How it works, part 4 (Humans are Clever and Complicated)

How it works, part 4 (Humans are Clever and Complicated)

It won’t ask you to be brave and ‘face your fears’ 

If you go to your GP suffering from anxiety, depression, OCD, fears, phobias, in-fact most psychological problems, they’ll refer you for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT has helped a lot of people, good! Great! in-fact… but it certainly doesn’t help everyone.

CBT claims the higher ground in empirical evidence (and that is debatable… see the link to the podcast below), but I think it’s worth considering what happens when it doesn’t work. 

The ‘thought challenging’ approach of CBT can be extraordinarily difficult for many people to cope with. Studies give a brief mention to the number of people who can’t complete their CBT treatment or don’t even start because the explanation of the therapy to come is so traumatic.  Many of my clients (a lot of whom have already tried CBT) already KNOW their thinking is a bit 'skewiff'. They understand that a spider in the UK isn’t actually going to kill them, they have read the studies that show air travel is statistically safe, they are perfectly aware that someone breaking into the house at night is an extremely unlikely event. This doesn’t help them to FEEL any differently about it.

In the natural world, humans aren’t very strong, or very fast, but we are very clever. If a zebra gets chased by a lion, he turns on all the useful anxiety mechanisms he’s got, he either gets killed and eaten or he doesn’t. And if he doesn’t, guess what? He turns it all off again and goes back to eating grass. He doesn’t lie awake at night obsessing over this encounter; he doesn’t spend hours the next day analysing it with his zebra friends. If a dog is scared of other dogs due to a past experience, you can employ training techniques that will show him other dogs are nice and fun, and treats appear as if by magic when you play with them. Human’s aren’t the same, you can’t de-sensitize a human in the same way, a human will keep those stress chemicals going when they THINK about whatever scares them (or what was traumatic previously, or what might possibly go wrong in the future) not just when the lion is right in front of them.

Solution Focused Therapy uses that amazing capacity we have for the imagination to our best advantage, and of course, this works so well with hypnosis... because what else are we doing in our best daydreams but practising for our preferred and improved future.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is all about keeping you out of the primitive, emotional, fight/flight anxiety part of your brain, that system that is so efficient at helping us avoid actual danger, and allowing us access to the intellectual, problem-solving, good decision making parts of or brain.

I’ve worked in the NHS for (many!) years. I’ve seen a lot of people, with a lot of problems, and have truly found Solution Focused Hypnotherapy to offer a kinder, easier and ultimately more effective way of dealing with our complicated brains, and our complicated world. 


De Shazer, S. and Berg, I. (1997). ‘What works?’ Remarks on Research Aspects of Solution‐Focused Brief Therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 19(2), pp.121-124.
Harris, P. (2007). Empathy for the devil. Lyme Regis: Russell House Pub 
Human Givens (2019). 13. [podcast] Political deception and the CBT tsunami. Available at: [Accessed 29 Aug. 2019].
Rasmussen, B. (2017). A Critical Examination of CBT in Clinical Social Work Practice. Clinical Social Work Journal, 46(3), pp.165-173.
Ratner, H. (2012). Solution focused brief therapy. London: Routledge. 
Sapolsky, R. (2004). Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. [S.l.]: Henry Holt and Co. 
Institute for Solution-Focused Therapy. (2019). The Institute for Solution-Focused Therapy | Anne Lutz, M.D.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Aug. 2019].

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