Hypnosis for children

In my recent article “The role of hypnosis in breaking old habits”, we demystified hypnosis. Hypnosis is a natural state of mind that we all experience many times a day (such as the automatism when driving a car and thinking of something else or when we are watching a movie, a beautiful landscape or playing a game that we like).

Our brains are naturally designed to go into trance every 90 minutes. So using hypnosis in therapy means getting in touch with our unconscious mind that is a limitless resource capable to guide us in changing old habits and undesired behavior and replace them with new healthier and positive ones. Our unconscious mind will help us where our will fails.

Hypnosis is soft and based on suggestions, on specific techniques; it is like a meditation session or like a short trip  to a nice place and getting back ‘recharged’, full of resources and solutions that were waiting for you to be found all this time,  right there,  where you expected less: inside yourself.

Working with kids when using this therapeutic tool it is easier than working with adults according to scientific studies and to my experience. So how does pediatric hypnotherapy works and why? Simply because children have a great imagination and less negative ‘anchors’ or false beliefs than the adults. They are more open-minded and creative, so more willing to cooperate with the therapist.

I’ve recently had a conversation with a 7 years old child’s mum. Her son was anxious and was biting his nails all the time. This bad habit obviously created many issues at school (other children were laughing of the boy). His performance at school dropped down so she was desperate to find out the reason but most important the solution.

Hypnosis as a tool in brief therapy is an efficient tool if used correctly and adjusted to each problem, personality, age and situation.

Important studies and research conclusions were done in US according to the ‘Journal of Pediatrics’. These studies showed that the use of hypnotherapy in kids had a ratio success of 75% when speaking about headaches and discomfort decrease.

The research of London &Cooper was based on 240 children and it followed a survey about Hypnotical susceptibility to kids that was also adapted by Stanford Hypnotic scale for adults (Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard). This scale had 22 items testing the power of suggestions on the motoric, cognitive, affective or sensorial responses such as eyelid closing, levitation or anesthesia of the arm, regression in age etc. The bottom line of this researches is that children are more receptive than adults when using hypnotherapy. Children with the age between 7 and 14 have the highest score of efficiency and those between 5 years old and 7 years old as well as kids of 15 years old have a lower score, but still higher than to adults.

Hypnotherapy has been used to treat all sorts of behavior disorders, chronic diseases, and pain and discomfort.

Here’s a partial list of some issues or some uses of hypnotherapy in children:

  •  nail and cuticle biting or picking
  •  nose picking
  •   hair twirling
  •   teeth grinding
  •   thumb and finger sucking
  •  bed-wetting (or nocturnal enuresis, generally medical tests are necessary in order to remove the medical root of the problem)
  • nightmares, sleep problems
  • asthma
  • anxiety
  • fear or panic attacks
  • emotional unbalance or instability after parents’ divorce, loss or grief (coping with grandparents death for example) etc
  • hyperactivity
  •  phobias
  •  depression
  •  performance at school
  •  self-esteem or bullying coping mechanisms

Hypnosis can help the child to develop new coping mechanisms
or positive behavior patterns related to his social skills or self-esteem
problems and even to improve his academicals or sportive performance

Hypnosis uses our unconscious mind power to control body’s functions so it is the right tool to be used when dealing with bed-wetting (those that are not related to physical health problems).

In my experience, a hyperactive child or with an IQ higher than average (at a given age) learns very quickly to relax and to develop new mechanisms of coping with anxiety or stress. I often offer a recorded session (MP3) to the parents that could use it at home and help their child feel relaxed and at ease before our next session. I noticed that a child that has some issues in his family environment will find this tool very helpful, so the parent could use the mp3 anytime when needed.

According to my experience, working with kids in hypnosis sessions is very rich and positive.

I noticed that children under the age of 12 prefer often to keep their eyes opened and sometimes to move or to respond and to speak during the hypnotherapy session; this is normal for them to just ‘slip smoothly’ into a relaxation state of mind, absorbing all the information that is necessary to their inner health. I use simple words (according to each level & age) and I enjoy creating a world full of magic, based on trust and warmth. I need to cooperate with the family in order to get the best of this experience for the child and to become familiar to his environment, tastes, favorite games / hobbies, type of personality etc. At the end, I’m always happy to have great results and to help provide a positive experience.

Examples of methods that I include in my hypnotherapy sessions for kids: suggestions, guided visualizations, stories, role plays, puppets, games etc.

Sometimes I use a soft relaxing music or sounds. Sometimes I notice that the child prefers the sound of my voice only, so I adjust the session according to his tastes and response. I get him used to the scenario, to our games or activities and then I can record that to let the parents use it at home and make him feel at ease, comfortable and happy, get all the post hypnosis session benefits.

The efficiency and the benefits of hypnotherapy in kids are without any doubt appearing more often in media, in scientific researches and in our experiences, in France as well. Hypnosis remains a positive tool if used by a professional (both in practicing hypnotherapy and talented in working with kids) and it has nothing dangerous or magic. Being well-informed is the first step to be made and that I always suggest to adults and to parents that contact me.

I’m grateful to Simone, the mother that inspired this article and that got over her doubts, whose cooperation helped her son tremendously.

If you want to find out more details about workshops’ schedule (parents, kids), please check this link: http://bestherapie.com/ateliers-groupe-de-soutien/?lang=en

For further information about hypnosis as a therapeutical tool and how to use it successfully in breaking old habits, please chek this article: http://bestherapie.com/changer-les-vieilles-habitudes/?lang=en

Useful Ressources:

LONDON, P. & COOPER, L.M. (1969). Norms of Hypnotic Susceptibility in Children. Developmental Psychology, Vol. 1, No. 2, 113-124.

WEITZENHOFFER, A.M., & HILGARD, E. R. (1963). Stanford Profile Scales of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Forms I and II. Palo Alto, Calif.: Consulting Psychologist Press