Can hypnotherapy help with alcoholism?

In my opinion the answer would be quite possibly, however, there are things I wish to share with you to explain what my experiences have been with alcoholism and addiction in general, and why I say possibly rather than certainly.

My explanation would be this, solely using hypnotherapy could well provide positives and there have been studies done with small sample sizes, however, I think for many, most forms of therapy would fall short.

I like the work of Dr Gabor Maté and much of what he has to say about addiction, resonates with me and makes a great deal of sense based on my professional experience, in that unresolved trauma, play a significant part in addiction.

Without resolving trauma and significant emotional events, the addict is far more likely to either continue with or revert back to whatever it is they are addicted to.

Dr Maté talks much, about childhood trauma and the impact that this has within the addicts with whom he has worked. This is something on which I agree, those that have had significant physical and/or emotional abuse at a young age, are far more likely to have addiction issues in adulthood. There are of course many other forms of trauma that a child can experience other than those I have mentioned, and any form of childhood trauma can have a significant bearing as an individual transitions into adulthood.

Where I believe we perhaps disagree slightly, is within trauma as a whole, and whether the trauma has been experienced in childhood or at any point through adulthood, in my opinion increases the likelihood of addiction in all formats, including drink, drugs, gambling, are the more common ones, however, there any number we could add to the list.

So, whilst hypnotherapy is a therapeutic technique in which I passionately believe in, I think where trauma is concerned, eye movement therapy and trauma resolution is the starting point and foundation on which to build when helping any addict.

I would love the opportunity to do clinical trials with a group of addicts and I am very much open to offers on that front.

There are many examples of which I could share, however, I have chosen this one to get my point across.

I worked with a middle-aged woman, who had a wonderful childhood and a good life until her husband’s business failed, as part of hiding his business failure, there had been a great many lies, and eventually they lost the family home, due to his actions.

She had been a social drinker until that point, this escalated, along with behaviours which were out of character. It is a fact that people drink to forget the past, the trauma, and significant emotional events, can happen at any time in our lives, not just childhood. One would like to think we are more resilient as adults, and we know that not everyone who experiences trauma will go on to become an addict, perhaps it is the likelihood that increases when this trauma happens at a young age.

My advice would be, process significant emotional events and trauma, before making full use of hypnotherapy, to do this, I would recommend some sort of eye movement therapy.

So, what is eye movement therapy and how does it work?

During eye movement therapy, the client thinks about a specific emotionally disturbing memory, whilst receiving outside stimuli to facilitate lateral eye movement.

The process involves measuring the SUDs (subjective units of distress), noting the emotive response to the memory whilst they think about it, along with, the physical sensations, where these are located in the body, coupled with any negative self-talk or phrases associated with the memory.

Typically, the memories will be 6-10 on the SUDs scale, the client will be able to clearly recall the event and they will most likely, place themselves back into the memory in what most professionals would describe as an associative state.

After successful completion of the treatment, the SUDs will typically fall to 0-2, with the goal being to get as close to zero as possible, some of this is client driven and I respect my client’s decision when they choose to still retain a small amount of emotional discomfort as a reminder. This process generally takes a few minutes, with times typically ranging from 5 to 30 minutes.

It is important to note, that the key element is the processing of the memory, people are of course aware that an event happened, we are simply changing how they think and feel about what happened. Once the memory is processed to the client’s satisfaction, we then cap the memory with a positive phrase, and on occasion this will be the opposite of the negative self-talk attached to the original unprocessed memory.

Once the trauma and significant emotional events are resolved, it would then be at this stage, that I would make greater use of my skills as an Advanced Hypnotherapist and Master Practitioner of Neuro-linguistic Programming.

If you, or someone you know would benefit from discussing issues around addiction, then please use the link below to schedule a call with me, alternatively, we can use Zoom. This costs nothing and is without obligation.


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Head and shoulders picture of Darren Housley of York Hypnotherapy Clinic

Hello, I’m Darren

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