If you’ve ever wondered how hypnotherapy can support children, you’re not alone. Here at Hypnotherapy Directory, we’re often asked about hypnotherapy for children. We decided to shed a little light on the subject with the help of Andy Cox, a hypnotherapist and fully qualified member of The International Society of Paediatric Hypnotherapists.
Just like adults, children and teenagers deal with a lot of struggles, but sometimes, Andy says, it takes us a while to notice.
“Any anxiety that a child is struggling with might go unnoticed until, not surprisingly, the child develops a behaviour that is at odds with our idea of how things should be. This is when we tend to realise that there is a problem.” Says Andy.
These behaviours can include thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, night terrors, stuttering, eating issues and nail-biting. Other issues that can affect young people include stress, exam nerves, low self-confidence, bullying, anger issues and phobias. Andy explains that addressing issues early is key.
“Early resolution of anxiety is recommended to stop these problems being adopted as normal habits and therefore affecting them for their entire life.
“A child suffering with tension and anxiety would in all probability hold beliefs at a subconscious level that would trigger various inappropriate habits. Hypnotherapy strategies can really help to target these subconscious issues. By using hypnotherapy the child can be helped to come to terms with these feelings and take care of the underlying beliefs.”
Why is hypnotherapy well suited to children?
The reason hypnotherapy is particularly helpful for children, Andy tells me, is because they are more open to it.
“They are more likely to enjoy daydreaming than grown-ups and have active imaginations. Because children are used to being in a similar state they can normally enter a state of hypnosis very quickly, whereas it might take adults considerably longer. During the hypnotherapy session, children can employ the power of their imagination freely. They utilise the hypnotic state to visualise and create imagery of their difficulties.”
While hypnotherapy for children can indeed be effective, Andy stresses that it’s essential for the child to want to take charge of their problem behaviour. If a young person is simply going along to the session to keep their parent or caregiver happy, they’re unlikely to get the best outcome.
However, being involved in the process as a parent or caregiver is important, “Throughout the process, the attendance and involvement of the parent or carer is essential as a parent’s apprehension about their child’s behaviour can often bring further anxiety to the situation.”
As a parent, if you have any questions about the hypnotherapy process, your hypnotherapist will be able to explain this to you before the session. Rather than explain in detail to the child how hypnotherapy works, Andy says children are more interested in the result than the process.
“Whenever the child asks ‘What’s going to happen?’ I simply state that they are going to just relax and be calm and that I am going to help them to use the power of their own imagination to discover ways to react differently to the issue that they have.”
Using positive affirmations, stories and even using a hero or character from TV, Andy says children accept the ideas with enthusiasm. He also explains that older children also tend to be open to working with their imagination, although the process needs to be modified to fit their more developed thinking patterns.
To help children continue their work from the session, Andy tells me he often records a relaxation session, “Often when we work together I record a relaxation session which you are able to then take away on CD or MP3 to help enhance the work we have done. In fact, quite a few parents claim that when they listen to this with their child they find themselves feeling very relaxed too!”
Introducing children and young people to hypnotherapy early can be an ideal way to help them learn tools and techniques they can use well into adulthood.