The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners.
by Kathy Moore, MBA, BCH
My specialty is helping clients with anxiety. From my experience over the past two decades, anxious people tend to have the following four characteristics in common:
“What if” Thinking
Anxious people tend to imagine the worst-case scenarios. One of the biggest reasons to use hypnosis for treatment is it is fairly easy to teach anxious clients to shift to imagining “best case” scenarios. I recently worked with two brothers about four months apart. The mom was absolutely amazed that in three sessions each, her sons had let go of social anxiety and could function in society again.
Anxious people tend to be more sensitive to everything in their environments: smells, loud sounds, toxic people, work stress, foods, allergens, everything. One of the first sessions I do with anxious clients is to desensitize them to their environments. We anchor in a safe or relaxing place that they can use like a mental tranquilizer.
Stressful birth experiences
Fully 98% of clients (or their mother tell me) of a physically and/or emotionally challenging birth experience. Think about it from a scientific standpoint. If the mother is anxious and stressed when she is carrying the client, the child is absorbing all those stress chemicals (adrenalin and cortisol) in the womb. One client even went back and experienced his father’s anxiety about being able to afford a baby. I use Timeline therapy or memory chains to help the client disconnect from painful birth experiences.
Need for quiet time
Because anxious clients tend to get more easily overloaded by their environments, they tend to need more quiet time and sleep. Some have trouble staying asleep. Hypnosis for peaceful sleep is an important tool to help these clients get healthier.
Almost all anxious people fall into a category known as “highly sensitive people.” (HSPs) This phrase was coined by Elaine Arons, Ph.D., in her book, Highly Sensitive People: How to Thrive when the World Overwhelms You. HSPs are more affected by EVERYTHING in their environment: from perfume, to noise, to sleep deprivation, to job stress. As a rule, they need: (1) more sleep sometimes as much as ten hours extra (2) less stressful jobs or shorter work hours (3) their own special de-stress zone usually a quiet area in their home (4) reduced caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and other toxic chemicals (5) less exposure to toxins of any kind, including toxic people.
Another great resource for anxious people is Edmund Bourne’s book, The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. An anxious person constantly imagines the worst case scenario. Examples include:
“What if I go into work today and they fire me?”, “What if I left the coffee pot on?”, “What if I develop an ulcer from worrying all the time?”
One way that hypnosis can reduce the effects of anxiety is through a technique known as anchoring. While I use anchoring in my private practice, you can learn to use it yourself. Here’s how it works: with anchoring, we are shifting the “what if” thought process away from “worst-case-scenario” and towards “best-case-scenario.”
I have the anxious person think of the most relaxing, or peaceful experience of their life. Sometimes it’s a favorite vacation. Or it might be something simple, like snuggling up under the blankets in their own bed.
Then I have them choose a most relaxing color and a word that describes how they feel in their relaxing place calm, safe, peaceful? Next, I have them “anchor” in the place, the color, and the word with lots of deep relaxation and by imagining they are in their peaceful place and seeing or hearing their peaceful word surrounded by the peaceful color. I usually make the image very surreal, since it tends to heighten the effect and make it more memorable.
For example, if the place is Hawaii, the color green, and the word relaxing, I might have them imagine the word “Relaxing” floating on waves off the shoreline of Maui in giant 10-foot-tall green letters. Once the peaceful scenario is locked in, then I have them think about anxiety-producing scenarios. However, every time they start to feel anxious, they immediately “fire the anchor.” In fact, I say something like, “Have the big green wave wash over you, totally relaxing you and washing away all the anxiety, leaving you feeling just as relaxed as you were on your vacation in Hawaii.”
The anxious person would continue to pull up negative scenarios and anchor positive experiences to them until any “anxious” scenario automatically shifts them into “relaxation” mode.
I have seen anxious people completely drop that characteristic in a matter of three weeks. Many show tremendous improvement in just one session.
Kathy Moore is a Board Certified Hypnotist, recognized hypnotherapy instructor, motivational speaker and small business marketing consultant, specializing in anxiety.
Learn more about Kathy’s approach in her upcoming workshop, Saturday, April 2 at the 28th Hypnotherapy Conference in Glendale, California.
Register today: https://hypnotistexaminers.org/conference-registration/