At Morpheus, our hypnotherapists work with adults to manage a whole host of different issues – from smoking, to weight loss, to managing fears and phobias, but what many people don’t realize is that hypnosis can also be a useful tool for children. Our very own Kate Gardiner, Master Hypnotist, specializes in pediatric hypnosis and has worked with children for a multitude of problems. Read on to find out more about pediatric hypnosis and how Kate can help your child, or a child you know who’s struggling:

Q: What are your qualifications for working with children?

Kate Gardiner, Master Hypnotist

A: While doing my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Health Psychology, I studied Developmental Psychology and Adolescence. After receiving my initial certification in hypnotherapy, I did additional training in pediatric hypnosis. I am also a mother who has been using hypnosis for 8 years to enhance my son’s sports performance. He calls it his “secret weapon!”

Q: What are some common issues you work with children for?

A: I have successfully helped children to overcome irrational fears and phobias such as fear of water, sleeping alone, public speaking, and test/exam anxiety. I have also worked with clients to stop hair pulling, picky eating, nail biting and skin picking. Young athletes come to me for sports performance enhancement and to get out of athletic “slumps,” as well.

Q: What ages can you work with?

A: I work with children ages six and up.

Q: How does hypnosis with children differ from hypnosis for adults?

A: When working with children I use more storytelling (metaphors) and will often give direct suggestions while a child is engaged in an activity such as drawing (focused attention is one definition of hypnosis). While adults in hypnosis tend to remain fairly motionless while in hypnosis, children tend to move around a lot. As a result, I have to be mindful of the environment to ensure their safety at all times.

Q: Is it true that children are often more receptive to hypnosis than adults?

A: Generally speaking, children are more receptive because they exercise their imaginations daily. Imagination is important as clients are often asked to imagine, visualize or experience a safe place or how they would like to see themselves behaving/feeling in the future.

Q: How can you determine whether a child is a good candidate for hypnosis or not?

A: I utilize standard suggestibility tests such as hands rising and falling or the Lemon Test. Both tests require an individual to have a good imagination.

Q: How do you explain hypnosis to a child?

A: For younger children, I refer to it as an “imagination game.” For more mature children, I will explain hypnosis the same way as I would to adults. I explain the concepts of the “conscious” and “subconscious” mind and how much of what we do or feel comes from the subconscious mind. As hypnotherapy is working with the subconscious mind, positive changes in behaviours and feelings result.

Q: Can children be taught self hypnosis?

A: Yes, most children can be taught self hypnosis! This usually involves creating a “happy/safe place” together that they can visualize and use by themselves as a coping strategy when confronted with situations that they find stressful or uncomfortable.

Q: What should a parent know about their child undergoing hypnotherapy?

A: Even though the parents are paying, the child is my client, therefore everything we discuss is kept confidential. I do encourage my clients to share their progress with their parents as parents are typically  pretty eager to know how the sessions have been going.

Q: Can you make my child do something they don’t want to do, or hypnotize them if they don’t want to be hypnotized?

A: Hypnosis is not mind control, so I can’t make a child (or an adult, for that matter) do something they don’t want to do. There are many myths surrounding hypnosis and this is one of them. This myth is mainly perpetuated by the media through films and television shows, as well as through stage hypnosis shows. During a stage hypnosis show, participants are chosen carefully by the hypnotist to ensure they are highly suggestible. The most important factor is that all the participants are volunteers and are already prepared to do goofy things and perform for the audience, even before they’re in hypnosis.

Q: How can parents support their child after hypnosis sessions?

A: Parents shouldn’t put too much pressure on their child to tell them what happened during a session. If a child wants to share, their parents should listen in a non-judgmental and respectful manner. Hypnotherapy is a process and it is important for parents to be patient and supportive.