*This article is a 4 minute read
Like many people, I had a stereotypical view of hypnotherapy. Swinging pendulums and those infamous words,"You are getting sleepy!"
Nothing could be further from the truth according to Dr. Ran D. Anbar, a hypnotherapist who uses pediatric hypnosis and counseling methods to bring about positive change in the physical and mental health of children.
Did You Know?
Hypnosis techniques can be used in patients as young as four years old.
Children respond well to hypnosis because of their vivid imaginations.
Anyone can claim to be a hypnotherapist. There is no regulation, so be sure to do your research when choosing a hypnotherapy practitioner.
COURTNEY PAVONE: Is hypnosis a popular form of treatment for kids?
DR. RAN ANBAR: Hypnosis should be a popular form of treatment because it can help children with many issues ranging from headaches, stomachaches, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, bedwetting, to habits such as nail biting and hair pulling. However, it is little used because medical practitioners and parents often are unaware that it can help. Further, there are many practitioners of hypnosis who are not qualified to use it to help with medical issues or mental health problems, and when hypnosis is applied inappropriately it usually is ineffective or can even be harmful. Such practitioners have helped give hypnosis a less than stellar reputation.
How does hypnosis work on kids?
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. I explain to the children, “Hypnosis is a fancy word for using your imagination to help yourself.” Children are taught imagery techniques that they can apply to help with their issues. The best imagery that can be used for hypnosis is based in the children’s experiences. Thus, imagery for a 6-year-old might involve a favorite cartoon character such as Sponge Bob Square Pants, while imagery for an adolescent might involve a beach. For example, I might suggest to some children that by imagining they are on the beach on a calm day they can capture the calm feelings and thus cope better with anxiety provoking situations.
What are some of the concerns of your patients’ parents?
Some parents want to know what they need to do to help their child with hypnosis. For younger children, i.e., under 8 the parents often are involved in helping facilitate hypnosis. For older children I encourage the parent to let the child use hypnosis on their own. In fact, with adolescents, parental involvement often backfires because the child’s use of hypnosis becomes a casualty of poor interactions between the child and parent.
Some parents are concerned that their child will be affected in a bad way by hypnosis. I reassure them by reminding them that the child is in control of their hypnotic state.
Some parents think that hypnosis is akin to magic in that in the hypnotic state I can tell the child how to behave and suddenly things will improve. It does not work that way. First of all, the child needs to desire the improvement in behavior because they are in control of the hypnotic effects.
What should parents look for in a hypnosis practitioner?
When parents look for a practitioner of hypnosis they should find someone who is qualified to treat their child without use of hypnosis. In other words, for example, if a child has a headache, an appropriate practitioner would be one who is licensed and trained to treat headaches in children such as a physician, nurse practitioner, or psychologist.
Also, the practitioner of hypnosis ideally should have received training from an organization that specialized in training health care providers, such as The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, The Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, or the National Pediatric Hypnosis Training Institute.
Are kids alone in the room during hypnotherapy?
I leave it up to the children to decide whether they want their parents to accompany them. Younger children usually want their parents in the room. The only time I ask a parent to leave is when we ask the child’s subconscious to discuss issues of which the child is unaware. Since some of the issues may involve the parents directly or indirectly, the parents’ presence in the room can inhibit the child from discussing what might be bothering them.
How fast does it work?
Depending on a child’s issues, hypnosis can sometimes work as quickly is during the first session or make take several months to be effective. For example, children with habit cough (a cough without a physical cause) or phobias (e.g., to snakes) can resolve their symptom in one session, even if they have been coughing or very scared for years. On average, kids with irritable bowel syndrome improve greatly within 3 weeks of learning how to use hypnosis, which may include 2-3 visits. Children with headaches often take several months to improve. Children with anxiety, improve within a few sessions, but often desire follow-up for many months in order to receive therapy for their on-going anxiety-related issues.
For More Information Visit: www.centerpointmedicine.com
3252 Holiday Court, Suite 113, La Jolla, CA 92037
Stay Informed Join Central San Diego Macaroni Kid It's Free!