Mainstream medical science today still tends to regard our minds and bodies as two separate entities, and support and treatments for them from this arena are pigeon-holed accordingly. However, outside of the mainstream many complimentary medical practices including cognitive hypnotherapy focus on a holistic approach to human health, viewing “mind” and “body” as simply labels within the synergistically operating framework that is a whole person.
Some common conditions and their symptoms clearly show evidence of the body affecting the mind and vice versa. Any kind of pain is a warning sent from the body to the mind, usually in order to prevent physical damage. A good place to look for this type of communication is in the gut, which as a result of evolutionary mechanisms has a direct connection to the brain that allows it to be quickly flushed out or hold onto its contents if the brain perceives a threat and triggers the fight-or-flight response. Once the threat has passed a period of fatigue follows to allow the intestines to recover and regain their balance. This behaviour would have been useful when a sabre-toothed tiger was chasing our distant ancestors, but these days it is more likely to be triggered by more abstract concepts and irrational thinking, such as worrying about being late during the commute to work. Stress leading to alternating diarrhoea and constipation with fatigue are the classic symptoms of what is know today as irritable bowel syndrome.
The mechanisms by which the mind and body communicate with each other are highly complex and not as yet fully understood, but it has been shown so far that the messengers are largely chemical or electrical in nature. Some exciting new fields of science such as epigenetics are currently investigating the possibility that our thoughts permanently affect the expression of our genes (again probably via underlying chemical processes such as methylation). Some researchers such as Bruce Lipton (2005) contend that the expression of our genes is far more important than the genes themselves (perhaps this is the source of our considerable adaptability as a species). Given that we make up in our minds approximately 80% of the world around us (Silvester 2007), this process likely controls the vast majority of our dis-ease or, indeed, our health and well-being.
Dr Leonard Orr has postulated that the human mind acts largely as if it is divided into two halves, which he labelled the “Thinker” and the “Prover”. He asserts that the Thinker can think up anything, and that the Prover will orchestrate our perceptions to ensure that we perceive that the Thinker is correct – in essence “What the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves” (perhaps the Thinker and Prover are synonymous with the unconscious and conscious).
This operation can be observed in a therapeutic context. When a client comes to see me, they may have previously been through many other failed forms of treatment in an attempt to solve their issue. Their Thinker may think “I’m a failure” and their Prover will therefore attempt to sabotage any further efforts to succeed – in other words learned helplessness. Conversely someone who has received good care in the past may arrive with a more positive underlying attitude and the expectation that the treatment will work (or at least have a “willing-to-try-it” attitude), and their Thinker/Prover is likely to assist them in continuing to make effective progress.
The Thinker/Prover concept may also be in operation when we consider the placebo effect. This effect, in which seemingly inert interventions produce measurable therapeutic benefits, and which has been recognised by the mainstream medical profession for many years, continues to be largely ignored by them as viable treatment option (perhaps because of the difficulty of scientifically explaining it or vested commercial interests). Cognitive hypnotherapists may argue that if a person believes they are going to get better (at the Thinker level) then they will do so (the Prover will prove it). Our approach also encourages clients to recognise and take ownership of their own problem and solution states, and places the onus for improvement on them rather than relying on someone or something outside to solve the issues for them. Like Milton Erickson we believe that everyone has the ability and resources to heal themselves.
Our emotions are effectively a lens which affects the way we view the world around us. Significant emotional events (SEE’s) in a person’s memory matrix can thus trigger physiological responses as a way of attempting to protect the individual concerned from harm (e.g. the fight or flight response). Combine this with “Thinker thinks, Prover proves” and we have a system in place which, although originally designed to help us, unfortunately can backfire and create and maintain many debilitating psychological and physical conditions.
As cognitive hypnotherapists, however, we are uniquely placed to be able to help clients interrupt this problem pattern so that they can quickly access and resolve the subconscious issues that lead to this negative, self re-enforcing loop, using the wide selection of therapeutic techniques we have at our disposal. For example, timeline regression allows us to access SEE’s stored in a client’s memory matrix so that they can be reframed. This will break the loop and in turn lead to a cessation of symptoms. In Wordweaving we have a method by which we can uniquely tune an individual’s perception. In effect we are helping the client to re-educate their Thinker.
Cognitive hypnotherapists recognise that the mind and body work as a team and that the majority of our well-being is dependent upon our model of the world as conjured up by our own minds. Hopefully as the scientific evidence improves mainstream medicine will be more willing to accept this therapeutic model. In the meantime this provides us with huge scope to help client’s address not only their psychological issues but also many physical health problems.

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Submited By: Paul Marro


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