Using Hypnosis with Children
This article consists of and exchange between two of our graduates. They are corresponding on our e-mail group for professional hypnotherapists. It is a place where our graduates exchange information about modern hypnotherapy techniques. Dr. Katy Wright is writing to that email list and Kathleen Skott-Myhre, M.A., C.H. is answering her question. Kathleen is an expert in working with children using hypnosis and works at the Banyan Hypnosis Center for Training & Services, Inc.
I have been asked to do hypnosis for a 7-year-old boy who "is shy and needs self-confidence." I have had really good results with an 11-year-old who was afraid to be checked in hockey, and a Jr. High boy who could not read aloud in class., just haven't worked with anyone this young. He will not answer an adult who asks a "would you like water or lemonade?"
Question: Often will not respond to question from a teacher in class. He won't read for a teacher although he reads well for his parents. He just sits there. His mother says he has always been this way. He does have problems with his little fingers. He has an occupational therapist at school to improve his fine motor skills (zippers, buttons, handwriting). He has a phys. ed. teacher to improve his large motor skills jumping, running). He has received a lot of attention from doctors and therapists.
His mother is wondering if he has heard that he is shy so much that he may think he is supposed to be shy. He may have accepted the idea that he is "not like the other kids." And, as a result, he gets attention from being shy.
For induction I am thinking about letting him watch a screen saver I have that is pipes with a teapot for a joint about every other screen. (Don't have a nice fish tank in the office.)
Thanks in advance for your input.
Katy Wright, Ph. D.
When working with a child this young, remember that the degree to which children mix reality and fantasy is often a cause of fears and problems, but can also be used to the advantage of the child.
Children respond well to stories and imagery techniques such as rehearsal in fantasy, it allows the child to experience a new behavior first in hypnotic imagery and then the child quickly becomes able to make the transition to incorporating that behavior in reality situations.
Take the child into a state of trance and walk them through a scene in which they succeed. For this child, you could probably use a similar technique to the one you used with the Jr. High boy who could not read aloud in class. Have this child imagine himself reading aloud and being very confident while doing so.
I always tell stories to my youngest clients because they incorporate
stories into their lives so well. The stories that you use with children don't need to be complex, simply make up a story in which there is a main character (the child will imagine themselves as that character), who is up against some sort of difficulty, the difficulty or problem should be very similar to, but not exactly the one the child is experiencing (i.e., shyness equals lack of confidence or some such thing). The main character in the story then overcomes their problem in a way that makes everything in their life get better.
For example, one story that I will use for children who lack perseverance or tend to give up on things too easily is about two frogs. The frogs are exploring a barn and they hop into a bucket of cream. They try and they try to get out by kicking their legs and attempting to hop out, but the sides of the bucket are too slippery to grab onto. One of the frogs finally gives up and slips below the cream "never to be seen again" the other frog is very stubborn and continues to kick and kick. Suddenly he feels something hard behind him. All of his kicking has turned the cream into butter so he is able to use the butter as leverage to jump out of the bucket. There you have it. Stick-to-it-ness. You can tag on a "moral" to the story (and the moral of the story is... never give up). Or you can let the child's subconscious mind do the work.
This is of course first phase or first session stuff. I will do age regression even with little ones. Often they are able to go right to the source of the problem. You simply have to do more of the informed child work than you would with an adult because children don?t have sufficient experience and insight to figure things out.
As for an induction, keep it simple. With a child that young, have him look at a spot on the ceiling, tell him that you are going to count down from ten, with each number ask him to close his eyes a little bit so that by the time you get down to one his eyes will be stuck shut. Then count down, encouraging him to follow your instructions, by the time I get to three I like to tell them to go ahead and close their eyes. Then glue them shut ala the Elman-Banyan hypnotic induction. Ask them to test, and you are done.
I love to work with young children because they are so very easy to make a difference with. They are walking around in trance most of the time anyway; the above induction is simply a formality. You honestly can just ask them to close their eyes and listen to you and follow your instructions. That is all the "induction" that they really need!
I hope I didn't ramble too much.
If you have the opportunity, get Jerry Kein's videotape on working with children, he gives great examples and includes a number of inductions suitable for various ages of children.
Good luck! And keep on healing.