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Why Cognitive Hypnotherapy?

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By Brooke Hender. Autumn 2019

Why Cognitive Hypnotherapy?


Like many who choose to become therapists, my journey began when I finally chose to do something about the issues I was facing, or at least some of them. I’d like to be able to say that I recognised that I had ‘stuff’ that needed dealing with and that I sought out several therapists before choosing which one I felt most comfortable with.

It wasn’t quite like that.

I’ve always been a positive person – somebody who on a fundamental level believes that it will turn out alright. And that has been true until it wasn’t. The unexpected death of a close friend found me floundering. I didn’t recognise that my behaviour had changed and not helpfully either. I didn’t know why I felt so negatively about everything in my life. I just did. Like so many people, I just assumed that this was a part of life and that perhaps things would just get better, just as they had just gotten worse. Essentially, I was the same person – perhaps drinking a little more, perhaps not caring quite so much about things, both personally and professionally, as I had done not so long ago. I didn’t talk to anybody about how I felt, I didn’t really do that. I just went about my life.

At the time, I was sharing a flat with a friend, who invited another friend of hers around for dinner one night.

That friend turned out to be a Cognitive Hypnotherapist. She was warm, calm, attentive and didn’t spend hours talking to me about Cognitive Hypnotherapy, even if I had known what it was. She simply suggested that perhaps, if I felt it would be helpful, that I might want to have a look at what I’d shared with a view to changing them.

The decision to stay the same

It felt like a good idea. That didn’t mean that I acted on it. I didn’t. In fact, we had dinner a few more times before I decided that it might be helpful. I wasn’t sure. I was reasonably certain that my problems were because of me, because of ‘who I am’, and that it was ‘just the way things are’. So, it was with a fair amount of trepidation that I went for that first session. I wasn’t ready for it and I wasn’t committed to it. I didn’t feel able to be vulnerable. At the time I did what I always did – I set ground rules, explaining that I didn’t want to talk about my parents, or ‘love’, or my childhood. Of course, it proved that these were the very topics I needed to talk about. More of that later.

I told her that I wanted to work on procrastination and why I couldn’t achieve what I wanted. So that’s what we did over six sessions.

I had no idea about what Cognitive Hypnotherapy entailed, and I discovered that it wasn’t one thing at all. It wasn’t just talking, although there was a lot of that. It wasn’t the hypnosis I imagined it would be. There were no watches or anything remotely like what I had seen on TV when I thought of hypnotherapy (because this must be hypnosis surely?).

Week in and week out, we did many varied things. Sometimes I would close my eyes, sometimes I’d be standing up and walking along lines that I had laid out mentally. I do know that I resisted a lot of it. Not deliberately – I just wasn’t ready to give in to the process fully.

I also know that I was hard work. Not that I found that out until much later (although I was fairly certain that I would have been). Everything was taken by the therapist as normal, as information, with a smile, or as just part of the process. I never felt like I was doing it wrong, or that I was being difficult (I have since learned that I was doing the best I could at the time).

At the end of it, I had learned a lot about myself, and I’d started a process of shift and change. A process that has continued ever since (and long may it do so).

Not what it said on the tin

I also discovered that I wasn’t being treated as a label. I wasn’t another ‘procrastination’ client, which resulted in a set approach to dealing with that problem. No, I was Brooke Hender, who was struggling with procrastination. They say everything is about something else and procrastination was just the problem I presented with. I very quickly learned that that was my solution to my real problem. The time was taken to discover who I was and what was really going on, what my real story was. Nobody had done that before. It made a huge difference to be treated that way. I was listened to as a person. That alone started a shift in me.

So why am I sharing this with you? I wanted to write this so that you might find some recognition in my story.

There are a lot of assumptions about therapy, a lot about hypnotherapy, and for most people, Cognitive Hypnotherapy is something that they’ve never heard of. I hadn’t. I’ve had more therapy since that first exposure to it. I have worked with several Cognitive Hypnotherapists – some women, some men. All of them work in a different way, bringing the strengths of their experience and personality to bear on the work. It’s not just the techniques, although they are important. It’s your relationship to the therapist that is important. If you don’t believe that they can help you, then no matter how good they are, they probably won’t be able to. When I speak to potential clients, I encourage them to spend time talking or meeting with the therapists they are considering working with.

During my time working with clients, I continue to appreciate the flexibility and openness of the Cognitive Hypnotherapy approach. The two fundamental questions I learned early in my training, “What’s that about?” and “How can I use it?” allow me to be open to working in the moment, listening to what I’ve been offered by the client and using that to guide me to provide what I believe to be the most helpful thing to say or do so that the client continues the process of change.

There’s no set way of working, no ‘one’ way of doing it. You are not made to fit the process; the process is designed to fit you and your needs. The techniques themselves are not set in stone either, something I have really come to appreciate. I’m currently assisting on the same diploma course that I took and helping and guiding others as they start to discover what it means to be a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, even if they choose to use their skills for something else. Nothing is wasted.

I’m effectively taking the course again, and I’ve realised how flexible the techniques are and how easily they adapt to your needs as a client. Seamlessly.

So, what’s next for you?

If you’re reading this article and wondering whether it’s finally time that you addressed those things in your life that are unhelpful, then I encourage you to find a Cognitive Hypnotherapist in your area. Even better several them. Talk to them, see which one resonates with you most strongly, and which one you believe will be able to help you.

Cognitive Hypnotherapy is not a series of techniques. It’s an approach, a highly flexible model that puts you at the heart of the process and proceeds solely on what you need at that moment.

The fact that you’re reading this means that you’re curious about what we offer as Cognitive Hypnotherapists. Perhaps it’s time to take the next step and finally get your ‘stuff’ sorted. I know your journey and experience will be different from mine because you will bring different issues and you are ‘you’. And it’s on that basis that I encourage you to be treated as ‘you’ by seeing a Cognitive Hypnotherapist.