Most parents with young children will tell you that their child's imagination is far better than their own. One needs only to watch a child engaged in imaginary play to realise how easily children can immerse themselves in a world of heroic adventure or beautiful princesses. And how many times have we as parents found ourselves having to call our child's name over and over again to get their attention when they are off in their imagination?!
But did you know, that when facilitated in the right way, a child's amazing imagination can be used to bring about positive, even therapeutic change? This is what paediatric hypnotherapy is all about.
In order for an adult to reap the benefits of hypnotherapy they usually have to systematically relax each part of their body and then be guided by the therapist through a detailed visualisation that utilises as many different sensed as possible. Because of the increased power of imagination children posses, they can access the subconscious part of their minds with far less effort. This in turn means that, generally speaking, children can be treated far more quickly and effectively than adults through hypnotherapy.
For example, imagine an individual suffering from low self-esteem as a result of verbal bullying. One therapeutic strategy would be to ask them to visualise a powerful shield around them that protects them from the harmful emotional/psychological effects of the bullying. For an adult this may take significant amounts of both faith in the therapist and personal effort. In contrast, if you ask a younger child to imagine a "magic feelings shield", or for an older child a "computer-generated shield" they will do this with little or no effort at all. Their imagination allows them to easily create their own personal shield that they can describe in great detail - what colour it is, what it's made of, its shape, how it's controlled, what the controller looks like........the details can be almost endless!
Once a child has "created" their shield they then have no trouble "using" it whenever the need arises. In fact, in the case of very young children (between the ages of around 5 and 7) the therapist has to be careful to explain to the child that this is a "feelings shield" rather than an actual barrier that can protect them from physical harm!
Harnessing the power of a child's imagination can be an amazingly effective way of helping them alter their feeling, thoughts and behaviours. So next time your watching a child engaged in imaginary play remember - it's as powerful as it is fun!