“ We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves”
What is Strategic Psychotherapy?
Jay Haley, one of the founding figures of brief and family therapy in general and of the strategic model of psychotherapy explains that “Strategic Psychotherapy does not seek meaning in the past (ask why) and assume the client will change with insight. It seeks patterns and processes in the now (asks how) and shows the client where different choices can be made to enable them to change.”
Like all therapies the resolution of the client’s presenting problem is the target, and strategic therapy focuses on the client’s current experience holistically – that is, not just their internal state and thinking, but their external interactions with other people and the world around them. In this way it shares elements of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) in that it looks at the ‘triggers’ of thoughts and behaviours and seeks to challenge and disrupt the client’s usual patterns.
What is Brief Therapy?
Brief therapy and Strategic Psychotherapy are essentially different names for the same approach. Brief therapy is also defined as being strategic, exploratory, and solution-based rather than problem-oriented. It is less concerned with how a problem arose than with the current factors sustaining it and preventing change. Milton Erickson and then Jay Hayley were both key practitioners in the Brief Therapy movement using clinical hypnosis as a primary vehicle for change. Brief Therapy as the name suggests is designed to get results very quickly and effectively.
The history of Hypnosis
Forensic hypnosis, dental hypnosis, medical hypnosis, birthing hypnosis, clinical hypnosis and sports/performance hypnosis have all been around for a very long time. In fact, hypnotic experience or trance experience has been in existence as long as humanity has explored ways and means of enquiry, relief and transformation. The Celtics, the Egyptians and the Bible all reference hypnosis. In more recent times hypnosis has garnered increasing popularity since being found to be the most effective modality of healing war veterans from the devastating experience commonly known as ‘shell shock’ in WW1, WW2 and the Vietnam War.
As western society continues its thirst for understanding more about the astonishing power and adaptability of our minds through avenues such as mindfulness, neuroplasticity and epigenetics, our personal potential continues to expand. Hypnosis is a proven modality of change therapy within this realm of human exploration and evolution that is both easily accessible and effective.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is now a mainstream accepted form of therapy that involves accessing an altered state of consciousness either to heal or solve an issue or to enhance performance. It is a very natural and safe state of focused attention whereby the client always remains in control. The experience of hypnosis can be profoundly relaxing and highly effective and is sometimes referred to as a trance state. We naturally go in and out of different states of trance or brain wave activity as we carry out our day. Examples that can induce similar (but not exactly the same) brain wave states include meditating, daydreaming, being absorbed in an activity like dancing, watching a movie or reading and even driving and having a shower. There’s a reason so many people have their great ideas while singing in the shower! When you enter hypnosis your breathing and heart rate slow. Most people prefer to close their eyes.
What is it useful for?
Some examples of symptoms or problems that hypnosis has been proven to be highly effective in treating include: anxiety and stress, pain, trauma, insomnia, depression, obsessive/compulsive disorders like hand-washing and nail biting, phobias and addictions like smoking, drinking and overeating. Hypnosis is also gaining popularity rapidly for enhancing physical or mental performance with many elite performers in sports, business and the arts utilising this ‘silver bullet’ to get the upper edge and deliver outcomes as their highest self.
How does it work?
By tapping into our subconscious, where all of our automatic behaviours operate from, clinical hypnosis allows us to shift any negative patterns and processes that get us stuck in a place where we don’t want to be. Being stuck can present as emotional or physical stress such as anxiety, bad habits, insomnia, addictions, relationship issues or health and weight issues, to name a few.
The subconscious mind is a repository of all of our accumulated life experiences and beliefs. Habits are a ‘learned’ response. The subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and imagined. It is on this premise that hypnotherapy works.
Hypnosis is very powerful as it can tap straight into your subconscious mind (which controls 95% of what you do) allowing you to make major changes in your perspective and behaviours. It is not a magic wand that requires no contribution from you however. If you come in for help with weight loss, you will not wake up 20kgs lighter the day after your first session! That being said the speed of results using our method compared to alternative modalities can be very impressive often getting results in just 3-6 sessions compared with month after expensive month in the therapy chair.
Is it safe?
Clinical hypnosis done by a thoroughly trained and qualified hypnotherapist is not only absolutely safe but also highly effective. Unfortunately there is an entire industry of hypnotists who cater for public misconception about hypnosis. Stage hypnosis, for instance, which is all just a gimmick for the sake of entertainment, is misleading to say the least! In a clinical hypnosis session the patient is always aware and in control. The practitioner is just the facilitator.
What can I expect?
My process is very collaborative and respectful involving any combination of strategic psychotherapy, clinical hypnotherapy and coaching. Depending on the issue our sessions together will involve discussion and questioning around your concerns and/or goals combined with permissive, customized, solution-oriented hypnotherapy and task setting and measuring. The Ericksonian model of clinical hypnotherapy, which we practice, never treats the symptom but rather looks at the individual and uncovers the unique circumstances for each client. This means that each client will not necessarily receive the same standardised process.
In essence, our goal is to help you rediscover your strengths and promote self-sufficiency and independence so that you are empowered to not only overcome your presenting concern but also excel at managing life’s inevitable challenges moving forward.
Am I hypnotisable?
It is considered that nearly everyone can be hypnotised but not everyone can be hypnotised in the same manner as the human condition is unique. Contrary to popular belief, a light state of hypnosis or trance is often all that is needed to generate desired results rapidly. There is nothing you need to do to be hypnotised other than be willing and open to the process.
The few people who would not be receptive to hypnosis would be anyone suffering from any significant conditions where they weren’t able to relax or concentrate for a short period of time including schizophrenia and intoxication from drugs or alcohol. A reminder that if you don’t want to be hypnotised then you wont be.
Do you use scripts?
While I’m sure that some hypnosis scripts for some issues can be helpful in part, I believe a multidimensional and customized approach is far more reliable and effective. The use of a script for a particular symptom implies that all patients have the same problem or symptom and should therefore be treated the same way. This approach ignores the fundamental truth that we all have different experiences, beliefs, cultures and drivers that define and influence us as individuals at any particular moment. The way one person ends up with a symptom e.g. comfort eating – is likely very different to the way another person ends up with the same symptom. It is key for the therapist/client relationship to uncover and address these individual intricacies to maximise opportunities for healing and change.
What does it feel like?
Hypnotherapy will feel slightly different for everyone just like all experiences are. Some generalised descriptions of how it can make you feel include feeling very relaxed, calm, peaceful, clear, empowered, inspired, relieved, creative, assured, connected, energised, open and ‘in the zone’.
Are there any side effects?
The positive side effects can be life changing in terms of outcomes. Depending on what the focus of the treatment is, a positive change in perspective, behaviour and/or ego strengthening are all very achievable.
The only potential negative side effect is that the client doesn’t get hypnotised or has unrealistic expectations. Hypnosis is very effective but a magic wand it is not. There are lots of factors that will influence the depth of your hypnotic experience at any point in time including attitude, mood, stress levels and external distractions. The good news is that this doesn’t really matter, as often even just a light state of hypnosis is all that is needed to effect change.
Is it the same as meditation?
You could say that there are similarities to the intention of most forms of meditation and hypnosis in that both modalities aim to assist you to relax and tap into your subconscious mind generating positive benefits. They are otherwise different modalities. The key distinction with our approach is the strategic, targeted focus on your specific situation, which uncovers your strengths and builds your skills.
TMMC highly recommends integrating certain meditation and mindfulness techniques into your daily life. We would be delighted to recommend some wonderful Vedic Meditation teachers in Australia and around the world. There are some excellent Apps and online programs that we can suggest on request as well.