A personal journey working in Therapy and Hypnosis - What are the differences?
Updated: Nov 2, 2019
Hello and welcome back! I thought a little chat about my experiences working with traditional therapeutic modalities vs. hypnosis may be a good way to explain why I made the switch. I do not claim to be in expert in all therapeutic methods, and will state that traditional methods are very effective for many people. In fact, I happily collaborate with Psychologists and Psychiatrists when needed. This post is purely based on my personal experiences and observations, so take whatever you want from it and leave the rest.
Almost everyone that enters the fields of psychology and counseling does so to help others, and sometimes to help themselves. I did a little of both. With a family history of depression and anxiety on both sides of my family, I struggled at a young age with feelings that were larger than my understanding. I specifically remember a moment in 3rd grade, staring in the mirror pulling my ponytails (yes, that was a thing) and hating myself after dealing daily with a relentless little jerk in my class trying to dig her pencils into my back and pulling my hair. Now, I would tell my kids she just had "broken pieces" inside her that needed to be healed...back then she was just a jerk that made me feel small and never "enough". Life went on, more moments of insecurity, anxiety and depression followed. I never told my parents how I felt throughout my life. They never knew the extent and depth of my emotions. I internalized everything around me as many empaths do. I also never knew until about 8 years ago about our family history of mental health challenges, including great aunts and uncles that were institutionalized and never mentioned! Side note, I am so glad we've come at least this far with normalizing mental health needs.
Background tangent over, and moving onto psychology and counseling. As I mentioned previously, my first psychology course in High School was my step towards my own journey of self-understanding. I enjoyed learning about different psychological theories and techniques throughout the ages...however I felt pretty sick to my stomach at the physical torture techniques that were used on mental health patients. Fast forward 8 or so years and graduating with my Psychology degree. My first job was a true wakeup call and crash course in mental health. As technically part of the Nursing Team as a Psychiatric Technician on the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Inpatient Unit, I was responsible with the day to day care of the patients, creating and implementing behavior plans, and physically restraining patients that were exhibiting harmful behaviors towards themselves or others. It was the hardest and most eye-opening job I've ever had. On a physical level, I sustained permanent neck, back, and head injuries, and almost lost my front teeth after being head butted by one particularly violent teenager...among other things. On a psychological level, I struggled greatly through what these kids experienced in their lives. I have seen and heard it all. Well before social media, I was exposed to my first cutters and what happens when a person drinks gasoline and lights themselves on fire. I've listened to firsthand accounts of physical and sexual abuse, and have witnessed the lasting impact of abuse on mental impairment. I've seen it all - including patients going as far as eating their own feces. I even met a patient that was adopted from an orphanage in Cambodia where she was strapped to a bed and couldn't move most of her young life. Her MRI showed she was "missing half of her brain", meaning her brain never had a chance to develop properly because she was never mentally stimulated. I have endless stories from hundreds of kids, all showing an underbelly of society that most people are not aware of or want to ignore.
Although the whole staff role on that unit was to stabilize patients and move them to longer-term care, I observed a cycle that occurred. Patients were admitted, "stabilized", moved on to other care settings, and then they'd return..."the Frequent Fliers". Not every child became a frequent flier, but many did, and they would get worse instead of better each time they came back to the unit. They were learning more negative than positive coping skills each time they came back. Round and round they went until some aged out and were sent to the adult psychiatric unit, and round and round they went there too. There was a black cloud feeling that started to develop for me there, the "no hope cloud". Something wasn't working, the system is broken, we weren't helping the kids who needed help the most. In morning report, we would find out their diagnoses and treat them accordingly. After awhile, I started wondering about these "mental illnesses". Is the patient experiencing schizophrenia really "crazy" or maybe he/she is experiencing something society is not able to comprehend...maybe even higher realms? Is the Borderline Personality Disorder patient just extremely empathic? Is the autistic child here to serve another purpose as the world changes? What would happen if we saw these "illnesses" as gifts instead of flaws? What if the experts weren't external humans telling us about who and what we are, but our internal higher selves instead? I had a similar experience at the Juvenile Detention Center with incarcerated kids...the system is broken...mental health and wellness are misunderstood...cycles of familial violence and avoidance of mental and emotional work are at play. Same with my work in city and suburban schools...something isn't working for true healing and change...there's a missing piece somewhere that we're not getting.
Fast forward many, many years (yes, I'm older than I appear), three children, and massive amounts of volunteering in our school system while I "stayed home" with my kids, leading to more and different exposure in the mental health system from a parent perspective. Experiencing the challenges of a self-motivated, high achieving child who is also empathic and struggling with the negativity around her. Another child with diagnosed (since the schools won't help otherwise) ADHD, high anxiety disorder and somewhere on that Autism spectrum (but a spectrum yet to be determined, according to the Kirsch Center). A third child who is a complete extrovert in a household of introverts. In addition to navigating my own children's experiences, I have had several parent friends with children who are also struggling in multiple mental and emotional ways in our schools. That old feeling of helplessness started creeping back in attempting to navigate the fight to get our kids help for school success.
I truly believe nowadays that the right things find you when you're ready for them. That's how Hypnosis work found me. Surprisingly, I began reading books by a well known psychic out of curiosity and she happened to mention her work with Hypnosis and reincarnation. That was it, I was hooked on finding out as much as I could about Hypnosis. It was Sylvia Browne by the way - her books changed my life. Sylvia's books were followed by Edgar Cayce books, describing how he was able to diagnose medical illnesses while under hypnosis. Well, I always wanted a super power...could I do it too?? From Cayce, I found Jim Tucker and his mind blowing research with Ian Stevenson, finding verifiable proof of reincarnation with children. They have thousands of cases on file at the University of Virginia. If you're interested in reading their work, I suggest you start with "Return to Life".
The more I found out about past lives and reincarnation, the more life made sense to me. Not only did life make more sense in every aspect, I began to feel empowered myself. Without intending it, any depression or anxiety that might have held me down in the past no longer had power over me. Being timeless and understanding that life's trials and tribulations exist not as any kind of punishment, but to help us each become more enlightened, is extremely powerful. There is a lightness in understanding, even in the heavy moments of life. This journey towards the realization of reincarnation helped me understand specific idiosyncrasies I didn't understand about myself - why did I scream bloody murder and curl in a ball when I was forced to go out in a boat, why do I have gut reactions to people I automatically am attracted to or repelled by upon first meeting, why did I have anxiety and a dark cloud feeling related to the South West US area, why does the Jamaican accent and music feel "like home" to me when I've never been to Jamaica yet? I've had many of these questions answered, and I wanted to help others understand themselves too.
This long-winded blog now brings me to hypnosis! The other realization I had after beginning my interactive hypnotic work is how I am NOT the expert, and do not have to be to help others! At one point in time, the statistics of depression in mental health workers were staggering (and probably still are, but Google isn't cooperating). After experiencing this other way of helping people, I have a theory. I am theorizing that the pressure of having to be the expert in someone else's mental health, and figure out what is the right treatment for them to fully "heal" them is enormous! The reality is that all psychology is trial and error...guess work. Someone can be a psychologist or psychiatrist for 50 years, and still not be an expert in YOU. The only expert in you is your higher self and/or subconscious mind, however you want to term it. So by interactively working with your higher self/subconscious, we work together to find the exact and specific answers for you and no one else. You can ask your higher self anything and get responses that will help you in your current state.
That is what the true difference boils down to...I have the extreme pleasure in helping people find their own inner timeless knowledge, their own power and self-healing through hypnosis. I am not the expert...I am a guide and partner in your journey. That is why Hypnosis feels so light and freeing opposed to the constant guesswork of psychology I experienced before. I have the utmost respect for every mental health worker, but imagine if we all used these practices and trusted in each client's own power...our society would be functioning at such an advanced mental and emotional level. So in Psychology, the other is the expert. In Interactive Hypnosis, your higher self is the expert. I've experienced enough situations with the higher self to know that each and every one of you have one, that only holds the best intentions for you and your healing. The biggest challenge we have in life is loving, trusting and believing in ourselves and that is what we do in Hypnosis.
Have a joyous day, beautiful people. Thank you for reading this far, and I hope you got something out of it.