(This blog was originally posted on October 17, 2016)
|Photo by Rick Hustead|
As with any behavior-modification program—which hypnotherapy is, by the way—clients typically come in with a list of all the things they believe are “wrong” with them. They can’t stay away from sweet or high-calorie/high-fat foods. They can’t give up cigarettes. They can’t get over the former spouse or lover and accept that the relationship is truly over. They don’t like to be or even feel safe when they are outside their comfort zone, an area that may not extend beyond the confines of their home. They “completely freak out” when they see a spider. And so on.
In addition to changing or abolishing the negative behavior, clients often want to know how it took hold in the first place. I couch this explanation in the context of John Kappas, Ph.D.’s model, Theory of Mind. Basically, the person learned to do “x” or adopted “y” belief by imitating, or modeling, these behaviors they observed in their social environment. A parent or guardian, peer or another role model explicitly or implicitly taught the individual to do it, and the person derived some kind of reward for doing it, too.
Another factor comes into play here, too: constant repetition of the behavior reinforces its strength and significance in the subconscious mind. There is a lot of truth to the expression, “Perfect practice makes perfect performance,” and this is especially true when it comes to reinforcing any behavior in the subconscious mind. Remember, the SCM does not know the difference between fantasy and reality, objective observation and a joke. So long as the behavior is giving the person some kind of positive feedback (pleasure), the individual will continue to do (practice) that activity. Furthermore, this practice is perfect, as far as the subconscious mind is concerned.
I help my hypnotherapy clients change unwanted behaviors or beliefs by rewriting the content of the subconscious mental script that previously reinforced those old patterns. Since everything we do and believe has been learned, these patterns can also be corrected and even un-learned when we decide they no longer work for us or serve our best interest. Then we can create a different, positive mental script and continue to reinforce the behaviors and attitudes that will help us accomplish our new self-improvement goals.
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/.