How my own training in hypnotherapy helped me deal with anxiety
I came into hypnotherapy as a bit of a novice. I had read about hypnotherapy, and watched some videos online to get a feel for it. I knew it worked - I'd talked to enough people and read enough articles to make me think that. But to really understand it I needed to experience it myself.
During my training we practised on each other. We were told that the training wasn't our own personal therapy sessions and we should choose small problems to work on, so that we got to experience the process without going to far into our own problems. I loved going into trance and having my fellow students reinforce those small changes we had discussed. I noticed small but long lasting changes in myself.
Week after week we tried out various things; solution-focused hypnotherapy, learning the interesting but sometimes complex language based Ericksonian approach. Then we tried some techniques which were 'content free'. This is where a technique is used to help a client but they do not actually have to say what the problem is; they work through it in their head.
There are times in my life when I have found a situation painful or upsetting, but other people seem to take it in their stride. I'm feeling distressed about a situation yet when I try to explain this to, say, a friend, they are surprised it worries me and ask why I don't just let it go. Of course, I do the exact opposite. It goes round and round in my head as I replay the situation again and again. I'm embarrassed and upset. I don't want to feel this way but I can't stop it and it affects other parts of my life. In therapy terms I had 'framed' this reality in a certain way based on my negative feelings and could not work out how to reframe it.
Well, there I am on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and we are going to practise reframing a situation. I am asked to recall a time when I felt unhappy in a situation, but not share it with the group. Immediately a scenario comes to mind, one that I wouldn't tell anyone about because I didn't think they would understand. To them it probably would seemed so small and inconsequential, but it had got under my skin. Someone being unkind and hurtful that had lowered my self esteem and led me to question myself. I was asked to imagine the scenario; then, I was asked to change aspects of it. I turned down the colour to a pale grey, I shrank the person down until they were miniature, speaking in a silly squeaky voice. Then I put them in a box, a teeny tiny box, and threw the box away.
It was incredible. Instead of feeling the usual knot in my stomach when I thought of this person, I found myself laughing. How ridiculous it all seemed. How on earth had I allowed that person to have such an impact on me? For the first time I felt free of the anxiety and stress I had held on to for years.
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