Tag Archives: CBT

Cognitive Hypnotherapy vs CBT


What sort of therapy do you do?

Cognitive Hypnotherapy

Oh right. I had CBT a while back, it’s good isn’t it

It isn’t CBT. It’s Cognitive Hypnotherapy.

This is how the conversation often goes. CBT is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. You can see why there is the confusion can’t you?

I am no expert on CBT, but as I understand it the key to the approach is to examine your patterns of thinking (Cognitive) and look at the Behaviours you exhibit and over time work with you to change your thinking and those behaviours. It is a very practical approach, focussing mostly on those thoughts and behaviours that you are exhibiting now rather than childhood events. It works on conscious thought, requiring a lot of effort from you as the client and as a result CBT can take a long time. It requires you to be able to change your thinking and often involves ‘homework’ in between sessions to be aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it. CBT is very effective for some problems such as OCD where there are a specific set of symptoms. It may not work as well for more general issues. Although not as unrestricted as something like Person Centred Counselling, it is still a ‘talking’ therapy.

Cognitive Hypnotherapy is an approach that utilises a conversational channel with the subconscious via hypnotherapy to address pretty much any issue that someone is facing. This conversation is structured to use the best of a whole bunch of techniques from other disciplines.It essentially combines a lot of scientific theory on how the brain works with the best of many approaches and applies them using hypnotherapy to have the biggest impact. As with CBT it is very practical. Unlike CBT it focuses predominantly on the subconscious and doesn’t attempt to diagnose but rather look at what the client says they want and work with their model of the world, their reality. The label is irrelevant. Because of this, a Cognitive Hypnotherapist tends to be very non-judgemental. It is not relevant for us to need to have experienced what you have to help you, because we all interpret things in such a different way. It would be counter productive for us to use our model of the world to help you change yours. We are merely guides – helping you to look in the right places.

It is also not really a talking therapy. In fact, although the results may not be as effective, it is technically possible to have a Cognitive Hypnotherapy session where you don’t tell your therapist any of the “why” behind what’s going on and just follow their guidance silently. As our subconscious has spent the formative early years of our lives learning and storing lessons, it also means that often the most effective way of getting the change a client wants is to address the past and use our adult experience to reframe significant events. All through that dialogue with the subconscious. As this approach is so effective, there are very few sessions required to see huge changes (I am proof of that!).

In between sessions you are given a track to listen to that continues to reinforce with your subconscious the work you have done. The main homework you have to do is to be extra aware of any changes you may notice.

To me, Cognitive Hypnotherapy is like magic.

I guess if it was hundreds of years ago I might have been called a witch for doing this stuff!

Maureen Lipman…if memory serves me right

Last night there was a fascinating programme on the BBC by Maureen Lipman about memory. You can catch it here if you missed it.

I found the programme fascinating as she explored the brain and how we can influence it. It showed why some of the things we do in Cognitive Hypnotherapy can be so powerful.

It showed how there is no such thing as hard coded reality. It doesn’t take much to create a ‘false’ memory and that means that it doesn’t take much to materially change any memory. Essentially every memory is false because it’s a circumstantial recollection that changes through time and experience.

It also showed that the brain is essentially plastic. Actions we take through thought can physically change the composition of the brain. I was shocked to see the cross section of a brain of a healthy person next to the one of someone with Alzheimer’s. As the doctor said, the miracle is that those with Alzheimer’s can do so much given what their brain goes through.

She explored memory with Michael Mosely who showed her how simple it was to improve the memory.

And the thing that had the most impact on me was probably the interview she did with 2 PTSD sufferers (Post traumatic stress disorder). One lady had been on the tube for the 7/7 bombings and had been reliving what she called ‘the video’ of the event since then. She had 2 years of CBT and had improved a lot but clearly it was still extremely emotional to her.

The 2 years amazed me. With Cognitive Hypnotherapy we can usually affect significant change in just a few sessions and it can be particularly effective with PTSD. I would love to have helped both of them. It was hard to watch them getting so upset when I knew I could help.

Then there was the immense bravery of Terry Pratchett and his family.

It was a truly fascinating programme that I think did a good job of showing how much we can do with our minds if we just know how.

If the programme rang any bells with you and you need my help, why not start by dropping an email to dawn@thinkitchangeit.com and we can have a chat.