Dawn Walton, MSc.Psych,DipCHyp,MNLP,MBPsS

Email Dawn@thinkitchangeit.com or phone UK 07734113830

What is Cognitive Hypnotherapy?

Here's a little video about Cognitive Hypnotherapy

Sometimes it's hard to know what to expect from Cognitive Hypnotherapy. Most of us are familiar with Hypnotherapy. Because of this you might think that Hypnotherapy is all about going into a deep trance where you haven't a clue what's happening and you 'wake up' feeling refreshed but remember little of what happened. 

The reality is that most of us are in some sort of trance state for at least 80% of the day. 

  • Have you ever driven through a set of traffic lights and wondered afterwards if they were actually green?
  • Have you walked out of the house and had to go back because you couldn't remember locking the door, only to find the door locked?

We spend an awful lot more of our day inside our heads than we think. Cognitive Hypnotherapy is about talking to you in this 'trance' state and using it to help you change things in the way you want. 

Feel first, Think later

We like to think that our rational brain is in control of everything we do. I’m sorry but I’ve got bad news for you, we’re wrong.

Think of something you’re scared of. Spiders for example.When you see a spider, do you stand there and think “hmm, it’s only tiny. It doesn’t bite. I can squish it with my shoe”. Or does your heart start racing as you feel the sudden urge to run away screaming like a girl (even if you aren’t one) and leap onto the nearest chair,seeking high ground to get away from the person-munching beastie (incidentally, have you noticed they can climb walls and stuff?) If you’re lucky, you might eventually regain control and start overriding your emotions (usually when someone has removed the beastie) and return to your normal rational state. If the fear is really deep rooted it will get worse and those rational thoughts won’t get a look in.

You see, we generally feel first and think later.

We are not in control

This shows us that our unconscious mind is our primary master. This is why the introduction of flight simulators for training pilots has been so effective in reducing accidents. They can feel first, think later in an environment where there are no consequences. Then they can do it again and again until they are familiar enough with a whole range of scenarios that there is no initial emotional response.

So this “feel first” thing comes from our unconscious. And it builds a whole matrix throughout our childhood in response to events. It essentially is programmed to look after us, to do what it thinks is best to protect us. We then spend the rest of our lives rationalising over the feelings that come from our unconscious.

Because we feel first, think later, we usually don’t really understand why we feel the way we do. Of course we don’t. It’s not like we can start an instant messaging conversation with our unconscious.

RB: “Erm hello unconscious”

U: “Oh hey there Rational Brain, how’s it going?”

RB: “Well not to good actually. I have to present to loads of people today and I’m bricking it. Quite frankly I’m confused because I really know my stuff and these are all people I chat with all the time. Could really use feeling calmer right now”

U: “Oh right…erm…”

RB: “I don’t suppose you have any ideas what I can do to calm myself down do you? I am trying to breath and stuff”

U: “Are you sure you want to do this? I mean, there was that time when you were singing at school and you forgot the words wasn’t there?

RB: “Oh I’d forgotten that”

U: “yeah I was there. I remember it really well. You got really upset and ran off the stage crying”

RB: “Gosh yes, so I did. But I was only 5”

U: “Yeah but you wouldn’t want that to happen again would you? Best avoid those kinds of thing again eh? I’m only trying to look out for you here”

RB: “But you see unconscious, I still have to present whether you like it or not. So don’t you worry about me. Just let me get on and do it. I’m 35 now not 5 so I’ll be fine now”

U:"Hmmm, I’m really not sure about this. I don’t want you to get hurt again”

RB: “OMG U, did you not listen, I’m 35! I should be able to get up on the stage and present by now!”

U: “geez, no need to get all stroppy with me. I’m just looking out for you. Fine. If you wanna be like that I’ll leave you to it. On your head be it if you forget your words again”

RB: “thankyou, that’s all I wanted!”

That would be useful wouldn’t it?

How Cognitive Hypnotherapy helps

This is why Cognitive Hypnotherapy is so useful. It works with the reality that our unconscious thoughts live in and helps us reframe and redefine the interpretations and conclusions that it reached when we were younger. This is why the Hypnotherapy part is key, because that’s how we start the Instant Messaging session with the unconscious.

By reframing those significant events that our unconscious has used throughout our lives to drive the “feel first, think later” approach, we remove the emotional reactions to events or stimuli in our daily lives. Without the emotional reaction, there is no need to “think later” because we haven’t even had the “feel first”.

This is also why many of us struggle for years to overcome those things that make every day a struggle. The things that drive depression or make it hard for us to connect with others. Because we can only work on our conscious mind. We can rationalise and think our way through it all. We can decide we don’t need to feel like this. But then all it takes is one key stimulus and our unconscious overrides all our good work. We feel first and think later.