How does hypnosis work for older children?
In a very similar way to how it works with adults. When our body relaxes comfortably and the mind is in a calm, day dreamy state, we are said to be in a light state of hypnotic relaxation. Children experience this kind of state many times a day quite naturally; when they are waking from sleep or falling asleep, or just becoming absorbed in thought or in imaginative play. Children have a well developed sense of imagination and frequently imagine they are Harry Potter, or James Bond, or whichever hero is currently in vogue
In this kind of state the inner part of our mind is really receptive to positive suggestion and can come up with creative solutions to problems
Usually children from ten upwards (sometimes several years younger too) are quite happy to close their eyes and relax and enjoy a guided daydream packed full of positive suggestions for them to act out in their imagination. All sessions also include positive suggestions for confidence and self esteem
How does hypnosis work with young children?
Basically in a similar way except that younger children dont necessarily relax much at all; they just see/ feel /hear things in their imagination as guided by me, the therapist. The process is more like engaging in active imagination games which they do with the greatest of ease. Ask them to see their problem as a shape or a colour and shrink it or change it, they just do it! Children spend half their lives in their imaginations and here in the consulting room I just get them to use them in a positive way in order to help overcome their problems
Can I come in to the session with them?
Yes, certainly. In the case of young children I always encourage parents to stay, especially for the first session, so your child will feel more at ease. It also puts your mind (as the parent) at ease to see that the process is safe and positive; gentle or fun as appropriate. Sometimes older children prefer to be on their own so they dont have a sense of being observed. I recommend you to have a chat with your child and go along with their preferences as even some younger children are quite happy on their own after a first or second session. Also remember that children mature quite differently and can often seem considerably older or younger than their chronological age
I talk directly to your child rather than just ask you questions about them and generally I ask you to let them answer for themselves rather than jumping in to help them. When I need extra information I usually ask them if it is ok if I ask mum or dad a question to see what they think; in this way they are reassured that they are the important person in the room and their opinion counts. I will often ask you to tell me some of the things you really like and value about them
What happens in the session?
First of all we have a chat about the issue they have come for. We talk about how things are now, how long they have been this way and how they would prefer to think, feel and behave instead. I ask them (and sometimes you) about the qualities they already have which will help them get over the problem and in this way elicit from them that they are strong, optimistic, determined or confident in other situations. Focusing on a positive element will help with the solution
Then, according to their age and disposition, I might help them to relax just in a similar way to the way I would do with adults but using appropriate language for their age group (now just let your arms go all floppy and tired, now see if your legs are more or less floppy and tired etc). I might just get them to imagine something as if telling them a story. They may close their eyes or they may just seem wide awake; whatever they do will be perfect for them. Whatever is perfect for them will be fine with me
There will always be positive suggestions in some form and a boost to their confidence in addition to some guided visualization of overcoming their problem
Do you put them to sleep? Do they 'go under'?
Do you mess with their minds?
They are encouraged to relax, feel at ease and a little day dreamy but they do not go to sleep and they do hear everything that is said. It may be that their attention wanders from time to time as they become more and more comfortable but that is fine. They will hear and remember everything that needs to be remembered, although, just as when waking from a dream, they may not consciously remember every word and every aspect.
Going under is a very misleading term and comes from stage shows and films and has no place in the therapy room with children
Everything is gentle and positive and is aimed at helping them overcome their present difficulty. There is absolutely no messing with minds and since in any case you can elect to be there with them you can be completely reassured that the process is natural and safe
Is it like stage hypnotism?
Stage hypnotism can be amusing and is performed for entertainment. But it is not clinical hypnotherapy
What happens if they feel so tired after a busy day that they do drift off to sleep while listening?
I would simply suggest that they wake up. Hypnosis is about being relaxed not asleep
Can hypnotherapy force children to do something against their will?
Absolutely not. That is why it is always important that your child is not brought to see me or anybody else against their will. I am always happy to talk to them and answer any of their questions. As a member of the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis I sign a code of ethics so you may be reassured that any suggestions given are positive and directed to help them achieve their aim
Is it dangerous? Are there any side-effects?
In the hands of an expert, hypnotherapy is a completely natural and safe. Generally, the side effects noticed are that children report feeling happier and more confident than before
Do they get any kind of support outside the session?
Normally, if it is appropriate (and it usually is), they are given a recording of the hypnotherapy part of one of the sessions so that they can use it at home to reinforce what we do in the treatment session. I regard this as an integral part of the therapy and regular listening to their CD will speed their progress.
Normally I suggest they listen every night when they go to bed because this is a time when they begin to wind down anyway. Children who have previously experienced difficulty with sleeping find that they are drifting off to sleep far more quickly and comfortably than before. If they are so tired that they drift off to sleep as soon as they begin to listen, I suggest that they listen in the daytime just relaxing in a chair
How many sessions will they need?
This depends on what the problem is but, in general, hypnotherapy is thought of as a brief strategy with lasting results and most people attend for between two and four sessions. Some issues need only one and others more. We cannot specify in advance exactly how many sessions they will need as it depends on their individual progress but we can give you an estimate based on general response. After each appointment, I will discuss your childs progress and make a recommendation. They are never asked to come for more sessions than you and I jointly decide they need
How much do one-to-one sessions cost?
Please call 020 8402 1928 or email for current information
What methods of payment do you accept?
Whichever is most convenient to you; credit card, cheque, cash
How do I go about making an appointment and how long do sessions last?
Please telephone 020 8402 1928 and ask any questions you need. We are happy to help. When you and the therapist are both satisfied that this is the way forward for you, you can make an appointment there and then. The first session will last about one to one and a half hours to give plenty of time for a chat about details of the problem and what the aims of treatment are
Subsequent appointments will last about an hour, enabling us to talk about feedback since the previous session and, taking this into account, have a hypnotherapy session based on the current needs
How do I know if a therapist is reputable?
How can I find a good therapist?
Always ask your therapist about their qualifications and experience with children; no reputable therapist will mind. You should find someone who has completed a full course and been awarded a Diploma In Hypnosis from the London College of Clinical Hypnosis or similar body. The more experience the therapist has the better. See the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis (BSCH) or General Hypnotherapy Register websites for therapists in your area and check qualifications and experience
For children, it is especially important not only to ensure that your practitioner is well qualified but that they also have specific experience with young children and teenagers
For your peace of mind you may be reassured by the fact that not only am I a fully qualified and experienced therapist, I am a former teacher and now give master classes in working with children to other practising hypnotherapists. I am also the author of Scripts & Strategies in Hypnotherapy with Children - read more here