Cognitive Hypnotherapy

The following has been adapted from the Quest Institute website (which you can find at from the information they give about their internationally aclaimed diploma course in Cognitive Hypnotherapy.

Cognitive Hypnotherapy draws on recent discoveries and ideas from Evolutionary Psychology, Positive Psychology, Cognitive theory and NLP and incorporates them into a modern idea of hypnosis to provide a framework for therapy. A range of techniques drawn from different disciplines, that have been found to be the most effective tools for change so far, are moulded into an approach tailored for the specific needs of each client.

Hypnosis uses mind-states that we all enter voluntarily on a daily basis; who hasn't lost themselves in their thoughts on the drive to work?

Cognitive Hypnotherapists view the unconscious acts as a protective device whose purpose is to keep you safe. Moment to moment it is processing millions of bits of information received from your senses and filtering them with the purpose of determining what in your environment is likely to bring you pain or pleasure. Without our ever realising it we will find ourselves motivated to move towards things (people, activities, behaviour) which our unconscious believes are good for us (on the basis of past experience), and avoid things it believes bring us harm.

The problem is that for 99% of the time the human race has existed we lived a Stone Age existence where 'harm' was obvious and physical. Our nervous system (mediated by the unconscious) is geared to protect us from sabre-toothed tigers, not modern stresses.

If any aspect of modern life is viewed by the unconscious as stressful it treats it like a threat (the tiger) and the fight or flight response is triggered to get you away from it. So, for example, going to pieces in an interview is actually the struggle between your unconscious trying to get you away from that situation and your conscious fighting to stay put. You can see why a basic assumption we use is "all behaviour has a purpose"; even when that behaviour is having a negative effect it has a positive intention behind it.

When the fight or flight response is triggered your body is flooded with hormones that perform certain functions, like increasing respiration, body temperature and moving blood to the muscles from any area of the body that isn't involved in fighting for survival. That accounts for the butterflies in the stomach. It also takes blood from the brain because you don't need to think to fight or run away. So you can basically think or feel, but not both at the same time. The moment the feeling of anxiety or nervousness reaches a certain level you become physically less able to think - that is why your mind goes blank and you struggle to put together a sentence. But boy could you run from a tiger!

This model of mental functioning can be used to explain the basis of many problems. Even smoking. If you had an experience when you were younger that led your unconscious to believe that smoking was a good thing (like it made you feel like you 'belonged'), then it will continue to motivate you to crave cigarettes, no matter how much you consciously wish to stop.
It can be a mystery to us why we get locked into behaviours, beliefs and habits which we know reduce the quality of our life. It is because the unconscious tends to keep the thought patterns that generate them out of our awareness, and recent research has shown that the unconscious is responsible for about 90% of our daily behaviour.

In Cognitive Hypnotherapy we believe that trance states are part of the normal experience of being human - as the research above suggests, we spend most of our day in some kind of altered state. Most people experience their issues as being beyond their control, as if some part of them takes over and makes them have the cigarette, eat the cake, run from the spider or go sick rather than give a presentation. As already mentioned, this is a consequence of their unconscious trying to keep you safe, and it uses trance states to make it possible. In a way every time you do something you can't control you're 'hypnotised' by your unconscious into seeing, feeling or doing things a certain way. In Cognitive Hypnotherapy we see our job as 'de-hypnotising' you so that you have control over those aspects of your life that you want to be different, and are able to see, feel or do whatever gives you the greatest freedom. If trance states are part of the pattern of your problem, then they are also a powerful part of the solution.

In a nutshell, Cognitive Hypnotherapy uses the client's natural trance states (like you experience when driving) to assist in uncovering the feelings, thoughts and memory patterns that led to the problem, and which continue to maintain it.
Cognitive Hypnotherapy employs techniques to modify these patterns so the client is able to take control of their behaviour. Each client's problem pattern will be formed uniquely, even when the label given to it is shared by many. Consequently each will require a different sequence of techniques, connected together by a pattern of suggestion based on their way of thinking.

It's an interactive therapy where the therapist acts as a guide. The principle is that the client can find their own solutions with skilled assistance. It does not involve the therapist as a 'controlling' agent, or someone who dictates what is 'best' for the client. The most effective approach is for the therapist to work within the client's model of the world, not force the client into the therapist's.
Neuro Linguistic Programming
NLP was developed in the '70's by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, and stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. It is the end product of a curiosity which began by asking "How do people do that?"

Bandler and Grinder started by looking closely at how people who were excellent in their fields achieved the results they did. They noticed certain patterns of human sameness and difference which could be used by others to improve individual performance in many areas.

As a result of this initial curiosity a large number of techniques have been developed which can be used by people to improve their lives, and the lives of people around them.
Think about this:

• Doing something well, consistently, is not an accident, it is a process.

• Doing something badly, consistently, is not an accident, it is a process.

NLP provides the tools to understand these processes and develop the individual's ability to adapt whatever they do that does not bring them the results they want, into processes that do.

Neuro Linguistic Programming is the study of how each individual makes sense of his/her world uniquely through different personality patterns and sensory filters.

Each person's memories, beliefs, values, decisions, favoured sense (Visual, Auditory, or Kinaesthetic), and what are called Metaprograms, develop over time into a unique 'model of the world'. Each of us uses this internal map to make sense of the world around us. This map has a profound effect on our thoughts and behaviour, and our relationships with others because we tend to think that our map is the same as everybody else's.

By understanding the structure of our map we can identify negative thought patterns that inhibit us (and change them); by understanding the structure of someone else's map we can assist them in doing the same thing.

• Neuro - the fundamental idea that all behaviour is the result of the information we receive from our 5 senses.

• Linguistic - the fact that we use language to order our thoughts and communicate.

• Programming - the ways we use the above to create our behaviour

It can be difficult to describe 'what' NLP is without placing it in a context. It is easier to describe 'how' it can help in a given situation. Its potential application is almost unlimited. It has been used to improve performance in sport; academic performance; sales; therapy, and self-development. It has the potential to improve any situation where communication is a factor, whether between you and someone else, or just with yourself.

For health, if you accept the premise that the mind and the body communicate with one another, then the quality of the thoughts you have must impact on the stress levels within your body. If you're thinking negatively, or view the world through a gaggle of limiting beliefs, then the body's response to this places an unsustainable burden on the immune system, which can ultimately lead to illness and susceptibility to disease. In that respect, your thoughts create the conditions necessary for your ill-health. Releasing these negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive ones, creates the conditions necessary to re-build your health.

On its own NLP can provide a potent means for personal change. Incorporated within Cognitive Hypnotherapy it provides a cutting edge approach to modern therapy that can provide positive change quickly and permanently.