Hypnotherapy about hypnosis Cognitive Hypnotherapy colchester essex ipswich suffolk

What is Cognitive Hypnotherapy?

Cognitive hypnotherapy is a solution-focused brief therapy. What that means is that all hypnotherapy work is focused on achieving the results you want in the shortest time possible. Cognitive Hypnotherapy is significantly different to traditional schools of hypnotherapy. As cognitive hypnotherapists we shun the use of a one-size-fits-all scripted approach as used by many hypnotherapists. That approach is designed with ease-of-use for the hypnotherapist in mind and treats people’s problems as generic. Instead, I prefer to tailor my techniques and suggestions to you as an individual, searching to uncover how your problem is specific to you and what unique pathway for hypnotherapy would be right for you.

The great thing about Cognitive Hypnotherapy is its flexibility. We look at all the different forms of psychological therapy, from CBT and Positive Psychology to NLP and Cognitive Theory, taking what works and incorporating it into the modern idea of hypnosis, fuelled constantly by the latest findings in neuroscience and brain research.

Cognitive Hypnotherapy uses natural hypnotic trance states to uncover feelings, thoughts and memories that led to your problem and continue to maintain it. I then use specific hypnosis techniques to modify those cognitive functions so that you are able to take control again. All, without a swinging watch in sight!


  • A brief, solution-focused form of therapy
  • Significantly different to traditional hypnotherapy
  • A tailor-made therapy unique to you
  • Influenced by all modern therapies
  • Led by modern neuroscience
  • Uses specific techniques to modify thoughts, feelings and perceptions of past events
  • A way to take control of your own life
  • No swinging watches!

A little bit of history…

Hypnotherapy and hypnosis themselves are approaches that a lot of people are wary of these days. But it wasn’t always that way. Before the influx of stage hypnotists began to entertain and embarrass their audiences by making them cluck like chickens and seemingly forget their own names, hypnosis wasn’t feared or considered wacky. In fact, there is evidence for trance states having been used as therapy since the dawn of recorded history, be it in the ancient Egyptian ‘dream temples’, by the yogis of India, or at the Native American sweat lodges.

Sigmund Freud, the grandaddy of psychological therapies, developed his popular model of psychoanalysis after using hypnosis extensively with his clients. As early as 1830 surgeons such as James Esdaile were performing major operations using hypnosis as the only form of pain relief.

Now, as more research is proving the connection between the mind and the body, hypnotherapy is becoming popular again and beginning to be taken more seriously by the modern medical profession, with some NHS trusts referring patients to hypnotherapists and investing in training hypnotherapists for issues such as childbirth.


  • Hypnotherapy has been around since the ancient Egyptians
  • Hypnosis used for major surgery as early as 1830
  • Hypnotherapy reputation tarnished by stage hypnotists
  • Modern neuroscience proving link between the mind and body
  • NHS taking an interest in the potential of hypnotherapy

Ok, but what exactly is hypnosis? And what is a trance?

A hypnotic trance is a natural state that you go in and out of every day. You know those times when you’ve been driving the car and you arrive at your destination without having really paid any attention to the journey? You were in a hypnotic trance. Or how about when you’ve been so engrossed in the television, or immersed in reading a book that you didn’t notice that somebody was talking to you right beside you? You were in a hypnotic trance. Want one more? Ok. How about those days at work when you’re getting so much done, and are so focused that before you know it, it’s the end of the day? Ok, maybe that one doesn’t happen so often, but when it does – another trance state.

In all these examples your focus become so narrow that you block out anything that’s not relevant to whatever it is you are doing in that precise moment. Yet you’d never say that you were ‘out of control’ in any of those situations, would you? What happens in all of these examples is that your conscious brain gets out of the way and just lets your subconscious do its thing. Hypnotherapy seeks to help you to achieve this state for therapeutic benefit.


  • Trance is a natural, every day state
  • Being immersed in a book is a trance state
  • Hypnosis involves a narrowing of focus
  • The hypnotic state gets the analytical mind out of the way
  • Hypnotherapy engages the subconscious

 Sounds good, but how does hypnotherapy work?

Well, instead of your becoming absorbed in a book or driving the car, a hypnotherapist will guide you to become absorbed in, essentially, yourself. With a little practice, entering a trance state in a hypnotherapy session becomes like that moment when you’re lying in bed at night and just on the cusp of sleep. Most people experience trance as being deeply relaxing and comfortable, your heart rate and breathing slow down and your mind just begins to drift deeper into your own inner world. You’re still aware of things around you, but your attention is focused entirely on your own inner thoughts and feelings. I’m going into a trance just writing about it!

When we feel relaxed and safe, the parasympathetic nervous system activates, triggering the relaxation response. This counters the negative influence of any level of stress or anxiety and restores the body to a calm and balanced state. This state of relaxation creates physiological changes that reduce stress and the negative effects stress has on health and wellbeing. Hypnotic relaxation also reduces emotional arousal such as fear or anger. When we experience these strong emotions, the brain’s cortical function becomes limited and our ability to reason is diminished. We can counter this and gain access to our higher rational abilities through the relaxing effect of hypnosis. It is this increased rationality that allows the unconscious to gain perspective and reach new insight and understanding through the work we will do while in a hypnotic state.


  • The hypnotherapist acts as a guide
  • Entering the trance state is easy
  • The therapeutic trance is relaxing and enjoyable
  • Hypnotic relaxation combats stress, anger and fear
  • During therapy, your analytical conscious mind is quieter
  • During hypnosis, your unconscious is open to new learning, different ways of looking at things, and free to accept the idea of change

Can you explain a little about the whole conscious/subconscious thing, please?

Sure. The conscious and unconscious are terms used to describe the different aspects of your mind. Your ‘conscious’, is the you who you identify yourself with. It is the active mind that you can deliberately control in order to make choices and to think different thoughts. It holds your current and immediate experience and awareness, including your thoughts, feelings, and sensory experiences.

The ‘unconscious’ mind is like a warehouse for all your past, present and future experiences of which you are consciously unaware. It holds your automatic behaviours that have developed through both instinct and learned experiences. It is habitual, searching for and using patterns to respond in an automatic way to signals it receives through your senses. It is the subconscious that guides the conscious choices you make each and every day.

The unconscious mind is pre-verbal. While language is a tool for the conscious mind, the unconscious mind stores information in symbols, patterns and images. In a state of hypnosis we often use visualisation, symbols, patterns and metaphor to help create change on an unconscious level

The unconscious can be viewed as a protective device, striving all the time to keep you safe. In any given moment it is processing millions of bits of information about the world that it receives through your senses, and filtering them with the purpose of determining what in your environment is likely to bring you pain or pleasure. Without our ever realising it you will find yourself motivated to move towards things (people, activities, behaviour) which your unconscious believes are good for you (on the basis of past experience), and avoid things it believes bring you harm in order to safeguard your future.

  • ‘Conscious’ and ‘Unconsciour’ (or ‘subconscious’) describe the different aspects of your mind
  • Your ‘conscious’ mind holds your current, immediate experience including thoughts, feelings and sensory experiences
  • Your ‘unconscious’ mind stores all your experiences (memories) and automatic behaviours
  • Your ‘unconscious’ guides your everyday choices
  • Your ‘unconscious’ processes millions of bits of information every second
  • Your ‘unconscious’ drives you towards pleasure and away from pain
  • Your ‘conscious’ uses verbal language
  • Your ‘unconscious’ uses pre-verbal language, such as symbols, patterns and visualisation
  • A way to take control of your own life

Okay, but what does this all mean with regards to my problem?

Quite a bit. This pleasure/pain principle has been with us since the dawn of humanity, since the ‘pain’ that we have been trying to avoid was purely obvious and physical – a sabre toothed tiger or marauding neighbourhood cannibal tribe, say. Back in those days, our subconscious said (in it’s own pre-verbal way): “Watch out, that there pointy-toothed beastie could harm you”, and we instinctively legged it back to the cave – or prepared to fight for our lives. In preparation for this fight or flight response, our bodies flood with adrenaline, blood is diverted from our digestive, reproductive and cognitive functions to our heart and lungs, and both our visual and auditory focus become very narrow.

But while the things that threaten us have evolved and are no longer purely physical but also social and psychological, our response to them hasn’t. If any aspect of modern life – whether real or imagined – is viewed by the unconscious as threatening it treats it like a sabre-toothed-tiger-shaped-problem and the fight or flight response is triggered to get you the hell away from it. So, for example, going to pieces in an interview is actually the struggle between your unconscious trying to get you away from that situation and your conscious fighting to stay put.

You can see why a basic assumption cognitive hypnotherapists use is: “All behaviour has a purpose”. Even when that behaviour is having a negative effect it has a positive intention behind it. This model of mental functioning can be used to explain the basis of many problems. Take smoking for an example. If you had an experience when you were younger that led your unconscious to believe that smoking was a good thing (maybe it made you feel like you ‘belonged’ or were more like your father), then it will continue to motivate you to crave cigarettes, no matter how much you consciously wish to stop.



  • We have been driven by the pleasure/pain principle since early mankind
  • When threatened the fight-or-flight response is triggered
  • The fight-or-flight response hampers normal cognitive functioning
  • Modern threats include social and psychological threats – real or imagined
  • The conflict between the unconscious and conscious mind can cause problems
  • All behaviour has a purpose – even if it has a negative effect

My Colchester personal coaching and cognitive hypnotherapy practice is located at the Lexden Health Practice. I am conveniently located for Chelmsford, Braintree, Kelvedon, Clacton-on-Sea, Sudbury, Ipswich and Manningtree.

I offer bespoke hypnotherapy and life coaching in Harley Street London, Colchester (Essex) and Dedham (Suffolk) areas. I treat everybody as an individual and tailor each hypnotherapy session accordingly. I do not believe there is a 'one-size-fits-all' solution to any problem, but that we are all unique. If you are looking for hypnotherapy or coaching in Colchester (Essex) or Ipswich (Suffolk), get in touch and I'll tell you more about Cognitive Hypnotherapy and how it could help you.
Victoria Ward Hypnotherapy in Colchester
10 Victoria Road
Colchester , Essex , CO3 3NT
07716 274720
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