Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a modern type of talking therapy that uses solution focused questioning techniques combined with trance, helping people to make positive, lasting changes in their lives
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a type of 'talking therapy', that combines the use of psychotherapy with hypnosis. Hypnosis or 'trance' is a very natural, relaxing state, encouraged by using guided relaxation, where the mind can relax and then focus on thoughts and suggestions that might be useful. As a modern psychotherapeutic approach, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy uses practical, structured, and well-researched strategies to help people make significant, positive changes in their lives in a relatively short period of time. Crucially, in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, therapists look at what the client wants to achieve (the solution) rather than at whatever prompted them to seek help (the problem).
Hypnosis or trance describes times when we experience a shift in our conscious awareness. Trance used during hypnotherapy is very different from the kind of things we might see in 'stage hypnosis'.
In our day to day lives, we all naturally go in and out of trance states many times during the day – perhaps when we are driving, reading a good book or even washing the dishes. In this relaxed state, we experience changes in our conscious awareness – almost like being in a daydream. During this time, the unconscious mind is more aware and can focus on helpful suggestions and thoughts.
Trance is a very natural and safe state. Contrary to what you might see on the television, trance is not mind-control! When we are in a trance state we are still in control, and we process and decide whether information or suggestions are useful to us or not and will not accept or do anything against our will.
Being in a trance is a very relaxing experience – and it is something that all of us will frequently experience in our daily lives. In fact, experiencing changes in our conscious awareness is a vital part of our existence as humans – we need times where we can relax, reflect, and consolidate information, and utilise different parts of our brains for different activities.
From a scientific perspective, changes in conscious awareness can be demonstrated using Electroencephalography or EEG, which is a method of recording electrical energy in the brain. Our brain wave activity changes all the time, particularly as we enter different phases of when we go to sleep. When your therapist uses guided relaxation and mental imagery, it can encourage you to go into a trance state, which causes a natural shift in our brainwave patterns. This means that we might shift from being in a fully alert mental state (like when we're busy working during the day that increases beta brain wave activity) into other states. As we are guided into deeper levels of relaxation, the brain demonstrates more alpha and theta wave activity, where we feel calmer and more relaxed but can also visualise images and reflect on different ideas that may be useful to us.
This is why Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be so beneficial, because it combines powerful solution-focused discussions, followed by encouraging a relaxing trance state so that the ideas and solutions discussed can then be explored and utilised by the brain for positive benefit.
Unlike other forms of Hypnotherapy, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy uses a specific structure, which incorporates several aspects of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) and combines these with an understanding of how the brain works, in combination with using trance. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is also different because it doesn't require the therapist to 'dig into' a person's past, as this is not deemed necessary to help the person formulate plans and best hopes for how they want to move forward in their lives in the future.
At its heart, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy focuses on the present and the future and not on the past. A Solution Focused Hypnotherapist will ask clients to consider their preferred future, for instance asking solution-orientated questions such as: “What would be better if the problem had improved?” or “What would have changed?”. This enables the client's possible solutions to become more obvious and gives the client a goal to work towards.
Hypnosis itself reduces anxiety, and this is done very simply through relaxation and visualisation, allowing the client to focus on the positive aspects of their life that encourages a shift in perspective.
Through working with the client in a collaborative way, Solution Focused Hypnotherapists can also help individuals experiencing confidence and self-esteem issues. It can also help in addressing symptoms of stress, low mood, anxiety (including panic attacks), and in helping people to cope better with physical issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and certain chronic pain conditions. Specific phobias such as fear of spiders, water, flying, and public speaking can also be minimised, along with painful memories and traumatic experiences.
Although there may be some variations depending on your practitioner, the timescales involved and the reasons you are seeking therapy, an Initial Consultation with a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist will usually involve the following:
The initial consultation is a great way for you and your therapist to get to know each other and to discuss the reasons why you're seeking support, as well as your goals and best hopes for moving forwards in your life. It is also a good opportunity to ask any questions about the process, so that you can feel comfortable and informed about what will happen and how it will help.
During a typical session, your Solution Focused Hypnotherapy practitioner will start off by asking you about your week (or during the time since your last session). This will help you to discuss what positive things have been going on, and whether you have noticed or made any changes in your life that are moving you nearer to your goals. Following this, your Solution Focused Hypnotherapist will discuss aspects about how the brain works and how it relates to your experiences.
Discussions involving some solution focused questions and other techniques will then help you to consider and refine your solutions that can help you to move forward in your life. Depending on your circumstances, these discussions may also involve other elements of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) as appropriate.
After this, you'll then be invited to quietly relax (usually in a chair or on a couch), whilst your hypnotherapist speaks and guides you gently into a relaxed state, where you can enjoy resting in a day-dream-like trance state, where your mind can focus on and further absorb and reflect on the things that have been discussed during the session.
During the session, your therapist may also use other measures to gauge how things are going, such as using a GSR monitor (a small device that uses finger sensors to painlessly measure stress levels), or ask you to respond to items on various rating scales, which can highlight changes in how you are feeling as you progress through your sessions.
So, are you ready to start making some positive changes in your life? Find a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist here!
The foundations of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) as a therapeutic intervention are underpinned by the approaches of several notable individuals - from an original founder of clinical hypnotherapy, Milton Erickson, to the creators of solution-orientated therapy. Many of the ideas, techniques and approaches still form the basis of modern Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) today.
Hugely influential in the development of SFH, Milton Erickson was a firm believer in finding solutions. Between the 1950s up until his death in 1980, he had continued to develop and refine his techniques in the practice of hypnosis and psychotherapy. Among his most famous techniques, the use of anecdotes, metaphors and client-centred therapy have endured as major approaches in modern therapy, and specifically for those specialising in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.
Equally influential, in the 1980s the Family therapy unit in the US saw the evolution of the 'Miracle Question' and other solution-focused questioning techniques by Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer. These techniques have evolved over the years and now provide a core focus for Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) and for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. In addition to the work of Erickson, Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg, research has also indicated the benefits of explaining fundamental aspects of how the brain works as part of the therapeutic process. This has led to the so-called 'Brain-based Therapy' (BBT) approach, where clients are involved in understanding how the brain works, how their issues can manifest themselves and how such issues can be addressed. This provides another key cornerstone in the application of modern Solution Focused Hypnotherapy techniques.
In the early 1990s, David Newton (photo) created a new approach to therapeutic hypnosis, which combined the most successful elements of the approaches outlined above, combining a solution-focused approach with hypnosis and neuroscientific understanding about the brain…and Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) was born!
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