When we talk about hypnosis, we often imagine the big shows of hypnotists. But it is also, and above all, a great tool for managing the little stresses and great anxieties of life. Because our toddlers have natural access to their imaginations, hypnosis and children really go hand in hand. And yes, hypnosis precisely uses images and metaphors. But in fact, what is hypnosis? Is it dangerous for my child? What can we hope to cure by hypnotherapy? Why and how to install it daily at home? CPMHK had the pleasure of interviewing Margaux Bienvenu, Doctor in psychology and hypnotherapist, author of the book “Well-being bubbles for my child” and co-creator of the hypnosis application for children HypnoTidoo.
What is hypnosis ?
Margaux: “Hypnosis is a induced relaxation technique by an external person, who allows find the way back to a part of our consciousness usually inaccessible. In fact, when we dream while awake or on the verge of sleep, we experience a kind ofnatural state of thought in which our mind has access to its resources without coming up against the usual obstacles that we have built for ourselves (“I can’t”, “It’s impossible”, “It’s bad / good”, etc.).
In practice, the hypnotherapist uses several techniques such as suggestions, the visualisation, sometimes movements, etc. Sophrology has also borrowed a lot from hypnosis, but there are also practices close to relaxation or meditation.
The goal is therefore to help the person to recreate the path to this altered state of consciousness, which will allow the mind to “disconnect from the present” in a way. Thus, the patient will be able to change his perception of the world and of oneself.
But rest assured, the patient remains in control and if the therapist takes her on a path that annoys her, she will not go!
The great thing is that in a state of hypnosis we are more receptive to what we hear at that time and this gives us access to this often inaccessible part of our mind (the unconscious) which contains our resources, our predispositions, our capacities! It’s kind of our interior treasure chest. The therapist will allow connect to this positive tank and will accompany his patient in the desired changes. ”
Why use hypnosis with children?
Margaux: “Hypnosis uses the stories, the suggestion, the metaphors to bring the patient into this altered state. And in the realm of imagination, children are kings! With the right suggestions, the child can easily be transported to access his treasure chest. In addition, unlike the elders, they do not approach the session with fears and prejudices, they simply let themselves be guided in the practice of the games or exercises proposed by the hypnotherapist.
Afterwards, as for teenagers or adults, each one can be more or less sensitive and it is the role of the therapist to use the right tools according to the problem of each one. ”
What ailments can we cure with hypnosis for children?
Margaux: “As for adults, the indications are broad. In the indications, we can find small and great ailments:
- difficulties related to stress or to anxiety ;
- disorders of sleep or difficulty falling asleep;
- the trauma, the depressions where the mourning;
- the little ones everyday discomforts (enuresis, bitten nails, nervous tics…);
- hypersensitivity ;
- hyperactivity and difficulty concentrating;
- the self-confidence ;
- the anger ;
- the addictions ;
- support for hospital procedures (anesthesia, blood test, stitches, puncture, etc.);
These issues can be treated in a session with the support of a hypnotherapist, but they can also be approached in a light way to support daily life. If there is no particular difficulty (comprehension problem, certain handicaps…), hypnosis is a wonderful tool to offer our children. This is also why I wanted to make it more accessible first through my book, then through the HypnoTidoo application. ”
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Is hypnosis dangerous?
Margaux: “The practice is not dangerous, but there are contraindications in adults such as paranoia or other mental pathologies.
As adults we often have in mind show hypnosis where the hypnotist (not hypnotherapist) “manipulates” subjects and makes them do amazing things. It doesn’t have much to do with therapeutic hypnosis or Ericksonnian hypnosis practiced in an office which supports a change desired by the patient.
The practitioner is not going to make us say or do something that we do not want. Moreover, part of our unconscious is watching and blocking an intrusive or unwelcome practice. This is why there is a need for build a bond of trust based on respect and kindness, even more with adults. ”
From what age do you use hypnosis on the child?
Margaux: “I often say it’s around 5 years old. In fact, it depends on the cognitive development of the child. Your brain has to be mature enough to build a mental image, follow a script, transform it. This requires having a sufficiently developed memory as well as a certain level of verbal comprehension to understand the hypnotherapist’s suggestions. He must have acquired enough life experiences to be able to recall them or imagine others.
Once again, not all children adhere and it is up to the therapist to adapt his tools according to each individual’s situation. A classic psychological follow-up can sometimes prove to be much more suitable. In my opinion, it is even interesting to be able to combine the two types of approaches. ”
How does a hypnotherapy session take place?
Margaux: “It is above all a therapy session that lasts between 30 minutes and an hour approximately. We get to know the child and the parent. We identify the problem to be treated. The parent can stay in the room or be asked to slowly walk away depending on individual needs. Some problems can be resolved in just one session, others may require several meetings, but this often remains a brief therapy.
Then, my job is to build stories that will speak to the child and allow him to access the resource he needs. I love to invent and co-construct metaphors with the child.
For example, if we are working on self-confidence, we can invite him to put on his confidence cloak, to put himself in a bubble, or to create an anchoring gesture that he can use in his daily life … The suggestions are only limited to our imagination!
In teens or adults, we often feel the fear of being manipulated or losing control. Let everyone be reassured, we do not hypnotize someone against their will and we can only work with support and confidence! ”
As a parent, why and how do we make hypnosis part of our child’s daily life?
Margaux: “Like I said, hypnosis gives access to a resourceful part of us. It’s wonderful to provide our children with tools that help them realize and to access their superpowers. It is in this optique that I created the HypnoTidoo application: children have access to short hypnosis sessions at home on specific themes.
For example, on self-confidence, the child is invited to imagine confidence as a small animal that would live in a garden, an imaginary garden that belongs only to him. Sometimes the animal hides and disappears for a few hours, a few days… Then it comes back and we can again stroke it and play with it. This allegory makes it possible to understand that our confidence in ourselves is, like this animal, sometimes present, sometimes absent… But in reality, always there, somewhere in us and that we can learn to call it!
This image will then become a resource for our child, and when he is afraid to recite his poetry to the class, he will be able to close his eyes and call in his garden this little animal who wants him good … or he will simply know that he is carpet somewhere and that it remains present although it is not seen.
And because I am also a mother, I wanted to offer a pleasant support for the little ones and avoid sticking their heads on a phone. We have developed a plush (made in France) to accommodate a bluetooth speaker and broadcast the sessions of the application HypnoTidoo. This way, our child can listen to his sessions while cuddling his teddy bear and we can keep an eye on the progress of the program. Of course, the application is not intended to replace psychological monitoring. It is above all suitable for children without particular problems and it can be complementary to psychological follow-up. “
When should you consult a hypnotherapist?
Margaux: “In my opinion, it is when the quality of life is affected that we feel the suffering of the child or those around him. No need to let the situation deteriorate, one session can sometimes be enough to unblock the situation. ”
Which professional to go to?
Margaux: “I recommend above all choose a professional from the health sector, such as a psychotherapist or child psychiatrist trained in hypnotherapy. Better to avoid people with no background in medicine or clinical psychology. In any case, someone who will have a global vision of therapy and some pediatrics and who can, if necessary, lead his patient to other techniques.
Problem self-confidence or reinforcement of the personality, hypnosis can be an avenue to consider to accompany our child in his evolution. We can also offer him relaxation exercises or even work his archaic reflexes.
Hypnosis and children: books to go further
For older children, a small practical guide presenting clinical cases Hypnosis for my child: Solution for big and small problems by Lauriane Bordenave and Jean-Marc Benhaiem