer a free initial consultation to first-time clients in our Portland center. Our mutual commitment to your goals is essential to your success.

Communicating with the Subconscious Mind

Communicating with the Subconscious Mind - A close up of a man making a face for the camera - Light

Learning how to communicate with the subconscious part of our mind requires a clear understanding of the differences between the conscious and subconscious operating modes. The conscious mind is the critical and analytical part of our mind: it thinks, reasons, evaluates and takes decisions accordingly. It is slow to react, only capable of performing one activity at a time, controls less than 5% of our body functions and stores our short-term memories only. The subconscious mind, on the other hand, has a child-like quality: it takes everything literally, without analyzing the validity or truth of the statements offered. It controls our involuntary functions and stores all our memories, everything we have ever seen, heard, felt, read or experienced. The subconscious mind can perform a number of tasks simultaneously, in an effortless, flowing and fluid manner. It reacts without analytical interferences. One we learn to respond on a subconscious level, we do so more rapidly and efficiently than we ever could in a conscious manner. This is demonstrated by our ability to drive once we have mastered the different steps and skills involved, and by our ability to become proficient at a sport or a musical instrument, for instance. After training long and hard to master the skill, we perform it flawlessly, in an entirely subconscious manner.

Communicating with the Subconscious Mind

Being of child-like quality, the subconscious mind takes everything literally, without analyzing, judging or criticizing the information received. When a statement or input comes into the subconscious part of the mind, it is accepted as a reality, as truth, and responded to accordingly.

A good example of the communication style characteristic of the subconscious mind is given by Don Mottin in one of his presentations. If an individual were to communicate solely on a subconscious level and someone were to approach him and ask: “Excuse-me, do you know what time it is?” The individual would respond: “Yes I do.” If we were to insist, asking: “Would you mind telling me what time it is?” the individual functioning on a subconscious level would smile peacefully and answer: “No, I wouldn’t mind at all.” In order to obtain the actual response to your question, you would have to take a direct approach and ask: “What time is it?” When interacting on a conscious level and being asked the same question: “Excuse-me, do you know what time it is?” the analytical part of the conscious mind engages into action and deducts: “Ah ha, the person must not have a watch, he would like me to look at my watch, secure that information and verbally pass it onto him” and we respond accordingly: “Certainly, it’s half past twelve.”

Accessing the Subconscious Mind

Hypnosis is called critical faculty bypass precisely because it enables us to bypass the critical faculty of the mind and communicate directly with the subconscious mind. Because hypnosis is a natural state of focus and relaxation, there are many ways to gain access to the subconscious mind. Children are highly suggestible because they function primarily on a subconscious level most of the time. For this reason, information and statements given to them, especially by authority figures such as parents or teachers, are accepted as truths in their reality, even if they have no bearing with truth whatsoever. Adults function primarily on a conscious level most of the time, objecting to and analyzing everything they receive through the lens of the critical part of their mind. However, certain situations or circumstances place us in a subconscious level of the mind and enable critical faculty bypass: when we are undergoing strong emotions, when we are concentrating intently and highly focused, when we are involved in sports, training, or doing repetitive, familiar activities, or when we are subjected to repetitive statements over a period of time. Repetitions create an imprint on the fabric of the subconscious mind. Any statement repeated with enough regularity eventually becomes a reality in the perception of the individual receiving it and is extremely resistant to change at a later date.

Understanding the Functioning of our Mind

Understanding the functioning of the subconscious mind enables us to comprehend the extent of the damage left behind by childhood trauma. A child, already functioning primarily in the subconscious mode, who is placed in a state of fear, attack and/or threat by the authority figures he trusts as the center of his world and his primary truth keepers, will accept and integrate the statements or accusations received as truths and reality, permanently shaping the child’s outlook and perspective of himself, his life and the world around him. When given in a repetitive manner, these statements become permanently imprinted on the fabric of his mind. Hence the importance of providing children with a safe, supportive and encouraging platform, as they evolve in a highly suggestible state and are merely learning to become aware of who they are and how the world functions.

Applying this Understanding to our Benefit

Understanding the functioning of the subconscious mind also enables us to work rapidly and efficiently when dealing with the lifelong effects of childhood, other types of trauma, or when deciding to shift negative and/or unhealthy behaviors that have proven resistant to all other types of therapies, medications or conscious willpower attempts. Taking advantage of the natural state of hypnosis we find ourselves in when training or performing familiar physical activities, I have had powerful results using a whole-brain approach of re-imprinting of the mind. Recording specifically targeted suggestions, in a rhythmic beat coupled with the right music, to be played repetitively, day after day, during athletic training has proven to be positively uplifting and motivating for the individual, and produce the desired changes and outcomes.

The Alchemy of Adversity

The Alchemy of Adversity - A screenshot of a cell phone - Psychological trauma

Adversity is an alchemy that permanently transforms the composition of the organisms it permeates. Clinical studies in humans and monkeys have clearly demonstrated that adversity experienced early in life can have profoundly negative consequences for later development and health, eventually resulting in pathology, illness or disease.

Humans who experience stressful events early in life, such as childhood maltreatment or abuse, suffer an increased risk of developing depression or suicidal tendencies in later life. Confrontation with caregiver emotional deprivation leads to persisting attachment disturbances in later life, often with co-occurring problems of inattention, difficulties letting go, emotional and cognitive problems.

Published by Newsweek in a 1997 special edition of the magazine, the brain scan images to the right demonstrate the difference in the development of the brain in children. To the left, the brain of a child growing up in a healthy and supportive environment. To the right, the brain of a child affected by environmental stress.

We typically go through 3 different phases when confronted by adversity: the impact phase, the post-disaster phase and the recovery phase. The impact phase is where most of the damage is inflicted.

Depending on the degree of severity of the adversity faced, we respond differently during the initial phase. In some cases, we might be able to respond in a logical, action-oriented manner. In others, we might become stunned or appear lost, a behavior that demonstrates a certain degree of dissociation. During the post-disaster phase, many report feeling numb, unable to connect with their emotions. The majority of people go through a phase of denial. Nightmares and feelings of hopelessness are commonly reported. During the recovery phase, we process both the impact phase and post-disaster phase in order to move forward and beyond the traumatic events. With any major trauma, expecting to return to a state of being similar to the one experienced before the trauma is unrealistic. Memories of the traumatic event have now become a part of our life experience.

The child, who at 2 years old is abandoned by her caretakers, whether physically or emotionally, sustains a permanent, traumatic rupture in her emotional makeup. The infant who experiences threats and harm by the figures supposed to love, protect and nurture her, carries within her core the weight of fear, danger and insecurity. The lasting effects of early trauma translate into profound transmutations of the adult behavioral, psychological and emotional fabric.

Without being properly addressed, these early experiences will leave someone feeling lost, out of place, unsafe and carrying deep underlying sadness through life. They can also lead to substance abuse problems or to an exhausting quest toward perfection and excellence in a desperate attempt to counterbalance lasting inner feelings of worthlessness left behind by acceptance deprivation.

The question we typically ask ourselves when faced with adversity is “Why?” “Why me?” “What is the sense, purpose or reasoning behind the adversity?” “What did I do to deserve this?” Though this is a classical reaction, the actual question which needs to be addressed is not why but how. In other words, rather than focusing our attention on reasons, our approach needs to be shifted toward actions. “How do I respond?” “What steps need to be taken to move forward and beyond this?”

With hypnotherapy, we have the possibility to bring the person back in time to the initial sensitizing event (ISE). Most often, the person is not consciously aware of what the initial sensitizing event is. In many cases, what can be viewed as an insignificant event from an adult perspective, was in fact an event of great emotional impact on a small child. While the event appears lost to the adult consciousness, it remains an active survival tool to the inner child we carry within, an engrained reaction that has become instinctive when dealing with similar triggers. When the sensitizing event is reinforced by other life events, a pattern of behavior, or survival techniques, are set in place that become extremely resistant to change in the conscious mode. Reframing the initial sensitizing event with hypnotherapy enables us to work at the subconscious level.

When we bypass the analytical part of the mind, we have the possibility to shift the foundation and perspective of the initial event and create a new, healthier and permanent perception. Once the perception is shifted, the symptoms of the problem change and often disappear.

Survivors of adversity and trauma often experience trauma-related guilt. The guilt stems from the belief they could or should have done something differently at the time of the trauma, or that they were in some ways responsible for the occurrence of the trauma. Trauma-related guilt is even more predominant in survivors of childhood trauma, due to the fact children have a natural tendency to feel responsible for what happens around them. A child who is rejected by her caregivers will grow up believing she is not worthy of being loved.  This misperception and lack of self love typically leads to repeated abuse in future relationships.  Survivors of childhood abuse are subconsciously drawn to abusive partners who resonate with a familiarity they mistake for love, as they were taught love implies violence.  Those neglected by their caregivers in childhood often find themselves subconsciously attracted to partners who will neglect them again.  The resonance of familiarity they feel when encountering a partner who replicates patterns experienced in childhood is mistaken for rapport.  The comfort level brought by recognition is mistaken for love. The inner-feeling of unworthiness left behind by acceptance deprivation in childhood is a marker for repeated abuse in adult life.

Combat exposure, physical abuse, sexual abuse and the loss of a loved one have all been found to be associated with the experience of trauma-related guilt. Clinical studies in cases of domestic abuse, rape and incest also demonstrate the presence of moderate to high levels of guilt. Experiencing feelings of guilt after a traumatic event leads to a number of negative consequences such as depression, shame, anxiety and thoughts of suicide. Reframing the perception of the events with hypnotherapy allows us to address these feelings, re-examine the events and help the person achieve a more realistic interpretation of what took place. The inner-child is finally given the chance to understand she was in no way responsible for her caregivers’ incapacity to love and protect her.

Our mind is the control center of our nervous system, our body’s decision and communication center. It controls every part of our daily life, from vital functions such as breathing to our capacity to comprehend the world around us, process and memorize events, and react accordingly. When we learn to access more of the potential of our mind, there is no limit to what we can achieve. Surviving adversity can be compared to an elite Special Ops tactical training program.

When Special Forces are dropped in the middle of a desert, with nothing to survive on, they still have vital resources to draw from: themselves, their skills, their training. The goal is to not let the course overcome us, and instead, to overcome the course. We can choose to consider adversity our very own Special Ops training, and draw from the resources we hold within to keep and master the course. It is within our power to use the alchemy of adversity to become an indomitable warrior in the face of the challenges we are called to overcome. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu writes: “To be a skillful warrior, you must first make yourself invincible.”

We hold, within the depths of minds, the keys to the mastery of everything we are called to face. In the words of Winston Churchill: “If you are going through hell, keep going.”

The Anatomy of Emergency

The Anatomy of Emergency - A man wearing a helmet - James Zadroga

The nature of emergency in itself presents a unique combination of factors which enable the efficiency of a hypnotherapeutic approach.  Tailored to law enforcement officials, EMTs, paramedics and firemen, our Emergency Response and Pain Control Hypnosis training will teach you valuable techniques to avoid shock in trauma cases and accident victims.

Using techniques designed for emergency situations, you will learn to distract and bypass the barriers of the conscious mind to deliver efficient suggestions, avoid shock, decrease bleeding, accelerate the immune system, block pain, reduce the severity of injuries in burn victims and provide vital assistance to those in critical situations.

The Anatomy of Emergency

One of the keys for successful hypnosis lies in the ability of the subject to concentrate. A person who is injured is concentrating intensely. By so doing, they have already bypassed the analytical part of the mind, enabling us direct access to their subconscious abilities.  Additionally, a person in a state of emergency has a heightened need and desire for help, as well as an acute willingness to trust and believe in the possibility of receiving such help.

The ingredients for successful hypnosis, which in a typical, non-threatening situation, would take preparation and coaching to achieve, are gathered. Studies have shown direct hypnotic suggestions enabled injured children to reduce the bleeding from their wounds. Substantial decreases in the severity of the burns in burn victims were also recorded when hypnotic suggestions were delivered within the first hour.

Overview of PTSD

Overview of PTSD - A birthday cake - Emotion

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious condition triggered by experiencing, or witnessing, a traumatic or terrifying event, in which serious physical or psychological harm occurred or was threatened. It is among the most severe forms of emotional disorders known and virtually any trauma may cause PTSD. Trauma is defined as an event that severely compromises the emotional well-being of an individual or causes intense fear. PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic stressors in which intense fear, helplessness, endangerment or terror were experienced. Devastating life events such as loss of employment, loss of home, changes in economic and physical safety and stability, divorce, loss of a loved one, may also trigger PTSD. Patterns of PTSD persist long after the event that triggered the fear, making an individual hyper-responsive to future fearful situations. Symptoms of PTSD most often begin within three months of the triggering event. In some cases however, they may not begin until years later. The severity and duration of the illness vary. Some people recover within six months, while others suffer much longer. In some cases, the symptoms worsen and last for months or even years.

Diagnostic Symptoms of PTSD

Diagnostic Symptoms of PTSD include intrusive thoughts (re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks), nightmares and distressing dreams, difficulty falling or staying asleep, avoidance of memory triggers (places, people or other stimuli associated with the trauma), amnesia, fear, irritability, anger, hypervigilance, acute sensitivity to normal life experiences, severe anxiety overwhelming the individual’s ability to cope, major depression and a reduced ability to concentrate, experience pleasure, feel joyful emotions and imagine a positive future. PTSD symptoms can become chronic after exposure to frequent, intense traumatic events and cause significant impairment in social, occupational and other important areas of functioning.

Clinical studies indicate women with severe cases of PTSD are also likely to experience physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, headaches, joint pain and abdominal pain. Men tend to under-report psychiatric symptoms and develop other responses such as alcohol or drug abuse, conduct disorders and violence.

Physical or Psychological Trauma

PTSD is caused by either physical or psychological trauma, and more frequently a combination of both. Studies show that PTSD is more likely to be caused by physical or psychological trauma prompted by humans than trauma caused by natural disasters. Main sources of trauma include experiencing or witnessing childhood or adult physical, emotional or sexual abuse. In addition, experiencing or witnessing an event perceived as life threatening such as physical assaults, violent accidents, sexual assaults, illnesses, medical complications, wars or disasters can lead to PTSD.

Childhood Trauma and PTSD

Research has consistently found that childhood trauma, chronic adversity and familial stressors increase risk for PTSD after a traumatic event in adulthood. The effect of childhood trauma proves to be a marker for both traumatic experiences and attachment problems later on. Interpersonal traumas cause more problems than impersonal ones. Proximity to, duration of and severity of the trauma also make an impact. Scientific studies show that individuals who were abused as children are more susceptible to PTSD as adults. Clinical findings further indicate that failure to provide adequate treatment to children after they suffer a traumatic experience, depending on their vulnerability and the severity of the trauma, will ultimately lead to PTSD symptoms in adulthood. Peri-traumatic dissociation (dissociation at the time of trauma) is shown to be predictive of PTSD.

Social Support and PTSD

Having good social support helps protect against PTSD. Those with strong support systems are less likely to experience PTSD than those without social support.

Addressing PTSD with Hypnotherapy

The difference of the hypnotherapeutic approach lies in its ability to work at the subconscious level of the mind, thereby directly targeting the source, or root cause, responsible for the physical, mental or emotional symptoms and conditions experienced.

When root causes are left unaddressed, and later even reinforced by other events, patterns of behaviors emerge that become extremely resistant to change in the conscious mode.

Reframing the initial sensitizing event with hypnotherapy enables us to finally unveil, shift and release trauma wounds of the past. Doing so, we open the way for a better, more balanced, solid and stable experience of life.

Working in Collaboration with your Medical Team

Please note a physician’s written authorization is required prior to initiating work on diagnosed conditions. If you are currently taking prescription medications, do not stop or reduce your dosage without your doctor’s approval.

As clinical hypnotherapists, we work in close cooperation with your medical team. Your continued progress is monitored by your doctor. This enables us to provide you with optimal results.

Overview of Clinical Hypnotherapy

Overview of Clinical Hypnotherapy - A close up of a veil - Extraversion and introversion

While hypnotherapy refers to the use of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes, clinical hypnotherapy is the application of hypnosis to facilitate the treatment of physiological and psychological symptoms. By communicating directly with the subconscious mind, hypnotherapy is used to treat a wide variety of physiological to psychological symptoms.

Most therapeutic methods, such as counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy and coaching, work on a conscious level. The conscious mind, however, represents merely the tip of the iceberg. The power of hypnotherapy lies in its ability to work at a subconscious level, thereby directly targeting the source. Hiding underneath the surface of our conscious mind, the subconscious represents the largest part of our mind.

The brain is the control center of the nervous system, our body’s decision and communication center. The central nervous system comprises the brain and the spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system is made of nerves. Together they control every part of our daily life, from breathing and blinking to helping us memorize facts for a test.

The limbic system, often referred to as the emotional brain, comprises the hippocampus, amygdala, anterior thalamic nuclei, septum, limbic cortex and fornix, which support and control a variety of functions including our emotions, fears, behaviors, long-term memories and olfaction. The thalamus is a gateway that transfers all sensory information to the brain for processing, and determines whether or not to send the information to the cortex for conscious consideration. The hippocampus is in charge of transforming information into memories, which are then transformed into neural pathways and stored for future reference. The basal ganglia are a group of nuclei, which receive most of this information from the cortex and translate them into a variety of functions, including voluntary motor control, procedural learning relating to routine behaviors and habits, eye movements and cognitive and emotional functions.

The hypothalamus links the nervous system to the endocrine system. Among many other functions, it plays an essential role in our motivation and controls our body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue and sleep. The amygdaloid region of the brain, or amygdala, is part of the limbic system and involved in a wide range of behavioral functions. Among its primary role is the processing of our emotional reactions, such as anxiety, fear, desire or exhilaration. Because of this, it is said to participate in our emotional memory and affects the way we relate to the world and to each other.

The prefrontal cortex is primarily implicated in planning complex cognitive behaviors, mental functions and personality expressions. It is regulates our decision making process and moderates correct social behavior. The basic activity of this part of the brain is considered to be the orchestration of thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals. It holds executive functions in its ability to differentiate among conflicting thoughts, determine good and bad, better and best, the consequences of activities and the advantages of working toward defined goals.

It is estimated that the brain counts around one hundred billion neurons. These billions of neurons connect with one another in complex networks. Called neural pathways, they allow communications to occur in the brain via neurotransmitters, producing different thinking, feelings, and behavioral actions. All our physical and mental functions depend on the establishment and maintenance of these networks. Our habits and skills, such as nail biting or playing a musical instrument, become embedded within the brain in frequently activated networks. When we stop performing an activity, the neural networks for this activity fall into disuse and may eventually disappear. When neurons are either over or under used, the chemistry of the brain changes and neurological or psychiatric disorders can occur.

The Transformational Role of Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis techniques address the currently held behaviors specifically. When old negative behaviors are correctly addressed, room is created for new positive behaviors to be formed. Healthy and beneficial positive emotional associations are brought forward, initiating new routines for the mind to focus on. Once former negative behaviors are reduced and released, active techniques are used to find, create and maintain new emotional balance. Hypnotherapy allows us to communicate directly with the subconscious mind, thereby enabling us to correct, rectify and treat a wide variety of physiological and psychological symptoms.

Overview of Forensic Hypnosis

Overview of Forensic Hypnosis - A close up of a red light - Footage

When law enforcement officials need witnesses or victims to relay information from a crime scene, their memories are not always as helpful as they would like them to be.

According to Senior Special Agent John Kilnapp of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, hypnosis may be the only way to recover the details of a traumatic event crime victims blocked out of their mind. Kilnapp uses forensic hypnosis to help victims’ recall. It is estimated that most people only use in average 3 to 5% of the potential of their mental abilities on a day-to-day basis. Hypnosis is the most powerful tool available to help us access more of the potential of our minds. By helping witnesses and victims tap into more of the potential of their minds, we have the possibility to enhance their recall, thereby providing law enforcement officials with vital information and leads. When conducted properly, forensic hypnosis can be an important element in the preparation and outcome of a trial.

The use of forensic hypnosis in criminal justice and law enforcement discovery dates back to 1845 when it was used to solve a burglary case. The same year, Dr. James Esdaile successfully began performing surgical procedures using hypnosis as anesthesia, rendering his patients analgesic and rapidly gaining worldwide reputation for his painless surgeries. Even though forensic hypnosis is a crime-fighting tool that is often kept secret, it has been used in a number of high-profile cases including the criminal prosecutions of Ted Bundy, Dr. Sam Sheppard, the Boston Strangler and New York City’s Mad Bomber. In 1976, the use of forensic hypnosis gained national recognition when a school bus driver and 26 students, aged 5 to 14, were kidnapped and buried alive. The driver escaped and was able, under hypnosis, to remember the license plate number of the abductors’ white van.