It is one of the most helpless feelings to watch a loved one go through the difficulty of struggling with their weight and body image. Typically, it takes time to determine that the situation is serious enough to warrant mental health expertise. By this time, your loved one is getting to a critical stage which may require special feeding procedures to maintain life. While they’re doing that, you’re trusting that they’re getting the mental health therapy that will get them on the road to recovery. What are the questions that you should be asking your mental health therapist in order to understand how quickly, and the process that your child will undergo? 

The first question you should ask is “What part of the mind will you be working on with my daughter?” 

Why is this important, and how does it affect her  mental health program? Well the modality or process that the therapist will be using will determine the length of time that it will take for a turnaround to health. With anorexia and bulimia, time is critical. 

So let me explain why asking about the mind is so important. Food related diseases of the mind need to be addressed in the mind. The mind is made up of 3 parts as explained by psychologists. It is the conscious mind which is what we see, hear, communicate, i.e. our verbal conscious selves. Then there is the unconscious part of the mind that controls our breathing, blinking, bloodwork, hormonal, digestive areas which we do not consciously control because our body and mind does this on autopilot. Lastly, there is the subconscious part of the mind.  This is where we find our behaviours, our memories, our emotions, our trauma. 

So, what are the sizes of each portion of the mind?

“The information & files that you have stored in your computer but are not in use are in your subconscious mind. Many experts believe our subconscious mind controls over 90% of what we do and how we show up.In fact, Dr. Bruce Lipton at Stanford University Medical Center is an expert on the Power of Your Subconscious Mind. He provides valuable insight, “Most people don’t even acknowledge that their subconscious mind is at play when the fact is it is a million times more powerful than the conscious mind and that we operate 95 to 99 percent of our lives from subconscious programs…”Your subconscious mind is responsible for the involuntary actions you take such as breathing without being conscious of it or driving to work and not even remembering the journey. Your emotions, beliefs and memories are stored in your subconscious mind.Your subconscious mind is subjective and follows the instructions it is given. The subconscious mind lacks reasoning, logic or rationalization. It is a creature of habit and repetition. https://www.advisorpedia.com/growth/the-power-of-your-subconscious-mind/

Scientists found that the subconscious is from 90 to 99% of the mind. The balance is the conscious mind and the unconscious. 

In a study by David Eagleman, Stanford University Neuroscientist and Director of Neuro-Law, “40 out of 11 000 000 brain receptors are the conscious mind. Exact percentages are not known, but consider that for nerve receptors entering your brain (11,000,000) only about 40 parts of info are held in consciousness at any one moment. A lot of info is dumped in this process but we are not even talking about the computing going on before anything comes into conscious awareness. PS that time delay is about .5 seconds.” 

Therefore, 99% of therapy should be in the subconscious mind. It just makes common sense, that you would prefer to drive your car on 99% of the road instead of 1% of the road. Another example of conscious mind therapy that has relatively no effect on smokers is cigarette packaging. If conscious mind therapy was so effective, warning labels would immediately register in the mind and the behaviour would change accordingly. 

How does this relate to the therapy that you’re choosing for your daughter? Well, CBT, talk therapy, client focussed therapy, DBT therapy are all conscious mind therapies. They are working on 1 to 10% of the mind. What does that mean for outcomes and number of sessions?

  • Psychoanalysis can be expected to have a 38% recovery rate after approximately 600 sessions.
  • CBT – Behaviour therapy (Wolpian) can be expected to have a 72% recovery rate after an average of 22 sessions.
  • Hypnotherapy can be expected to have a 93% recovery rate after an average of 6 sessions

Source: Barrios, Alfred A. “Hypnotherapy: A Reappraisal,” Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice (1970)

Now, granted, CBT and DBT have improved since the 1970s. However, the underlying premise that working in the subconscious as the most effective place for therapy still stands. Furthermore, there should be a heightened awareness and professional ethics to use the most effective therapies for the client. With respect to anorexia this is even more urgent. What is hypnosis and why is it so effective? All hypnosis is simply self hypnosis or a guided meditation. The hypnotherapist can take you into the subconscious with a light trance, ie alpha frequency state of your mind or a deeper theta frequency. The theta frequency is the one where you experience dreams. Through the power of suggestions, imagery, metaphors, the client comes to new realizations, understandings, and acceptance. Typically in a session with a client exhibiting anorexia, we never get into body image, diet, or weight. The sessions are focussed on trauma release, forgiveness, self love, depression, anxiety, pain management, and we also include a spiritual component as well. Hypnosis has been proven extremely effective : ie smoking cessation, 90.6% Success Rate for Smoking Cessation Using Hypnosis. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2001 Jul;49(3):257-66. Barber J. We now need more studies and more mental health practitioners learning and succeeding with hypnosis to apply it to anorexia and bulimia.

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