What is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH)?

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a type of ‘talking therapy’,  that combines the use of psychotherapy with hypnosis.

Hypnosis or ‘trance’ is a very natural, relaxing state, encouraged by guided-relaxation, where the mind can relax and then focus on thoughts and suggestions that might be useful. As a modern psychotherapeutic approach, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy uses practical, structured, and well-researched strategies to help people make significant positive changes in their lives over a relatively short period of time.

Crucially, in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, therapists look at what the client wants to achieve rather than what prompted them to seek help.

Hypnosis or trance describes times when we experience a shift in our conscious awareness. Trance used during hypnotherapy is very different from the kind of things we might see in ‘stage hypnosis’.

In our day-to-day lives we all naturally go in and out of trance states many times a day – perhaps when we are driving, reading a good book or even washing the dishes. In this relaxed state, we experience changes in our conscious awareness – almost like being in a day-dream. During this time, the unconscious mind is more aware and can focus on helpful suggestions and thoughts.

Trance is a very natural and safe state. Contrary to what you might see on the television, trance is not mind-control. When we are in a trance state we are still in control, and we process and decide whether information or suggestions are useful to us or not and will not accept or do anything against our will.

Being in a trance is a very relaxing experience and it is something that all of us will frequently experience in our daily lives. In fact, experiencing changes in our conscious awareness is a vital part of our existence as humans. We need times where we can relax, reflect and consolidate information, and utilise different parts of our brains for different activities.

From a scientific perspective, changes in conscious awareness can be demonstrated using Electroencephalography or EEG, which is a method of recording electrical energy in the brain. Our brain wave activity changes all the time, particularly as we enter different phases of when we go to sleep. When your therapist uses guided relaxation and mental imagery it can encourage you to go into a trance state, which causes a natural shift in brainwave patterns. This means that we might shift from being in a fully alert mental state (such as when we are hectic and busy working during the day - as shown by beta brain wave activity) into other states. As we are guided into deeper levels of relaxation, the brain demonstrates more alpha and theta wave activity, where we feel calmer and more relaxed but can also visualise images and reflect on different ideas that may be useful to us.

This is why Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be so beneficial, because it combines powerful solution-focused discussions, encouraging by a relaxing trance-state so that the ideas and solutions discussed can then be explored and utilised by the brain for positive benefit.

Unlike other forms of Hypnotherapy, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy uses a specific structure, which incorporates several aspects of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) and combines these with an understanding of how the brain works, in combination with using trance.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is also different, as it doesn’t require the therapist to ‘dig into’ a person’s past, as this is not deemed necessary to help the person formulate plans and best hopes for how they want to move forward in their lives in the future.

At its heart Solution Focused Hypnotherapy focuses on the present and the future and not on the past. A Solution Focused Hypnotherapy Practitioner will ask clients to consider their preferred future, for instance asking solution-orientated questions such as: “what would be better if the problem had improved?” or “What would have changed?”. This enables a person’s possible solution to become more obvious and gives them a goal to work towards.

Hypnosis itself reduces anxiety, and this is done very simply through relaxation and visualisation, allowing the person focuses on the positive aspects of their life that encourages a shift in perspective.

Working a collaborative way, a Solution Focused Hypnotherapy Practitioner can help individuals who are experiencing confidence and self-esteem issues. It can also help (if necessary in conjunction with medication) in addressing aspects and symptoms of stress, low mood, anxiety (including panic attacks), and in helping people to cope better with physical issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and certain chronic pain conditions.

Specific phobias such as fear of spiders, water, flying, and public speaking can also be minimised, along with painful memories and traumatic experiences. 

Anxiety and stress

Life can be very stressful. Unfortunately anxiety, stress and worry are all rather common complaints.  Prolonged periods of these symptoms upset our natural balance and generally lead us to anxiety, depression or anger or a combination of all three.

Anxiety, stress and worry can often be created from work, family, financial, relationship worries even unforeseen circumstances. These feelings can really affect us in our daily activities. Stress can make you lose your concentration or temper, have headaches and migraines. It can make you feel nervous; have problems sleeping, loss of libido, experience fast heart rate or loss of appetite.

Stress and worry makes us feel overloaded with pressure. This can be either mental or emotional pressure. It leads to feelings of being unable to cope. We all have different levels that we can cope with, and some people even like the feeling. It can make them motivated at work to get tasks finished.

Anxiety can lead to feelings of great unease. Certain levels of anxiety are perfectly normal, such as when we sit an exam or go into new situations. But high levels of anxiety can actually lead to creating phobias, panic attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy aims to help you to cope better in all situations by helping you to gain control. This effectively gives you the tools to cope better. Therefore taking control and enabling you to have a calm and confident approach to life.

Low mood or depression

Low Mood or Depression is one of the most common psychological disorders. Often triggered by a significant situation like a break down of a relationship, the loss of a loved one or redundancy.

These situations can often lead the person to feelings of uselessness and despair. They become more insular pushing friends away. They can lose interest in things they use to love, not engaging with others preferring to cut off from the world and not bother with general activities of life.

People often think that someone with depression should just ‘get over it’, or ‘snap out of it and get a grip’. Unfortunately for a person suffering with this condition it is not as easy as shrugging off a bad mood. Everyone experiences bad moods, or has moments of upset, or ‘off days’. For a person suffering from depression these ‘off days’ become weeks and months.

Symptoms of Low mood or depression can also be:

  • Negative forecasting of the future
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Loss of their spark and energy
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Reoccurring thoughts of death
  • Lack of concentration

Low mood or depression is very treatable with hypnotherapy. You can expect to see a therapist from anywhere between 9 – 12 sessions for sustainable change and the sessions works very well alongside any antidepressant medication.

Public speaking & performing

Public speaking, performing or making presentations can be very nerve wracking. And just the thought of it can send ones stomach churning. Or make throats close down, voices wobble and tightness in the chest. These feelings of anxiety when public speaking and performing can stop you in your tracks. Thus making it very difficult to perform whatever job you do.

Hypnotherapy can be very useful for this problem, using techniques to reduce anxieties and focusing on the end achievements. Athletes and sports professionals, as well as professional singers and musicians have been helped for presentation and/or performance anxiety, by improving their overall focus.

Pain management

Have you ever wondered why rubbing a bumped arm or leg helps stop the pain? Well you need to imagine that the brain houses something like an old fashioned telephone switchboard. Pain and sensory messages travel to the brain via nerve cells in the spinal column. When these signals reach the brains switchboard, the switchboard operator decides which messages are put through.

To understand what messages travel to the brain fastest you need to know which type of fibre carries which type of signal:

C-Fibres:  C-Fibres carry the messages of chronic pain also called Persistent pain.  The sensations that are associated with Chronic/ Persistent pain are: Aching, throbbing, burning, cold, itching, soreness, tingling and numbness.These types of sensation are the types of pain generally localised over an area of the body.

A-Fibres:  A-Fibres transmit acute pain messages. These messages travel to the brain at a faster rate than the C-Fibres. They take precedence when they reach the brain.  Which is why when you burn yourself on the oven door for example you don’t feel your nagging neck pain. This is a clever means of self-preservation as it gains our immediate attention to the area of pain to make us remove ourselves from the danger.

Special A-Fibres:  The last one is the Ferrari of the fibres called Special A-Fibres. These fibres transmit messages the fastest. The messages that these fibres carry take precedence over all. The types of sensations they carry are: pressure, touch and vibration. This is why rubbing a bumped arm or leg temporarily helps stop the pain. As the messages that are sent travel faster than the other pain messages.  Sometimes for protection purposes when we have injured ourselves the brain sends messages to make our muscles brace or spasm. This happens around the injured area to prevent us causing further damage through overuse or over stretching.  Problems only arise in these circumstances if this continues for long periods of time. The response then becomes a habit, creating further spasms and further pain.

Within the sessions we help you to gain intellectual control to control the pain more successfully. And aim to reduce the anxieties around the symptoms of pain, allowing the brain to choose and take better control.

Panic attacks

Panic attacks can be extremely frightening. They can range from feelings of fear, hot or cold sweating, increased heart rate, churning of the stomach. In severe cases pains in the heart, which often make the sufferer feel as though they are about to have a heart attack.

Why do our Anxiety levels rise?

Our anxiety levels can raise gradually over days, weeks, months, years’ even.  And a panic attack is when you can no longer cope with the levels of anxiety, so our body goes in to the fight, flight or freeze response. It is therefore very important to address your levels of anxiety at this point. Unless they are reduced panic attacks can reoccur. Often by association with a particular situation, sensation like smell, touch or a place. These situations acts as a trigger for the brain to go into the same panic response.

Panic attacks can be debilitating. And can often result in ones life becoming more insular to avoid particular situations. This of course, in extreme, can lead to conditions such as agoraphobia.

Hypnotherapy tackles the anxiety levels so that we can begin to enable you to cope better and regain control.

Other conditions which SFH can address:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS),

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD),

Fears and phobias,

Anti-smoking Therapy,

Weight Control & Brain Body Fit,

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

An Initial Consultation with a Solution Focused Hypnotherapy Practitioner will usually involve the following:

Discussion of the issues for which you are seeking help and how you would like things to be different, including your goals and best hopes for how you would like things to be in the future (this could include a wide variety of things, such as wanting to feel more relaxed or confident, to cope better with things in your life, or to overcome a phobia. Goals may also include wanting to change certain behaviours, such as to sleep better, to create better eating habits or to stop drinking too much – and many other things for which Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be beneficial).

Gathering of general information such as your contact details, any history or conditions that you might feel are relevant, and other details that can help your therapist assess how best they can help you.

Discussion on how the brain works, how we experience emotions in the way that we do and how these can affect us and our habits, and what we can do to change these. Discussions will also include details about what trance is, and how it is a very normal and natural state, and what you can expect from your sessions.

Your therapist will also give you an indication of the likely number of sessions that may be required, which will differ depending on your circumstances and the reasons for you seeking therapy.

You will also be provided with a relaxation recording to listen to (sent as an online copy), for you to use in between your sessions, which can help you relax and reinforce the benefits of hypnotherapy.

The initial consultation is a great way for you and your therapist to get to know each other and to discuss the reasons why you’re seeking support, as well as your goals and best hopes for moving forwards in your life. It is also a good opportunity to ask any questions about the process, so that you can feel comfortable and informed about what will happen and how it will help.

During a typical session, your Solution Focused Hypnotherapy practitioner will start off by asking you about your time since your last session. This will help you to discuss what positive things have been going on, and whether you have noticed or made any changes in your life that are moving you nearer to your goals. Following this, your Practitioner will discuss aspects about how the brain works and how it relates to your experiences.

Discussions involving some solution focused questions and other techniques will then help you to consider and refine your solutions that can help you to move forward in your life. Depending on your circumstances, these discussions may also involve other elements of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) as appropriate.

After this, you’ll then be invited to quietly relax (usually in a recliner chair), whilst your hypnotherapist speaks and guides you gently into a relaxed state, where you can enjoy resting in a day-dream-like trance state, where your mind can focus on and further absorb and reflect on the things that will have been discussed during the session.

During the session, your therapist may also use other measures to gauge how things are going, such as using a GSR monitor (a small device which uses finger sensors to painlessly measure stress levels), or ask you to respond to items on various rating scales, that can highlight changes in how you are feeling as you progress through your sessions.

Book an appointment

St Joseph’s Hospital may contact you with information about the services we provide. You can either amend or withdraw your consent at any time.
For information about where and how your personal data is processed and how it is processed please see our privacy policy.