My last blog was about addiction so I thought it would be useful to do one about habits and explain what the difference is between the two.

A habit may be described as:-

• A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behaviour acquired through frequent repetition, where there are no physical or psychological effects of withdrawal. Although the behaviour may be unconscious, when their attention is brought to it, the person has a choice whether or not to carry out the behaviour and can usually cease the habit under own steam. A habit may eventually develop into an addiction.

An addiction may be described as:-

• A physical and psychological dependence on a substance (or behaviour) and feeling unable to function properly without it. The substance is an extremely important, or the most important factor in the person’s life and they may go to great lengths to get it. There are physical and psychological effects of withdrawal and the addict is unable to overcome the addiction without help. Psychological dependency on gambling, sex, internet and work are also considered addictions by many psychologists and health care professionals.

Habit reversal is relatively easy for most hypnotherapists and can often be overcome in just a couple of sessions. However, I do not like to say that this is the case with everyone because some clients will only need a single session whilst others need more than two. Examples of habits to name just a few may be:
– Hair pulling
– Teeth grinding
– Nail biting
– Thumb sucking
– Stuttering
– Skin picking

Everyday people have change thrust upon them, especially considering what we are currently going through. Those changes may need to take place on a professional level or in their behaviours or their thinking or even in their perceptions of their personal lives. If changes take place at this level then it is clear that by using hypnotherapy, we can change a person’s habits. For example, when I look at myself, I am not the same person I was 10 years ago or even 2 years ago. My perceptions and views have changed as a result of meeting new people who have come into my life, my life experiences, what I have learned through my counselling training. Our life experiences change us all the time and whilst it may be subtle, I am sure if you look at yourself, you are constantly evolving and changing depending on your experiences. When you have learnt new behaviours or attitudes you find it hard to unlearn them and our experiences do change us. We are constantly evolving. All of these changes happen on a subconscious level and we naturally find ourselves moving from one way of life to another.

Hypnotherapy is a great way of reversing the habit as hypnotherapy accesses the subconscious mind which is where our habits reside.

When clients come to see me about habits, I tend to ask them to keep a diary for a week before they come to see me, recording down where they were, what they were doing, what they were thinking or feeling whilst carrying out the habit. This gives a good indication as to why they are carrying out the habit so the hypnotherapy can be targeted specifically. Anxiety and stress can be the underlying issue so sessions may include therapy around this.

New research suggests that it takes 66 days to form new habits. Not that every habit needs to be replaced, but if we do actively change our routine by making new neural connections in the brain then our new behaviours will become automatic and be carried out subconsciously.

Of course, we do have to remember that the client must listen to their hypnosis recording in between the sessions to continually reinforce and build those new neural pathways in the brain. This homework is essential for successful therapy.

If you would like any more information about counselling or hypnotherapy then please feel free to get in touch.