I've answered some commonly asked questions below. If you have a question that isn’t covered here, please feel free to contact me using the button at the foot of the page.
What is cognitive hypnotherapy?
Cognitive hypnotherapy is a talking therapy that combines effective techniques from several types of therapy and psychology to achieve positive and lasting change. It incorporates approaches from positive and evolutionary psychology, EFT, NLP, parts therapy and hypnotherapy.
‘Cognitive’ means that we work with your thought patterns and language, and the way you see the world – the ‘model’ you have in your mind of how life is. This version of the world will be unique to you, and how you’ve interpreted your experiences.
‘Hypnotherapy’ describes the way that through talking, we can explore the way your unconscious decides what you should think, feel and do in any moment, so we can change it to something more helpful and positive. Your unconscious mind influences your thoughts, feelings and actions all the time, without you being aware of it. So it makes sense that this is going on when you have a problem, just as much as it happens in useful ways – for example, so you can brush your teeth or boil a kettle automatically, without thinking consciously about how to every time you do it.
Problems arise when the unconscious mind makes a mistake in interpreting a situation. We can then find ourselves in a problem trance where our actions and feelings happen automatically, even though consciously we don’t want them to. This is how we can get stuck with behaviours and patterns of feeling that we don’t want, but can’t seem to control.
Our unconscious uses the way it’s interpreted previous experiences to decide how we should respond to something that happens now. This can cause us problems now if it’s interpreted something wrongly.
For example, if as a very young child we interpret getting something wrong at school as meaning we’re stupid, we can grow up believing this to be true, and then find ourselves with problems as an adult, without really knowing where the belief underneath them has come from.
Our unconscious often makes mistakes when we’re young about what a situation means, because we have very limited reasoning abilities when we’re small. So for example, we might interpret a parent not being available or not helping us as meaning we’re not lovable, and grow up with this underlying belief affecting how we respond in other situations, when in fact there may have been other reasons they did not help us – they were unwell, or stressed, or struggling with their own difficulties – and yet the message we’ve absorbed is that there was something wrong with us. Then our unconscious builds its automatic responses, or ‘trance states’, on this misinterpretation.
In cognitive hypnotherapy, we use these trance states to uncover the connections which lead to your problem. We then modify and replace them with new, more positive states to help you change and feel how you’d like to feel without the problem. We work together to achieve your goals.
What is trance?
Being in trance simply means that we are not fully present consciously in the present moment – our mind is elsewhere. Your unconscious uses what we call ‘trance states’ to free up the conscious part of your mind to deal with what it decides is most pressing at present.
As part of normal life, we all drift in and out of trance every day. We do many things without consciously thinking about them, like driving, losing ourselves in a book and daydreaming.
For example, our unconscious tells our body the movements we need to make so that we can brush our teeth, without us thinking about it. This means our mind is free to daydream about the day ahead, as it doesn’t need to think about each and every action needed to clean our teeth. They happen automatically, from our unconscious telling our body what to do. We’re in a trance state (imagining something later in the day, that hasn’t actually happened yet). Our mind is not fully present in the actual current reality, that we are cleaning our teeth!
Hypnotherapy allows us to access the trance states which are a part of us doing our problem, and change them so that we can do something more helpful instead.
In this way, cognitive hypnotherapy is more about ‘dehypnotising’ than ‘hypnotising’, so we stop going into the trances which keep us repeating our problem.
An example of this is someone who knows they want to lose weight, yet keeps finding themself standing at the fridge or the biscuit box overeating, not feeling fully in control of their actions. At that point, they’re doing the problem behaviour while in a problem trance. The techniques I use allow us to access what’s going on unconsciously that is making those moments happen, and change it.
What do you do in a cognitive hypnotherapy session?
First of all, we talk about why you’ve come and what you’d like to change. I explore with you the triggers and situations in which you experience your problem and how you’d like your life to be without it – how will you know that things are better? I listen closely to how you describe things and your language and thought patterns. Then I use the patterns that suit the way your mind works, to allow you to relax into trance easily. I guide you through techniques to reframe how your unconscious interprets and responds to situations, and make positive suggestions which help you achieve the change you wish to make.
I treat the individual, not a diagnosis or label, so treatments are tailored to you. I may provide a recording for you to listen to between sessions, written specifically for you to support lasting and effective change. I also often teach clients useful techniques they can use themselves in their day to day lives.
What is hypnosis like?
You will be awake, aware of where you are and in control at all times. Hypnosis is a collaboration between me as the therapist and you as the client – it is not me ‘doing’ something to you against your will, and I will never ask you to do something with which you are uncomfortable.
You are able to bring yourself out of trance at any point. The suggestions I make to you while you are under hypnosis will be based on the information you have given me and the change you wish to make.
Is there any evidence it's effective?
Yes. Cognitive hypnotherapy is an evidence-based therapy. Read about the research at www.qchpa.com/evidence-based-therapy
Research has found that after an average of 6 sessions, 71% of clients with clinically significant anxiety and depression reported themselves recovered when treated with cognitive hypnotherapy, compared to 42% of people receiving other IAPT therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy. This research was published in a peer-reviewed article in September 2015 in the Mental Health Review Journal.
The full article can be found here:
A pilot investigation of Quest Institute Cognitive Hypnotherapy services using Improving Access to Psychological Therapies as the benchmark
William Peter Andrews, Andrew Alexander Parsons, Heather Rawle, Julie Gibbs. Mental Health Review Journal 2015 20:3 , 199-210
What do 'conscious' and 'unconscious' mean?
Conscious and unconscious are terms we use to describe the different levels in our mind which inform our thoughts and perceptions of the world.
The conscious describes the thoughts, memories and feelings that we’re aware of at a particular moment. We can easily talk and think about this part of our mental processing.
The unconscious describes our underlying thoughts, memories, urges and feelings. We are not consciously aware of them, but they greatly influence the behaviours we do as a result.
Our brains pick up millions of pieces of information every second. If we were consciously aware of every single piece of information available to us at every moment, without any sort of filter, we would be permanently overwhelmed. It would be exhausting!
Our brain needs to prioritise so that we can discard unimportant details and act on the important ones. So we use an automatic filtering system – our ‘unconscious’ – which decides for us, based on our previous experiences and how we interpreted them, which information is most important. Having selected the “most important”, our brain brings these to the surface of our awareness and it is these which become ‘conscious’ and then drive our behaviour.
Why is our unconscious important?
The unconscious is wired to protect us, by taking us away from danger or towards pleasure. This is grounded in our survival instinct. Threats will always take priority. If a tiger is running towards us, we need to focus on that, not on things which are irrelevant to our survival at that moment!
Much of our behaviour happens unconsciously. Once we can drive, we don’t think through every action while driving. We arrive without consciously thinking about changing gear, turning the wheel etc. Yet part of us has directed our body to take the necessary actions. This is the unconscious, causing actions to happen without us thinking about them.
Unconsciously driven behaviours become a problem when we’ve wrongly interpreted a previous experience, leading our unconscious to perceive similar circumstances in the future as triggers for a particular reaction. During childhood we often misinterpret experiences, since our interpretation is based on understanding which is limited by our stage of development. This is where cognitive hypnotherapy can help, as it allows us to access the interpretations made by our unconscious and understand them in a new light. We can reframe how we’re perceiving things and defuse the triggers for our problem behaviour or feelings.
How much does it cost?
I offer a free initial phone consultation of up to 30 minutes to explore how we could work together.
I ask new clients to commit to 3 sessions initially as an introductory package at a cost of £250. This includes 3 sessions, tasks and recordings I may send you in between appointments, and contact by email in between sessions. The first appointment is up to 90 minutes, and includes a full history take and discussion, plus if appropriate a short relaxation or technique. Subsequent sessions are up to 60 minutes.
Appointments after the first 3 are charged at £80 each.
How long are sessions?
The first session is up to 90 minutes. Subsequent sessions last up to 60 minutes.
How many sessions will I need?
This varies, as everyone is different and treatment is tailored to each client’s needs. Many clients experience significant change within 3-6 sessions. We want to make sure change is permanent, so there is no set number.
Your commitment is important if you want to experience change, so it’s important to engage with any tasks I suggest you do between appointments, and to listen to recordings provided.
Is information I share kept confidential?
Yes. Everything we discuss remains confidential. I would only disclose information about a client where I was concerned for their or another person’s safety, or in certain limited circumstances required by law.
I keep all client records and data confidential and in accordance with GDPR and Data Protection laws. I follow the Codes of Ethics of the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH), the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), and the Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy Practitioners Association (QCHPA).
Is there anyone you can't work with?
I am a member of the NCH and QCHPA and follow their Codes of Ethics and guidelines. I cannot work with you if you have been diagnosed with epilepsy, or with psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or personality disorder.
I also will not work with you if I feel I cannot offer help for the issue you wish to address, or if I believe you would be better served by someone else.