How does CBT and hypnotherapy work together?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a very logical, cost-effective, forward thinking, non-judgemental approach and can be used successfully to treat many issues that interfere with our life. When CBT is used in combination with hypnotherapy, it can enhance the effect of the therapy and reduce the time of the therapy sessions.
This is because when hypnotherapy is used, the body and the brain fall into a relaxed state with the help of the therapist. The mind becomes more preceptive, and it can easily absorb the incoming information and store it in the brain, which will enhance the desired effect.
The great news is that this method has been proven to be effective for online therapies as well, and this is how therapist have been working during the pandemic.
So, the therapist will explore the client’s thinking pattern together and will explain how thoughts, beliefs and behaviour relate to each other. Once this cycle is learned, things will start making sense.
However, understanding things is not enough, if we don’t know what to do when the issue comes back and if we still feel anxious. In CBT the therapist will collaborate with the client and find an alternative thinking and a desired, realistic goal to work towards and start practising the techniques and coping skills. Skills that people can use anywhere they are.
Adding hypnotherapy to the session will teach the client how to relax and reduce anxiety. The therapist can also send out the personalised and recorded relaxation techniques to their clients so that they can listen to them in between sessions. This will make the healing process faster and more effective.
The techniques are based on the use of focused attention, visualisation and relaxation, which are the main purposes of hypnotherapy. The incoming information is based around the desired goal and outcome that was agreed with the client, so what they will hear is a positive, motivating and almost like a clear vision of the desired goal. The suggestion is so powerful that it enables the client to imagine and feel the heard information so much that they actually start seeing themselves in the new, desired outcome. We simply form a new, healthy belief in a safe and genuine way.
For example, I always had phobia of spiders. Many years ago I was introduced to a technique that is specific to phobias. The main purpose of this technique is to see the spider in many different ways - seeing a spider as a cartoon, a fluffy spider in the children shop, a real spider on tv, a real spider on the floor, etc. and I had to rate my anxiety each time. We did this exercise a few times within 30-40 minutes and this was only a trial in a classroom.
I could not believe how effective this technique was until I saw a spider a couple of month later. I saw it and I did not feel anxious or threatened anymore. I've simply acknowledged the spider and removed it, something that has never even crossed my mind that I would do. So visualisation works immensely. I am not so sure if I want to go to a room filled with spiders though. I think I would need a few more exercise for that.
Visualisation can work for many other things which is incredibly effective when hypnotherapy is used. If we imagine talking to other people in the room, and we visualise that we do this easily, without being anxious, after a few sessions we will feel ready to give a presentation or an exam in front of people, just because we have already 'lived' and faced the feared situation in our mind, over and over, and we also practiced how we felt. The key sentences are: 'So what? What if I make a mistake? What's the worst that could happen?' (nothing... people might not even notice the mistake, or they might find it nice and real and will like you more).
Furthermore, CBT can help people with bad eating habits, low self-esteem or negative thinking. This is why CBT is often the most effective form of treatment for anxiety and depression related issues, or even for issues like Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), and its effectiveness is based on evidence.
BDD is another great example where hypnotherapy can enhance the effect of the therapy. For example, someone has lost a significant amount of weight, but the person still feels overweight. In this case the reality does not match with what the person pictures about themselves, which can cause an imbalance.
By adding hypnotherapy to CBT, the person can learn how to visualise themselves with their new, slimmer appearance. This will help them adjust their real body shape with the image of themselves to create a healthy body and mind balance and prevent further complications.
Sometimes we need to relax first in order to start working on something. We can use the muscle relaxation and tension control techniques to reduce the level of stress. This is recommended because when we are too stressed, our focus on the incoming information is reduced. When we feel like this, we just want to relax and hope that someone can help reduce the tension in the muscles. When the tension is lower, our body and our mind feel the relief immediately. We feel more energised and our mind can absorb and process the new information.
So there are many ways to make changes in our life. The more we hesitate the longer we have to live with our anxiety. Why would we choose this if we could have a better option?