It’s the end of August and summer is coming to a close. People are trying to make the most of the warm weather that still remains. It’s the season of patios and barbecues, cottages and pick-up games. For students and parents of young children, school is right around the corner. A new year of school is a time of excitement and anticipation. The potential for new learning, new friends, and academic achievement hangs tantalizingly in the air. But a new year of school also brings with it new challenges: the classes are more difficult, the exams are harder, and the social pressures are greater. For post-secondary students, there might be intimidating public speaking assignments and financial concerns. It only takes a few weeks for school stress to build and weigh on students. So it’s no wonder that students report record high levels of stress. A 2011 UCLA study of 201,808 incoming American college freshmen found that students were feeling more stress and less emotional well-being than ever before.
Hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool for improving academic success. It can accomplish this by addressing the root issues at the heart of poor student performance. It can help students manage stress, improve motivation, and avoid the habits that lead to procrastination. Kate Gardiner, who is both a long-practicing hypnotherapist and mother, has some advice about managing school stress, and what hypnosis can offer to improve school performance.
“School is a mentally stressful time because it’s a change of routines for everybody,” says Kate. “There’s pressure to produce and excel, and switching schools and moving can also be stressful.” At the most basic level, hypnotherapy is helpful because as Gardiner says, “just being in hypnosis allows your mind and body to relax, and when you’re more relaxed, you function better.” But in addition to the benefit of relaxation, hypnotherapy can help address the root causes of behaviours that lead to increased school stress, for example procrastination.
“To work with procrastination,” says Kate, “the person has to be really deep into hypnosis because you have to do parts work. There’s a part of them that wants to do the task, and a part of them that doesn’t want to do the task. So you have to find the part of them that’s preventing them from doing what they need to do and finding the positive intent behind that part. For example, the positive part of them might feel like they’re overworked and need a break, or it could be that they’re fearful of failure and trying to prevent it.” Once the root cause is addressed, hypnotherapy clients often find it easier to avoid the bad behaviour that impacts their performance.
Hypnosis for Teachers
But it’s not just students that express stress about going back to school. Every year teachers are expected to participate in more professional development and more extra-curricular activities. And, as Kate Gardiner says, “some teachers develop anxiety issues related to public speaking or making presentations.” In this case, hypnotherapy can be useful because, once the client is in hypnosis, the hypnotherapist can use regression techniques to help them identify the origin of their phobia. “It often goes back to an initial sensitizing event,” says Kate. “Then there are subsequent sensitizing events that feed onto it until suddenly they get the fear. For teachers, the initial sensitizing event is often their own first day of school or kindergarten.” Similarly to the procrastination issue, once the root cause is addressed, clients often find their phobia less daunting.
Back-to-school stress extends all the way from Kindergarten up to the ivory tower of higher education. At the post-secondary level, university professors have to deal with the “publish or perish” mentality of academic life that often leads to writer’s block. “I had one client,” says Kate, “who was trying to finish her Ph.D. Every time she sat down at the computer she couldn’t write, and her deadline was looming, and she had extended her Ph.D to seven years. It turns out that what was trapped in her subconscious was a feeling of guilt because some of the data she had collected wasn’t as clean as she would have liked. Her supervisor had accepted and told her it was okay, but she had a guilty feeling about it, and once she realized that, she was able to produce again.”