Can a Life Coach Teach Self-Efficacy?

Firstly, what is self-efficacy? Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s own capacity to successfully execute performance-specific behaviours to attain their goal which has a proactive effect on their performance. Albert Bandura, the father of self-efficacious philosophy said it best when he claimed, “perceived self-efficacy is concerned not with the number of skills you have, but with what you believe you can do with what you have under a variety of circumstances” (Bandura, 1997 :37 as cited in Palmer & Whybrow, 2019). Bandura saw people as ready agents of change that could contribute to the well-being of their lives and influence their circumstances with positive action to guide and motivate their efforts (Bandura 1982, 2005 as cited in Palmer & Whybrow, 2019).

One of the main roles of a life coach is to encourage their client to enhance their beliefs about what they think they can achieve. One’s belief will have a direct effect on their motivation and how they feel, which will then influence how they approach, tackle, and perform a task. Bandura, like many life coaches, attributes a positive belief in one’s abilities to enhanced human accomplishments and personal well-being.  Life coaches strive to encourage their client’s achievement motivation which then assists them to accomplish tasks, even if they are challenging.  This has a positive effect on the individual’s self-esteem, and they begin to improve their abilities and develop mastery orientation (Louw & Louw, 2014).

An individual’s beliefs about their efficacy can be developed by four main sources: 1) mastery experiences/successful past performance (which serve as capacity indicators); 2) vicarious experiences provided by social models; 3) verbal persuasion (and other social influences that inform the individual about the perception that others have of their abilities); and 4) psycho-physiological and emotional states (from which one infers his/her ability, strength and vulnerability to failure) (Palmer & Whybrow, 2019). Mastery experiences tend to provide the individual with the most benefits as they provide authentic evidence of the individual’s ability to perform, which becomes the basis for future success (Palmer & Whybrow, 2019).

One must learn to face challenging tasks with an open mind, a flexible attitude, and an appreciation for their own inner motivation and perseverance to see them through the assigned task. Setting goals and self-efficacy go together as the goal provides the vision and guideline for the future, while self-efficacy directs one’s focus and behaviour over long periods of time to achieve the desired outcome, even in the absence of external incentives along the way (Palmer & Whybrow, 2019).

References:

Louw, D. A., & Louw, A. E. (2014). Early childhood. Child and adolescent development (2nd ed., pp. 152-222). Bloemfontein: Psychology publications.

Palmer, S., & Whybrow, A. (2019). Self-efficacy within coaching and coaching psychology. In S. Palmer (Eds),
Handbook of Coaching Psychology : A Guide for Practitioners (2nd ed.). Routledge.

What Exactly is Life Coaching?

Sir John Whitmore was one of the pioneering and influential figures in the life coaching industry. In his seminal book, Coaching for performance, Whitmore drew on Timothy Gallwey’s inner game model that recognises that the internal state of an individual plays a significant factor in performance. Whitmore states in his book that coaching is about “unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn instead of teaching them – a facilitation approach” (Whitmore, 1992, p. 8 as cited in Passmore & Tee, 2020). Reflecting on one’s own life, consider the impact of self-talk on performance, decision-making, and problem-solving. How crucial do self-awareness and personal responsibility become when considering such matters?

When an individual enters into a life coaching engagement, they will experience a transformational process created by a unique relationship based on collaboration, trust, confidentiality, and conversations that are meant to develop self-awareness, inspire change and create action (Passmore & Tee, 2020; Van Zyl et al., 2016). The role of the life coach is to facilitate and support the client as they move towards reaching their goals and enhancing their well-being, in a collaborative solution-focused, result-orientated way (Passmore & Tee, 2020).

While the life coaching process is focused on goal attainment, it also allows room for self-reflection so the client can make sense of their situation. This is designed to help the client link their personal identity with specific action perspectives. The reflective process that the coaching client experiences is often a joint experience by the life coach, as together they reflect on the challenges the client is enduring. This meaning-making dialogue opens up awareness of how actions, limited thinking patterns, and self-sabotaging behaviours affect one’s life. As the coaching conversation progresses over time a new narrative unfolds in the developmental process. Van Zyl et al. (2016) state that the art of life coaching is to alter the client’s past history in a collaborative way by incorporating new events and persons and by creating and challenging the story’s plot.

By providing a safe and collaborative space for the client to explore the deeper aspects of their lives and their presenting issues, the life coach gives the client permission to delve into the potential of what change means to them. Defined as goals, these changes play a key role in transitions from existing states to desired states or outcomes (Van Zyl et al., 2016).

References:

Passmore, J. & Tee, D. (2020). Defining coaching. Passmore, J. & Tee, D. (Eds.), Coaching researched – A coaching psychology reader for practitioners and researchers. Wiley-Blackwell

Van Zyl, L. E., Stander, M. W., & Odendaal, A. (2016). Coach as a fellow human companion. Van Zyl, L. E., Stander, M. W., & Odendaal, A. (Eds.), Coaching Psychology: Meta-theoretical perspectives and applications in multicultural contexts. Springer international publishing

Personal Characteristics of an Effective Life Coach

It has been found that effective life coaches embody particular qualities and characteristics that create a significant impact on the relationship they share with their clients. Furthermore, these qualities and characteristics have a determining effect on the successful outcomes of the coaching interventions. Since being in the field for a few years now I feel I am embodying the following characteristics.

Effective life coaches have an identity.

I have been working as a life coach for four years and have had a passion for personal development, psychology, and the potentials of the mind. For many years I have had a deep interest in how the mind works and human behaviour. Therefore, being fortunate enough to do my bachelor’s degree in psychology and counselling has been a major achievement as not only am I interested in these subjects, but I can also directly apply the learnings into my sessions with my clients.

Effective life coaches are open to change.

Being self-employed for the past thirteen years has forced me out of my comfort zone many times and continues to do so. Working for a company provides a sense of certainty, comfort, benefits, structure, and support. Working for oneself takes all of that away, especially at the beginning of a new venture. Furthermore, during the peak of lockdown, I chose to study for my higher certificate in counselling and communication skills with SACAP (South African College of Applied Psychology), all while feeling insecure about how we would be able to afford the fees.

Effective life coaches have a sense of humour.

As I have tried tirelessly to get my career going, I have had to have a sense of humour when things have not gone my way. I feel that being able to have a good laugh about these things has really helped my self-esteem and well-being.

Effective life coaches make mistakes and are willing to admit them.

I am always open to admit my mistakes, especially if it has affected others. Additionally, I do not harbour on such things and allow myself to move on from such things.

Effective life coaches have a sincere interest in the welfare of others.

It is a privilege and an honour to be able to sit with someone while they share and reflect on their life’s issues. I have learnt valuable lessons about the importance of holding space and not always trying to help solve a client’s problem for them. I understand how important it is for people to know that they can sit in a stranger’s office and feel safe enough to share personal and often confidential information with them.

Effective life coaches possess effective interpersonal skills.

Over time I have come to see the client/therapist dyad and a metaphorical dance. By using verbal and non-verbal language, one can move with and sometimes steer the conversation in a way that feels right for the client. I feel that this will always be a work in progress as sometimes I still “step on their toes”.

Effective life coaches become deeply involved in their work and derive meaning from it.

Trying to understand a client’s core fear/insecurity or motive behind their behaviours is fascinating and complex. Sometimes people can be predictable, based on others who have had similar experiences, but sometimes it is completely different, and one must become agile in their thinking to perceive the issue from other angles. This often extends to worldly issues where it becomes easier to grapple with the fact that people have personal histories, aspirations, traumas, and pressing issues that add to the reasons why they may commit the most insane and/or atrocious acts.

Effective life coaches are passionate.

I am passionate about psychology. I am always reading about psychology and how the mind works. I have also spent years trying to find out how I could study the subject since I did not do well in matric. I eventually found out that I could re-write my matric English, but when it came time to write my exams the Covid pandemic started. Fortunately, SACAP informed me that I could do the higher certificate which would act as a bridge course. Since achieving my higher certificate and six distinctions, I am now fulfilling a major dream by being able to study for my bachelor’s degree, majoring in counselling and psychology with SACAP.

Effective life coaches are able to maintain healthy boundaries.

I have established a clear boundary between my personal life and my work life. While I often debrief about my workday with my wife, I don’t allow work stress to interfere with my home life. Furthermore, when I am at work, I allow my personal life to disappear as well.

However, a life coach does not have to have all these characteristics. Therefore, which characteristics do you think you will need to develop to become an effective life coach?

Effective therapists respect and appreciate themselves.

For a large part, I do respect and appreciate myself. However, I can sometimes lose focus on these values, especially when I am stressed or feeling emotionally low. On the positive side, I am able to bounce back from these lows relatively quick, so they don’t tend to linger for too long.

Effective life coaches make choices that are life-oriented.

While I am much better at this, I have spent many years trying to get over beating myself up for my past mistakes. I have often felt like the victim of my past decisions and behaviours, but I am continually working towards being kind to myself.

Effective therapists generally live in the present.

For the most part, I can be in the present, but if I become anxious and have intrusive thoughts, I can lose touch with reality and get lost in the negativity. Fortunately, I can realise what is happening and then eventually pull myself out and come back into the here and now.

Effective life coaches appreciate the influence of culture.

During my previous course, I became exposed to differences in culture, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation. While I am open-minded I did not realise how important such matters of to some people. Fortunately, I am learning about and appreciating people’s values and how they affect and influence their lives.

Have you experienced life coaching as a client? if yes, how was your experience?

I have seen a life coach on several occasions and found the experience to be very rewarding. I think it is important for life coaches to be exposed to the process of life coaching sessions as a client. A life coach once told me to “see through the eyes of your client”. This means experiencing all aspects of the coaching experience, from making the booking, to waiting in the waiting room, to each session with the therapist. Additionally, one must understand the process of working with emotions, limiting thoughts and beliefs, and working towards breakthroughs.

Name three important values to you and explain how they may influence your interventions with clients?

1. Safety. I understand that my clients are coming to strangers’ offices and must try to tell the stranger about their personal life. I understand that there is a good chance they tried to solve their issue on their own but got so stuck that I am now their last hope for a breakthrough. Knowing this, I realise how important it is for me to establish the feeling of safety and confidentiality when they step into my office.

2. Rapport. Rapport is a part of the process for the client to feel safe but is also an ongoing process. When clients feel they can share issues with me that previously they may not have felt safe enough to do so is a great step forward in the developing relationship. As rapport develops the conversation, and especially difficult conversations have more ease of flow and feel better for both the client and the therapist.

3. Compassion/empathy. Most people know what they need to do to make the appropriate changes in their lives. However, while they are in therapy, they need to feel like they are not being judged or criticised for not being able to take such steps. On the surface, people often come to therapy to get help solving an issue, but most times they really need someone who will listen to them with compassion, empathy, and understanding as they try to process their issue.

Why it is crucial to develop multicultural competencies as a life coach?

It is important to develop multicultural competencies as a life coach because of the tendency to adhere to biases, assumptions, and/or generalisations that are not in accordance with the clients personal and subjective experience. Furthermore, the development of multicultural competencies will enhance one’s knowledge of diversity that can create specific and tailored intervention strategies that are conducive to the client’s higher needs.

Carl Rogers

Person-Centered Therapy – A Useful Model for Coaching

The counselling model that aligns with my characteristics as a life coach

As a life coach, I am attracted to person-centered therapy as I feel that an important element of counselling (and life coaching) is to recognise that every individual has the capacity to resolve their own issues, have the capacity to define and clarify their own goals and can direct their personal growth toward self-actualisation if the environment and conditions are conducive to exploring such potentialities (Corey et. al., 2021). I feel that the life coaching environment should facilitate such an experience where clients are assisted and given the primary responsibility of moving away from maladjustment to psychological well-being (Corey et. al., 2021).

Carl RogersCarl Rogers was one of the most influential figures in the development of person-centered therapy. He believed that at a person’s core they are trustworthy, resourceful, and able to make positive changes in their lives if they provided the appropriate conditions that foster growth (Rogers 1987a as cited in Corey et. al., 2021). He also maintained that there are three main attributes that therapists should ascribe to, to minimise defensive behaviour, enhance the therapeutic relationship and help foster growth in their client. These are congruence, unconditional positive regard, and accurate empathic understanding. Additionally, by being real, on a person-to-person level, the “role” of the life coach is to be without roles and enhance the quality of the relationship provide an attitude that is encouraging towards the client’s need to become more open to experiences, to trust in themselves, to have an internal source of evaluation, and a willingness to continue to grow is a basic goal and provides a general framework for understanding the direction to take in person-centered therapy. Therefore, the humanistic perspective is characterised as a shared journey and a way of being that reveals the humanness of the client and the life coach as they participate in a growth experience.

References:

Corey, G., Nicholas, L.J., & Bawa, U. (2021). Theory and practice of counselling and psychotherapy (3rd SA ed., Ch. 1 & Ch. 2). Cengage Learning.

Human Motivation

What They Don’t Want To Tell You About Success!

During a Life Coaching session, my clients are often confronted by the tension of needing to make important life changes and the corresponding resistance to change. Dr Jordan B. Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, clinical psychologist, and the famous author states that humans have the ability to bargain with the future by making valuable sacrifices in the present.
This profound statement has stuck with me as it seems like the exact recipe for success.
There are so many people out there saying that you must do what you love, and find out what your passion is and pursue it. However, what very few are willing to acknowledge is how challenging the path to success really is.
If we go back to Dr Peterson’s statement we will notice that valuable sacrifices are needed to be made in the present in order to bargain with one’s future. Not expendable, worthless, convenient sacrifices… What Valuable Sacrifices are needed to be made? In other words, how much time, money, resources, and energy are you willing to sacrifice so that you can one day achieve success? This is a much tougher question to deal with than just merely trying to find your passion and half expecting an easy path to success.

Why do you think so few people ever become successful? Really think about this one before reading on…

One of the main and most obvious reasons is that all of our basic survival needs (food, water, shelter, safety) are met and most of our comfort needs (love, connection, self-esteem) are met.
So why bother? Who wants to pay for an expensive course? Who wants to fail countless times at something before the potential for success may be achieved? Who wants to focus on making something work when they could rather be out socialising? Who wants to sacrifice so much for days, weeks, and years until they finally start seeing some light at the end of the tunnel? Who wants to take on such a difficult task when everyone around them is telling them to just give up?
If you ever watch a person at the beginning stages of their success journey it will look like they have lost the plot. Like madness has crept into their mind. Like they have lost touch with reality. They say sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between genius and madness… and you can see why.
There are not many people that can allow themselves to make such valuable sacrifices in the hopes of making a worthy bargain with their future.
This is the reason why no one wants to talk about this part of success… because it’s confrontational. It’s the pill of truth that feels impossible to swallow.

But…

Deep down in our souls, we all know we are destined for something great. That we came to this planet for a reason. And we can always feel the call to pursue it. This is why you get those crazy fools sacrificing so much for success because they are the one’s who have responded to the call.
If a parent looks lovingly at their baby they will convince themselves that their child is special and that their child is going to make a difference in this world… and the strange thing is, their child might just do that exact thing.

So what I am asking you is, how much value are you willing to sacrifice in the present moment so that you can effectively bargain with your own future?

The Dark Night of The Soul

St. John of the Cross

Part of the “life experience” is the ability to endure hardships, difficult situations, loss, and painful emotions. This difficult issue is often clearly highlighted when clients engage with Life Coaching. While such things are a part of the human experience it is a rollercoaster that no one wants to get on, but as life so clearly demonstrates, we will all have our turn on the ride of pain and suffering. Sooner or later we will all go through our “dark night of the soul”, whether it’s by losing someone we love, a difficult divorce, job loss, mental issues, illness etc. St. John of the Cross, the 16th-century Spanish mystic and poet coined the term “the dark night of the soul”. His particular expression of the term was related to the purgations (or spiritual crises) on the path to the divine union with God. He experienced many dark nights during his imprisonment and torture.

Since then many authors, artists, and musicians have used the concept of the dark night of the soul to make sense of, and express their experience with difficult and challenging life experiences. I, myself work with it symbolically in therapy with my clients to help them better understand what they are experiencing. I have realised that the more one tries to hide from, run from, or suppress the thoughts, emotions, and manifestations of the dark night of the soul, the more overwhelming it will become. It’s never easy or comfortable to face the darkness of the abyss, but if you find yourself falling into it, the only thing that you can do is to let go and fall until you stop.

I feel, that if this is a natural part of life then we must learn how to manage these experiences as best we can. We must understand that when we get thrust into the dark night that it probably won’t feel fair; it will be an incredibly difficult personal experience; it will keep us in that space until it is over, and not when we want it to be over, and it will often severely disrupt your sense of normality and routine.

Viktor Emil Frankl. Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor.

Furthermore, I feel, that if these intense life experiences are going to take so much from us then it is important for us to get something back from it. These will come in the form of lessons we have learnt or our ability to find meaning in things that feel utterly meaningless. The famous psychologist, Victor Frankl conceptualised “Logo Therapy” during his time in the concentration camps during world war 2. During his time in the camps, he felt it was a matter of life and death (because it was) to find meaning in his experience. He knew when someone had given up when all hope was lost. They would simply refuse to get up in the morning. That would be the start of the end for them.

There have been countless people who were imprisoned and tortured that held onto the memories of their loved ones that helped them get through such things. They realised how important their “old” lives actually were. They discovered a deep sense of appreciation in even the most mundane moments of their lives before they were imprisoned. They laughed at how serious they took themselves. Some of these people were able to forgive their captors and gain a level of understanding of human behaviour that would go on to revolutionise human rights. In this case, I am referring to the late Nelson Mandela, but there have been many imprisoned hero’s throughout the ages.


One does not need to go through massive trauma to endure a dark night. If you are haunted by depression, anxiety, mood swings, rage and anger, loneliness, lack of purpose, demotivation, and many more issues, you may be experiencing your own dark night of the soul. If this is you then your first priority is to have some compassion for yourself as you go through the confusion, frustration, sadness, suffering, and pain. You will need you to be there for yourself more than you can imagine. The next thing is to understand that even the darkest nights eventually see the break of dawn. You will get through this because you are stronger than you realise. People often wish they had the bravery and courage to face a powerful foe, not realising that courage and bravery are the one’s that get them through the dark night of the soul.

So if you have read up to this point I can imagine you have gone through probably a few dark nights of your own soul and I commend you for your bravery, courage, inner
strength, and resilience.

And if you are still going through one and need a light to shine in the darkness, I can be that light for you.

Thanks for reading,
Donovan

Treating Anxiety With Hypnosis

What Is Anxiety

When I assist my clients with hypnosis work I am well aware that anxiety is a normal built-in defence mechanism that protects us against potentially dangerous situations. It helps by creating a focused state of attention towards a threat. The brain is constantly scanning it’s environment on an unconscious level to evaluate situations. If it perceives anything that may seem threatening, it will alert the 5 senses toward the threat for further inspection. While the senses are scanning the area, the persons thoughts will cease any unnecessary processing and only focus on what may be a threat. It is essential to be focused so that the element of a surprise attack can be thwarted.

At the same time, the body will start to dump stress hormones into the bloodstream, such as adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones prepare you to fight, flight or freeze. They are also responsible for accelerating heart rate, dilating blood vessels and assisting the unnecessary muscles to take action. These reactions are happening at an extremely fast rate and are barely detectable to conscious awareness.
Once away from the threat or upon realising that the situation was a false alarm, the individuals mind and body should slowly calm back down to a normal rate.

When anxiety becomes an issue of concern is when the person becomes hyper-sensitive to their external environment and fails to control their reaction and response to the general busy-ness of the world around them. Their unconscious mind will be extremely vigilant for any potential signs of danger and can often react and over-react for seemingly unknown or unjustifiable reasons. This can create negative coping mechanisms such as avoidance behaviour.

Anxiety is a general term for many issues such as general anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety, hoarding and panic attacks.

How Hypnotherapy Treats Anxiety

Hypnotherapy is gaining recognition for its successful treatment of anxiety related conditions. By gaining access to the unconscious processing of the mind, it is possible to alter negative beliefs, perceptions and limiting thought processes associated with moments that can trigger anxiety. By reducing fear, intense worry and nervousness, it is possible to respond in a normal manner to life’s circumstances. Hypnosis paves the way for new and empowering learning’s to take place so the person can accurately assess situations without having to rely on old, reactive and destructive thought patterns.

Thanks for reading,
Donovan

Why Does Hypnosis Work?

Creating Stories in The Mind

The mind is the greatest supercomputer we know and this is often demonstrated with experiences of hypnosis and hypnotic phenomena. It is designed to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances that life presents to it. This is done with the assistance of the 5 senses, and dare I say it, the psychic 6th sense. The stimulus from the outside world constantly bombards the individual’s senses, which then get interpreted by the brain and nervous system.
Now essentially, each individual has to figure out methods in order to survive, since we are born with very few built-in survival instincts. We all share 2 common fears which serve to assist our survival and that is 1) a fear of falling, and 2) a fear of loud sounds. However, for the most part, we need to be able to constantly adapt to our ever-changing environment. This is where the power of our internal stories come into play. The brain is a master at combining feelings with associated internal images. Once an association is made, and the neural pathway has been secured, a memory is created, which can go on to create beliefs, values, habits and behaviours. This is a vital component to the energy-saving needs of the brain, as once a snapshot is created, it can be used over and over again, any time a similar event happens that require the same or similar coping mechanisms that helped the individual survive its last encounter with that environment situation. In order for a sense of reliability to be created, the brain must recognise which strategies it used to help the individual survive the situation that it was presented with. Once recognised, it can store all of this like a template for future use. Most people aren’t even aware all of this is happening, but it can become a bit more clear when we consider how some people overreact to situations, where others will not react at all. This can be noticed in things such as irrational phobias and anxiety triggers. Such as when a person is afraid of spiders, their brain will exaggerate the experience so the person can get to “safety” as fast as possible. The story in that person’s mind is highly dramatized compared to someone who has no such fear.

Hypnosis And Change-Work

While phobias are an obvious example, it is important to recognise that similar coping mechanisms are happening to everyone, all the time, as we go through life. While it can often be difficult to identify “less than” constructive behaviour patterns, it can often be quite noticeable to an individual that there does seem to be some sort of pattern in their life that keeps repeating itself, even though on the surface, it doesn’t comply with the person’s current needs and values.

This is where the effective strategies of hypnosis can be used to create the changes that are required.
Hypnosis shares many similarities to a state in sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement). During a REM cycle, a person will most likely experience the visual fantasy of dreams that can evoke powerful emotional reactions.
While hypnosis is not sleep, it does seem to be able to access those parts of the brain that allow the creation of the inner visual/emotional story. While the brain may not be creating actual visual stories at the moment when a coping mechanism is created, it does give the output of a visual story for the conscious mind to hold on to. At this point, it is important to remember that even though events in life are real, the memory of those events is nothing but mere fantasy. It only seems real to the individual because there is an associated emotion connected to the event that gets triggered in real-time to bring the story to life. For example, think of something unfair that happened to you recently… Got it?… Right. Now feel the emotion that is currently coming up. That emotion is as close as you will ever get to the reality of that past moment. The memory of it is just an assumption of what may have happened and tends to discount most of the bits of reality surrounding that event that your mind felt were irrelevant to the memory.

The above is important to recognise because it is displaying the story to the conscious mind, so that should you want to create positive changes in your life, it will be these kinds of stories that, while in the hypnotic state, will be addressed and altered. During hypnosis, we show those parts of the mind that while its old coping mechanisms may have worked in the past, that currently, it may be holding the person back from living a fulfilled life. We also show that part of the mind that time has moved on, the person has grown and become wiser as a result, and can, therefore “update” its own story with more empowering and confident strategies. This can all be created, rehearsed, and acted upon in an almost simulation-type environment during hypnosis, which is commonly known as change-work. The interesting aspect of this change-work process is that once there is a positively stimulated emotion that gets associated with the simulation, the brain will not be able to distinguish reality from fantasy. Why this is so fascinating is because new neural networks will be created so that a “template” of the situation can be designed, which will then become a new reliable coping mechanism for the individual. This new coping mechanism will have all the right configurations to help the individual make better decisions and life choices in the future. Therefore, freeing the person from the negative cycle of the past.

Thanks for reading,
Donovan

A Deeper Investigation Into Hypnosis

Although very little is known to the public about hypnosis besides what has been seen on tv or on stage, hypnotherapy is a fascinating and sadly very misunderstood therapy. What is often associated with witches, faith healers and stage performers are in fact far more obvious, practical and used by everyone on an almost daily basis. Rather than an act of magic, hypnosis is merely a state of mind. This hypnotic state can be experienced both by animals and humans.

I will give you an example that most drivers will be able to relate to. Have you ever been driving on a road, either when going on holiday or returning home from work, but didn’t really remember any of the details of the road or the cars that passed by? You were what they call driving on auto-pilot. Well, that is a classic case of a light hypnotic trance. You were very much awake. You knew there was something going on around you. However, your mind was adrift, deep in thought. You were relying on the power of the subconscious mind to get you home safely. However, if an incident required your immediate attention such as a car braking instantly, your conscious mind would immediately be back in action and bring you back to the present moment.

Let’s take a deeper look at the origins and history of hypnosis to give you a better understanding of the subject. The word hypnosis comes from the ancient Greek word meaning “sleep” and was coined by Dr James Braid around 1840. Hypnosis was first accepted by the American Medical association in 1958 and is used widely as a useful tool for psychologists and psychiatrists worldwide.

There are currently a few basic definitions of the word hypnosis, ranging from: “Extreme relaxation” to “An altered state of consciousness”. Even though the word derives from the ancient word sleep, hypnosis is not a state of deep sleep. It is rather a process that moves the conscious mind out the way and allowing a person to enter a trance-like hypnotic state. In this state the person’s awareness is heightened is solely focused on the hypnotist’s voice commands. From this state, the hypnosis practitioner is able to suggest re-enforcing statements and plant seeds of positive suggestions that the client can later use to enhance their lifestyle.

Hypnotherapy, therefore, aims to promote re-program patterns of behaviour. From such behaviour change, it is possible to help people to stop smoking, eradicate phobias, ease stress & anxiety, deal effectively with depression & trauma, help with confidence & self-esteem issues, allow sports & business people to focus on success and the list goes on.

Hypnotherapy relies on helping a person to become extremely relaxed so they can experience an altered state of consciousness. A relaxed mind & body will automatically lower blood pressure and brain waves. In such a relaxed state the body and mind are more willing to let go of its defences and allow itself to become vulnerable enough for positive healing states to occur. The same states can be seen with deep meditation and prayer. However, hypnotherapy goes a step further to then allow positive and appropriate suggestions to be made by the therapist, which is heard by the client, which will then be placed in the subconscious mind to create positive behaviour and belief change. Although trust is a big factor in achieving success between client and therapist, the client is always in control and will not be made to do anything that they don’t want to do. It is not used as mind control and does not cause injury. However, hypnosis is to be respected and administered by trained professionals who are considerate and compassionate toward their clients.

Hypnosis is nothing like the movies and someone under hypnosis will never get stuck in hypnosis. Neither is it the same as sleep, however, they do share similarities. Hypnosis, meditation and daydreaming are closely related in that they require relaxation of body & mind; concentration; and access to the workings of the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is at a much deeper level of awareness and functions without us even knowing about it. The power of the subconscious mind can be felt during moments of creative problem-solving, wisdom and intuition. However, where meditation and daydreaming are self-driven, hypnosis is guided by the practitioner, using a simple set of instructions to achieve a pre-planned outcome. If hypnosis can be used for stage theatrics, is it possible to imagine what positive uses it may contain to implement positive behaviour change? If the mind is so powerful that a stage hypnotist can convince a participant that a sour lemon is a juicy orange, then imagine how limiting beliefs and unconstructive behaviour can be re-programmed toward achieving a successful mindset.
The mind is our greatest asset and we are only at the tip of the iceberg on our quest to figuring out its potential. Hypnosis is a great and highly effective tool to assist us on that journey of self-discovery.

So how does it actually work?

Hypnosis creates an altered state of consciousness by using methods that create a sense of boredom for the conscious mind. The conscious mind wants to be always engaged, rationalizing, analysing and making sense of the world around it. When this fails to happen, it tends to disengage and shut down momentarily. When this happens it allows a space to open up for the subconscious mind to be exposed. This is the area that has more deep-seated behaviour patterns and belief systems. It is this area that the hypnotherapist is interested in and it is here that re-programming can take place. For example, if a person has a fear of worms and has consciously tried everything to overcome their fear with little to no success, then it is worth digging into the part of the subconscious mind that is holding onto this fear and help release it so the debilitating effects can dissipate for good. Progress and successful integration is only possible when deep-seated instincts and beliefs can be abolished or altered.

Now it is worth taking a deeper look into our conscious and subconscious minds. The conscious mind is the one that helps us function in our day-to-day lives. It is primarily responsible for our ability to rationalize & analyse information. It allows us to have a sense of willpower and contains our temporary memory. Although we spend most of our waking hours in this section of the mind, it is unfortunately only the very tip of a giant iceberg. As functional people, it is imperative to our survival that we are able to think, judge and reason. However, it is also very prone to many limitations such as irrational & reactive behaviour, poor assumptions and beliefs & value systems that prevent forward momentum in human achievement.

When we use the example of smoking, we can clearly see the conscious mind at work trying to defend the reason why the person continues to smoke in spite of the insurmountable data and research that proves how deadly & destructive such a habit is for not only the smoker but those around them. The conscious mind does not like to admit defeat and hates being wrong so it will analyse, rationalize and try to put a logical reason forward so that it can maintain its integrity. Will power is grouped with the conscious mind because it is highly temperamental, only works in short bursts and is a temporary solution. Will power is however highly effective when things need to get done and provides bursts of energy and enthusiasm to assist us along the way. But it is a poor choice when it comes to areas that influence behaviour and beliefs. As mentioned above, temporary memory is also located in the conscious mind because it is another important aspect of functioning as a person. Temporary memory allows us to remember where we park our car at the shopping mall and assists in remembering list items like groceries. However, as many will know, memory is not accurate and it is easy to forget where the car was parked and what was on the grocery list. It is also, therefore, not going to help behaviour change.

When we delve into the belly of the so-called iceberg, we find the subconscious mind. Like a submarine, it is unseen but always at hard at work. This is the part of the mind that is actually in control of your life and the part that helps or hinders real change in someone’s life. This is where hypnosis comes to life. We will find our creative centres like imagination, intuition, wisdom & insight. Also located here is our permanent memory, habits, emotions, beliefs and the autonomic nervous system. Our world begins with imagination. Every invention, system, idea, process and ingenious creation that exists today was once birthed out of someone’s subconscious mind. If you correctly combine the infinite potential of the imagination, a highly supportive belief system and a driven emotional response, you will be one of a few people who have ever been able to access and use the most powerful tool in the world… the subconscious mind.

What lies before us that is yet to be created and/or thought of? What is the mind capable of? Where will our minds take us if allow it to flow? Only limited thinking and beliefs are currently preventing a human mental revolution. The subconscious mind takes in every bit of detail throughout our lives. Can you imagine how big an internet server room would have to be if it had to hold on to as much data as just one single person accumulates throughout their lives?

The subconscious mind is a feeling mind, so it strongly connects emotions, feelings, beliefs and habits to circumstances that bring it toward pleasure and away from pain. Even if such circumstances are actually destructive to the person. To understand the power of the subconscious mind, try to remember to blink or breathe all the time. The subconscious mind is responsible for these and our heartbeat, blood circulation. It also reminds us when we are tired or hungry. The average person wouldn’t last a day if all these tasks were left to the conscious mind.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the mind, lets now look at the different brain wave states. This will give some idea as to why it is possible for a person to be hypnotised. The human brain produces electrical activity that is measured as brain waves. Something called an electroencephalogram (EEG) has the ability to measure these waves. The waves are measured in hertz, which is essentially how many cycles a wave can be completed per second. Brain waves are categorized by hertz. The common brain waves are Beta, Alpha, Theta & Delta. Beta brain waves are active during our day-to-day habits and assist us with alertness for our surroundings. When you close your eyes and relax your body, your brain waves will cycle down to an Alpha level. At this level, the conscious mind is less active and can start to allow creativity and imagination to start coming through. This state is where most hypnosis occurs and it is here that many people become open to hypnotic suggestions.

Just like a daydream, a hypnotherapist can use the power of imagination to implant positive suggestions to the client. When the subconscious is active, the mind cannot distinguish between imagined reality and physical reality. Since hypnotherapy is used to empower people and create positive habits, many changes in behaviour can take place that is more aligned to the clients higher needs. The brain can cycle further down into Theta waves. This is the area of the mind that stimulates dreams and happens during deep hypnosis. If the brain waves cycle further down the client will fall into a natural sleep state. Delta is the typical brain wave cycle that is responsible for unconscious sleep. Most clients will not fall asleep though because being in a hypnotic state requires the client’s mind to be focused even though they are very relaxed.

As you may have noticed by now that hypnotherapy is always working in alignment with the client’s needs and seeks to assist positive changes in behaviour, habits and outlook of the world. People are influenced in the right and wrong ways throughout their early lives as children & teens. Even if the accepted behaviour and thinking appeared to hold relevance when they were young, they may now find that such behaviour and thinking is actually quite destructive in nature such as smoking. Kids often smoke so they can fit in or be rebellious. At this stage in their lives, they have got recognition from peers so it seemed that in order to maintain recognition, the same or similar acts should be carried out. Even though this self-destructive the child learns to rely on this. In years to come such behaviour is unnecessary, but now unfortunately the young adult is stuck with the habit, which is often difficult to break. It is important for this person to be able to separate such behaviour from the person.

People are highly dynamic and act how they think they should according to the circumstances being faced. To further complicate the issue, events & circumstances will trigger conditioned patterns, beliefs and behaviours in the person which may see them act in ways that go against their higher good. It is these conditioned issues that make people over-eat and then hate themselves for lack of self-control or push a person into an anxiety attack when there is no threat of danger. Once the mind sees value and truth in a certain behaviour, emotion, habit etc, it will most often default to such a pattern when under stress because at the time that it was implanted in the mind, it seemed to work. However, now it creates stress and tension. This is all down to something called perception. For example, have you ever watched a brilliant movie that you know people will enjoy, only to find out that when they watched it they weren’t stimulated or didn’t even enjoy it? We all live in the centre of our own so-called universe. There are many factors that influence our perception of the world. Some of them are language, memories, values, beliefs, culture and decisions to name a few. It can be explained like this.

If the world and what goes on it is the territory, then our individual understanding of it is the map. As you may know, some maps are better than others. Some maps have better clarity are more updated. Some have pieces missing. And some are very difficult to make sense of. Every bit of information that has ever been processed by you gets filtered, distorted, deleted, analysed and/or categorized by your mind to help you make decisions, stay safe and flow with life. The conscious mind can only process a tiny amount of information that comes at it on a daily basis, so it must make quick work of making such information available for processing so the person can know what to do next. If for example a person has low self-esteem and doesn’t think highly of themselves and you tell them how great they look. Immediately their mind is throwing out questions to try to accept the information or protect themselves from the information. This person may get shy and wonder how the person could compliment them when they are so ugly. Such irrational analysing is based on the person’s history and although it is based on false assumptions and misunderstandings, it will present seemingly valid arguments to maintain its integrity. The mind prefers what it knows so if a person has maintained a life of low self-esteem, no matter how much you try to allow them to understand that such beliefs are false, their minds will quickly come to the front with arguments so it can stay alive. However, if the person is tired of such thoughts pushing them around, they can then seek the assistance of a trained hypnotherapist to help them see the way of a brighter and more confident future.

Hypnosis is not the enemy of a mysterious force that seeks to manipulate innocent and naïve people. It is a well-researched and highly effective tool that can help and has helped many people, over many generations to create positive changes in their lives. Highly respected psychologists often turn to their hypnosis training when dealing with difficult and troubled clients. Many business people and sportspeople, worldwide have reached tremendous success with the help of hypnosis. Hypnosis is simply a way to assist someone to get over their obstacles, attain higher degrees of success and live a life that serves their highest good. Often what is misunderstood is seen as suspicious without ever questioning and researching its validity. This has been the case with hypnosis. Ignorance and an arrogant mindset that fails to adapt and understand new ways of seeing the world is sure to be left behind. If it not possible to embrace such change then at the very least it is in the persons best interests to remain objective and leave out assumptions of something that are based on limitations and incorrect interpretations.
Who knows what the future holds for humanity, but at the very least we have our minds. If cultivated and calibrated to accept that it can change and that is willing to be wrong in order to learn the lesson, then maybe there is not only hope for a positive outcome but faith that our minds lead us in the right direction to a place that is more beautiful, creative and imaginative than our wildest dreams. The human mind is the next frontier.

Thanks for reading,
Donovan

What Is Hypnosis?

Creating Change With Hypnosis

When asked about hypnosis, most people will recall some theatrical stage show where they witnessed weird and wonderful behaviour going on by some unfortunate volunteers. However, little is known to the public about the positive power of hypnosis when it comes to assisting people with major concerns such as stress, trauma, phobias, anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, stage fright and many more personal and some time debilitating issues. When used as therapy, hypnosis can bring about incredible behavioural change and correct limitations that hold people back from a life well lived.

So What Is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is merely a moment in time where the person is fully aware of their surroundings, but the conscious mind is placed in a relaxed state so that the subconscious mind can be exposed. Hypnotic states can be experienced in day dreaming and when one is captivated by a movie. The person is completely aware of what is going on around them, but their attention is focused on something else.

In hypnotherapy, the client will be aware of their surroundings, but will be solely focused on the hypnosis practitioner’s voice. Using various techniques to relax the mind and body, the practitioner will be able to go beyond the conscious mind and access the subconscious mind where positive suggestions, reframing and alterations of limiting beliefs can be made to affect positive behavioural change in the client.

How Does Hypnosis Create Change?

Our conscious mind is what keeps us alert and helps us to function on a day-to-day basis. However, like an ice berg, most of what is controlling us is below the surface. This is the domain of the subconscious mind. This is the place that holds our long-term memory, beliefs, patterns, addictions, emotions, habits, involuntary bodily actions and our creative imagination. In order to create lasting behavioural change, it is crucial to access the subconscious mind and change the behavioural programming at the source.

Life experiences create behaviours and perceptions. So as an example, if I was bitten by a dog when I was young, which created physical pain, a moment of fear and severe panic, I may now hold on to a fear of dogs. This fear is a coping mechanism of the mind to protect me from the danger of such a thing happening again. Coping mechanisms are very rudimentary reactions and fail to understand the difference between a real threat & a no-threat situation. Therefore, it will create a hormonal, emotional & physical response suited to a threat even though there is no evidence to support such a demanding and irrational response.

Knowing this, a hypnosis practitioner will work skilfully past the irrational conditioning of the conscious mind and alter my beliefs about dogs, create a positive understanding that although such an experience happened once, this does not mean that it will happen every time. The practitioner will further help by creating effective strategies to help calm the brain down when I encounter dogs so my fight/flight/freeze response is disengaged and I can think with a clear mind.

The Power Of The Mind

“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” – Mark Twain.

The mind is a beautiful and powerful tool that is unlimited in its potential. However, it is also highly impressionable and can create coping mechanisms that can severely affect and limit a person’s life to such a degree that they are prevented from the enjoyment and adventure that can be experienced. But with every problem lies its own solution and we can see this in the way that simple techniques in hypnotherapy can positively change people’s lives.

The only magic to be acknowledged in such a discipline of behavioural change is how powerful the mind can be and of the infinite potential that lies in all of us. A whole new world of possibility awaits the person who can utilize the power of their mind. Limitations in our beliefs and perceptions will only remain valid until a higher sense of awareness around such limitations can be dispelled.

The mind is like putty that can be molded, shaped and re-shaped. Therefore, it is crucial that we nurture our positive/empowering mental states and work to change those states that no longer serve us.