How it works, part 1 (What is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy?)

How it works, part 1 (What is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy?)


Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) is a talking therapy that combines the use of a particular type of psychotherapy with some modern clinical hypnotherapy. It is, without doubt, the best technique I have ever found to help people overcome a whole range of psychological problems, and I believe is a really viable alternative to CBT, counselling or psychoanalysis.

To explain this better (and hopefully, reasonably succinctly) it might be helpful to explain what it ISN’T:

It absolutely and definitely isn’t ‘mind control'.

Many people have a dim view of hypnotherapy. I totally get that. TV talent shows demonstrate people making fools of themselves, or being made fools of, doing things that are seemingly completely out of character and out of their control. There is even a misconception that ideas can be ‘planted’ in someone’s brain, to be activated at a later stage. Now, although this may make a good film plot, it is NOT POSSIBLE is real life. Hypnosis/hypnotherapy/trance states cannot make a person do anything that is not fitting with their own code of behaviour. It cannot take away free will. 

The clue here is in the language, although most people would be mortified at the idea of making a fool of themselves on national television or in front of a packed theatre audience… there will always be a few VOLUNTEERS who think it’d be a great laugh.

Another concern I have heard is that people can get ‘stuck’ in a trance state and be unable to wake up. Again, completely impossible. The best example of a trance state and one I use frequently is this:

You know that feeling you get when you drive somewhere familiar, suddenly you find yourself at home with no recollection of the journey?

Well, you haven’t got an angry gang chasing you, fists waving? There’s not a trail of debris and destruction along your road? There’re no traffic cones, road signs or hedge decorating your car? No! This is because you have been entirely aware of your surroundings, behaving and reacting entirely appropriately for the whole journey. What you have been doing is experiencing trance. Drifting and dreaming and coming up with the solutions to all sorts of dilemmas, from the mundane, ‘what shall I cook for dinner?’ to the occasional ‘Ah-Ha. I’ve got it!’ moment. 

Now had someone stepped out onto the road in front of you, you would have instantly left your problem-solving trance state and taken appropriate action. So it is in a clinical hypnotherapy session, clients can leave a trance any time they choose.



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.
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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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