You might be thinking that ADHD Hypnotherapy sounds good in theory, but can people with ADHD be hypnotised, that is the question. The answer may surprise you.
Not only can people with ADHD be hypnotised, but there may even be reason to believe that children and adults with ADHD may in fact share characteristics that make them more responsive to hypnosis and suggestion than those without ADHD.
Furthermore, taking a look at ADHD from the perspective of hypnosis, suggestion, and the subconscious mind, may help us not only understand ADHD in more depth, but also learn more about how to manage and even master it.
The Myth of Attention Deficit
Because people with ADHD are said to have difficulty focusing and concentrating, it is often assumed that people with ADHD cannot be hypnotised.
However, this isn't entirely true. Instead of attention deficit, ADHD is more accurately understood as “attentional variability” - people with ADHD have issues regulating attention, not attention per se.
In other words, people with ADHD tend to focus on something when they are interested and motivated by it. In fact, they can often activate one of the ADHD “superpowers” called hyperfocus, where they can focus for hours on a topic when motivated to do so.
So the truth about hypnosis and ADHD, is that both children and adults with ADHD (on or off medication) can indeed be hypnotised – if they are interested and motivated by the process and wish to experience positive change.
There are various ways that a good ADHD hypnotherapist can make hypnosis captivating for children and adults with ADHD:
- Spend shorter periods of time in hypnosis, i.e. chunk it down into some time talking and playing, followed by short hypnosis, followed by talking and playing. There is also reason to believe that this approach may in fact be superior, especially for ADHD clients, than one long hypnosis session.
- Allow figeting and movement during hypnosis. Do not make an issue out of it.
- Increase the amount of physical hypnosis, e.g. do hypnosis standing or an induction involving more physical movement.
- Appeal to the child or adult's interests and beliefs and motivations and incorporate these into the actual hypnosis, e.g. if they like beaches they imagine going to a beach, or if they like motorbikes they can focus on that.
- Hypnotise the ADHD individual using a "fast hypnosis" approach if a slow approach is less effective, i.e. use a more energetic hypnotic voice, than usual, and speak more quickly.
The Myth of Relaxation
Another thing that needs to be cleared up is the idea that hypnosis is all about relaxation, and “because people with ADHD cannot relax they cannot benefit from hypnosis.”
What needs to be understood is that there are different types of hypnotic categories, e.g.
- Slow Trance – this tends to be more about relaxation and is used more by hypnotherapists.
- Fast Trance – this is more like what you would see on a stage show, hypnotising someone fast, and more physical based inductions.
So in the case of ADHD Hypnosis, I use a mixture of both depending on the client. For most ADHD adults I use “slow trance”, but for many of my young clients I incorporate a lot of techniques and “hypnotic games” that you might expect to see in a stage show/entertainment type setting.
I do this because children with ADHD need more movement than most, and also because it makes the sessions more exciting and interesting, and therefore keeps them motivated.
If you were to see some of my ADHD clients in a “fast trance”, wriggling, opening their eyes, and sometimes even acting out their imagination, you might be mistaken for thinking that they were not hypnotised or relaxed enough. But the reality is, everyone can be hypnotised, young or old, ADHD or not, when you find the way that works for them.
The trick to all good hypnotherapy is to be flexible and motivate. I've always believed “Where there's a will there's a way,” and so in the case of hypnotherapy if you are flexible, there's nothing to stop anyone from being hypnotised successfully.
And you should never assume what is hypnosis for one person is the same for another, or what is hypnosis for a neurotypical should be the same for a neurodivergent. After all, we are all different.
What The Scientific Research Says About ADHD Hypnosis
So myself and other ADHD Hypnotherapists know that people with ADHD can indeed respond to hypnosis. And there are plenty of children and adults with ADHD who have benefited from the approach. But what does the scientific research say?
Researcher Maarit Virta, Phd, from The Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, has conducted a number of small but promising pilot studies to try and answer the question can people with ADHD be hypnotised.
In her 2010 study results indicated that adults with ADHD could indeed benefit from ADHD hypnotherapy. In a 2015 study it was revealed that adults with ADHD were equally suggestible as those without ADHD, and could indeed improve their attention (as well as other cognitive abilities) with the help of hypnotic suggestion alone. The only significant difference between the two groups, was that the adults with ADHD seemed to have less stamina.
But as was explained earlier, this need not be an issue. ADHD hypnotherapists like myself overcome this through various adjustments, such as by breaking up the normal 20-30 minute hypnosis session into two 10-15 minute hypnotic inductions during a single session.
In 2014, a further study was conducted comparing a treatment modality (CBT) against hypnosis, the former already being accepted as a viable treatment for people with ADHD. The results of this study were promising indeed. Both modalities performed equally well, but at 6 month follow up, ADHD hypnosis was shown to significantly outperform CBT.
For me, as a hypnotherapist, this isn't surprising. After all, CBT works primarily by conscious means, but hypnosis works primarily with the subconscious mind. If, as neuroscientists and hypnotherapists claim, the mind is primarily subconscious (from 90-99%) then it makes sense that working at the subconscious level would prove more powerful than merely working with the conscious mind to effect change.
Meanwhile, another small but promising study was conducted by researchers from Hadassah – Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, in 2015. Like the research by Maarita Virta et. al., shared earlier, they found that there was no difference in hypnotisability between those with and without ADHD. In addition, they found that if someone with ADHD was “low hypnotisable”, that methylphenidate medication could improve hypnotisability.
My experience as a hypnotherapist has been that, whilst medication can help some clients to focus better in sessions, nonetheless they do not need it to be hypnotised. They tend to respond very well.
Could People With ADHD be More Hypnotisable Than Average?
As surprising as it may seem, there is some reason to believe that people with ADHD may in fact respond very well to hypnosis. They may even respond better than average.
To quote Traci Stein, Phd, in her report in Psychology Today:
Hypnosis involves attending to hypnotic suggestions, and it would seem logical that those with ADHD would have greater difficulty paying attention to them. Yet, some research has shown that people with ADHD are in fact more hypnotizable and trance-prone than average despite challenges with focus.
The reason for this surprising finding includes:
- A tendency to daydream and space out, which is an example of “spontaneous trance”
- Strong creativity and openness to new experiences
- A tendency towards “self transcendence” as reported by researchers like Lidia Zylowska, Phd and Susan Smalley at the UCLA [6,7]
- A tendency towards sensitivity.
Some research suggests that those who are more creative and sensitive are more likely to suffer from anxiety and trauma as a result, as their imagination and recall of difficult experiences is particularly vivid. In turn, this leaves a stronger "imprint" on the subconscious mind, thus affecting them more acutely in a negative way.
But in the case of ADHD Hypnotherapy, this can work to our advantage. Rather than causing ourselves anxiety through a "negative trance", we can use positive trance and leave a stronger imprint on our subconscious mind due to our sensitivity.
The same trait of creativity and sensitivity which exists in people with ADHD may help us understand the intriguing finding that people with ADHD can respond well to hypnosis. There is even some reason to believe that ADHDer's may in fact be more hypnotisable than average.
Even though someone with ADHD may have less stamina for a long hypnosis session, nonetheless these traits more than make up for that, and so people with ADHD can benefit from hypnotherapy just like those without ADHD.
Whilst ADHD Hypnotherapy may not be for everyone, and whilst it is not normally the first therapy you probably think of, there is certainly good reason to consider it. Not only could it help you or your child with ADHD begin to manage your symptoms of ADHD, it also has the added benefit of being able to help with "cormorbid" conditions (like poor sleep, anxiety, and depression) that are not always treatable by medication alone.
Would you like to try out ADHD hypnosis for yourself? If so, why not check out the following video based "Hypnotic Goal Setting" Session, and experience hypnosis for yourself, helping you to achieve a goal.
Download your Free Copy of “Quickly Relax” hypnosis MP3 today, stay in touch, and get access to further reports, strategies, and tools to help you or your child learn to manage or even master your ADHD for more happiness and success. https://addvantagehypnotherapy.activehosted
 HYPNOTHERAPY FOR ADULTS WITH ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER: A RANDOMIZED CONTROL TRIAL, MAARIT VIRTA ET AL. CONTEMPORARY HYPNOSIS 27(1):5-18 (2010) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264382233_Hypnotherapy_for_adults_with_attention_deficit_hyperactivity_disorder_a_randomized_controlled_study
 The Impact of Hypnotic Suggestions on Reaction Times in Continuous Performance Test in Adults with ADHD and Healthy Controls, Maarita Virta, et. al, in Plos One http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0126497
 Better Long Term Outcome for Hypnotherapy than CBT in Adults with ADHD: Results of 6 Month Follow Up, in Contemporary Hypnosis and Integrative Therapy, 30(3):118-134, January 2014, Maarit Et. Al: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264382321_Better_long-term_outcome_for_hypnotherapy_than_for_CBT_in_adults_with_ADHD_Results_of_a_six-month_follow-up
 Methylphenidate Facilitats Hypnotisability in Adults With ADHD: A naturalistic cohort study, Lota A., Bonne O., Abramowitz EG., International Journal of Clinical Experimental Hypnosis, 2015 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25978083
 “ADHD Medication May Improve Hypnotisability”, Psychology Today, Traci Stein, Phd: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-integrationist/201508/adhd-medication-may-enhance-hypnotizability
 MINDFULNESS MEDITATION TRAINING IN ADULTS AND ADOLESCENTS WITH ADHD, LIDIA ZYLOWSKA ET AL. JORNAL OF ATTENTION DISORDERS NOVEMBER 19, 2007 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18025249
 Mindfulness and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Susan L. Smalley, Journal of Clinical Psychology 65, no 1 (2009): 1087 - 1098.
Biography Jamie was diagnosed in 2004 (age 24) with ADHD, but h was in the 20% who respond poorly to medication or have side-effects. This led him to ask the question: “In addition to medication, what else can we do to manage and master ADHD?” By 2011, by discovering and applying an holistic-integrated approach to ADHD and training as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, he finally came out of his depression, began to manage his symptoms of ADHD, and was able to rebuild his life again after a decade of being out of work. He went from “ADHD Hell” to “ADHD Heaven” (well, almost, as he likes to joke) and began to help others do the same. Now it’s your turn. Jamie offers coaching and hypnotherapy for ADHD in Bristol as well as worldwide via Skype.
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