Hypnotherapy Visualisation Skills
Hypnotherapists use the word “imagine” a lot. Many people assume that imagining means visualising, but that’s really not the case.
In fact, while visualisation skills are helpful for hypnotherapy, they are certainly not essential – so if you have difficulty visualising, please don’t let this put you off trying hypnotherapy. With just a little practice, hypnotherapy visualisation may be a lot easier than you think.
After about age 16 imagination starts to decline, although creative people generally maintain the ability. However using your imagination – and indeed hypnosis – is a skill like any other; the more you practice the better you get… so even if you find it difficult at first there is scope for improvement with patient and persistent practice. I have worked with people in their 70s and even 80s who have found using their imagination in different ways difficult at first, but have gone on to do very well with the right guidance.
So if, for example, I say to you “imagine walking along a sandy beach, imagine what the sand feels like beneath your bare feet as you walk along, imagine the sound of the waves breaking on the beach.” You don’t actually feel the sand, but you know the feeling I mean, don’t you? You don’t actually hear the sound of the waves in your ears – but you know the sound I mean, based on your previous experiences.
When we say “imagine” in hypnotherapy that’s what we mean – getting a feeling, a sense of, a knowing, an idea.
Of course if you’re a visual person you may immediately picture a beautiful beach scene – and that’s great – but it’s not necessary to visualise in clear cinema-like images.
People tend to favour one sense when taking in information and recalling memories.
Finding out what your favoured sense is can really help to improve your imagination skills. One way of doing this is to write about an experience you’ve really enjoyed, stating why as well. The words you use to describe your experience should point you towards your favoured sense; review what you’ve written and categorise the words as either visual, kinaesthetic (feeling words) or auditory (hearing words). The longest list will be your preferred sense, or senses.
Another way to build an image is to become aware of your preferred sense.
Visual people tend to use visual words and phrases and say things like “I see what you mean” or “I get the picture.” Auditory people tend to use hearing words and phrases, for example “I like the sound of that” or “that rings true.” Kinaesthetic people use words related to feeling and touch, for example “I’ve got a good feeling about that” or “it’s all going smoothly”.
Once you’re aware of your strongest sense you can use that first and build your imagined experience from there.
For example to imagine that beach scene if your strongest sense is hearing, first imagine the sound of the waves, the wind, seagulls crying, children laughing etc. You should then find it easier to imagine what you would feel, see, even smell and taste.
If you’re still struggling to imagine you can say to yourself in your mind, “I am now imagining walking along a sandy beach, I am now imagining hearing the waves breaking onto the beach” etc. That’s just as good and works just as well; and will, with practice, improve your skills.