By Susanna Sweeney, MSc, MBACP, CHT
If you suffer from anxiety, hypnosis therapy for anxiety provides a
natural and effective way to free yourself from the symptoms of anxiety
without medication, any other aids, or any dependency on a
This article is part of a series of articles on anxiety hypnosis I have put together for you so you can find out sound information on how it works and decide if hypnosis may be for you. Find links to the other articles below.
This article will illustrate how hypnosis for anxiety works using a
fairly typical example that is reflective of my client work. Jenny, the
client you will meet in this article, is not a real person but rather,
her story is a blend of different client’s stories. I have changed all potentially identifying details.
I will discuss how Jenny developed anxiety, and what hypnosis did for her.
But let’s start with the basics.
There are many different symptoms of anxiety.
Some people experience feeling fear or trepidation triggered by certain situations, people, or events. Others experience a constant or generalized sense of worry about even the smallest thing, which may even manifest in physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, racing heart beat, or disturbing digestive symptoms.
Other symptoms of anxiety can include:
At its core, anxiety is connected to fear. The emotion of fear is a part of our defense system.
In a healthy defense system, fear is a healthy response to danger that alerts us to take action in order to avoid the danger. Once the danger is past and we have done what it took to protect ourselves, the emotion of fear normally abates.
Anxiety, in contrast, is chronic fear- fear gone awry. When you feel anxiety, you interpret everything and anything as dangerous while- often, missing out on the signals preceding true danger.
When you experience anxiety, everyday issues such as shopping, socializing, driving or studying can produce intense symptoms of fear. On the other hand, because there are so many fear symptoms present all the time, your defense system may not be able to alert you to real boundary intrusions, such as in unhealthy relationships or friendships.
can hear you thinking: “Yes, but I am a rational person, so how can
this be happening to me? How did I develop anxiety and why?”
Let me illustrate this with an example. I would like you to understand that there is nothing you are doing wrong and that what is happening to you is natural in the context of the experiences underlying anxiety.
The experiences underlying anxiety in your case may not be as dramatic as those in the example I will use. However, I chose to use a client story related to quite severe trauma, simply because that will make a clear case for how the defense system is impacted.
Time to meet my client, Jenny. Jenny has attended me for hypnosis therapy for anxiety.
When Jenny came to me first, not only did she experience generalized anxiety that made her worry about even the smallest issue, but she was also experiencing a terrible fear of driving. When driving any faster than 30 miles per hour she would break out in a sweat, feel dizzy and sometimes even start trembling.
Jenny had to do a lot of driving when bringing kids to school and to after school events and this anxiety was most unwelcome. That’s why she came for hypnosis therapy for anxiety.
Jenny told me that she had always been anxious, for as long as she could remember. She had become used to the constant sense of trepidation. This fear of driving however had only been around for about five years. It started after some major upheaval in her life involving a move back to her home town.
Jenny had tried everything, including meditation to try and get on top of anxiety and the fear of driving. While she had found ways of keeping the symptoms in check enough to continue to function, she had not found anything that would make them go away.
Jenny had no idea where the anxiety issue originated. I asked some questions, as any psychotherapist would, but the answers were going nowhere. She described a tense relationship with her parents, but did not believe this was in any way related to her experiencing anxiety.
I started working with Jenny using suggestion hypnosis in order to calm down her physiology, enable her to relax and feel safe.
We then started working with regression hypnosis,
aiming to dismantle the constructs underlying her state of chronic
anxiety. Over a short number of sessions, Jenny was able not only to
understand what had happened to her, but also to start letting the
Over the short stint of hypnosis therapy for anxiety Jenny had with me- along with a lot of other material, she uncovered the memories at the core of the anxiety she had been experiencing all her life.
She had pushed away and practically ‘forgotten’ incidents of being sexually assaulted as a young adult, of being bullied in school by older kids, and of being neglected in early childhood by her then alcoholic parents.
Good question. This is how anxiety develops.
Jenny the baby experienced a total lack of control when being neglected. Babies and toddlers are very good at communicating their needs and thereby taking control of them (by crying). When the parent responds, all is well and they will calm down very quickly.
But if the baby cries and the parent does not respond to their crying by looking after their physical needs, the baby does not have any control. The only control they realistically can have at that age is then denied.On a physiological level this means that the child will start feeling afraid. Their defense system will conclude that their life is on the line- if they don’t get fed they could die. Physiologically they will be on constant alert. This is how Jenny’s anxiety started.
Of course this is what young children will do. They are dependent on their caregivers for their survival. Therefore, the parents or caregivers can never be seen as being at fault. Rather, children will twist the story line in such a way that THEY are the ones to blame for what happened.
And that is exactly what Jenny did. Her toddler mind was not capable of understanding the complexities of her parent’s addiction. She changed the story line to one of self blame. Her being neglected really meant that she was not worthy of love, and neither did she matter. And this was the reason that her parents had neglected her. This is how anxiety and low self-esteem are often connected.
All of this happened at the level of the subconscious mind. It manifested in emotions and deep, subconsciously held beliefs more so than in conscious thought.
Jenny the older child and Jenny the young adult would not have been able to tell you why she felt so unsettled physiologically and was constantly worried. Neither would she have been able to articulate that she felt unworthy and had a sense of not being important. Yet, her subsequent story unfolded in the way it did because of this original trauma.
All of this meant that when the bullying issue arose in school- firstly, Jenny did not see it coming. Her defense system was preoccupied with chronic fear so that the warning signals could not get through.
Secondly, because she felt not worthy and not important, she did not seek help and could not defend herself in the same way another child might. Jenny swallowed the anger that will invariably arise when one’s boundaries are crossed.
This cycle repeated itself many times throughout Jenny’s childhood and into adulthood culminating in a sexual assault. Every time Jenny was victimized in some way, she again concluded that this was happening to her because she was unworthy and did not matter, strengthening this faulty belief every time. And each time her defense system missed the danger signals, she developed more chronic fear because there was another loss of control.
I want to be very clear here that Jenny was in not any way to blame. Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. What I am trying to illustrate is that the early trauma of neglect caused changes in her physiology and self-concept which led on to her being more easily victimized later in life. Somebody more in touch with their own defense system might have been able to spot the danger and get away or defend themselves, but Jenny was not.
Not every client has such severe trauma underlying their anxiety. Comparatively minor events can have a strong impact on your physiology, too. The principle is often around a sense of a loss of control which will invariably unsettle the physiology. (Read about other, relatively minor incidents that can cause anxiety in my article on hypnosis 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.
But all is well that ends well. Hypnosis therapy for anxiety enabled Jenny to make sense of why she had been feeling so anxious for as long as she could remember.
Hypnosis therapy for anxiety sparked a remarkable recovery for Jenny.
Find out the details in the follow-on article on her recovery process with hypnosis for anxiety.
Jan 07, 20 10:19 AM
Find out what major benefits self hypnosis for anxiety has to offer you over attending a hypnotherapist and over other forms of treatment so that you can decide if hypnosis may interest you.
Dec 29, 19 05:54 AM
The secret language of hypnotherapy is geared towards the requirements of your subconscious mind to lower defences and manipulate you gently into feeling better about yourself and acting in more resou…
Dec 16, 19 03:14 PM
I attended Susanna to get rid of a gambling addiction which consumed my emotions and wasted a lot of time. It also impacted relationships with friends