We all know what it feels like to be depressed or stricken with grief. We are plagued by negative self-talk and self-doubt. We feel sad and a sense of loss. We worry about how others view us, and that we won’t be able to live up to others' expectations of us. Other times we just feel numb. For some of us, these feelings are ongoing and debilitating. We have deep-seated feelings of failure and believe that life will never get better. We may have been feeling this way for months, years, or nearly our entire lives.
When people are depressed or experience a deep sense of loss, they find it especially difficult to visualize a happy life and to conjure the motivation to make changes that would lead to a better life — and this lack of change contributes to feeling hopeless.
While hypnosis alone is not sufficient for adequately treating depression, there are several aspects of hypnosis that are particularly powerful for treating depression, grief, and loss when used in conjunction with therapy. In many ways, depression can be thought of as a ‘creative adjustment’ that develops in response to painful life events that make it difficult for a person to move forward. In order to cope with this adjustment, they find themselves withdrawing emotionally, socially, and professionally. Hypnosis, on the other hand, can counteract this withdrawal by helping a person envision a happier future through visualizing proactive steps they can take to reach their goals. Hypnosis can also help them summon internal strengths and motivation.
When we feel depressed or stuck, we can feel blocked from our desire to be happy again and/or may feel fearful of putting ourselves out there again. Hypnosis, on the other hand, allows a safe space for individuals to access their internal feelings of happiness that have been repressed, while also providing a way to help people visualize a happier life. Using hypnosis and integrative therapy, clients can change their internal dialogue from “I can’t” to “I want to,” which empowers a person to change from feeling hopeless to hopeful. In turn, this helps individuals to stop feeling helpless and begin to be active agents in their lives again. This then leads to the alleviation of the sadness that has held them back so that they can create a more meaningful and purposeful life.
Dr. Rebecca Hoffenberg, Dr. Meghan Downey, and Micah Zylstra are experts in using integrative therapy techniques and hypnosis in treating depression and related struggles. They work by helping people build awareness of their own depressive cycles and better understand how their depression is maintained by limiting beliefs such as self-criticism, lack of support, and disconnection from positive emotions. They use a variety of therapy techniques to help build self-compassion, emotional awareness, and social support, while using hypnosis to help them visualize positive outcomes and focus on achieving tangible goals.
While each therapist uses hypnosis along with integrative therapy methods to treat depression, their base form of therapy drives the course of treatment. Dr. Hoffenberg integrates EMDR into her treatment, which helps her clients process the origin of these limiting beliefs and the reason this pattern developed. Dr. Downey takes an integrative and holistic approach, focusing on self-actualization and fulfillment as a means to break the depressive cycle. Micah Zylstra works from a psychodynamic perspective, meaning that he focuses on how a person’s childhood affects their current functioning and helps them uncover how to unlearn damaging childhood beliefs.
Their approaches are particularly useful in treating difficulties that both stem from and perpetuate depression, such as:
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Sara Glazer and Micah Zylstra are our experts in using hypnosis and integrative therapy to help people address grief and loss and move forward in their lives. They blend mindfulness-based approaches, attachment theory, relational psychoanalysis and self psychology, while integrating hypnosis to help the grief feel manageable. Integrating hypnosis and therapy offers an opportunity to process feelings surrounding loss, so clients feel less overwhelmed and more able to function.
The impact of grief and loss can be overwhelming. It can leave people feeling like they won’t be able to live without a lost loved one and makes it difficult to imagine ever being happy again. There might be tangible changes, as well, including losing the practical support your loved one offered you every day. There are also the less visible shifts, such as the emotional, spiritual and cognitive impacts of loss.
When you care about someone and establish a bond, your sense of self and way of relating to the world are oftentime intricately connected to that relationship. And when you lose that person, it can feel as if you lost the way you were with them. Sometimes feelings of conflict or issues within the relationship emerge, causing you to feel anger or guilt after a loss. The grief process can be complex and draining, especially when you are contending with daily tasks, such as going to work and managing other relationships and responsibilities.
Hypnotherapy can be especially beneficial for helping clients:
Dr. Sara Glazer and Micah Zylstra combine hypnosis with mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), self-compassion practices, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Their style of therapy emphasizes that relationships — with others and with the self — impact personal beliefs about the world, behaviors and struggles. The therapeutic relationship is significant in contributing to the process of therapeutic change, and as such, our therapists strive to create an atmosphere of mutuality, safety and empathic understanding.
Research demonstrates a variety of benefits from using hypnosis in conjunction with therapy for treating depression, such as encouraging a sense of empowerment and reducing depressive symptoms (Yapko, 2002). Further, a combined approach of therapy and hypnosis has been shown to alleviate depression to a greater degree than therapy alone, and this effect is maintained even after therapy has ended (Alladin & Alibhai, 2007).
Read more about hypnosis and integrative therapy for depression:
Read more about hypnosis and integrative therapy for depression: Hypnosis and Depression (Yapko, 2002)
Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Depression (Alladin & Alibhai, 2007)
Hypnosis and Treating Depression (2006)
Essentials of clinical hypnosis: An evidence-based approach (Lynn & Kirsch, 2006)
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