When someone says the word ‘hypnosis’, there are likely one of a handful of images that arise in your head. Perhaps you have seen hypnosis shows, where a hypnotist selects people from an audience to be hypnotized on stage for entertainment purposes. Or, perhaps you first thought of the stereotypical use of a clock, swinging from side to side in order as you become “very sleepy”. No matter what image popped into your mind, we all have preconceived ideas of what being hypnotized may be like.
However, what if we began to shift those ideas to recognize that the same tool that may lead someone on a stage to walk and cluck like a chicken could also be used to help people heal from their past and grow deeper into their truest self. After all, it is all about suggestion and the power of the mind.
After speaking to a trusted mentor about her experience with hypnosis and experiencing a hypnotherapy session myself, I decided to dive head first into the deep end. Heart Centered Hypnotherapy is now my favorite therapeutic approach to use within my sessions with clients, and I am continually blown away by the insights discovered and progress made through the power of hypnosis - both for my clients and for myself.
An Introduction to Hypnosis
While in a hypnotic trance, we are allowing our mind to shift between the conscious and subconscious. We do this naturally throughout our day, often going into a trance when we scroll through our Instagram feeds, get sucked into our favorite television show, or zone out as we are driving on the freeway. When we use the tool of trance through hypnosis, we are allowing ourselves to go into a relaxed and calm state in order to intentionally access that subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind is the seat of our emotions, long term memories, habits and patterns, creativity, intuition, and spiritual connection - and therefore is also the place that allows us to find our deepest healing and personal growth. When we are able to get out of our conscious mind - our critical thinking, analyzing, and plan making - we open ourselves up to infinite possibilities of exploration within the subconscious. It is also within this space that our emotions and thoughts are intensified, we are able to re-experience our memories, and where our mind is much more open to suggestion, which can create lasting change.
When we understand hypnosis in this way - as an opportunity to access a whole world within our own minds and to create lasting change from within - that we can see how it is a natural fit for therapeutic and personal development purposes. It is the place where we are able to fully allow our egos - the side of ourselves that we work so hard to present to the world - to relax and access the deeper parts of ourselves that have been repressed over the years.
When we utilize the power of hypnosis within the psychotherapeutic space, we get hypnotherapy. Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy, in particular, uses a variety of different components in order to promote the deepest level of healing and personal growth. These components include resource building, age regressions, emotional release, identification of old beliefs and behaviors, extinguishing of emotions, inner child healing, and installation of new beliefs and behaviors. Let’s look at each of these a bit closer.
When beginning hypnotherapy, our work always begins with resourcing. This is the foundation that allows you to get the idea of how hypnosis feels, to experience the power of the mind, and in building tools that can help them in daily life. Resourcing alone can be very powerful, and is always the first step before moving onto age regressions or more intensive hypnosis work.
Resources are coping tools that we build within our minds that can help return the body to a calm and relaxed state when needed. As discussed, being within a trance state amplifies emotions and memories, and therefore resources can be used to help regulate the body and return to a relaxed state when these emotions or experiences become too overwhelming.
The possibilities for resources are absolutely endless, and will look different for everyone. However, some of the common ones we often begin with are instilling a favorite relaxing place, connecting with your wise adult, and connecting with your spiritual connection (if you have one). We ‘anchor in’ these resource states with a physical gesture to allow you to easily bring them back up when needed.
Age regressions are the backbone of a full healing hypnotherapy session, allowing you to go back and re-experience a situation that may be painful, but also allowing the space to express what wasn’t expressed in the past. The main goals of age regressions are to go to the source of the starting emotion, and to begin to witness and identify patterns in your life. Oftentimes these regressions take us back to childhood - a time in our lives when our minds were profoundly formed by the interactions with others. However, age regressions may also take you back to a time earlier in adulthood, to a past life, or to a birth or womb experience.
While the memory that arises may be one that often comes to your conscious mind without any emotional attachment, when it arises in the subconscious mind, you may discover emotions, feelings, details and beliefs that your conscious mind does not recall. This is the power of hypnosis, and it provides you with the opportunity to express what you were not able to previously.
Many people have memories or experiences that they are afraid will come up. There may be a deeply traumatic event or a source of deep pain. In fact, I have had clients question if they have experiences that they do not remember - that perhaps they dissociated to the point of repressing the memory that the conscious mind is not able to recall it at all. Fear often arises that they will experience a memory and emotions that they do not want to experience or that they are not ready to address. It is important to trust our bodies and our subconscious minds - they will never bring up a memory or have you re-experience something that you are not yet ready to process. This requires a deep trust in the timing of your own being.
Emotional Energy Release
During an age regression, intense emotions will arise; potentially anger, sadness, shame, guilt, loneliness, fear, or jealousy. These emotions have been living within the body since the time you first had this experience, and perhaps even longer. In childhood, we all have been programmed to a certain degree to repress our emotions and our emotional releases in order to avoid shame or punishment. The majority of babies cry when they are unhappy, hungry, tired, scared, or so on; toddlers throw tantrums when they are angry, lonely, or don’t get what they want. However, at a certain point, most of us are shamed or even punished for expressing and releasing these emotions, and so we learn to stuff them down instead. This leads to an emotional back up within our bodies, manifesting itself as tension, chronic pain, illnesses, disease, and a variety of mental health issues.
As we re-experience our memories within age regressions, it is important to physically release and express the emotions that are coming up for us - that have been sitting in our body for all of these years. It is a safe place to scream, to hit, to cry, to punch, to yell - whatever the body needs to do in order to release these emotions.
Old Beliefs & Behaviors
At the end of each age regression, it is important to gain an understanding of the profound impact that that experience had on your life. At this point, we ask the part of you that experienced that situation what conclusions they made about themselves in that moment, and how they decided to behave as a result.
For example, a person whose father left them at 5 years old may have made the conclusion that they are a bad person and are unlovable. As a result of this belief, perhaps they decided to please their mother in any way they could, not causing any trouble, so she would love them and not abandon them.
As we experience multiple age regressions, it can become clear how the pattern of these beliefs and behaviors are strengthened throughout the lifetime - and how they have gotten the individual to the place that they are today. Perhaps that 5 year old, now as an adult, feels unsatisfied with their life because they are always trying to be perfect and please others without ever prioritizing their own wants or needs. By identifying these old beliefs and behaviors, we are able to pinpoint the areas in which healing is needed.
Depending on the experiences and the emotions that arose during the age regressions, we will sometimes move into the extinguishing phase, which quite literally works to extinguish the unwanted emotions. Through this process, we aim to replace these unwanted emotions with more positive ones, anchoring them into the subconscious mind as we would a resource. In fact, it is during this stage that we create a new resource for you to help you bring up positive emotions when faced with the unwanted ones.
It is important to note that we do not extinguish all of the emotions experienced throughout the session. While some emotions may be unwanted, they are crucial to the experience and your survival of the situation. Going back to our example of the father leaving the 5 year old, we would not want to extinguish the sadness or anger felt by the child. We could, however, extinguish loneliness felt and install emotions of love and safety from the mother.
Inner Child Healing
This is perhaps the most beautiful part of a hypnotherapy session, as this is the part that allows you to deeply connect with your inner child - often the one that experienced those difficult situations - and give them what they need. This is also a a point that we can bring in some of the resources to help in reparenting and strengthening the relationship with each aspect of the self. We have gotten through the painful memories, the expression of the emotions, identified the negative self-beliefs and maladaptive behaviors, and extinguished what needed to be released. Now it is time to connect again with the self, to send affirmations to the child part of you, and begin to be united.
New Beliefs & Behaviors
We use the beliefs and behaviors identified during the age regressions to choose new beliefs and behaviors based on the inner child healing. These new conclusions and decisions become our affirmations and how we are consciously choosing to show up in our life from now on. They are not a magic switch that makes everything better, but by identifying and committing to them in our subconscious mind, we are helping to bridge that gap to choosing them in your conscious mind. This is where we go beyond having the ‘a-ha moments’ and we get to live out our healing and growth.
Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy has been a tool for my own personal growth and healing, and has allowed me to bear witness to healing and growth for many others. By allowing ourselves to get out of the conscious mind that talk therapy engages, and access the subconscious mind, we are providing ourselves with the space and resources to make profound and lasting change in our lives.
If you are interested in how hypnotherapy can help you on your healing and development journey, please reach out on the contact page or by emailing me at email@example.com. I am currently accepting new clients within the state of Wisconsin!
If you would like to pursue heart-centered hypnotherapy within a different state or country, feel free to also reach out and I will send you any referrals I may have within my networks.