NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Experiencing Happiness as Part of Your Future Self in Clinical Hypnosis

I read an article in the New York TimesWhat a Great Trip! And I'm Not Even There Yet, by Stephanie Rosenbloom.  After reading the article, which related to travel, I saw similarities between the anticipation of a happy event (as stated in the article) and a hypnotic technique used in clinical hypnosis where a therapy client can experience a Future Self.  I've written about the concept of the Future Self in an earlier article, Experiencing Your Future Self: The Person You Want to Become.  I would like to expand on this concept in this article.

Experiencing Happiness as Your Future Self in Clinical Hypnosis

The Psychological Connection Between Anticipation and Happiness
In Ms. Rosenbloom's article, she writes about the psychological connection between anticipation and happiness as it relates to looking forward to a vacation.  She cites psychological research in the journal, Applied Research in Quality of Life, where social scientists found that vacationers felt most happy at the point when they were anticipating their vacations because there's a build up of excitement and positive expectations.

She also discusses research by Elizabeth Dunn, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia who is a leading happiness researcher, who says that there is an art to savoring or anticipating an upcoming vacation.  According to this article, by immersing oneself in such things as reading novels, blogs, watching films, TV programs about the place you plan to visit, you build up positive expectation.  In addition, it also helps to smooth over minor discrepancies between the fantasy of the trip and the reality.

The Psychological Connection Between Positive Anticipation and Happiness

I've never seen the research on this topic, but the concept that this immersion process beforehand can enhance a vacationers experience is familiar to me.  Six months before I went to Italy for the first time, I was not only reading travel books, but I was immersing myself in Italian literature, short stories and listening to Italian language CDs in anticipation of my vacation.  After a few weeks of this immersion process, part of me felt like I was already in Italy.

During that time, I read The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone and when I saw Michelangelo's works of art in Italy, especially the Sistine Chapel in Rome, I was very moved, and like I was seeing the work of an old friend.

Experiencing Happiness as Your Future Self in Clinical Hypnosis
In much the same way that excitement and anticipatory feelings of happiness can build up with immersion in things related to an upcoming event, an experienced hypnotherapist can assist you to discover the aspect of yourself that is called your Future Self in your unconscious mind.

The effect of discovering your Future Self can be profound because it involves the limbic system in the brain (see my article about the triune brain, including the limbic system or reptilian brain).

Experiencing Happiness as Part of Your Future Self in Clinical Hypnosis

Beyond being just a mental rehearsal of who you want to be, allowing your imagination to experience your Future Self in clinical hypnosis connects these feelings for you on an unconscious level.  A trained hypnotherapist can also give a client a post hypnotic suggestion that helps to enhance and anchor this experience.

There has also been research at world renown research laboratories about the success of hypnosis in helping depressed clients to overcome their depression (see Psychology Today article by psychologist, Michael Yapko, Clinical Hypnosis Enhances Treatment) for more details).

Getting Help
Many people, who are unhappy or depressed feel resigned to their lives never changing.  This is usually a symptom of their depression.  But you don't need to suffer alone.  When performed by an experienced hypnotherapist, clinical hypnosis can be an effective form of treatment to help a client overcome depression and provide an enhanced sense of self.

When choosing a hypnotherapist for clinical hypnosis, always make sure that the clinician is a licensed mental health professional.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.