Hypnotherapy and Guided Imagery
Guided imagery is one of my favourite techniques to use when working with clients. I use it both in and out of hypnosis and it’s incredibly versatile. It can be used to work on physical pain, emotional issues and much more. It can also speed healing and allow the body to reduce the impact of many physical and mental ailments. Guided imagery is nothing new but it is an incredibly powerful and natural tool that can be used to create positive and often amazing changes in an individual.
So what do I mean by imagery?
Take a moment to close your eyes and think about either a bacon sandwich or a pot of coffee. When you have taken a moment or two to think about it you can open your eyes. Did you see the bacon sandwich or the coffee? Could you smell it? Perhaps your mouth started watering at the very thought of either.
So what was the point of that exercise? This should have demonstrated for you that imagery is not just visual. When we imagine something we use visual, auditory and kinaesthetic memory to create an image. In other words you hear things, smell things, and taste things as well as see them.
How is guided imagery used in hypnotherapy?
When a person is in hypnosis, their mind becomes more open, memories become clearer, and the ability to imagine increases dramatically. Using imagery in hypnosis is more powerful and more effective than using imagery in every day life.
I use it with clients in a variety of ways. Let me give you a few real examples that demonstrate the breadth of application this natural tool has.
1) Recently a client attended a session with me but started off explaining that they were suffering with bad ear ache from an ear infection and weren't feeling very communicative. So, I decided to work on the ear pain first. In hypnosis, I asked my client to visualise the pain as an object and describe it to me. We then moved on to manipulating the object that represented the pain changing and reducing before going to imagine removing it completely. This client had a really powerful imagination and came up with innovative methods for removing this object that represented the pain and preventing it from coming back. I then moved the session to focus on the actual reason the client has come to see me. At the end of the session I didn't mention the ear ache but as they were about to leave, the client told me that the pain had gone completely. The pain never returned.
2) I was treating a client with panic disorder whose symptoms included feeling as though there was something blocking their throat and airways. In fact, during conversation the client could often be seen ‘snorting’ just to check that air was not being blocked and they could still breathe. I used guided imagery to enable the client to imagine opening their airways so that they can breathe freely. I also got them to describe the blockage they envisaged and removing it. Throughout our sessions together, the clients breathing become slower and more natural. They reported that their panic attacks had reduced in frequency and also in intensity because the client was able to imagine clearing the blockage. The client went from having several panic attacks a day for years to having them infrequently and usually only during times of emotional upset.
3) One of my clients was holding on to a feeling of guilt and this was causing them to be emotionally unsettled and they were unable to release that feeling. I used guided imagery again to invoke the feeling of guilt and the client manipulated that feeling turning into an object and releasing it. The guided imagery was also used to detach the event that caused the guilt from the feeling of guilt that was holding the client back.
I hope you've found this blog interesting, not too long and not too short. If there is anything else you want to know, just ask.