Are you ever too young for hypnosis?

Paediatric hypnotherapy is not child’s play  >  It is nearly three years since this Blog discussed paediatric hypnotherapy. This lack of coverage is because Tonic’s helplines are not available to children. We only return to the subject today in response to growing criticism that such therapy is being overused.

Maybe this is inevitable with an increase in anxiety related issues in children coupled with long waiting times for NHS appointments.

It is true that hypnotherapists are receiving ever more cries for help from parents whose children are weighed down with stress. Exam pressures and family tensions are often the root causes.

Calming adolescent anxiety is one thing, but is it right to treat children as young as two for problems like fussy eating, tantrums and bedwetting? According to the latest controversy the answer is ‘no‘, especially as few therapists have experience in child psychology.

To quote one objector, “These problems are all part of growing up. Kids have to learn about boundaries and the difference between good and bad behaviour as they grow – it can’t be given to them on a plate. And, in any case, most of these problems, like bed-wetting, are grown out of naturally“.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Other complainers put forward more dubious arguments, such as hypnotherapy was never developed for children! Also that as hypnosis works with the imagination, very young children could experience emotional conflict through hypnosis as they interpret ideas literally.

Our therapists are indeed seeing more children in their own clinics,” says a Tonic spokesman. “Judging by their feedback, some of this is due to ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality.

“Hypnotherapy is seen as safe, practical and effective, but it is also trendy and fashionable. To say your kid is having hypnotherapy is more acceptable than saying he/she is on anti-depressants“.

So maybe our therapists are guilty of pandering to middle class parents, who see paediatric hypnosis as a shortcut to success in life for their children. If we are guilty of providing a safe therapy that works, then we will take the public criticism on the chin.

In private, though, many of us believe treating the stressed parents would have greater effect than treating their stressed children. Treat the cause not the symptom!

Footnote > For more information, the International Society of Paediatric Hypnotherapists (TISPH) is a good resource.

6 thoughts on “Are you ever too young for hypnosis?

  1. Stephen Hayfield says:

    Not only do hypnotherapists have no experience in child psychology but you would be very unwise to leave your kid alone with one. This is not just because of their safety, but because the parent is the best person to communicate and explain a young child’s problems to the therapist. Either way, I would not let these unregulated quacks anywhere near my childrfen.

    • Mandy (Arundel) says:

      Kids make excellent hypnotic subjects and research and experience prove they are easier to hypnotise than adults. Yes, kids have very active imaginations and are able to fantasise easily, so they can visualise effectively. That is a good thing not a bad.

      • Teaching a child self-hypnosis is a great way to master new skills. For example, it is a highly effective way to teach a child the skill of how to stay dry at night. Another use is helping a child manage pain resulting from illness or injury.

  2. As a hypnotherapist I accept the point that I am not trained as child psychologist. That does not make me a quack. I am very skilled, disciplined and have a shed load of counselling qualification. Most important of all, I have successfully helped many children.

  3. Clara McNeil says:

    When done well, clinical hypnosis for children is powerful, but it is not magic. It is just a way of focusing their attention by placing them in a relaxed and daydream like state of consciousness. For children, this state is easily achieved since they are often deeply absorbed in their own thoughts and feelings!

  4. Piper (Nottingham) says:

    In my opinion it is possible to be too young for hypnotherapy. Older children have more mental capacity to learn ways to consciously relax themselves and to then imagine ways to solve specific problems. Clinical hypnosis is especially helpful for managing worries about future, such as exams. Certainly worth a try as there are no risks other than failure!

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