Sunday, May 25, 2008


When people walk into a mental health professional’s office (be it a psychotherapist, psychologist, counselor, or hypnotherapist), they are seeking change in their personal or professional life.

Also, even though they may have a desire to break habits such as smoking, addictions, overeating, anorexia, anger, fear or need relationship help, more often than not their issues may be more ‘emotion-based’.

This means that while the mental health professional is busy working on helping with a client or patient's weight loss, an eating disorder, or depression, there is usually an underlying culprit for these conditions that is hiding behind the scene. If these emotions are not handled or at least discussed, the mental health provider may be ‘barking up the wrong tree,’ and ultimately the client or patient may walk away saying that ‘therapy’ or ‘hypnosis’ doesn’t work.

We are not all created equal – what may mentally, emotionally or physically affect one person may not affect another or at least not in a similar way. Some people are more sensitive than others whether through genetics or they have been made that way by social factors – parents, guardians, peers, colleagues, intimate relationships or the person’s own personality or proclivities. Some people are so emotional that just getting them to think and operate logically is a challenge, and to guide them towards functioning consistently can be like pulling teeth.

This work in The Process of Change is not only left up to the mental health provider. Much of the responsibility of change lies with the client, and the first thing this individual must do to change is precisely to ‘embrace change’. This is so important, so I will say it again. The first thing a person must do in order to change is to ‘embrace change’. This means that the client must make a conscious decision and then put forth effort to change and also to maintain the positive results of the change until it all becomes second nature – which is the ultimate goal.

I have heard and seen clients go into different therapists’ offices and later come into my office with the idea of ‘change me’ and ‘change me’ today—without ever giving much thought that the onus of this change, at least in part, relies on them. Yes, the therapist has many tools in his or her tool belt to bring about change for his clients. But at the end of the day, again, the client must be willing to change or at least make the necessary adjustments in his or her life just as much, perhaps even more so, as the therapist wants to help make the change in the client’s life.

This concept is similar to a football coach giving a play on the sideline to his quarterback for execution. The coach may draw up the plan, advise the best way to run the plan, even give a plan ‘B’ if plan ‘A’ doesn’t work; but after is all said and done, it is up to the quarterback to make it happen on the field.

When I hear about some people who have been in therapy for 10, 20 or more years for the same issue, it makes me wonder if the client is not ‘embracing change’ or if there should be a ‘change’ in the therapist who is working with them.

Without ‘embracing change’, we are left holding ‘a bag from the negative past’. Yes, I know, change doesn’t come easy. How do I change a ‘feeling’ or ‘behavior’ I have carried around with me for years – maybe even since childhood or my teen years? Facing the ‘unknown’, even if the ‘unknown’ is good for us is a difficult task – it is uncomfortable. Holding on to a ‘known thought, behavior or mindset’ even if the ‘known thought, behavior or mindset’ is negative may be ‘comfortable’ for us because it is all we know.

The first thing you must do to ‘embrace change’ is to strongly dislike your ‘comfort zone,’ especially if this ‘comfort zone’ promotes a negative lifestyle, causes you depression, arguments in your relationship(s), health problems, has you living in the past, brings setbacks to your world, or even destroys or limits your quality of life. The second thing you must do is to put aside your stubbornness or unwillingness to do things differently – hard-headedness will prevent change from happening. Having an ‘I am right, they are all wrong mindset’ doesn’t help. Third, if you find a good therapist, please listen to the advice, take it to heart and implement it in your life. And fourth, bring fun into your world. Find something that brings you happiness – a hobby, art, music or discover your creativity or something new about yourself; join social groups or anything that will make life lighter and take your mind off the negative. If you look for negativity in any part of life, you will find it; just as if you look for the positive in life, you will find it as well.

Once you religiously follow these steps, concrete, effective change is around the corner.

Clinical Hypnotherapist & Life Coach
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