Hypnotherapy for children and young people

What approach would you associate with treating a phobia? What ways could you use to help to quit smoking? Ask these questions to the general public and I'd happily bet (even being unaccustomed to gambling) that many would mention hypnotherapy somewhere in their top five.

However ask a parent, "What therapies are there available to help your child with anxiety/sleeping difficulties/self-esteem?" and I bet very few would mention hypnotherapy. Ask staff in schools, "What interventions are there to help your pupils with exam anxiety/raising confidence?" and I reckon barely any would even think about hypnotherapy let alone specify it or know how to access it. 

Hypnotherapy is a treatment approach that is becoming more 'mainstream' and better understood as some of the misconceptions are gradually being lifted thanks to some positive media exposure and its inclusion in parts of the NICE guidelines. However its link with children still has a long way to go.

Today hypnotherapists tend to see the majority of child referrals coming from word of mouth recommendations with parents frequently remarking, "I didn't know you could use hypnotherapy with children!" Even on databases and information sites listing all the applications of hypnotherapy, using it with children is rarely included and the feedback is that those terms are never searched for. So few people seem to realise that hypnotherapy can help children and the irony is that children are generally more responsive and far less cynical and over-analytical than adults.

I keep trying to raise awareness to parents, healthcare professionals (pretty much anyone who will listen!) that they should consider hypnotherapy as a treatment approach instead of automatically reaching for the more traditional interventions that can be more expensive, more difficult and more time consuming. I'm not saying hypnotherapy is the answer to everything but I certainly think it should be added to the list of possible options to be considered. 

Children enjoy it and often don't even see it as treatment but as something fun to do. The skills they learn they can often generalise to other situations, using them in adulthood and for the rest of their lives. 

In cases where children have received hypnotherapy, the feedback is compelling, with 77% of all pupils who had hypnotherapy achieving or exceeding at least one of the targets they set themselves. Hypnosis should be made readily available to schools as another tool they can access if needed, and something all children have access to if necessary.

Building up the association between the terms 'hypnotherapy' and 'children' is a tall order but I feel we need to highlight this approach as children are potentially missing out on a useful, effective treatment simply because people don't realise it exists. I would love to see the day when people think about hypnotherapy for children as readily as they currently think about hypnotherapy for treating phobias or smoking cessation.

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