© Helen Lesser, 2012

What IS Hypnotherapy?


There are so many different types of hypnotherapy and various initials after therapists’ names – how can you tell the differences or decide who to contact?


For ease of explanation, I have divided the most common therapeutic directions into what I see to be three main categories – the what, the when and the why:

  • The what
    • what are you feeling,
    • what do you want to change,
    • in what way can these feelings be stopped?
  • The when
    • when did the symptom start,
    • when was the first time you experienced these feelings,
    • when do they cause most difficulty for you?
  • The why
    • why situations cause you to react differently from most other people,
    • why you reacted to past events by carrying the experience with you,
    • why life event(s) have left these effects within you,
    • why feelings, situations, memories or events continue to affect your life.


Script-based hypnotherapy, along with those that deal more with the conscious, analytical, thinking mind can provide quick results with the ‘what’ – the focus being more on speed of change rather than lasting effects.


Therapy which deals more on a subconscious level (often termed clinical or analytical hypnotherapy) is used to deal with the Initial Sensitising Event or trigger incident (the ‘when’), perhaps helping a person to come to terms with past traumas or experiences, explain or deal with the effects of life events.


When deeper therapy is required – when it is necessary to deal with the ‘why’, to find out why a person reacted to their life events by developing a symptom or condition, then my preference is to use LCH – (Lesserian Curative Hypnotherapy).

As this is the least common direction, perhaps a couple of examples may help to highlight the differences:-


LCH Case Study 1 – Fear of Flying

Let’s imagine a person attends for treatment of a fear of flying.  Scripted or symptom-focused therapy could enable that person to get on a plane and complete an imminent journey.  Teaching them relaxation techniques will help; visualising a particularly bumpy flight can prove to the person that they can live through such situations and therefore the fear can reduce accordingly.  This client may be helped to understand where their fear started and to rationalise that and a number of subsequent reinforcing events.

But why did they experience the fear in the first place?  Enduring a highly turbulent flight is rarely anyone’s idea of pleasure and the stomach-dropping nausea of sudden altitude loss is something not easily forgotten – but the vast majority of people will experience heartfelt relief when it’s over and enjoy using the experience as a good story to tell.  Some will gain a thrill from the event, similar to enjoying the buzz of extreme fairground rides.  Others will take a while to put the experience behind them but steadily the trepidation of a recurrence reduces  with each subsequent ‘safe’ experience.

But what of the person who reacts to that situation by being unable to get on a plane without severe distress, or even not at all? Perhaps the phobia is such that the thought of going anywhere near an airport – or a therapist who may ‘make them’ talk about it – is just too awful to contemplate.   In this case, does there not have to be some reason why they reacted to that situation so much more strongly than everyone else?

For such a person as this, dealing with that reason, correcting the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’ is the simplest, quickest and gentlest route.


LCH Case Study 2 – Negative Thinking

What of a person suffering with negative thoughts?  Such a way of thinking can have serious impact on their confidence, self-esteem, self-assurance and can eventually lead to depression, anhedonia, crippling anxiety or social phobia.

While some clients will respond well to the use of affirmations and positive self-talk, others find this actually exacerbates the negativity.  Logically, they know that the only reason they are having to use these positive messages is because there is a problem there, so such affirmations only serve to reinforce the fact that things are not as they should be.

Talking through the times in their life when they have experienced particular feelings or negative emotion  can enable them to put those particular events to rest.  Time-machines are hard to find thus going back to un-happen the past is not an option, so we may use visualisation to re-view or reframe those memories in one way or another.   Alternatively, identifying and reinterpreting the incorrect Core Beliefs which caused the individual to react to those situations so strongly, enables the effects of all the dozens or perhaps hundreds of reinforcing events to be automatically and swiftly neutralised.

Subsequent to that correction/reinterpretation, a person does not have to work to think positively, does not need to spend time altering their outlook or challenging their viewpoint – one does not need to correct something that is not wrong!



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