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Hypnotherapy for anxiety and depression.



Negative emotional patterns can seem to define your life


  • Have you always struggled with depression or anxiety, but not really understood why? Do you feel like the talk therapy approaches you've tried have been too surface-level or time-consuming to make much progress?


  • Are you looking for an efficient way to understand the root of a problem like fear, shame, non-specific anger, or low self-esteem?


  • Are you open to exploring connections between emotional factors and a chronic illness, a chronic pain syndrome, or an undiagnosable physical condition?

Most talk therapy approaches engage only the prefrontal cortex of the brain to reason about problems. Although putting feelings into words and getting support can be helpful, it can be ineffective or inefficient at getting to the true source of an issue. Patterns are rooted at a deeper level of consciousness, but it's not as hard to access that level as you may think.

This is not typical hypnosis, but it's also nothing like a typical therapy session

This form of hypnotherapy is not about changing behavior or ''reprogramming'' the subconscious mind to respond differently to cues, habits, or situations. Many skilled hypnotists out there specialize in that type of work, but I use hypnotherapy as a psychodynamic approach. The primary purpose is to explore past influences (often beginning in childhood, but not always) that were key in the development of an issue.


Although it can also be used as an impactful approach to address trauma about which you're totally aware, the benefit that distinguishes it from EMDR and other trauma therapies is memory regression. Although the risk of identifying ''false memories'' has been posed about this type of hypnotherapy (mostly in the context of litigation), digging up fully repressed memories isn't really the point. It can occur, but typically people encounter explicit (recallable) memories and quickly develop a deeper, more concise new link between those memories and the present problem. Like watching a movie that uses flashbacks to show the audience how a character arrived at their current crisis or dilemma, this provides you with a two-hour summary of your story arc--but you're both the main character and the audience. Due partly to this effect, it has been said that one session of hypnotherapy can accomplish what would take around five years in talk therapy.

What if I can't be hypnotized?

Because the concept of anchoring (the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger, which is what people usually associate with hypnosis) is not an aim or feature of this type of hypnotherapy, a deep trance state is not necessary. Extensive research by Stanford University over the years demonstrates that susceptibility to trance state varies widely among people anyway, as most people are intuitively aware. Don't let skepticism about your own susceptibility be a barrier, as ''hypnotherapy'' is really a misnomer here:  You're likely to feel disappointed if you want to feel something more than deeply relaxed, and you absolutely will remember everything. You're also required to talk frequently throughout the session. 


That said, this is still nothing like a typically counseling or therapy session. Because you lie down and are asked to connect with emotions in a deep way--both as a bridge to memories and as a cathartic function--it takes some willingness to go outside the comfort zone of a normal talk therapy session. People almost always express that the degree of insight gained is worth it, however. In addition to developing new awareness about the subconscious or unconscious aspects of an issue, this therapy approach incorporates somatic awareness and the related benefit of ''bottom-up,'' emotional processing vs. ''top-down,'' (cognitive) processing. Read more about that important distinction here, especially if you want to understand why a deep trance state isn't necessary. 

How exactly does this relate to physical illness?


Former National Institute of Health researcher Candace Pert became known for her assertion ‘’Your body is your subconscious mind,’’ after her research demonstrated that there are neuropeptides--the building blocks of neurotransmitters and therefore emotional experience--in the cells of every organ and tissue type throughout the body.


When difficult feelings aren’t energetically discharged (which we aren’t taught to do) or otherwise integrated, they continue impacting aspects of our biochemistry (e.g., mood, digestion, immunity, circadian rhythm) and not just our thoughts, beliefs and identity. The Center for HBH uses the same type of hypnotherapy used in the Holistic Psychotherapy program at Cleveland Clinic, as research such as Kaiser Permanente's landmark Adverse Childhood Experience Study brought medical awareness to the connection between unresolved emotional trauma and physical illness.

When the brain’s amygdala signals distress to the hypothalamus due to trauma or chronic stress, this command center triggers a number of physiological processes in order to activate the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response). Gastrointestinal functions like digestive secretion and peristaltic contraction are inhibited to focus on the bigger priority of adrenaline-fueled safety attempts. This occurs via the gut-brain axis, which includes vagus nerve connection between the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord)  and the enteric nervous system--a mesh-like lining of neurons covering the digestive tract. 


The vagus nerve, or tenth cranial nerve, has increasingly begun to receive well-deserved attention in mental health treatment due to its role in the parasympathetic response (rest and digest/relax and restore), and its broader function to connect mind and body. Known as ''the wandering nerve,'' it links the nervous system and physiological responses by weaving through organs from the brain-- down to the intestines, where many species of bacteria coexist in what is collectively known as the microbiome. A digestive tract environment with the right balance of beneficial bacteria, well-established or compromised with birth conditions and then compromised by factors such as antibiotic use, is increasingly confirmed by research to be key to good health. Because of vagus nerve signaling, traumatic or chronic stress disrupts gut microbiota that normally support neurotransmitter production, hormone signaling, and immune response.


Through the lens of these facts, it becomes easier to understand ''mind-body connection'' as an important construct in physical health rather than merely a woo-woo concept. Although many things are possible in the context of healing, the Center for HBH would never promote this particular application of hypnotherapy as a comprehensive or spontaneous healing approach for a physical illness. Instead, the value lies in developing greater awareness about past traumas or stressors as formative disease or symptom factors, allowing you to elevate or target your focus on emotional health as part of an overall strategy toward wellness.  Connections made by hypnotherapy can be particularly meaningful or validating if, due to a hard-to-diagnose or treatment-resistant condition, you've repeatedly experienced forms of minimization or dismissal from the healthcare system.

Clinical hypnotherapy is an extra-ordinary type of experience 


Like being gifted with an impactful dream, encountering what your subconscious retrieves in a hypnotherapy session typically feels powerful, and that emotional opening can be a catalyst for growth and change. 


Although the mind-body connection accessed by hypnotherapy is well supported by science, there’s an organic nature to the process that can make it feel metaphysical. Using hypnotherapy as a treatment approach has been a tremendously rewarding experience that transcends the routine. Observing that this was also typically the experience for clients--and hearing them say they feel ‘’different’’ at the end of a session--motivated me to create a practice centered on what really makes a difference.


I would be honored to hear your story and facilitate your change. 



Hypnotherapy in Lexington, KY   

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