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  • Paediatric hypnosis underused - but highly effective - treatment for children

    Author: Nicole Madigan

Although not widely accessed, hypnotherapy can be a highly effective treatment for children, provided therapists understand that modifications required when compared with adult treatment, says psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, Dr Karen Phillip.

“Child hypnosis is a very effective way of resolving different emotional and behavioural problems.

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“Children are very suspectable to trance-like states as they are generally more open to suggestion,” says Dr Phillip.

“Children tend to respond to hypnotic suggestion better than adults because they are more in touch with their imaginations.”

Dr Phillip says children can benefit from hypnotherapy after experiencing trauma and loss, for rebuilding self-confidence from bullying, phobias and fears, sleep issues, nail-biting eyelash or hair pulling or bed wetting.

However, due to a lack of understanding, it’s rarely accessed by parents or suggested by therapists.

“If we think about it logically, most issues are created by the thoughts we attach to them,” she says.

“Hence, if the mind attaches these connections, hypnotherapy can aid the mind to disconnect these emotional attachments and adjust the thoughts and feelings to something more positive and beneficial.

Trained hypnotherapists and those parents and children who have benefited from hypnotherapy understand the lifelong benefits that are achieved.”

Hypnotherapy with children is approached differently than adults as the child’s mind is more accepting and open, says Dr Phillip.

But while the approach is different, suggestions are similar, with techniques and suggestions adapted according to the age and development of the child for the most effective results.

“Most children, once rapport and trust are developed with the therapist, usually respond very well and quickly.

“Children enjoy the relaxed hypnosis process and usually respond quickly to suggestions.

“It is an enjoyable experience, and the results can occur surprisingly fast.”

There are some limitations though, which comes down to the child’s willingness to cooperate.

“If the child does not wish to change, then change is challenging to achieve.

“We can only aid and support what the mind wants; we cannot make a person do anything they do not want to do.”

Often, says Dr Phillip, after explaining how hypnosis works in childlike language, children are happy to participate.

“I explain they will be really relaxed as they use their imagination to resolve their problems.

“Using suggestions such as being more relaxed, having more energy, feeling confident, happy, liking themselves, enjoying the taste of new nutritious food, can all work positively.”

Dr Phillip goes as far as saying paediatric hypnotherapy is one of the most effective therapies available to children, transforming their lives through hypnotic visualisation and other imaginative methods.

“Hypnotherapy for children can be such a rewarding choice as children make good use of their imaginations.

“The therapy can include using stories, adventures, using a hero or character from a favourite show who guides them on what to do, as many young children easily accept these.”
Dr Phillip says therapists who have experience working with a variety of individuals, enables them to work effectively with children.

“Much depends on the attitude of the parents and most parents bringing their children to a hypnotherapist have researched and understand the benefits, helping the child to already feel comfortable.”

For Dr Phillip personally, she has successfully treated many children with issues from nail-biting to eyelash pulling issues, bed wetting, sleep issues, fussy eating and phobias.

“I recall one seven-year-old boy who was interested in eating more food but was stuck on chicken nuggets, potatoes and apples.

“He refused to eat bananas, other fruits, meats and vegetables.

“He came, I believed due to parental pressure, so I wasn’t sure how he would respond as I relaxed him down and told him a story.

“I asked him to use his imagination and had him consume within his subconscious mind, broccoli, bananas, carrots, meat and eventually a wide range of foods, including beetroot and lettuce.

“He opened his eyes excited, but I detected a little hesitation.

“His mother called me the next morning elated. After having this little boy to Psychologists for months, one session of hypnotherapy enabled him to adjust his mindset and expand his food choices easily and quickly.”

But while research has successfully demonstrated the benefits of hypnotherapy for adults and children, Dr Phillip says it remains the last resort.

“Many people go down the standard medical or psychology track first, however, when we are dealing with behavioural and emotional issues, hypnotherapy is often the best and fastest method for beneficial results that can last forever.”


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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications ( and a children's author.