Hypnotherapy, Addictions, and Change

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a brilliant workshop with Dr Gabija Toleikyte, called The Neuroscience of Self.

Understanding how the brain functions, is an important part of the work that I do as a specialist addiction hypnotherapist. As the brain is the most complex structures known to humankind, I naturally have some gaps in my understanding, so I went along on Saturday in the hope of learning something new.

When new clients come to see me for an initial consultation, in relation to ending their addiction, I often get the question “how long does it take?” I used to not like giving an answer to this question but, these days, having worked with many types of addictions with a particular type of client, I can say that the answer is around 3 months.

Ecological and Supportive Change

Most of my clients are creative and successful people who, like many creatives, struggle with unwanted habits and addictions. My clients are very committed people who are used going after success, and getting it! Most of them bring a similar level of commitment into the work they do with me.

The minimum commitment I ask of my clients is 6 sessions. These sessions are usually done over a 3-month period. The first 3 sessions are done over a 28-day period. The remaining sessions happen at 3 week intervals, which means that the client gets to become familiar and reliant on his/her own resources for staying abstinent, getting sober, and getting on with creating the life they want. After going though this process I don’t often see my clients again, apart from the occasional top up session. I also get the occasional email from them, thanking me for helping them make the change.

This way of working is something that has happened organically as I have grown my practice. Over 10 years as a hypnotherapist, I have found out what works best to help my clients get the results they want. I was delighted when, during the seminar, graph was shown that stated the average time an addicted brain takes to rebalance itself. The average time is 90 days, which is about 3 months.

Rapid Change Creates Anxiety

I have always disliked the approach of some hypnotherapists who claim to facilitate rapid change in their client’s lives. The reason I dislike this is because it’s a lazy marketing ploy designed to appeal to the desperation of those seeking a quick fix. I’m not interested in quick fixes. I’m interested in helping my clients make change at a pace that’s ecological and supportive for them. Rapid and quick changes have happened with my clients but they are the exception rather than the norm. Most people need time so that everything in their life adjusts as they do.

Something I learned during Saturday’s seminar is that the Amygdala, the part of the brain that creates emotional responses, generates anxiety if we try to change too much too quickly. This was great for me to hear. It totally backs up my experience and way of working. It confirms that careful pacing and integration are needed in facilitating change.

In 1997, when my own addiction came to an abrupt and terrifying end, I suffered major aftershocks in my life. Like most people with addictions, I had built an identity around my behaviours and really struggled to adjust to the sudden change. I also had to deal with the karmic momentum of my life, and make some significant lifestyle changes as a result. One question I sometimes still get is “Can you fix me in one session?” These days my answer to this is “Even if I could, I wouldn’t dream of doing it to you!”

Real and Lasting Change

Real and lasting change, the kind of change that lasts a lifetime, takes time. Not a long time. 3 months is not a long time over the course of a person’s life. Why not take some time to invest in yourself? Why not take the time to slow everything down, get clear, and enjoy a gradual adjustment to an addiction free life?

It’s not rapid change. It’s much better than that!