Hypnosis for Anxiety- The Recovery Process

By Susanna Sweeney, MSc, MBACP, CHT

This article will focus on how hypnosis for anxiety works to dismantle anxiety. You will also find out what causes anxiety and how it develops into a big issue that can burden you and restrict your life.


Previously, you met my client Jenny who attended me for hypnosis therapy for anxiety. Before attending me, Jenny had suffered from anxiety for most of her life. In this previous article, I explained in detail- using the example of her story, how anxiety will arise in response to an experience involving a lack of control.

hypnosis for anxietyFind out what recovery looks like with hypnosis for anxiety

In this article I will talk about the types of treatments used in hypnosis for anxiety, and the resulting recovery process and outcomes using Jenny as an example once more. Please note that what I will describe is fairly typical of working with hypnosis for anxiety.

What Does Hypnosis for Anxiety Involve?

First of all, it is important for you to understand that there are two basic ways of working in hypnosis: there is suggestion hypnosis, and there is regression hypnosis.

Both methods address the subconscious mind.

Suggestion hypnosis, to cut a long story short, feeds the subconscious mind nurturing messages and implants post-hypnotic suggestions for desired behavior changes. See a success story here where suggestion hypnosis alone was used to combat anxiety effectively.

Regression hypnosis for anxiety targets the memories associated with the onset of anxiety symptoms. Working in a slightly altered state- a light to medium hypnotic trance, those memories can come to the fore, where in everyday consciousness they typically very rarely would.

Regression hypnosis offers an opening to revisit some of the crucial events that your brain interpreted in such a way that they led to developing anxiety. Doing this is a slightly altered state of consciousness allows for parts of the brain to communicate that normally don't. These memories can then be reinterpreted from an adult's point of view, and any associated emotions can be felt within a safe and contained session protocol.

This allows for symptoms of anxiety to abate slowly after this work concludes.

That is the general principle used when you use hypnosis for anxiety. Let's now look at the particulars of Jenny's healing process.

I started working with Jenny using suggestion hypnosis.

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What Did Suggestion Hypnosis for Anxiety Do For Jenny?

  • Suggestion hypnosis for anxiety taught Jenny first of all how to physiologically relax. The in-depth induction process talked her through relaxing her body first, followed by her mind.

  • Learning to relax is a very important part of healing from anxiety because anxiety by its very nature is chronic fear- a constant state of alert. Relaxing did not come easily to Jenny because- up until that point, she had lived in constant hyper-arousal.

  • Bit by bit Jenny learned that it was safe to let go into a deep enough hypnosis trance for me to be able to feed her nurturing suggestions. These suggestions were aimed at instilling a sense of feeling safe, to bring about a sense of control over her symptoms.

We then moved on to working with regression hypnosis for anxiety.

What did Regression Hypnosis for Anxiety do for Jenny?

Once Jenny got to some core material in her regression hypnosis sessions, her defense system was able to re-calibrate itself.

Working with regression hypnosis, Jenny was able to:

  • Recover the memories at the core of her anxiety which she had pushed far into her subconscious mind
  • Feel the anger she could never allow herself to feel before about all the times she was victimized in her life
  • Feel the anger she had towards her parents
  • Cry for the losses she experienced
  • Understand that what happened to her did not mean she was ‘not important’ or ‘not worthy’- far the opposite
  • Start cultivating the sense that she DID matter and was worthy of everything good life had in store for her
  • Understand that her parents, even though they were never available to her, had- in the context of their addiction- done the very best they could.
  • Forgive her parents
  • Reduce the symptoms of chronic fear by understanding on a deep subconscious level that she was out of danger and it was safe to relax
  • Enable her defense system to start working once more
  • Start developing an appropriate fear and anger response to when her boundaries were being intruded upon and, as a consequence, become much more assertive

Jenny had originally attended hypnotherapy because a fear of driving had developed over the past five years which was impacting on her quality of life.

As a piece of homework, Jenny tested her response to driving between sessions. Nothing much changed over the first while. But after a few weeks, and after getting to some core material in regression hypnosis, the fear very gradually became less and eventually stopped.

Once Jenny’s defense system started working again and her anxiety was much reduced, she started addressing issues that she had barely been aware of while she was preoccupied with daily bouts of anxiety.

Jenny's life changed in the following ways:

hypnosis for anxietyThe recovery process with hypnosis for anxiety.
  • She discovered a desire to draw and paint
  • She started setting boundaries with her parents
  • She was able to address some issues in the relationship with her husband that had left her feeling unhappy for quite some time
  • She got herself a part time job for the hours the children were at school
  • She embarked on a journey to find her sense of purpose in life outside of being a mother

In short, Jenny used anxiety hypnotherapy for change in every aspect of her life.

How Does Anxiety Start?

Anxiety in Jenny's case was caused by some incidents of severe trauma that started early in life and that she had never been able to integrate.

While Jenny’s example is a fairly typical example taken from a cross section of clients I have worked with, it does not take issues as serious as early abandonment, bullying or sexual assault to cause anxiety.

Anxiety can be set off by incidents that, viewed through the lens of the adult conscious mind, are easily dismissed as ‘nothing at all’, yet have had a serious impact on a young, developing mind below the age of seven, which is still wide open for programming.

Some such ‘minor’ incidents underlying anxiety which I have come across in my work with clients include:

  • A young child getting lost when out shopping or similar
  • A young child being reprimanded harshly by parents or caretakers
  • A young child being told fear based anecdotes in an attempt to influence their behavior
  • A young child waking during the night and calling for their mother or father but wasn’t heard or taken care of

hypnosis for anxietyThe recovery process with hypnosis for anxiety.

While the level of anxiety caused by such more ‘minor’ incidents may not be as high as that of anxiety caused by more serious traumatic experiences, it can nonetheless be very debilitating, really holding people back in life.

I want to be clear also that anxiety is a complex issue. Anxiety typically involves more than one incident that set it off. what I have listed above are the 'starting points', i.e. the first time incidents that set off a pattern. More often than not, people will have experienced more than one incident that caused chronic fear.

The 'starting point' however, set the pattern for how any subsequent incidents were interpreted by the mind. Incidents then were piled on top of one another for many years, causing anxiety.

Anxiety can hold you back in life in the following ways:

  • From finding your purpose
  • From connecting deeply with friends or partners
  • From being present in the present moment
  • From enjoyment and pleasure
  • From the ability to acquire and hold on to wealth
  • Anxiety can become a constant preoccupation

Anxiety hypnosis has many benefits to offer.

It is important to note however, that there is no magical cure for an issue as complex as anxiety:

  • The healing process will take some time.
  • You are well advised to combine hypnotherapy with counseling or psychotherapy.
  • Read my articles on suggestion hypnosis and regression hypnosis so you know what to expect exactly.
  • Educate yourself about hypnosis so that you will have any hypnosis myths out of the way and can concentrate on your own healing rather than sitting with the question: "Does hypnotherapy work?"
  • You can lay the groundwork for hypnosis for anxiety by following my ten steps of self help for anxiety.

How Long will Hypnosis for Anxiety Take?

Good question.

Some factors that will impact on how long the recovery process will take:

  1. If you are taking medication for anxiety or not. Medications are designed to suppress the symptoms of anxiety, including access to your own emotions. Those emotions are vital for the healing process using hypnosis for anxiety. If you are taking medication, the healing process will take longer.
  2. How severe the underlying trauma is. The more severe it is, the longer the healing process will take.
  3. Your own internal resources. If you have done personal work before, or if you combine hypnosis for anxiety with psychotherapy or counseling which helps you to process or integrate the changes made into your life, you can speed up the healing process. If you are new to this work, be a little more patient.
  4. How well you have laid the groundwork for working with hypnosis. Deal with any lifestyle issues that foster anxiety first. You can use my guide on self help for anxiety that I linked to above.
  5. Your relationship with the hypnotherapist. It is vital for regression work that you can develop a trusting relationship with them. My article on life regression hypnosis contains some tips as to what to look out for so you can derive maximum benefit from the work.

More About Anxiety Hypnosis

Have you Heard About Havening for Anxiety?

Havening Techniques® are a novel form of treatment that has only been around for a few years. We offer this service along with hypnosis in our online clinic and find the treatment to be highly effective for a variety of conditions including anxiety.

Find out about Havening here

Watch interviews with the founders of Havening

Where from here?

I hope you have found this article useful and now have a better understanding of hypnosis for anxiety involves.


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