Written by Rory Z Fulcher
As a therapist, whether you are working with relationship issues, sports performance, confidence, lifestyle changes, health and well-being, or pretty much anything else for that matter, stress or anxiety will often be a factor to consider.
Some therapy clients won’t realise that they are stressed or anxious when considering their problem, whereas others may be coming to you with their stresses and anxieties as a key focal point for the therapy session, either as part of an overarching issue, or to work on the stress or anxiety directly. As a professional therapist, it is up to you to recognise whether there are any stress or anxiety components relating to your clients issue, in order to help them most effectively.
What is stress?
Stress, in simple terms, can be thought of as ‘the demands placed upon a person exceeding their capacity with those demands’. So, if during your client intake process, it seems as if the client is unable to cope with certain pressures and demands in their life – whether personal or professional – this indicates that they may be experiencing stress.
As an example, a client may be experiencing negative emotions due to the demands that their partner is placing upon them with regards to having a child. The client’s partner is being pushy, and suggesting that they want to have a child ASAP, before they get too old, and whilst they’re in a good ‘financial position’ to have children. It be that the client does want a child and that they actually agree with their partner’s reasoning, but they would like the process to be more relaxed and natural, rather than rushed or scheduled. In this situation, your client may not present with ‘stress’ as their issue – in fact they might not even mention it at all – and they are more likely to come to you with relationship issues, assertiveness concerns, or perhaps even psychogenic infertility. However, stress would potentially be a large consideration when formulating your treatment plan.
What is anxiety?
You can think of anxiety as an ‘overestimation of a perceived threat’. This can be a future threat, and relating to a situation that has not happened yet (and may never even happen), or it could be relating to something that happened in their past. With clients that you feel may be experiencing anxiety, you will notice that those clients are responding to situations (real or imagined) that, in reality, are often not as ‘threatening’ as the client perceives them to be.
For example, a client may be anxious about driving on the motorway, when in fact they drive on smaller single and dual-carriage roads all the time without issue. Again, the client may come to you specifically with motorway driving anxiety, or it might be that they come to you with a goal of being more confident behind the wheel, not necessarily acknowledging their underlying anxiety.
Assessing and addressing stress and anxiety
By performing your standard client intake/consultation process and taking information about their problem, including physical, emotional and psychological symptoms, as well as their goal or intended outcome, you will automatically gain an understanding of whether there is a stress or anxiety component to the client’s issue. If you feel that your own therapy consultation process could be better, check out these 10 tips to improve your consultation process.
As a hypnotherapist, we have a vast number of tools help clients with anxiety and stress, from cognitive and behavioural approaches through to analytical approaches and regression, hypnotherapy clients can be taught how to quickly overcome and move beyond their stresses and anxieties.
Hypnotherapy for stress
During a session where you are using stress management hypnotherapy approaches, you will be looking at addressing a number of factors. Firstly, find out what the stressors in the clients life are. Identify what it is that is causing the client to become stressed, and whether there is any room to change those things. Next, consider what the client might do differently, such as managing their time better, in order to make sure those things that are most important get done in a timely fashion. Next, consider, with the client, the potential for outsourcing or delegating anything that they are able to, in order to reduce their ‘workload’ or what is expected of them – whether that’s expected from others, or even themselves.
With the in-hypnosis approaches, you may look at using ego strengthening with the client, in order to boost their internal resources, resilience, and self-reliance. You may also incorporate assertiveness training, so that the client is able to delegate and set boundaries more easily. It’s also commonplace to use future pacing, as well as other behavioural and cognitive change approaches in order to ensure the client begins to respond in a new, healthier way once they leave the hypnotherapy session.
Hypnotherapy for anxiety
When using hypnotherapy for anxiety, much the same as with stress management, you will be conducting a thorough intake process. With anxiety, it can also be used for to look for ‘exceptions’ during the intake process – looking for times when they experienced similar situations but without the same amount of anxiety. This can give you a greater insight into the issue, and the potential causes for the anxiety, as well as being a potential part of your overall solution.
During the hypnosis portion of the session, you’ll be working to desensitise their anxiety, and to develop whatever is their opposite for anxiety, whether that’s confidence, calm, self-control, or even something completely different. You will likely use various cognitive, analytical and potentially even regression approaches in order to desensitise the anxiety. Again, ego strengthening and future pacing are important aspects in helping a hypnotherapy client overcome their anxiety, and should be used with every anxiety client to create long-term success.
Learning to address stress and anxiety with hypnotherapy
Many hypnotherapy courses will cover stress and anxiety management approaches as standard. However, there are also many courses out there that do not. By initially engaging in an in-depth hypnotherapy course, whether a comprehensive online certificate course or a live face-to-face training, you will likely receive the necessary training to deal with any stress and anxiety issues that you face as a working hypnotherapist. It’s definitely better to learn how to deal with issues holistically, and within one course, so that you know how to apply those approaches appropriately depending on the client and their problem.
By learning ‘stand-alone hypnotherapy models‘ to deal with stress or anxiety, and going about your training in a ‘piecemeal’ way, you may miss out on the integral information about the conditions that you’ll be working on – information that will help you to better work with those client conditions. As well as that, when you have a broader range of tools at your disposal, you are able to fit your therapy intervention to the individual client that you have in front of you, rather than forcing the client to fit to the technique that you’ve learnt to deal with ‘general stress or anxiety’. By creating a bespoke hypnotherapy solution for your clients, you’ll find that your results speak for themselves.
If you’d like to learn more about working with stress or anxiety with hypnotherapy, these are topics that we cover in depth on our live online hypnotherapy certificate course. You can learn more about that here:
We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog on hypnotherapy for stress and anxiety, and if you have any more questions about this topic, or anything else for that matter, do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Rory Z Fulcher