Children and Adolescents
This next section looks at pediatric problems and problems that may be affecting adults, but which originated in them as children or were identified in them during childhood. For our purposes here, the terms child or children will include those children through adolescence.
Hypnotherapy can be incredibly helpful in addressing many childhood problems, but there are major differences between their therapy and the therapy for adults. Let’s look at some of the major distinctions.
- Role of the parents. First, the parents play a key role in a child’s therapy. In fact, the adults may have a greater motivation for change than the child. I prefer that the parent be present during the child’s initial session, primarily because having them present is the most ethical option. Secondly, the parents’ presence usually boosts confidence for both the parents and the child. Thirdly, the parent’s feedback can prove helpful in evaluating the child’s progress. However, there may be times where factors dictate that the hypnotherapist be alone with the child. As a child reaches those teenage years, he or she is more likely to view parents as a restriction to the sessions. Therapists will deal with such issues on a case-by-case basis.
- Incentive to change. All therapy is initiated by a high level of desire for change. With adults, the decision to seek therapy in the first case is a highly personal one. A real measure of the incentive for an adult is monetary, the willingness to pay for therapeutic services. With a child, we lack the same signs of motivation. Children may even lack the adults’ awareness that their behavior is anything outside of normal. What offsets this uncertainty in incentive is a child’s natural inclination to follow the guidance of a parent combined with his or her developmental stage which actually makes hypnosis-based therapy in many ways easier and exceedingly transformational in children.
- Children make outstanding hypnotic subjects. Oh, the imagination of children! They have the ability to create their own little worlds, the ability to transform into superheroes. I remember spending hours reinventing myself as my favorite baseball players, like Johnny Bench, or my favorite quarterbacks, like Broadway Joe Namath. Often, a child will have an imaginary friend. Some children will sneak books to be late at night because they are so enthralled with the stories. All of these acts demonstrate the incredible imagination of children. The natural willingness of children to enter into deep imaginative scenarios makes them excellent subjects for hypnosis. They do not question “Why?” at every step, and their developing forms of reasoning are open to anything new. As they play, children are already experiencing a form of self-hypnosis, and play is essential in a child’s Middle Mind development. Harnessing this playing-learning capability makes hypnotherapy for children extraordinarily effective.
Not only is hypnosis almost a game for the child (and sometimes for the therapist, too!), it also allows the child to go deeper into a productive trance stage faster. While in this stage, a child is extraordinarily suggestible, willing to accept and capture ideas offered by the therapist. As a result, children often experience faster results.
Let’s now look at some of the more common issues associated with children.