I've just finished working with a little boy who was suffering extreme anger issues. He'd been working with a counsellor at school who was doing some amazing work but it wasn't resulting in a lessening of his anger. In the hypnotherapy sessions, we used a mix of NLP and metaphor work and, by taking the focus off "him", and onto the techniques and stories, he slowly started engaging with the sessions. Every time I see a child engage in hypnotherapy in this way, using very gentle, indirect approaches, it reminds me of what an amazing approach it is (and not just with kids!).
I first started working with children a couple of years after qualifying as a hypnotherapist. I assumed that, because I was a mum to two children of varying ages and had been working as a hypnotherapist for some time, I’d be able to successfully incorporate children’s hypnotherapy into my practice. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I soon realised that I wasn’t getting the results I wanted that, despite being able to establish a good relationship with the children as the result of having kids and playing host to other children during regular playdates, I didn’t have the depth of knowledge or techniques needed to work effectively with my younger clients.
Children’s hypnosis is fascinating. It’s certainly one of the most interesting areas of my client work. Some aspects, I find harder than adult client work – after all, I’m dealing not only with the child but with their parents. But kids have incredible imaginations. They slip in and out of a very natural state of “hypnosis” all the time. They engage quickly and a child’s hypnosis session can be very different to an adult session. Once you know how to work with children, which usually involves specialist training such as my KidsMatters® course, you soon discover how amazing it is!
I suppose, ultimately, one of the most rewarding parts of working with children’s hypnotherapy is that you have the opportunity to help someone, who will some day grow into an adult, begin to think about things in a healthier, more helpful manner. You can give them tools which they can use through school, university and into the workplace.
Like adult clients, it’s important to find the right tool for the right child. I often find metaphorical, story-based work is one of the most effective way to help children benefit from hypnotherapy. Kids can become very uncomfortable when attention is turned on them (many adults feel equally uncomfortable, but kids are likely to be less polite about their experience or become completely shut off from the hypnosis process). Using an indirect, Ericksonian story-telling approach with children can allow them to engage with the approach in a way that lets them use their powerful imagination in a way that feels fun and creative. Writing a story, or adapting a script to your younger clients’ needs, is also an enjoyable process for the hypnotherapist!
Other techniques I really like using with child clients during hypnotherapy sessions include Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and solution focused therapy. All of these approaches can be incorporated within a hypnotherapeutic approach to help children reframe their experiences and deal with the difficulties they face in life.
I’ve noticed, since training as a practitioner over fifteen years ago, that there is a huge demand in the need for children’s hypnotherapy. At one level, this could be seen as a negative, reflecting the new complexities which children are faced with and the increasing demands on their mental health. On the other hand, it could be seen as part of a positive movement which recognises that children struggle and that there are solutions out there which can help them. For many of us who grew up in the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties, there was no awareness of children’s mental health needs or the need for assistance. Kids were expected to “get on with it”. Part of the increased demand for children’s hypnosis is due to increased awareness about children’s mental health needs. Parents who choose hypnotherapy are responsible and proactive and recognise that hypnotherapy has the capacity to help their children, not just in the present moment but well into the future. Awareness of hypnotherapy also fits into an increasing awareness of mindfulness, which is a core feature of many schools.
Training in Children’s Hypnotherapy Will Transform Your Practice (and transform children’s lives!). If you’d like to find out more about our KidsMatters® training course, please feel free to get in touch.