There are many children's problems that hypnotherapy can
help with. And, the great thing is that children are usually excellent
hypnotic subjects. They have such wonderful imaginations that you
can induce the hypnotic state easily and rapidly by getting them,
for example, to imagine taking off in a space craft or taking part
in their favorite television program.
A surprisingly large percentage of childhood complaints stem from
unresolved emotional issues. Many children, for example, who suffer
from Bronchial Asthma are anxiety-ridden, lack confidence and are
dependent on one or both of their parents to an extreme degree.
There may be physical factors that are directly implicated, but
often the parent is told that the child will "grow out of it".
More likely the child (and maybe even the parent) simply matures
enough to resolve the emotional issues that triggered the problem
in the first place.
Allergies are another problem suffered by children, and allergic
reactions are often associated with stress. There can be a whole
host of stressful events in a child's life such as relations with
siblings, school, dependency on a parent, fear of interaction with
peer groups, and aggression towards one or both parents sometimes
arising from a past traumatic event. You may have heard about an
experiment carried out on children whose allergen was flower pollen.
In hypnosis they were asked to smell a rose in a sealed glass jar,
whereupon they immediately had an asthmatic attack. Subsequently
under therapy they were instructed in ways to control, and then
stop altogether, having asthmatic attacks, principally through the
use of self-hypnosis.
Nail biting, stuttering, various kinds of habitual spasms,
obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) on which I wrote in the last
issue, can all be addressed by hypnosis. I am not saying hypnosis
is always successful, but in the substantial majority of cases I
have seen and treated, the child has achieved a satisfactory outcome.
Perhaps the one factor that I enjoy most is giving a child an effective
therapy that does not rely on synthetic drugs. Even if I had the
power to prescribe pharmaceuticals, I would never wish to do so
because of the great potential for harm.
I believe that the widespread prescription of the drug Ritalin
is a crime being perpetrated on today's children with so-called
Attention Deficit Disorder. The power of the child's mind in hypnosis
is much more effective, and physiologically harmless.
In a study on Dyslexia in 1975, Crasilneck and Hall showed that
over 75% of dyslexic children can be helped with direct hypnosis.
Following hypnotherapy that included suggestions for improving performance
and pronunciation, recognition of words became automatic and more
rapid. The results in this study were as good as, or slightly better
than, those reported by special behavior modifiers.
Nocturnal Enuresis, or bed-wetting, is particularly distressing
to both child and parents. There are a number of possible physical
causes that need to be checked out by a doctor. Equally there are
a number of psychogenic factors that may play a role such as loss
of a mother, sibling rivalry, emotional immaturity due to overprotection,
etc. Very often the symptom is a form of passive rebellion by the
child against the parent. The child discovers that when he wets
his bed he has a real weapon against his parent, and often he will
continue this pattern long after the original cause for his hostility
is forgotten. Bed-wetting is a difficult problem to overcome because
you have to help the child establish a motivation for bringing about
a change in his life. Hpnotherapy can also help other behavior disorders
such as thumb sucking and examination anxiety.
Finally, there is the terror of the dentist's chair. There are
a few enlightened dentists who have had an adequate training in
hypnosis and can eliminate the child's phobia of the dentist's chair
by using hypnosis. A professional hypnotherapist is able to use
post hypnotic suggestions with the child before the visit to the
dentist. In extreme cases the therapist can accompany the child
to the dentist, and immediately bring about a deep hypnotic trace
state by a simple cued induction. You do need a sympathetic dentist.
My dentist refuses to rely on my self-hypnotic state and always
insists on giving me a Novocain injection, because she is afraid
I will feel pain and move at some critical stage. I am working on
her, however, and she has admitted that she has never had an extraction
with less bleeding. Oh ye of little faith!
Geoffrey Knight is a clinical hypnotherapist and Director of
the Knightsbridge Institute for Hypnotherapy and NLP. He is a Member
of the Oregon Hypnotherapy Association. He can be reached at (503)
246-7300. Address: 3446 SW Alice St, Portland, OR 97219. (New address