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What is Somatic Hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis is a process of inducing a state of deep relaxation of the body and high concentration of the mind, commonly known as a "hypnotic trance".
Hypno-therapy is the use of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes, aimed at facilitating changes in the form of new perceptions, new patterns of emotional responses and new behaviors.
Somatic Hypnotherapy is a particular form of hypnotherapy; it is an healing art with an innovative, personalized, interactive and pragmatic approach focused on emotional feelings. While most hypnotherapy approaches aim to facilitate desired changes through a process of learning - via hypnotic induction - of new patterns of emotional responses, Somatic Hypnotherapy triggers desired changes through a process of unlearning unwanted emotional responses.
Even though several types of hypnotic induction are used by various health professionals as an integrated tool in different approaches, between hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and allopathic medicine - other than sharing the same definition of emotions -, there are no similarities in the philosophy of their approaches or in their therapeutic protocols. As described by Dr. James Braid, hypnotherapy is a legitimate therapy in itself with a holistic approach based on a distinct ancestral philosophy and a multi-millennial tradition.
The lack of indisputable scientific evidence on how the human brain works has fueled a lot of controversy about the nature of emotions and the causal relationship between intellect, cognition, perception, feelings, decision-making and behaviour. While the concept of emotional coherence is gaining popularity, the age-old idea that the mind is not confined to the brain, is gaining ground in the scientific community. However, since the dawn of time there has been a consensus that state of mind has a strong influence on thoughts, behaviour and the symptoms of all diseases.
Although health professionals agree that emotions have a powerful grip on people's life, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to emotional issues. When dealing with overwhelming emotions, there are three medically recognized approaches to choose from, each based on different mechanisms to control emotions. Yet, despite the fundamentally different approaches used to control negative emotions and associated unwanted behaviors, all approaches share the same scientifically recognized model of emotions.
According to contemporary scientific models, emotions are complex experiences leading to coordinated changes across physical (somatic), mental, physiological (neuroendocrine) and behavioral response systems. Thus, an emotional response pattern always has a bodily feeling- called somatic component, a cognitive component (the meaning that the brain makes of emotional feelings), and a chemical (neuroendocrine changes) component. Since these manifestations are coherent, you can control your emotions by controlling either the physiology (chemistry) of your brain, the associated thoughts (the mental experience of emotions), or by controlling the associated emotional feelings (the somatic experience of emotions).
As the above definition implies, for an experience to be truly an "emotion", the experience must have an bodily (somatic) feeling componest that has to be felt, the brain has to associate an emotional meaning with this somatic feeling, and the neuroendocrine system must react and adapt accordingly. And, all of the above experiences have to happen simultaneously! Otherwise, anything that - intentionally or unintentionally - crosses your mind without triggering or without having been triggered by an emotional feeling, is nothing more than a thought, not an emotion.
It is good to know that when it comes to a fractured bone, the standard medical approach is to align and join the broken parts of the bone and let it heal. Because, this ancestral approach works for everyone, every time! However, when dealing with stress, anxiety, trauma and other unwanted emotions, unfortunately, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach.
Therefore the psychiatry, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic-programming, E.F.T. (emotional freedom tapping), pet therapy, art-therapy, mindfulness, yoga, craniosacral therapy, gravity blanket, mini-horses therapy and many other approaches based on very contradictory and yet scientific concepts, are all available to solve emotional issues.
The approach in psychiatry is based on the concept that negative emotions can be controlled by controlling the physiological (neuroendocrine) balance of the brain. Therefore psychiatrists prescribe psychoactive drugs that, through chemically rebalancing the neural endocrine system, can quiet the area of the brain where negative narratives are born and thus change people's thoughts, feelings and actions. The psychiatric approach controls unwanted emotions by breaking emotional coherence through the control of the associated physiological manifestations.
The psychological approach is based on the core concept that negative emotions can be controlled by controlling the associated negative thoughts. Thus, psychologists use various psychological approaches and homologated psychological therapies in the effort to correct the harmful thoughts associated with the unwanted negative emotions and thus change the way people feel and act. This approach controls unwanted emotions by breaking the emotional coherence through controlling the associated mental (cognitive) manifestation.
The hypnotherapy approach is based on the concept that, regardless of whether emotions are determined biologically, cognitively, physiologically or somatically, the quickest way to control unwanted emotions is to control the related unpleasant emotional feelings, and thus change people's state of mind, thoughts and behavior. Because, as soon as you won't feel anxious anymore, your once anxious thoughts and behavior will instantly change and follow your new emotional reality. Therefore, the approach in Somatic Hypnotherapy aims to controls unwanted emotions by breaking the emotional coherence through controlling the associated emotional unpleasant feelings (the somatic manifestations).
The large variety of contemporary theories of behavior help us understand that despite the many fundamentally different therapeutic protocols used to modulate unwanted emotions, there is absolutely no scientific contradiction between psychiatric, psychological and naturopathic approaches. Each of the approaches mentioned above focuses on only one of the three manifestations of emotions, not because one particular manifestation has been scientifically proved to be the source of the other two, but because all emotional manifestations are coherent ! In order for an emotion to manifest, the three inter-conditioned experiences must manifest concomitantly!
This is why, although all therapeutic approaches to emotions aim to control unwanted emotions by breaking the coherence of the emotional experience, psychological approaches focus only on the cognitive component, the psychiatric approach focuses on the physiological component while the naturopathic approaches focus on the somatic experience. A hypnotherapist should focus more on what you feel than what you think in regards with your issue. Hypnotherapy is supposed to help you change the patterns of your intrusive thoughts by helping you change your feelings and your mindset.
The holistic or mind-body concept of healing the human being as a whole, rather than curing stand-alone diseases, is not new. What is now called “hypnotherapy” has been known to exist in almost all ancient societies. Although the term “hypnosis” has been used only since the 1840s, many priests, shamans, healers and medicine men began using this technique, or some form of it, centuries earlier. There are written records about hypnosis going back 5,000 years in Mesopotamia and Egypt and 2,500 years ago in ancient China and Greece.
This healing practice has been kept alive by many traditional healers, priests and shamans, as well as famous practitioners such as the Persian physician Avicenna, the Swiss physician Paracelsus, the charismatic Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer, famous physicians and hypnosis enthusiasts Dr. John Elliotson, Dr. James Esdaile and Dr. James Braid, who coined the term “hypnosis” and described the traditional hypnotherapy in terms of empirical medical approach, in 1843, the famous Dr. Sigmund Freud, Dr. Gustav C. Jung and Dr Milton Erickson, the founder of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy.
The practice of Somatic Hypnotherapy emerged from the Traditional Hypnotherapy from which it inherits an ancestral pragmatic approach to well-being and health, adding to it the rigor of the scientific methods of several visionary scientific models of human behavior that it integrates, in particular the Somatic Markers Theory developed by the American neuroscientists Prof. Dr. Antonio Damasio and Prof. Dr. Joseph LeDoux, the concept of coordinated changes across somatic, physiological and behavioral response systems known as emotional coherence, the Ritual Healing Theory, and the Morpfogenetic Field Theory.
Unlike Ericksonian hypnotherapy and various other forms of hypnotherapy that facilitate the wanted change through a process of learning new patterns of emotional responses, somatic hypnotherapy triggers the desired change through a process of unlearning the patterns of unwanted emotional responses. While psychotherapeutic approaches use the relatively new concept of emotion, hypnotherapy uses the traditional concept of emotional "feeling". This therapeutic approach is focused on emotional feelings and is based on the physiological and neurological updated scientific models rather than on the psychological model.
According to these models, the behavioural response is modulated by the perception rather than the observation of the objective reality. For instance, someone terrified by a tiny spider is overreacting because of the perceived irrational fear of spiders, not because he really thinks that a tiny spider can harm him. Yet, for as long as strong emotions do not tangle, it is most likely that people will act logically and rationally. According to this biological approach, decision making in your daily life is much more about habits, emotion-driven desires and rewards than about rational choices.
As long as positive feelings lead your life on the path of happiness, you assume that it is the result of your good rational choices. Only when your life starts taking the burden of your bad decisions, you realize that your feelings have a powerful grip on your decision-making processes. Once there, if you want to regain control over your life, you have the option of investing in the long process of educating your rational brain on how to better negotiate your decisions with your emotional brain, or to take the somatic hypnotherapy shortcut, with instantaneous good results.
The hypnotic suggestion inside a hypnosis therapy framework represents the hallmark of each type of hypnotherapy. Unlike conventional hypnotherapy approaches that focus on adding a fresh layer of positive feelings on top of your lasting fears and traumas, the somatic hypnotherapy is all about releasing the past by rearranging the present reading of your past traumatic experiences. This therapy works with your model of the world and involves you in your therapy process, so that changes are easily accepted and long-lasting.
The Somatic Hypnotherapy is a particular type of hypnotherapy that can help you enhance your life through positive changes. This intuitive and very effective therapy can help ease or clear your negative emotions, it can help winnow away painful feelings, help release addictions and unwanted behaviours, and increase confidence and self-esteem. Although it is little known on the North American continent, Somatic Hypnotherapy is very popular in Central and Eastern Europe where is known by various local names.
Even though Somatic Hypnotherapy uses verbal cues as specific tools, it does not rely on the speaking ability of your hypnotist, but on his ability to understand how the subconscious mind actually works. Somatic hypnosis has nothing to do with stage hypnosis, nor is it a magic trick. Those who practice it do not have the slightest supernatural power over you. Their only "magic" is to know how to put their techniques, their talent and their passion at your disposal, to allow you to access the immense resources of your subconscious, so that you can use them as you like.
The basic idea of Somatic Hypnotherapy is to help you improve your life by fostering change, not to teach you how to cope better with your problems. The hallmark of Somatic Hypnotherapy is a process of neuro-linguistic modulation which is a very particular way of speaking to your subconscious mind using metaphorical language that appears to be regular conversation, clearly understandable, and very precise in its healing intentions.
This approach relies on a solid understanding of the functioning of the human mind and on the talent of the practitioner. Yet, the hypnotherapist cannot take any credit for your healing as he is not the one who heals you. His work consists mainly in guiding you to trigger your inner self-healing resources.
The talent and the passion of the therapist can make the difference between endless sessions and a brief professional therapy, with constant good results. Negotiating with your subconscious the changes you want to experience, is rather an art than an exact science.
Whatever your fear, pain, or other issue may be, don't allow it to cripple your life.
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Disclaimer: The above article may contain statements that reflect the opinion of the author. It is intended for general informational purposes and does not constitute psychological or medical professional advice. I don't diagnose medical conditions, nor do I interfere with any treatments given by your medical professional.
If you already are under the care of a doctor or under medical treatment, follow the advice and treatment recommended by your doctor. For any medical emergency, call the Info-Santé service by dialing 8-1-1
*The results may vary from person to person.
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