Hypnotherapy techniques can be very effectively used with children with a wide range of difficulties. Children and teenagers are often overwhelmed by feelings that they don’t understand, or where they haven’t yet developed the appropriate coping strategies. Because they don’t understand these emotions, or have little idea where the strength of emotion is coming from, they can do very little to help themselves. This is particularly difficult where a child has Special Needs, such as Autistic Spectrum Disorders, ADHD or Learning Difficulties. These needs make it even harder for the child to make sense of the strong emotions that they feel.
The hypnotherapy techniques that I use with children are effective because they are non-threatening to the child – there is no need for the child to try to explain themselves or their behaviour, which they often don’t understand themselves. It works by encouraging them to use their imagination to have an outlet for their emotion, allowing them a new way of expressing themselves – sometimes without having to say a word! It is commonly believed that children with ASD struggle with ‘imagination’. This is not strictly true; children with ASD often lack the flexibility of thought to deal with new and challenging situations, but many children with ASD do possess a lively and imaginative ‘inner world’ and have the ability to create inner pictures in their own way.
Children really enjoy hypnotherapy sessions, and in a safe and non-judgmental environment can often allow themselves to express difficult feelings that they may not be able to let out elsewhere. It can also be very helpful to include other family members in a simple guided relaxation session, just the very start of gentle hypnotherapy. This allows families that may sometimes struggle – when a child has Special Needs, it has a huge impact on the whole family: parents and siblings alike – to spend some time together in a calm and non-threatening way.
It may also be useful for parents or carers to undertake coaching sessions in order for them to support their child in making those changes that they want to make.
Common childhood problems include:
Lack of self-confidence
Difficulty making friends