Hypnotherapy for Children — How does it Work?
Hypnosis can be useful as an effective treatment for adults, as has been known for many years. In more recent times, studies have discovered that hypnosis and hypnotherapy, in general, has been also helpful for dealing with issues with children, teens and young adults. Many mental health professionals nowadays are trained in hypnosis, specialising in working with children even as young as 2 to 3 years old.
What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis is a natural and relaxed state of your body and mind, one that is similar to falling asleep. Two examples of this can be seen in the moments before falling asleep and right around waking up. The mind is focused then, while the critical faculties are temporarily suspended while you’re waking up or falling asleep. Hypnotherapists help people by deliberately easing them into that state, so they can create behavioural and emotional changes in therapy sessions. Parents with children experiencing a wide range of problems may benefit from hypnosis treatment, specifically for anxiety, phobias, depression, night terrors, bedwetting, nail-biting, behavioural issues, school performance issues and more.
Hypnotherapy can be useful for stand-alone treatments or as a combination with other treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), play therapy, talk therapy or family counselling. Successful hypnosis sessions rely on the child or teen participating alongside the therapist. There are three ways the child can do that: focused attention, following suggestions and the willingness to play.
During normal waking consciousness, we tend to move our focus from object to object. This is true at any age. Before, during and after sessions, the therapist can help the child bring their attention into a sharp focus and to keep it there. This is often accomplished by helping the child focus on the therapist’s voice, the sensations in their body and by using guided imagery. In all of these cases, the therapist keeps the child’s focus and attention on one object or a subject at a time.
Following basic instructions by the therapist is necessary for a successful hypnosis session. The main goal of the treatment is to change behaviours and emotional states that have become unconscious and ingrained in our daily lives. Following these suggestions can help a person let go of their critical faculty for a while and their rigid ways of thinking. Suggestions are often easy to understand and simple to follow. Things like “Close your eyes and relax” or “Focus your attention on your breathing” and other suggestions are something a therapist would use.
Willingness to Play
Much of the hypnotic process has an element of imagination and play involved. Since it relies on playfulness, hypnosis is a great way to help kids, even the youngest. Maintaining the atmosphere of novelty and creativity, as well as respect and trust means children are better able to get in touch with their inner strength. They can find the resources to enact the changes needed to move forward.
Criteria like these show that hypnosis treatment has much potential for positive outcomes. Children and even teens who don’t meet a lot of the mentioned criteria can still benefit from hypnosis. The decision to undergo hypnotherapy is up to the child, caregiver and therapist.
As mentioned above, hypnosis works best when used as play and imagination are encouraged and brought to bear. The skilful hypnotherapists out there can use the child’s natural capacity for play, making the experience rewarding and fun. Sometimes, even the very notion of hearing the word hypnosis may be a source of interest in the matter at hand.