The Remarkable Connection Between Happiness and Behavior

A cognitive behavioral approach to achieve more happiness

Positive psychologists and cognitive behavioral therapists promote certain behaviors that prime the brain for happiness.

Shawn Achor is one of my personal heroes- you may have heard of him as the author of ‘The Happiness Advantage’ or through his infamous TED Talk which you can find here. After almost a half a century in the making, positive psychology is sweeping the mental health landscape and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Cognitive behavioral therapists, educators and behavioral scientists are adopting techniques, such as the ‘happiness advantage’ to help people shift their mindset towards the good.

A Cognitive Therapist’s Answer to “Why Can’t I Find Happiness?”

Happiness’ makes many think of smiles, the sunshine, material acquisitions, and absolute bliss. People often perceive ‘happy’ as being beyond our control, that it has to do with external factors or some level of intangible success. However, when you depend on external factors to reach this mysterious state, you set yourself up for fleeting joy but also long-term disappointment, which can lead to depression and anxiety.

Contentment does not have to be controlled by external factors, what you have achieved, or what you or someone else consider the ultimate success. Rather than telling yourself that happiness is something to wait for, or believing that a partner, weight loss, or more money will lead you there, you can train your brain to be positive in the here and now. According to Shawn, if your brain is focused on positivity, it performs 31% more productively than when it is negative, neutral, or stressed. With the happiness advantage, your intelligence, creativity, and energy levels rise. That said, it makes much more sense to focus on how happiness leads to success, instead of the other way around.

It makes sense that managing depression and anxiety can be approached in a different and more effective way- by creating a new internal reality. As you learn how to become more positive in the present, the solution may not seem as hard to achieve. Training your brain to be more positive is something you’ve already taught it to do other tasks until it becomes automatic. Have you ever catch your fingers hitting the ‘F’ for Facebook without even noticing? Reaching for the snooze button? These are both common examples of automatic thoughts.

Let’s Get Happy!

Over time, reversing your formula for happiness in the now and leading your brain to focus on the present and the positive aspects is a mighty force. The trick is to act differently right now, and your brain will begin to become primed for success, which means that you will be able to work harder, faster, and more intelligently in the moment as well as long-term. One of the ways that your brain can be trained is to encourage the release of dopamine, which is a vital ‘feel good’ hormone. Dopamine has two functions: first, to make you happier and second, to trigger all of your learning centers in your brain- of course, you’ve already watched Shawn Achor’s TED Talk and know this, right?

When I work with clients who are looking for solutions to anxiety or depression, I make sure I focus on behaviors instead of feelings. There are several actions that can train your brain to produce more of that precious dopamine.  Shawn asserts that if you practice a positive habit daily for 21 days in a row, you can build a habit and train your brain to be more positive. Three ways to achieve this are to:

  • Journaling- Write down one positive experience in the past 24-hours, so that your brain can relive that experience and start focusing on it. This habit teaches your brain that what you do and what actions you take each day matter.
  • Meditation- Take the time to slow down and meditate, giving your brain a chance to stop multitasking and to focus more on one task, such as the matter at hand. Opportunites to meditate are everywhere and are easier that you may think, as this article by Temma Ehrenfeld discusses.
  • Random act of kindness- Completing a conscious act of kindness can increase the dopamine levels in your brain, such as writing a positive email to a friend, praising a friend for something they accomplished, thanking someone for their support, or simply complimenting someone on their clothes or hair. Personally, this is one of my favorites. A few years ago I published an article on how volunteering can battle a sour mood. Do you live in my town of San Diego? Volunteer Match is a super way to get on it!

As the exercises above reflect, CBT helps you learn skills needed to be happier and more content. Behavioral interventions can be simple and if practiced every day, these types of activities help improve depressed moods and how to be happier in the present!

Happiness is within your control and is attainable with daily practice. Building some simple habits into your daily life will help you create that positivity and happiness that you desire. If you’ve already been influenced by Shawn Achor’s work, please comment below- I’d love to hear from you! 

Two Simple Approaches to Get Out of the Power Struggle with your Teen

positive-parentingPlenty of parents call me this time of year, exhausted and tell me, “my teen needs therapy stat!” or “I was fine raising my child but now that he/she’s an adolescent I’m at a loss”. Parenting a teenager is a new and scary experience for most, and to shift how you interact with your children can be a difficult. The good news is there are some parenting techniques for teens that can help you successfully build family harmony and a healthy, independent young adult.

As children get older, they test boundaries much more often. This can be challenging at times, and that is why it is extremely important to build structure when parenting a teenager. They need someone to guide them without being smothering. So, instead of constantly guiding them by the hand on a path that should be their own, you can see yourself to be like the railing of a bridge. You can be there to make sure they don’t crash over the side while also being the guiding force that they desperately need.

Teenagers thrive with a positive method of parenting so they feel independent, as well as heard and supported. They may not voice it, but the support and guidance you provide as a parent is appreciated. When I hear kids say their parents are ‘getting in their face’ and ‘nagging’, they often become resentful and will refuse to cooperate simply to win.. The more they feel confronted or attacked, the more they will retreat away from you. Building structure for any child often means setting boundaries and being there for them in the way that they need. As you play the role of the railing of the bridge, keeping them on the right track but not guiding them by the hand, they will figure more out on their own and gain valuable life skills.

How do you Become the Rail and Stay off the Road?

As a parent coach, here are a couple of skills my clients have reported as the most effective ways to communicate with their kiddos:

The When/Then Technique

 Using the when/then parenting skill in situations that would normally end in a power struggle and screaming match. The when/then technique was popularized by Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, and works as a way of replacing the word if, with when, while directing your child to do what you request of them. “If” gives a teenager the illusion that they have a choice, while the word “when” implies that they have no choice but to comply with what you’ve told them to do. For example, saying, “When you do the dishes, then you can go out with your friends.” There is a reward built into it, which is also useful as positive reinforcement. Using this method means there is no yelling, just a simple restructuring of phrases. They will understand that when they do what you want them to do, then they can do what they want to do.

The Broken Record Technique

Applying the broken record parenting technique, especially when you want to keep your teenager safe. Instead of debating or arguing with them, you repeat the same instructions over and over until they do what they are told. This shows them that you know what is best for them, and that they need to comply before they get to do anything else. If you don’t change your request, they will come to realize that you mean business and they aren’t going to be allowed to break the rules. You are keeping them safe and happy, and showing them that you mean what you say.

Yelling and battling is exhausting- it may produce short-term results, but in the long term won’t move your child towards success. Building structure, creating boundaries, and utilizing positive reinforcement can go a long way in helping your teen become a better person and have a smoother life all around. They need your love and guidance more than anything else at this time in their lives, as they figure out who they are and what their purpose is. So in focusing on your role as the railings of a bridge as a tool for positive parenting, you will give them exactly what they need to shape themselves and learn how to function in the world.

Staying Grounded During Uncertain Times

Ambiguity, a sense of uncertainty about what’s going on or what might happen, is part of life. We all need to be able to tolerate ambiguity, yet this isn’t always easy. This post explores dealing with the unknowns in life and how to handle it.

What in the World is Going on Right Now? 

All around the globe, people are waiting to see what will happen after the seismic shift in the U.S. Presidential election. Many of my clients have spoken about a myriad of emotions, 3283088909_dc25f2b552_qranging from elation to grief, but all agree it’s uncomfortable to not know what might happen.

Our discomfort for not knowing is well grounded in experimental psychology. Research has shown that when given the choice, most people would prefer to receive an electrical shock immediately rather than wait and possibly be shocked later.

Daniel Gilbert, author of the best-selling book Stumbling on Happiness writes:

“Consider an experiment by researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands who gave subjects a series of 20 electric shocks. Some subjects knew they would receive an intense shock on every trial. Others knew they would receive 17 mild shocks and 3 intense shocks, but they didn’t know which of the 20 trials the intense shocks would come. The results showed that subjects who thought there was a small chance of receiving an intense shock were more afraid — they sweated more profusely, their hearts beat faster than subjects who knew for sure that they’d receive an intense shock”.

Two Ways to Handle Anxiety:

We can’t hope to eliminate ambiguity in our lives but we can manage our reactions to ambiguity in healthy ways using one of two techniques that the best cognitive behavioral therapists employ:

– The “Worst Case Scenario” 

This CBT technique helps clients analyze their fears and address them in a logical way.  Not knowing what will happen often leads to an unhealthy level of negative thinking and anxiety. People can be too quick to imagine horrible outcomes. The ‘Worst Case Scenario Technique’ is a seven-step process that individuals can use to confront and manage their fears about the outcome of an event, big or small. The technique can be summarized this way:

1. Picture one of your worries

2. Identify worries associated with that event.

3. List the worries that come from that worry.

4. Use if/then thinking to deal with each worry.

5. Acknowledge your ability to cope with the outcome.

6. Work out how you would handle a “worst case scenario” if it happens.

7. Choose a final image or phrase to use against your worries.

–  The A.C.C.E.P.T.S  Technique

If you find that your rumination is unproductive or gets in the way of doing things you enjoy, temporary distractions can be immensely useful. When there is no way to control an outcome and you find yourself emotionally flooded, it’s time to shift course to a more productive way of doing things. Consciously choosing to focus on something for a time gives your mind some rest and relief. The acronym A.C.C.E.P.T.S stands for distraction techniques individuals can use to feel better fast:

1. Activities – Do some housework or go for a walk.

2. Contributing – Do a little volunteer work

3. Comparisons – Compare your new self to your old self, or yourself to others.

4. Emotions – Do something to evoke the opposite of a negative emotion.

5. Pushing Away – Consciously push the distressing thoughts away.

6. Thoughts – Think about anything else that you can concentrate on.

7. Sensations – Do something positive to engage your senses.

Learn to use one or two of those strategies whenever ongoing ambiguity becomes a real burden. While practicing under the guidance of a therapist can be useful, the techniques themselves are easy to understand.

Quiz: How Well Do You Manage Uncertainty?

Everyone has a different level of tolerance for ambiguity. Wondering how good you are at tolerating ambiguity? There is an easy way to find out. The Tolerance for Ambiguity scale will tell you. You will respond to a set of 16 statements about your attitudes and behaviors. Whether your score is particularly high, or lower than you expected, it is interesting to know where you stand. This information might also be helpful to a therapist who you consult to help you manage anxiety.

Take the Quiz

Life is full of suspense….. Public reactions to the 2016 presidential election make it clear that uncertainty about the future can throw the best of us. We all face personal circumstances that create unhelpful worry and stress. If so, using distraction techniques or working out the worst case scenario and how you can respond constructively can be key cognitive behavioral therapy interventions that you can use to help you feel more grounded and engaged with the real world.

FAQs: Receiving Clinical Supervision Online

In the State of California, most clinical interns (IMF, ASW, PCCI) can receive their supervision via teleconferencing. This move is allowing interns to break some of the past barriers to obtaining hours, and also grants more freedom to find a clinical supervisor that meets your needs….regardless of distance!

Am I able to receive supervision via videoconferencing?

Per the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, if you are working for a non-profit charity you are able to obtain your supervision through teleconferencing. Governmental entities, colleges, universities and most schools also meet this criterion.

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the California Association of Professional Clinical Counselors (CALPCC) have all recognized the value of using videoconferencing in supervision as well as therapy.

How do I know that my supervision is confidential and follows HIPAA regulations?

As with all intern supervision, a letter of agreement will be signed by all members establishing confidentiality in group sessions, with the exception of mandated reporting. Sessions will be held through VSee, a videoconferencing platform designed specifically for HIPAA compliant sessions. VSee is free for interns to download and use.

 How much does supervision cost?

Most LCSW intern supervision can be completed online in California

ASW Supervision throughout California

One hour of individual supervision is $80

Two hours of group supervision is $60

How many hours can I complete under group supervision?

For associate social workers (ASWs), marriage and family interns (IMFs) as well as professional clinical counselor interns (PCCIs), groups will satisfy up to 52 of the 104 required weeks of supervision.

What is covered in the group process?

Most interns I have worked with come with various levels of competence and needs depending on their professional responsibilities and career trajectory. I create a plan with you at the beginning of supervision to establish your professional goals and what skills are needed to reach them, as well as how to know when they have been met. Each plan addresses all of the following areas of competency: Biopsychosocial and risk assessment, ICD-10 and DSM-5 diagnostics, treatment plan development, cultural competency, therapeutic interventions, developmental theories, community resource coordination as well as legal and ethical standards.

The California Board of Behavioral Sciences Board Examinations is broad and covers what each LPCC, LCSW and MFT should know as a licensed practitioner. The general content in each exam is addressed consistently throughout our work together. It’s strongly encouraged that you use one another to build ‘study teams’ when you are six months away from your first test.

What are the expectations of each participant?

The goal of supervision is to increase your clinical acumen and skill; my job is to ensure that you receive a rich and collaborative environment to do so. Group work provides a unique opportunity to receive constructive feedback and ideas from a diverse group of peers. It is expected that all participants will take turns presenting case consult as well as provide helpful input during to others. There will be times that either one of us may request an individual session as appropriate.

My goal for all interns who come for supervision is to create a stimulating, safe environment that encourages open thought and professional growth. Group supervision is a place where you can feel free to ask questions and to come to a better understanding of how to best help your clients. You can be assured that we will work specifically on cases that you bring to the session and address the clinical issues of your clients, and help you reach your goals.

Interested in reading more? Click on these links below for additional information:

Clinical Supervision for ASWs and IMFs

LCSW and MFT Supervision: 8 Answers to Common Questions

MFT – LPCC – LCSW Supervision

Frequently Asked Questions about CBT

FAQs about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in San DiegoOver the years, I’ve found that there are some questions that I’ve asked time and again about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and how it works. Thought I’d share them with you- please comment if there are others you’d like me to address in future blogs!

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

The theory behind cognitive behavioral therapy is that the relationship between thoughts, behaviors, and feelings dictates how we function. By identifying unhelpful thoughts or habits and replacing them with more helpful messages, positive changes are created.

Other modalities under the CBT umbrella are Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Trauma-Focused CBT (TF-CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Therapy (CT), Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Integrative Couples Behavior Therapy (ICBT).

Is CBT a good fit for my needs?

Research has established that cognitive therapy is useful for a large array of issues such as depression and anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia and pain management. Trauma-focused CBT has been proven effective for PTSD and is used in many counseling programs.

What is the research regarding CBT’s effectiveness?

Ongoing and substantial work continues to reflect efficacy for a multitude of mental health issues.  Funded by the National Institute of Health, a review of the research on identified therapeutic approaches asserts cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective interventions for short and long-term benefits.

The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses (2012)

How does CBT help me in the long term?

The reason that cognitive therapy fares so well in long-term studies is that it provides tools that the client can generalize to future challenges. Most people report finding that using the techniques in other aspects of their life becomes quite natural after practice.

How long until I see results?

When you see a cognitive behavioral therapist, you and the clinician work as a team to help you change your presenting problems. The more you work outside of the sessions by doing your homework, the faster you will make improvements. Many clients report a shift within the first week.

What is the relationship between cognitive therapy and hypnosis?

Aaron Beck, the father of cognitive behavioral therapy, has endorsed the use of hypnotherapy along with CBT. Integrating the two can ‘amplify’ the healthy thoughts and behaviors that the client and psychotherapist have identified as target goals.

Hypnosis for Weight Loss: Doing it Differently This Time

According to a recent Gallup poll, more than 51-percent of Americans want to lose weight, but only about 25-percent have found a way to seriously work toward their goal of shedding pounds and losing inches. Diets are complex, and most weight loss plans either do not work or work slowly, meaning results are not seen for weeks or months. Add to this the fact that many individuals fail to address the underlying reasons for obesity, and it easy to understand the large discrepancy between those who want to shed pounds and those actually doing something about it.

In an ongoing effort to find new and more natural methods that help individuals work through the physical and psychological reasons behind being overweight, there is a resurging interest in hypnosis for weight loss. With hypnosis, individuals are able to change their perspective about food, disassociate their real self from negative thoughts and images that are inside the mind, re-frame negative images to ones that are more positive and learn how to recognize what they really want when they are using food as a coping mechanism.

Undergoing a hypnosis session for weight loss involves entering an altered state of consciousness that allows for a new level of relaxation. In this state, individuals are more open to positive suggestions and often realize the inner strengths that can help them to lose weight effectively and keep unwanted pounds off. Hypnosis sessions might also include guided visualization which helps you to see the journey you are on and watch yourself eating healthier foods, making positive lifestyle changes and losing unwanted pounds. Visualizing yourself as a success can be very powerful, and it can help to re-frame any negative thoughts that currently exist inside your mind.

The idea of undergoing hypnosis for weight loss is sometimes scary, but it helps to realize that hypnotic trances occur normally in our day to day lives. Self-induced states of hypnosis occur when individuals fall into a daydream at the office, feel zoned out in front of a favorite television show or in any way become less aware of the outside environment. While in a hypnotic state, the mind is simply more open to suggestions, and individuals cannot be forced to do anything that goes against their moral beliefs or personal values.

One of the most effective ways to use hypnosis when trying to lose weight is to combine it with cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of therapy offers very effective strategies that can help you to develop coping techniques and overcome negative thought patterns. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to recognize barriers to your weight loss, develop techniques to overcome those barriers and set realistic goals that can help you to obtain a healthier lifestyle and body. Your therapist provides regular feedback regarding your efforts and results and keeps you motivated with positive reinforcement and a re-framed mindset focusing on what you can achieve when it comes to losing weight.

While skeptics still exist regarding the effectiveness of combining cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy for weight loss, research on this subject has surprisingly positive outcomes. In a 1985 issue of The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, a study was analyzed that included 109 people who completed a behavioral therapy program for weight loss. Half of the subjects had a hypnosis element added to their program. Subjects with receiving solely cognitive behavioral therapy had as much weight loss success as those receiving additional hypnotherapy, but the subjects who participated in hypnosis continued to lose weight at eight months and two year follow ups in significant numbers. Those who received only cognitive behavioral therapy did not.

Another important piece of research conducted by the University of Connecticut regarding hypnosis as a form of therapy to benefit weight loss efforts looked at 19 studies comparing cognitive behavioral therapy as an exclusive program for weight loss versus cognitive behavioral therapy subsidized by hypnosis. Findings showed that adding hypnosis increased weight loss efforts for 90-percent of the participants and helped subjects to maintain their weight loss efforts up to two years after studies ended.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and practicing therapist, it is my professional opinion that the best approach to losing weight is to combine healthy eating habits, regular exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, and hypnotherapy. When taking this approach, it is important to seek out a qualified therapist with experience in various interventions. Visit with the therapist prior to your hypnosis session, and make sure that individual helps you to feel relaxed and comfortable in the office. Your therapist should empower you with words and coping techniques in order to assist you in conquering your negative mindset so you can overcome your weight loss challenges. If you are interested in hypnotherapy for weight loss in San Diego, contact my office to schedule a consultation.

Hypnotherapy for Teenage Anxiety

How Can Hypnotherapy Help My Child?

Teenagers suffer from anxiety in much the same way as their parents and other adults, even when living in loving homes and surrounded by supportive family and friends. While the actual concern that brings about the anxiety may be different, many of their emotional and physical symptoms are similar and oftentimes, quite frightening. This is especially true when the anxiety results from a first time experience, such as changing schools, watching parents divorce, losing a loved one or moving to a new town, and she or he has not yet had the opportunity to learn effective coping skills to help them manage.

Stress and anxiety can be treated with a mix of CBT and hypnotherapy

Hypnosis is one of the best treatments for anxiety; the intervention not only provides suggestions on how to decrease anxiety but also provides a new answer in how to relax at the same time.

The good news is that anxiety is one of the most treatable mental health conditions, and there are even many strengths inherent in the anxiety-prone temperament.

The Long Term Value of Learning How to Manage Anxiety

Learning to manage anxiety in teenage years is an important skill. Developing effective coping techniques can prevent anxiety from continuing into adulthood and manifesting into phobias, physical health problems or in ways that permanently alter the individual’s ability to achieve success, socialize with others, form relationships and reach short and long term goals. One effective strategy for helping a teen to work through anxiety is hypnotherapy.

How Hypnotherapy Can Help

Hypnosis is a popular therapeutic intervention for teenagers because it is both safe and effective. It does not rely on medications that may have the potential to cause adverse side effects and are often only a short term answer. Hypnosis based interventions empower teenagers to develop beneficial coping skills and find their own solutions that can be used throughout a lifetime. This has the powerful effect of allowing them to move forward in life, increase their feelings of hopefulness and realize endless possibilities for themselves.

The exact method used to treat anxiety in teenagers will vary from patient to patient, but most combine both positive imagery and powerful suggestions to replace negativity, doubt, and fear in the subconscious mind. A skilled hypnotherapist guides the client through various suggestions while the client is in a trance-like state and open to different and more helpful ways of thinking and reacting. This helps to release stuck beliefs within the mind and break the cycle of feeling anxious, fearful or lacking self-esteem.

Affirmations – Tools for Life

Part of the hypnotherapy practice involves providing the teenager with tools that they can

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take with them long after the sessions are over and use in the future when facing their fears. These often come in the form of affirmations. Affirmations are statements that are repeatedly made while the teen is in a deep state of relaxation. They might include things like “I am cool, calm and collected”, “Let time pass”, “I am brave” or “Accept this moment”. In most cases, the therapist will start by saying several of these phrases slowly during a session and ask the teen to repeat them one at a time. This allows positive, peaceful and calming thoughts to flood the sub-conscious mind and replace negative self-talk that may be at the root of the anxiety.

Using Visualizations

Teenagers may also be taught to visualize calm and peaceful places to help them relax in the earliest stages of an anxiety-induced panic attack. The image should be one that the client is comfortable in and wants to escape to such as the beach, mountains, a quiet reading nook or a favorite childhood home. Oftentimes, a word is used when the vision is created and while the teen is in a deep hypnotic state. The teenager is then taught that when the word is heard or said during full consciousness, it is a cue to mentally escape to their happy place, breathe deeply, relax and let go of tension. This provides teenagers with a powerful coping mechanism that manifests in both physical and mental ways and can be used anytime anxiety strikes.

Trusting the Hypnotherapist

One of the most important characteristics that improve outcomes during hypnotherapy sessions is trust. If the teenager is comfortable around the therapist, he is more likely to have positive expectations about the outcomes from each session, open up about his feelings and provide information that can help the therapist get to the root of the problem causing anxiety. A therapist can then use that information to target the exact needs of the teenager, bring forward any stuck emotions that the sub-conscious mind may be repressing and create the most effective affirmations, visualizations, and positive suggestions. Teenagers are also more likely to feel relaxed around a therapist they trust, and this can lead to a deeper state of hypnosis and a higher level of success throughout the sessions.

Anxiety in teenagers is a condition that can develop at any time and have a life-altering impact on their physical and mental well being. The good news is that it is treatable. For many, the solution lies in hypnotherapy. If your child is unusually stressed, fearful, isolated or anxious, I am a licensed therapist in San Diego and here to help. Call my office to schedule your teenager’s consultation and begin the path toward hopefulness and healing.

Other articles of interest:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) In San Diego

Clinical Hypnosis and CBT in San Diego

Positive Parenting in San Diego

8 Ways Hypnotherapy Can Help You

Hypnosis for Anxiety

Anxiety occurs when a certain stimulation or event causes us to behave apprehensively. It offers a form of self-protection and often triggers our fight or flight response so that we take action when faced with dangerous, unhealthy or unsafe situations.

While anxiety in and of itself is not unhealthy, and can even be beneficial, it can be overbearing and even crippling. This might result in an individual becoming so fearful that they:

  • Worry excessively about everyday things
  • Lose sleep because of spinning thoughts
  • Ruminate that an event will negatively impact their life
  • Avoid social situations
  • Experience physical symptoms, illnesses or medical conditions related to the anxiety -Begin to avoid triggers and in effect limit themselves from fully experiencing their potential

Reducing anxiety has many benefits including improving focus, mental clarity, physical health and self-esteem. This can positively impact every aspect of your life, every relationship you experience and your ability to clearly see a future that is bright, hopeful and free.

Hypnosis for Anxiety

People often ask me, ‘How will I know that I’m hypnotized?’. The answer is easy- have you ever been driving, aware of your surroundings yet you miss your exit? That’s a hypnotic state.

Many different treatments are available to assist individuals who are dealing with unhealthy levels of anxiety including hypnotherapy. A great amount of research has been conducted showing the benefits of using hypnotherapy to treat anxiety and what methods are most effective.

Evaluating the Client
With hypnotherapy, it is important for the therapist to first learn more about the patient and her perception of the anxiety. The evaluation should include asking questions about what triggers feelings of anxiousness, how the anxiety typically manifests and what coping mechanisms have proven successful in the past. Once the therapist has a better understanding about the individual, it is helpful to explain how hypnosis works and what the potential benefits of treatment include. The client should have opportunities to ask questions so that she gains positive expectations and is fully comfortable both with the therapist and while entering the trance-like state involved in hypnotherapy.

Hypnosis for Anxiety
Once a hypnotherapy session begins, there are many different techniques that a therapist can use to help the client overcome anxiety. For some, simply inducing a state of deep relaxation and providing direct sub-conscious suggestions about moving forward when faced with a stressful situation or remaining hopeful in the earliest stages of anxiety are enough to provide relief. When this is the case, sessions are often repeated several times to provide positive reinforcement and help the client to truly let go of past patterns.

Systematic Desensitization
Hypnotically-facilitated systematic desensitization is another effective method for many individuals who are faced with anxiety. Think of this as repeatedly exposing yourself to an uncomfortable situation so that it has less of an impact on your life and is easier to cope with. With this method, clients enter a deep, trance-like state and visualize themselves in a stressful or uncomfortable situation. They are then taught how to take control over the situation, restructure past patterns or actions and make new choices regarding how they will respond to future events. Many clients feel empowered after experiencing systematic desensitization and more in control over their actions and choices.

Strengthening the Ego
Hypnotherapy also provides clients with ego-strengthening tools when poor self-esteem contributes to overbearing feelings of anxiety. By re-framing how they feel about themselves or bringing to the surface negative events or feelings from the past, individuals learn to overcome these barriers and develop new coping techniques that empower them to begin looking at life in a hopeful way. This lends to curiosity about the future, making new discoveries and moving forward without crippling feelings of anxiety, negativity and fearfulness.

Regression Techniques in Hypnotherapy
Sometimes it is difficult for individuals to remember a time when they did not have to cope with these unhealthy feelings. In these situations, therapists often help clients to overcome anxiety using age regression. With hypnosis, it is possible to age regress to a time when anxiety was not such a prominent part of their life. When one can recall their gifts and strengths that allow them to move forward through life there can be remarkable progress. Age regression can provide a mental anchor of how it felt to live without anxiety which can be brought to consciousness during high stress times. Clients who are able to associate their feelings with a life experience also have an easier time understanding why they become anxious, and this can be a first step toward self discovery and healing.

As a professional hypnotherapist, I can help you to identify the root of your anxiety and establish concise goals and expectations for your sessions. Throughout therapy, some or all of the techniques mentioned above may be used to help you delve into your sub-conscious mind, get unstuck, reorganize your thoughts, strengthen existing coping techniques and learn new techniques to replace previously unsuccessful ones. After therapy, you can expect to feel more relaxed when faced with challenging situations and ready to tackle your anxiety with a new level of clarity and focus.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Weight Loss

When you make the decision to lose weight, you probably think about cutting calories, reducing fat or carbohydrates and increasing your daily exercise. While these are all excellent strategies for getting rid of those excess pounds and many doctors recommend them, we continue to be a country plagued by obesity and the health problems that are associated with it. This leads us to the conclusion that diet and exercise alone are often not enough. This is where CBT for weight loss can help.

While a lot of people who begin a diet are intensely focused on watching calories, many forget to consider the underlying issues that may be causing them to overeat or lack energy and motivation in the first place. They also forget to focus on modifying unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that often stand in the way as they attempt to eat better or exercise more. While they may be successful in the short term, their bad habits tend to creep back in over time, and this often results in a rebound effect that once again increases inches and pounds.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for weight loss

Summer is right around the corner! Weight loss has many benefits, and CBT can help you learn the tools for long-term change

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a highly recommended therapeutic practice that focuses on changing self-perceptions, actions and behaviors. It is very effective for a wide range of problems and has helped many individuals to make permanent lifestyle changes and lose those last few pounds or overcome obesity.

To understand why cognitive behavioral therapy helps people to lose weight, it is first important to understand the strategies a therapist will use when including it in a treatment plan.

Setting Goals for Weight Loss

The first step in losing weight is to learn how to set goals. While this might seem simple, goals involve more than just stating that you would like to lose 20 pounds or lower your blood pressure. They should include both short-term and long-term ambitions and be clear, concise and easily obtainable. In cognitive behavioral therapy, the psychotherapist asks you what you hope to gain from treatment and from your weight loss plan and helps you to design goals that are specific and attainable. The therapist also checks in with you during sessions to gather important feedback about your progress and help you to make any necessary modifications that will result in improved outcomes.

Increasing Positive Expectations

After you have set clear and concise goals, it is next important to boost self-belief. For weight loss to be effective, you will learn believe that your weight loss plan will work and understand the skills you already have to take the necessary steps to make it happen. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to realize that unhelpful thoughts exist and replace them with more useful ones. It also provides you with strategies that can be used when your mind begins to wander back to negativity and mental exercises to practice every day that help you to stay positive. Changing how you think naturally lends to increased hopefulness about the future, and it causes many clients to begin to believe that they are capable of moving forward toward a new level of health, making it easier for them to ultimately reach their weight loss goals.

Changing How You Act and React

In addition to changing how you think about yourself and your ability to lose weight, CBT also helps you to focus on altering the behaviors that have previously sabotaged your diet and exercise plans. This involves self-monitoring your own individual experiences and recognizing barriers, physical cues that you are heading toward a setback and challenges that have been standing in the way of your success. Your therapist may recommend that you keep a food and exercise log or journal about daily thoughts and feelings. This information is then shared during sessions, helping you to recognize the barriers you are faced with and think through ways in which you can change your behaviors and cause different, more positive outcomes.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Feedback and Your Ability to Lose Weight

Cognitive behavioral therapy for weight loss is typically short term, and many clients only attend sessions for a few months before seeing results. During this time, your therapist acts as an external measuring stick by providing you with feedback about your progress, thoughts, actions and goals. This type of support is quite motivating and helps many to maintain expectations that are both ambitious and realistic.

Losing weight involves more than just mindlessly following a plan that cuts calories and increases exercise. It involves making a conscious choice to change your lifestyle, setting realistic goals and believing in yourself enough to accomplish them. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a beneficial tool that helps individuals to alter their mindset and address negative behaviors that are sabotaging their weight loss efforts. If you are struggling to lose weight, constantly finding yourself rebounding from diet after diet or facing dire health consequences because of extra pound, CBT for weight loss may be the solution you have been searching for. As a licensed psychotherapist in San Diego, I have helped many to enjoy the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy, reach their weight loss goals and enjoy a happier, healthier life. To learn more, contact me and schedule a consultation.

8 Ways Hypnotherapy Can Help You

Significant life events and the day-to-day grind sometimes leave us vulnerable to negative self-talk and stuck emotions. A sort of counter-productive programming can occur in the subconscious mind and become so ingrained that we are no longer aware that the negativity exists at all. These counterproductive thoughts often cause individuals to become depressed, anxious, and often both. Hypnotherapy is a beneficial practice that changes negative patterns, enhances your strengths and creates balance, contentment, and fulfillment.

8 Ways Hypnotherapy Can Help You

1) Heightened Motivation, Centering and Becoming Your Own Best Self
To better understand the benefits of hypnotherapy, picture your hypnotist as a guide to help you overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. During our sessions, you enter a relaxed state and begin to let go of negative thoughts and patterns.

My goal is to bring those things that are stuck to the surface and then provide you with suggestions that empower you to find motivation, become centered in the life and grow to be the best person you can be.

2) Becoming Unstuck after a Traumatic Event
Many clients visit my practice to overcome life events such as the death of a loved one, a job loss or divorce. Although the reality of the trauma is static, your attitude surrounding the event or reaction to it is not. When emotions and reactions change, it is easier to move forward and overcome the unhelpful feelings associated with it. Hypnotherapy offers great advantages in this area because it can bypass the conscious mind and provide you with the suggestions you need for recovery.

3) Overcoming Procrastination
Procrastination is often associated with a fear of failure, uncertainty or insecurity, and can impact one’s professional and personal life. You may consciously want to move forward on a path or take on new challenges, but your subconscious beliefs prevent it. The good news is that these unhelpful beliefs can be changed into positive, healthy ones so that you once again experience a natural sense of curiosity about your own potential and abilities. Hypnosis provides you with the essential motivation and the necessary tools to make this happen. The result is a more positive outlook on life’s possibilities and higher expectations about what your future holds!

4) Moving Past Phobias
Phobias are often able to be addressed and treated with the use of hypnosis. As one addresses their ability to face their irrational fears through visualization and also pairing it with relaxation cues, the anxiety decreases. Once this happens, many find it easier to move past these events and overcome the associated phobias that are currently imposing limits on their life experiences.

5) Inducing Healthy Sleep
Sleep disorders are another common problem that people seek therapy for. Often, the cause of nighttime restlessness is a psychological condition that can be effectively treated with hypnotherapy. According to Certified Clinical Hypnotist, NLP Practitioner and Life Coach Matthew Fallon, C.Ht, at Attain Your Full Potential, invoking a meditative trance allows one to actively problem solve and address what is preventing deep sleep. Additionally, hypnosis provides a period of relaxation and resulting feelings of rejuvenation and restfulness that naturally lend to deep, healthy sleep.44

6) Anger Management
Anger is an emotion that we all experience, but it can lead to problems if it gets out of control. Sometimes individuals do not know how to control their anger and act inappropriately when they become angry, lashing out at loved ones or causing self-harm. These reactions often result from behaviors learned in childhood, or perhaps, they are related to a stressful event from the past. Hypnotherapy offers a very effective solution. While in a deep hypnotic state, clients are provided with suggestions to replace negative thought patterns and change hurtful behaviors so that they can manage anger and regain their ability to maintain healthier relationships.

7) Overcoming Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are conditions often triggered by physical, environmental, social, spiritual and emotional influences. While pharmaceutical medications are available to assist individuals faced with anxiety and depression, none are without risks or side effects or help individuals to deal with the root cause of their condition. Hypnotherapy, especially paired with cognitive behavioral therapy, is a natural alternative that helps to release stuck emotions and reverse negative thought patterns. After a few sessions, most clients benefit from reduced symptoms and a healthier outlook on life.

8) Physical Healing
While hypnotherapy sessions offer many emotional benefits, it is also worth noting how the induced state positively affect the physical body. Dealing with stuck emotions empowers you to make positive changes in every area of your life. From losing weight to alcohol addiction (for additional information on this type of work, refer to Hypnotherapy in Ireland with Larry McMahon), making healthier dietary choices or finding energy to exercise, hypnotherapy can have a profound impact on your ability to increase positive expectations and refocus your energy on the things that are truly important in life.

If you or someone you know might benefit from hypnotherapy sessions in San Diego, contact me to request an appointment or learn more.