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Hypnotherapy for changing habits and behaviour

female hands with neat manicure

Habits are quite remarkable mechanisms created by our brains, so that we don't have to think through our response in every instance: we can just act.

Habits are built in the subconscious, based on what we see important people do, or actions of our own that have helped us when we feel anxious, bored or uncomfortable. The habit or behaviour (eg biting your nails, pulling your hair, picking your skin, sucking your thumb) becomes ingrained as an automatic, subconscious response through longstanding repetition, and the experience of immediate relief, satisfaction or gratification.

The challenge occurs where a habit or behaviour has negative consequences (eg nail infections, bald patches, skin scarring, reduced self-confidence, limitations on relationships and experiences). It then needs to be changed to something more positive, and this is where the unconscious nature of habitual response is one of the keys to change.

Hypnotherapy can help you replace the old, unwanted behaviour with a new, positive response that still meets the original need. For example, instead of pulling, picking or biting to relieve anxiety or boredom, you change the habit content to something incompatible with pulling, picking or biting that is more beneficial (eg using a fiddle toy, crocheting, knitting, focussing on your breathing in very short relaxation sessions throughout the day). This habit reversal/substitution would be developed in conjunction with a focus on important related issues such as managing stress and anxiety better, and improving your self-esteem and confidence.

How hypnotherapy can help you change your habits and behaviour

woman running hand through long hair Oten people engaging in long standing unwanted habits or behaviours show many of the characteristics of being in trance. Their attention is narrowly focused, they are powerfully engaged with the activity using all senses and time may seem to disappear. And all this is often triggered by a powerful suggestion/cue that has been built and reinforced over time when in this trance-like state.

So, in many ways, people with unwanted habits and behaviours already have a lot of experience at going into trance and using it to reinforce behaviour and its benefits - they just need a bit of help to turn that power in a positive direction.

In the deeply relaxed hypnotic state, the subconscious becomes accessible and receptive to suggestions for change. And because habits have their origin, creation and location in the subconscious, hypnotherapy's ability to access and influence the subconscious makes it a very effective way to change habits or behaviour into responses that are more beneficial and healthy.

Using hypnotherapy to change habits and behaviour can help you regain control, increase your awareness and ability to choose:

  • increase your awareness of how the habit or behaviour operates, especially increasing awareness of your hands
  • regain control of your focus, so you can tolerate thoughts and urges more readily and consistently
  • create and rehearse a new, personalised response that is incompatible with the habit or behaviour
  • identify trigger situations and people, and rehearse using your new response in these situations
  • increase your calm, confidence and relaxation, so the need for the habit or behaviour is reduced
  • develop a "stop at one" response in case you do the habit or behaviour
  • build a robust, personalised plan for dealing with any relapses quickly and constructively
  • learn how to self-hypnosis as a direct substitute for the habit/behaviour, as appropriate
  • safely and easily identify and work with any past experience/s that may be contributing the the habit or behaviour

We specialise in hypnotherapy for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs) like hair pulling (trichotillomania), skin picking (dermatillomania), nail biting (onychophagia) and thumb sucking. Sian is a Professional Member of The TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours, and has completed their professional training for treatment of BFRBs. For more about how hypnotherapy can help you change specific behaviours, see the links below:

...I can honestly say my sessions with Sian have changed my life. I have not rubbed my eyebrow at all since my first session (it has now grown back) and we progressed to addressing other habits, particularly picking my skin...
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...when I booked my first hypnotherapy session I was sceptical that I could break many years of habit in just a few sessions, as other forms of therapy had failed before. Sian seemed to really listen and understand my concerns. I was able to benefit very quickly from our sessions which addressed my hair pulling and nail biting habits by providing practical solutions. I feel a lot more hopeful about the future...
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Absolutely delighted with the results. After 29 years of compulsive nail biting I think Sian has helped me crack it in three sessions over six weeks...
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...just a quick note to say thanks - the hypnotherapy has worked. Since I saw you, I have managed not to bite my nails, and have had two manicures. Keeping my nails nice has really helped stop the urge to bite...
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...I found the sessions very useful, as I'm much more relaxed now and pulling my hair less and less. I was very nervous beforehand, but you put me at ease straight away. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at the results: I feel more in control, my scalp is looking much better, and I even have some new hair growing back!...
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...since the session, I've noticed a really dramatic change, especially with the tendency to pick & scratch my arms when I get anxious or nervous. It's like my hands just don't want to do it any more, instead they just glide over. It's a really amazing change!
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