(This blog was originally posted on January 22, 2016)
A couple of days ago, I noticed a neighbor pruning the rose bushes that grew between our properties. Watching her cut back the branches reminded me how my late grandmother used to love gardening; her roses always looked beautiful, even better than what I would see in flower shops. She once explained how pruning the bush all the way back during the winter to remove the detritus of dead branches and wilting flowers was the key to making room for fresh, healthy growth in the spring.
What a wonderful metaphor for hypnotherapy!
When a client contacts me to change an unwanted behavior such as lose weight, quit smoking, overcome a fear/phobia, I help the person strip back aspects of the negative habit in hypnosis to facilitate the desired behavior in “real life.” One way to do this is simply desensitizing the individual to the various situations or stimuli that trigger the undesired response. Then I would help the person create a new, positive association between feeling relaxed, comfortable and smiling (a positive physical action) while performing a desired behavior, such as walking out of the kitchen or away from the temptation. Alternatively, I might employ Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques to create a negative association between that sweet treat by pairing the preferred item (e.g., ice cream) with one that the person dislikes (e.g., cottage cheese).
Once this new association is created in the subconscious mind, therapeutic guided-imagery techniques enable the person to visualize or imagine replacing those beliefs and actions associated with the undesired behavior with the new, desired beliefs and behaviors. Since the subconscious mind does not know the difference between imagination and reality, in hypnosis the client can practice the desired behavior over and over again to establish the new, desired subconscious known and behavior.
Similar to how my grandmother tended her prized rose bushes every year, through hypnotherapy, I help metaphorically prune the detritus of unwanted behaviors that the client wants to change. Just like the roses, over time and with nurturing self-love and desire to change, new personal growth and success can bloom in its place.
Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.