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Hypnotherapy’s role in child mental health
Leah Walsh, from Inspired Minds Hypnotherapy, discusses how hypnotherapy sessions for children differ from adult sessions and addresses the questions parents may have around this form of child mental health therapy…
Around half of all lifetime mental health problems start by the mid-teens, and three-quarters by the mid-20s, although treatment typically does not start until a number of years later. The most recent survey of the mental health of children and young people in England found that 12.5% of 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed (2017), and 5% met the criteria for 2 or more mental disorders.
An increase in child mental health issues
The prevalence of mental health issues in children and young people has shown a slight but steady increase in the past few years but sadly the access to services has not kept up with the needs. Services such as CAMHS have lengthy waiting lists and whilst they do their best to manage the needs with the resources they have, when a family feels they have reached a crisis point, waiting for months for an appointment is not always an option and parents are looking more towards private practices for help.
Having been one of those parents, I decided when I got into hypnotherapy that one of the areas I wanted to focus on was working with children. I felt it was important that parents had another option available.
The popularity of hypnotherapy in children is on the increase and whilst it’s a specialised and challenging area to work in, it’s also greatly rewarding. Using hypnotherapy with children is a vastly different approach – they’re not mini adults and the usual rules don’t apply.
Of course, hypnotherapy is not just used to tackle mental health problems and clients are often surprised what it can be used for. From fussy eating (including SED/ARFID) to bed-wetting, tics, stutters and so much more, the problems which hypnotherapy can solve are endless.
So how is it done?
Parents often have questions such as: “What’s it like for a child to be in a trance?”, “Is it like mind control?” and “Is it dangerous or harmful?” Using hypnosis with a younger child is best described as the child almost being in a daydream, similar to role playing or reading a story and encouraging their minds to wander whilst tapping into their wonderful imaginative flow.
This is the kind of activity that children are used to and comfortable with, so they immediately start to remove the barriers. There are no traditional inductions used to bring about a trance – children are fidgety and wriggly during hypnotherapy sessions and often their eyes are open and they’re very engaged. Hypnotherapy of this kind is carried out using stories and metaphors. I can put them at the centre of an adventure, use magical places they know of or characters they like.
Metaphors within hypnotherapy are much like fables and are a highly effective tool to use. Children are often primed to understand fables as they are well used at school and they find it easy to allow their mind to subconsciously seek out hidden messages and meanings. More importantly, metaphors allow a hypnotherapist to deal with an issue that might be sensitive or distressing to the child without even mentioning it. No talking about the issues, no expectations for the child to talk about their feelings or engage in talking with a therapist, just a magical escape with the most wonderful benefits.
Leah Walsh HPD PNLP MNCH (Reg.) is a qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and a practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, working with both children and adults in the North West. Find out more at inspiredmindshypnotherapy.co.uk