Hypnotherapy and Visualisation
Visualisation is an experience where the perceptual experiences are mentally rehearsed, but in the absence of the appropriate stimuli for the relevant perception. When we imagine ourselves performing an action in the absence of physical practice, we are visualising. Interestingly brain scanning, such as fMRI, has shown that exactly the same areas of the brain are activated when visualising an activity as those activated when actually performing the activity. Visualisation is one of the primary tools used in hypnotherapy and has applications such as overcoming fears by safely visualising the stressor without actually facing the stressor; visualising changed behaviours, such as improved confidence; or visualising specific activities such as sporting or public speaking. Visualisation is a complete experience using not just the visual modality but also auditory (sound) and kinaesthetic (touch).
How visualisation is used is up to individual preferences and the present circumstances. It can be done in real life situations or calmly at home preparing for an event. It can be very short, such as a tennis player visualising the perfect serve, of long visualisations such as a public speaker going through their entire speech. It can be done, sitting up, lying down, in complete silence, with a stereo, eyes closed or they can be open.
There is sufficient reliable evidence
that suggests visualisation can improve performance in a variety of sports.
Feltz and Landers conducted a meta-analytic to examine 60 studies in which mental
practice was compared to control conditions. They found that cognitive rehearsal
conditions (visualisation) showed a
better performance, about 1/2 of a standard deviation unit. (Paivio, 22-29). Anne Isaac (1992) conducted a study which examined the influence of mental practice on sports skills again finding that the experimental group had significantly more improvement than the control group. In experiments on visualisation and the autonomic nervous system (ANS) Roure et al, found six specific ANS responses that correlated with mental rehearsal, thereby improving performance.
Not only does mental imagery seem to enhance performance, but it has been shown to enhance motivation as well. A 1995 tested 39 beginner golfers found that those in the test group, who were asked to visualise putting the ball, spent significantly more time practicing golf putting task than the control group as well as having more realistic self-expectations and setting themselves higher goals to achieve (Martin, 54-69).
The reason visualisation works lies in the fact that when you imagine yourself performing a task perfectly, you are creating neural patterns in your brain, just as if you had actually physical performed the action. These neural patterns become a permanent feature of the brain which can ultimately enable you to complete an activity or change a behaviour by simply mentally practicing it.
Visualisation or Hypnotherapy involves the person experiencing a sense of deep relaxation with their attention narrowed down and focused on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist. These suggestions help people make positive changes within themselves.
During a session you are always in control and you are not made to do anything. Hypnotherapy is not about being made to do things and you can’t be hypnotised into doing anything that you would not feel OK about doing.
Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis is not a state of deep sleep. It does involve the induction of a trance-like condition, but when in it, the patient is actually in an enhanced state of awareness, concentrating entirely on the therapist's voice. In this state, the conscious mind is suppressed and the subconscious mind is revealed during which the therapist is able to suggest ideas, concepts and lifestyle adaptations to the patient, the seeds of which become firmly planted.
Hypnotherapy or Visualisation aims to re-programme patterns of behaviour within the mind, enabling irrational fears, phobias, negative thoughts and suppressed emotions to be overcome. As the body is released from conscious control during the relaxed trance-like state, breathing becomes slower and deeper, the pulse rate drops and the metabolic rate falls.
Therapy works by altering our state of consciousness so that the analytical left-hand side of the brain is turned off, while the non-analytical right-hand side is made more alert. The conscious control of the mind is inhibited, and the subconscious mind awoken. Since the subconscious mind is a deeper-seated, more instinctive force than the conscious mind, this is the part which has to change for the patient's behaviour and physical state to alter.
For example, a patient who consciously wants to overcome their fear of spiders may try everything they consciously can to do it, but will still fail as long as their subconscious mind retains this terror and prevents the patient from succeeding. Progress can only be made be reprogramming the subconscious so that deep-seated beliefs are abolished or altered.
Hypnotherapy and Mental Visualisation can be applied to many psychological, emotional and physical disorders and can be successfully used for
Neil Wood-Gaiger BSc (Hons) Psych; Ad Dip CP; Dip Hyp CS; MBPsS; MCS (Acc); MHS is an experienced therapist specialising in treatment through mental visualisation and hypnotherapy.
To book your FREE initial consultation call Neil anytime on 07968 465933
130 Wells Road
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© Neil Wood-Gaiger