Can Hypnotherapy Help with Bipolar Disorder?

As more people hear about and experience the benefits of hypnotherapy and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), it is natural to explore these methods to see if they can be helpful with mental health challenges such as bipolar disorder.

As a hypnotherapist,  my approach to a diagnostic label of any kind –– whether it’s “bipolar” or “depression” or any other label –– is to find out what is really going on that has been so labeled. I also want to know  if the client is confused by the label or shamed by it.

I explain to the client that whatever name or label we or someone else may have applied to our issue, we must not limit our curiosity about what is really going on simply because we have a label. What is most important is to recognize what hidden beliefs and needs motivate us to act in ways that create or contribute to the problem activity being labeled. Hypnotherapy insights and tools enable us to bring such important hidden issues to consciousness where we can release them. 

Another important thing to understand is that hypnotherapy is not a substance you inject into someone. Rather,  in the process of hypnotherapy, deep benefit is stimulated by the therapist’s quality of caring. The client must feel the warmth of the therapist. Then the therapy will not simply be a mechanical application of a hypnosis technique. 

Just as a highly crafted and perfectly tuned piano provides the means to create a beautiful musical experience, powerful hypnotic techniques provide the means of potentially healing a person’s trauma and other mental health issues—including bipolar disorder. But in every case, therapeutic success depends on the therapist’s skill as well as an ability to connect with their own caring heart. 

A pianist may be supremely skillful in a technical sense, but without a heart connection to the music, their playing does not move the audience. A pianist with both skill and passion — a musician who stays open to an intuitive sense of the music, can move the audience even if their performance is not technically perfect.This need for tuning into a heart connection applies to therapist as well, and to just about any type of relationship. 

The Importance of the Human Connection

Milton Erickson was a master hypnotherapist, famed for having success with “difficult cases“ that had stumped other therapists. The discipline of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) was created in large part by studying and codifying Erickson’s attitudes and methods. After NLP had been developed and taught for a few years, some NLP teachers invited Dr. Erickson to participate in their training.

One person already skilled in NLP shared, “When I worked with Milton, I could see that he was leaving out steps in the technique, even, you might say, doing it ‘wrong,’ but he created such a strong rapport with you that you just wanted to do whatever he said.” 

When you work on your own healing with the help of a hypnotherapist, you can think of your healing in this same way. You want to create such a strong sense of rapport with your  unconscious mind that it will “just want” to make the changes needed for your healing. That only happens when both heart and technique are both fully engaged — your own heart intention and intuitive skill of self awareness meets and joins with that of the hypnotherapist.

Healing in therapy is not a mere procedure performed by a clinician. It is a genuine meeting of hearts and minds, with a common intention to bring in skill and wisdom where healing is needed.  Lasting healing is the successful result of this mutual relationship: skill plus heart on the part of both therapist and client. .

I don’t memorize many phrases from what I read, but I remember this line from one of my college textbooks: “People makes the walls of our rooms, not philosophies.” (Free Fall, William Golding). The speaker of this quote is a student reflecting on two types of professors he has studied with. One is supremely erudite and refined, but closed-hearted. He doesn’t engage the interest of his students or inspire them. The other professor appears frumpy and disorganized, but is kind and open-hearted toward his students. He takes delight in sharing his knowledge and seeing his students’ excitement as they learn. 

In my opinion, the best chance to accomplish healing progress using hypnotherapy with bi-polar disorder, is by working with a therapist who is  skilled as well as compassionate and kind. This kind of therapist wants the client to feel valued regardless of their mental health challenges. This kind of therapist communicates respect and recognition of the client’s value regardless of the behavior and mental state they are presenting. 

If you can find a hypnotherapist who fits this description, then hypnotherapy can be a powerful healing tool for bipolar and many other types of disorders.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Here is a short, informative video explaining several aspects of bi-polar disorders and treatments. 

As you can see,  bipolar disorder is complex and treatment can be multidisciplinary. If you are considering hypnotherapy, understand that a hypnotherapist is not practicing medicine. Any alternative therapies should be done in consultation with a medical specialist who works with bipolar treatments. 

In my opinion, the basis for engaging in such a healing endeavor is to find compassionate and competent helpers. Such people can be powerful healing resources in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Tips for Evaluating a Hypnotherapist

1. Once you have a few names of hypnotherapists you may want to work with, research them online. For issues as complex as bipolar, I recommend you look for someone with at least 10 years experience.Ask various accredited hypnotherapy organizations for recommendations. When you have some prospects, you can learn quite a bit just by reading the About page on their website, LinkedIn profile, or their bio and reviews in a reputable online directory of therapists. This will help you narrow down your list of choices.

2. Meet with them and see if you feel the potential for a genuine connection. Most therapists will be glad to have a 15-minute conversation with you at no charge, to ask questions about their approach. A brief phone call or web video call can help you get a sense of what it’s like to be in a face-to-face meeting with them. Remember that this initial meeting doesn’t obligate you to continue. It’s your decision. If at the end of this brief call or meeting you’re not sure you want to commit to a full-length session, it’s fine to say, “Thank you for your time. I’m going to think about it before I set up an appointment.”

3. If you feel interested in working with the hypnotherapist, consider your first session an exploration. Even at times when we feel really stuck and confused, good hypnotherapy helps us engage a fresh perspective and an outlook of curiosity and positivity. To get the most from the hypnotherapy process, it’s essential to work with someone you sense has both professional experience and a heart connection to their work. Remember that you are never obligated to continue. It’s up to you to decide who to work with, and when to begin. Good luck to you!

Hypnosis for Health Relationships Transpersonal Hypnotherapy

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