The Benefits of Hypnotherapy for Children
As every hypnotherapist knows, there is great scope within their work for imaginative visualisation and children are generally much better at this than their adult counterparts. In fact, up until the age of about 10, children have little distinction between reality and fantasy and can often create wonderful and fantastical scenarios which can be utilised in hypnosis to help a wide range of issues and challenges.
Between the ages of 10 and 12, the Conscious Critical Faculty (the CCF) starts to develop. The CCF acts as a filter between the logical part of our brain, the Conscious mind, and the emotional part, the subconscious. Hypnotherapy relies on switching the conscious mind off for a while and accessing the subconscious, which is the part of our brains where deep-seated emotions and behaviours are rooted. If we think about a phobia of dogs, for example, the negative emotions and subsequent behaviours we display surrounding dogs are all rooted in the subconscious, so it’s this part of the mind that has to be made available in hypnotherapy.
Skilled therapists can circumnavigate the CCF and they do that all the time with adult clients. Younger clients are even more suggestible as they accept everything at face value. Think about a 6 year old who accepts that a kiss will make their poorly knee better or a small child who believes without question in the existence of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, despite a complete absence of any evidence.
Of course, there are some practical considerations to think about: if a young child can’t sit still, then it’s difficult to use hypnotherapy. That depends very much on age and maturity and what you are trying achieve. It is also important to note that hypnotherapists who work with children should also have a grounding in child psychology and be qualified to work in this area.
The participation of parents is important too. Anxious parents beget anxious children as they pick up on that anxiety, even if it’s unspoken. Talking things through with parents, offering advice on how they can support their child, both emotionally and practically, is essential in all areas of children’s counselling and hypnotherapy.
The process of hypnotherapy for children is three-fold:
- Find out what the problem is - This isn’t always as obvious as it looks: an issue with weight may mask another issue, such as anxiety or low self-esteem. Perhaps the child is comfort eating to cope with other emotional problems. It’s important to be clear about what you are actually treating to recognise the causes and the symptoms.
- Establish new patterns of behaviour.
- Ensure that those new behaviour patterns are repeated so that they become automatic.
So what sorts of issues can be treated with hypnotherapy?
The list isn't exhaustive, but may include:
- Bedwetting (Enuresis)
- Habit disorders (such as nail biting)
- Family issues, including parental divorce and separation
- Exam nerves
- Low self-esteem
- Anger issues
We often forget that children have a lot to deal with. Growing up brings different challenges at different times with regard to relationship and friendship changes, hormonal fluctuations, pressure in terms of school work and at times, having to cope with parental conflict. We often recognise stress in ourselves but children and young people often demonstrate it in different ways, including physical symptoms which seemingly have no cause, behavioural difficulties and self-harming behaviour.
Hypnotherapy and counselling are excellent ways to reconnect and reach out to children who are experiencing difficulties.