Frequently Asked Questions
Solution Focused Hypnosis is about entering a state of mind and body called hypnosis. Hypnosis is similar to the states we are all familiar with in everyday life, including daydream, dreaming, or being half awake and half asleep, such as upon waking or before falling asleep.
When we are young, our brains absorb everything, we learn fast, and we are more suggestible. This is often referred to as Neuroplasticity, a flexible state of neurology.
As we become older, however, our brain activity begins to speed up and we often become more "stuck in our ways."
But using hypnosis you can learn to enter that day-dream state again, opening ourselves to new possibilities and faster learning, similar to when you were a child.
We use a Solution Focused style of coaching where you decide what you want to achieve, before entering the state of hypnosis where the mind can create change more easily.
Hypnosis is really powerful because our conscious mind, according to neuroscientists, is just 0.1-10% of our mind, but our subconscious mind is 90-99.9% of our mind.
Using hypnosis we can access more of our mind power, and access the subconscious mind to make corrections more easily than we would with our conscious mind alone.
There is growing evidence for the effectiveness of hypnotherapy, and it can help where many other approaches have failed, or not helped so much.
“Research has shown that there is more scientific evidence for hypnotherapy than any other Complimentary Therapy … by using hypnosis people can perform prodigious feats of will power and self healing” ~The Health Education Authority
It is not just hypnotists who say that the mind is primarily subconscious, but neuroscientists too estimate that the mind is between 90-99.9% subconscious. Most of us recognise the word, but what does it mean?
Subconscious mind means everything that is outside of our conscious awareness, which is, let's face it, most of our mind and body.
Right now, you are breathing, and reading the words on this screen, but that's only where your very small conscious attention is focused. As you focus on these words, you become less aware of other things going on around you, although they are still being perceived by your subconscious.
Your heart is beating, and there are a dizzying number of automatic processes occurring within your body, outside of your conscious awareness. When you go to sleep those processes continue, controlled by your subconscious, so that you don't need to worry about them.
Your subconscious is also the repository for your memories, skills, beliefs, and identity.
If the mind is mostly subconscious, and our conscious mind constitutes only 0.1-10% of our brain power, then it becomes clear that hypnosis – which helps us to access the subconscious – can be a powerful approach to personal change.
Using hypnosis we engage in a process of communicating with your subconscious mind and being able to effect change much more deeply and quickly than might normally be possible, helping you to take back more control of your mind, your habits, and improve your life for the better.
Of course, or I wouldn't bother being "The Hypnosis for ADHD Specialist"!
But seriously now, in clinical practice we find little difference, if any, between those who have ADHD and those who do not.
In fact, people with ADHD are well-known for daydreaming and spacing out, which are examples of natural, spontaneous, everyday trance (trance is another word for hypnosis).
So I have found that both adults and children with ADHD, despite beliefs to the contrary, make good hypnotic subjects.
Research studies on ADHD hypnosis have also found that people with ADHD can indeed be hypnotised, and likewise that there are some aspects of the ADHD mind that may make us just as, if not more, suitable for hypnosis than those without. Similar has been discovered by researchers of ADHD and mindfulness.
If you want to learn more about ADHD Hypnosis and whether people with ADHD can be hypnotised, I highly recommend my in-depth blog "Can People With ADHD Be Hypnotised?" which goes into the research and clinical findings, as well as my video version here:
Yes, I routinely work with both children and adults with ADHD. In fact, I work with people of all ages.
Children with ADHD, medicated or otherwise, make good hypnotic subjects, because they are already in a state of natural hypnosis, being suggestible, creative, and mentally absorbent (fast learners).
It does, however, depend on their ability to engage the session, which is conducted online, and this depends on each child. Sessions are made as fun and interesting as possible to keep the child's attention, according to their age and developmental level.
For us to assess this possibility, I offer a free call to you as parent, followed by a free call where you can attend with your child and we can assess whether working together may be a possibility.
But in short I have worked with many children, as young as 7, and normally between the ages of 8-12, successfully.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help you improve focus, concentration, become more organised, improve time-keeping, become calmer (reduce hyperactivity), improve communication skills.
In addition, you should note that whereas medication can certainly help you with many of the core symptoms of ADHD, such as focus, organisation, and impulsiveness, it nonetheless is less effective at helping us process what I call “emotional baggage”.
For example, you could receive a diagnosis for ADHD, take medication and see improvements in many areas, but still experience depression, self-esteem issues or anger. This is where Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is really helpful, because it can help us resolve psychologically and emotionally how we feel about our diagnosis or let go of unresolved traumatic experiences we may have had in relation to ADHD.
Many clients, for example, may not discover they have ADHD until old-age, by which time even if they took medication, many of their problems might remain (due to life-long habitual responses), their self esteem may be damaged, and they may have regrets about their “loss of life prospects” etc.
Medication can help us finally focus, but it cannot help us process our suffering. The same issues may be found in younger people too, and some form of psychotherapy is useful here. I provide Solution Focused Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy for such issues.
Many people diagnosed with ADHD also commonly suffer from “comorbid” conditions like anixety, low self-esteem, depression, seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), anger, emotional lability (emotional dysregulation), dyslexia, dyspraxia, and Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Whilst such conditions may need their own separate diagnosis by a qualified medical professional, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and coaching can help lower stress and anxiety and thereby may help to cope with other conditions that may be present alongside, or related to, ADHD.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can also be helpful for many other problems including: bed-wetting, temper tantrums, behavioural problems (including ODD), sleep problems, trauma (PTSD), phobias, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Please note that Clinical Hypnotherapists work differently from psychiatrists and doctors, although we do work in alliance with the medical profession. For example, we may sometimes ask your GP or psychiatrist’s advice, confirmation or permission, when necessary.
But the difference is that the mainstream medical profession (which is known as allopathic medicine) tends to work in more of a reductionist manner, whereas I work in a more holistic and integrated manner.
For example, if clients come to me and tell me a long lists of diagnoses and symptoms, I alleviate the overwhelm that may come with such a long list and help them understand that in Hypnotherapy we do not treat symptoms but look at the overall health and well-being of the person.
When that is focused on, the symptoms and conditions are seen primarily as various indicators of being “out of balance.” We don’t need to be overwhelmed with the idea that we have multiple problems that need to be understood and tackled “one by one”, but simply to balance our life in an individual, holistic way.
By doing so, we will find our general stress goes down as we balance our life, and symptoms are alleviated regardless of what labels or condition (such as ADHD or dyslexia) we may choose to ascribe to them.
No, you do not need a diagnosis of ADHD to benefit from ADHD Hypnotherapy.
This is because Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is an integrative, holistic process, that doesn't focus on symptom control, but considers each person individually.
If you come to me with challenges that "look like" ADHD we can still help you with each of those challenges, e.g. focus, organisation, sleep, confidence, whether you've been diagnosed or not.
Of course, you may benefit from a diagnosis of ADHD and perhaps medication. You would need to consult your GP or doctor regarding this.
To simplify, I work with three kinds of people:
- Those who have challenges typical of those with ADHD but are undiagnosed.
- Those who have ADHD but do not wish to medicate.
- Those who have ADHD, are diagnosed and medicated, but want to make further improvements (i.e. combination therapy).
Whilst there is some research to indicate that taking stimulant (or non-stimulant) medication may help to focus better during hypnotherapy/coaching and get better results from it, nonetheless being prescribed medication is not essential.
If you are being prescribed medication and take it on an “as and when” necessary basis, then try having coaching/therapy both with and without your medication to see if there is a substantial difference. If you feel that your medication significantly helps you get more out of your sessions, then remember to take your medication.
If your practitioner recommends taking medication daily, then continue to do so and take your medication during coaching/therapy. Changes to medication dose or frequency should be in consultation with your medically trained health professional.
Finally, if you cannot or chose not to take medication (maybe because of side effects, not yet diagnosed, not on medication, or just personal choice) it is still possible to get good results from coaching/hypnotherapy.
Getting good results from your sessions (with or without medication) depends upon a number of factors, including motivation, enjoyment of the process, and also the surprising finding that many people with ADHD (despite concentration problems) make good hypnotic subjects. For further information about this please read: “Can you be Hypnotised if you have ADHD?” or watch the video by the same title:
This really does depend upon the individual. Most clients see me for between 8-12 sessions of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, give or take.
How long treatment lasts is up to the client. You decide when you’ve achieved as much as you can in therapy (for now).
Some clients will take longer than others. We all go at our own pace. Still other clients will see me once per week for a few months and then progress on to every other week, and eventually every now and then, as they improve. Furthermore, some clients will finish a block of sessions, but come to see me every now and then for a “catch up” – as little as once or twice per year – depending on what is going on in their life.
Some clients feel that they have made good progress, but then life becomes more stressful or challenging, and so some more guidance is helpful.
Every one is different in that respect, but our aim in working together is to make as much initial progress as possible, and to give you the tools you need to go away and make progress in your life independently.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (a form of cognitive hypnosis) was created by David Newton of the Clifton Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy Training (CPHT) in Bristol, UK.
As the names suggests, SFH is “Solutions Focused”; that means it focuses on helping you find solutions to your challenges. It is a positive, logical, and cognitive form of hypnotherapy, which tends to produce improvements within brief periods of time, much like its cousin “Solution Focused Brief Therapy” (SFBT).
SFH is not only influenced by SFBT, but also by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), modern neuroscience, the concept of neuroplasticity (the surprising ability of the brain to transform itself with the right stimuli), and the “God-Father”of modern hypnotherapy Milton Erickson. In that sense, SFBT owes some of its wisdom to “Ericksonian Hypnosis”.
A typical session involves asking you to focus on the good things happening in your life, and to find solutions for the problems (challenges) in your life.
You receive an education regarding the workings of the human brain and mind, and ADHD specific, and ADHD friendly guidance, in understanding your unique brain and how to tackle your symptoms.
During sessions you will also experience a guided hypnotic relaxation (either in silence or to music) session after describing the positive change you would like to experience in your life. In other words, you consciously describe the change you wish to experience, and then forget about your intention and allow your subconscious mind to do it’s part in the process.
Alternatively you may also experience a guided session which is based more in Mindfulness or a mixture of hypnosis and mindfulness guidance. Some clients, if open and interested, may also learn meditation, mindfulness, and self-hypnosis skills that they can practise outside of the session.
Every session follows a simple, repeated structure. This is because, to quote the creator of SFH: “If you change the structure every time by doing something new, it’s like wrecking the joint.”
It’s even more important not to “wreck the joint” with ADHD clients, because children and adults with ADHD need more structure than normal. This is very good for the part of the brain in ADHD that is said to be “lagging behind” – the Left Prefrontal Cortex (LPFC) or Boss brain. Much like the Inner CEO or Organiser, the LPFC controls Executive Function, to do with organisation.
The structure of our sessions therefore does a good job of creating some consistency and structure within the brain. It also activates the “Anterior Cingulate” (AC) part of your brain which is like a Secretary, into knowing what to expect each session.
This means that when you leave your session and go out into the world, the secretary of your brain more easily remembers the structure and can apply it to real life. Repetition makes it easier to remember, and speeds up the time it takes for the key learning’s to be remembered by your brain.
This is one of the reasons why Solution Focused Hypnotherapy tends to be a “brief therapy” where you experience results from the beginning of treatment rather than waiting lengthy periods of time for progress to occur.
Over the years of hypnotising hundreds of people since 2006, there have been many people who say that they don’t think they can be hypnotised, or been told that they are “unhypnotisable” by a hypnotherapist.
When this happens, I explain:
“Everyone can be hypnotised, and everyone is hypnotisable. If you weren’t then you also wouldn’t daydream or dream at night, but everyone does, whether they remember their dreams or not. Natural trance is a normal, everyday phenomenon, and is part of the functioning of a normal, healthy brain. It’s universal.
“However, everyone goes into formal trance – hypnosis – in their own unique way. First you have to want to do it, and secondly, the hypnotherapist needs to be experienced and confident enough to help facilitate you getting there.
“So, if a hypnotherapist tells you that you are ‘unhypnotisable’, in my book that is due to lack of confidence and poor ethic. They are effectively blaming you for not going into hypnosis!
“So today I’m going to show you, because you are just as intelligent and capable as any other person I’ve hypnotised, how to get yourself into trance. I’m going to dehypnotise you from the lie that you are unhypnotisable, and give you back the opportunity to experience hypnosis so that you can reap the benefits.”
I have yet to find any person for whom this “dehypnosis” didn’t work, and yet I’m sure in stating this there will always be one or two who will say “My mind is too strong. I cannot be hypnotised.”
Fighting hypnosis is not a sign of strength or intelligence. My response would be “Why are you here then?” Of course, in reality, no-one sees me unless they want to be hypnotised in the first place, and that’s one of the reasons why it works, even when previous hypnotherapists have told them the lie of “unhypnotisability.”
ADHD, Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity Disorder, is a condition whereby a person has difficulty with focus, impulsiveness, organisation, emotional regulation, and in some cases hyperactivity. ADHD is more common in males, and until relatively recently few women with ADHD were noticed or diagnosed. Also, ADHD has historically been considered a disorder of childhood, although we know today that in fact about 70% of children with ADHD do not outgrow it by adulthood.
In the past, before anyone knew of ADHD's existence, you would be considered bad, lazy, or stupid. With the medical revolution you were considered to have a chemical imbalance or "minimal brain dysfunction." I believe that we are today moving into a third paradigm shift in understanding.
Today, it is more common to talk about "Neurodiversity", the concept that rather than a "dysfunctional brain", you instead have a uniquely wired brain. Different rather than disordered.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~Albert Einstein
If you suspect that you or your child has ADHD, a formal diagnosis should be sought rather than self-labelling. Whilst having a diagnosis can certainly help (after all, knowing is better than not knowing) we also need to be careful here, as it is a bit of a double-edged sword.
The key is to weigh up the pros and cons and make the appropriate decision. Whilst a diagnosis can be potentially damaging in some respects, especially in young children, nonetheless a lack of diagnosis, misdiagnosis, or finding out later in life, can be even more damaging.
Certainly self-diagnosis should be avoided. It should only be established by a trained medical health professional who can rule out other possibilities for your symptoms, or even put your mind at rest by demonstrating that there is no reason to suspect clinical levels of ADHD.
Many people may suffer from the same or similar symptoms, but not qualify for a diagnosis, and would be better off seeking the assistance of a complementary practitioner like myself.
Here is a short questionnaire that you can complete to get an idea of how highly you may score on a scale of ADHD. Please note however that a simple questionnaire is not diagnostic, and even a high score may not necessarily indicate ADHD. There could be another cause, which is why a formal diagnosis by a suitably trained professional is necessary to avoid incorrect self diagnosis, or worse still diagnosis of another.
Unfortunately, whilst best practise and research indicates that medication with some kind of coaching and/or therapy, is superior to medication alone, the vast majority of adults only ever take medication. Whilst children are afforded a higher prospect of treatment, with about 50% receiving medication plus therapy, nonetheless the the quality of care certainly needs improving.
The good news is that medication appears successful for many people, and many could not operate without it. However, without wanting to appear too idealistic, the best possible case scenario is certainly medication with therapy. And it is generally agreed amongst individual and expert bodies, that medication is an important ingredient in a comprehensive treatment program – but not intended to be the end of the matter.
Dr. Rusell Barkley, for example, points out that ADHD responds better to physical exercise than any other mental health disorder, and thus exercise shoud constitute an integral part of everyone’s recovery program. Another key proponent of exercise is Dr. Jon Ratey.
Another such proponent is psychologist Dr. Roger Walsh MD PhD, who wrote a seminal paper “Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes & Mental Health” for the American Psychologist in 2011, in which he presented the growing evidence for the therapeutic power of exercise, nutrition, sunlight, healthy relationships including connection with the natural world, meditation/mindfulness, and spiritual practise.
In addition to what Dr. Walsh calls Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, there is also growing evidence for the efficacy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Hypnotherapy, and Coaching, for ADHD.