Reading Time: 3 minutes Guest Post: Joseph Oakes
Hypnotherapy has remarkable possibilities as a therapeutic tool for trans people, trained hypnotherapist Joe Oakes explains.
As the child of a trans person (who also happens to be the Lead therapist for GenderGP, Marianne Oakes) I’ve had many chats with her about how I, as a cis ally – could help the trans community and offer practical support.
Marianne explained that many trans people experience anxiety around coming out/social acceptance, as well as phobias like needles and surgery. Marianne felt there was a need for an alternative method of support within the community; something that could help address these issues commonly faced by trans people. She suggested I look into hypnotherapy which to be honest, seemed like a crazy idea at the time. After doing some research I embarked on training and the more I studied hypnotherapy, the more I fell in love with it.
I’ve seen first hand how it can deliver successful outcomes for people and transform their lives, removing fears and phobias, and helping people to control their anxiety.
How can Hypnotherapy help trans people?
Hypnotherapy can be used to find the source of fears or phobias and can then alleviate distress. Hypnotherapy has long-term results so long-term fears can be addressed and dealt with.
A large body of evidence has shown that Hypnotherapy is an excellent treatment for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. It can help with anxiety around social or medical transitioning, anxiety about being in public and anxiety about needles or medical care.
Trans people already face elevated levels of anxiety, depression, and other poor mental health, much of which is linked to the challenges and discrimination they face in everyday life. Hypnotherapy can help support the individual to develop more positive ways of handling day-to-day stress.
It can also help alleviate some of the stresses associated with trans healthcare. For instance, before gender-affirming surgery trans people may be asked to raise or lower their BMI, stop smoking, reduce anxiety, and generally live a more healthy life, both physically and mentally. However, taking away emotional support processes – for example, comfort eating – can cause stress and aggravate existing mental health issues. Hypnotherapy can help to minimise this kind of stress, and support people to develop healthier and happier behaviours in general. I will be writing about specific areas of hypnotherapy and their benefits in future blogs.
So what is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that uses a technique called ‘suggestibility’ to help reframe the subconscious mind. This can help restructure harmful ways of thinking to achieve positive outcomes. Many people expect hypnotherapy to be like the stage hypnosis they’ve seen on TV, but real hypnotherapy bears no resemblance to this. It’s a genuine, effective and evidence-based therapeutic process regulated by the General Hypnotherapy Register (GHR).
During hypnotherapy you will be awake and alert but also very relaxed. At no point are you sleeping or unconscious. After your session you will be provided with a high quality audio recording of the whole session that you can listen back to before your next session. These recordings form part of a toolbox of techniques that you will learn during your sessions so that you can continue your progress long after the therapy has been completed.
It’s a short-term process, typically involving three to six sessions, but it can produce long-term results. It is goal-oriented, and the therapist will discuss which immediate issues you want to focus on, and take a holistic approach to addressing them. This means that the whole of your emotions, thoughts, physical experiences and spiritual understanding will be taken into account, as well as how these factors connect to the issues in question.
I am often asked if hypnotherapy can work for everyone. The short answer is yes, although that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed. You need to be open and willing to put in the effort and make changes in your life. This might not come straight away, but through talking and relaxation techniques you can access the right frame of mind to make these positive changes.
Each client will have a unique set of goals they want to achieve, as such my approach to hypnotherapy begins by gaining a rapport with the client. I immerse myself in the issue the client wants to address so that I understand what they are hoping to achieve. The most rewarding part of my work is supporting trans and non binary people to lead happier, more fulfilling lives.
Book a session with Joe or one of our other trained hypnotherapists here.
Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash