Common requests for hypnotherapy treatment are those related to stress, anxiety, habits and phobias. An understanding of the relationship between these disorders, examining the similarities and the differences between each, provides the therapist with information useful in deciding how and if to treat these disorders. It could also be argued that the uniqueness of each client and each set of symptoms demands the therapist to review each case on a one to one basis and not to blur the boundaries between each of these types of disorders, which may in turn result in a less effective form of treatment being provided. Each of these disorders is discussed below, along with mention of any similarities and differences, as well as the considerations that need to be made in the treatment of these disorders. Understanding Stress
The term stress was first employed in a biological context by the endocrinologist Hans Selye in the 1930s. In his usage stress refers to a condition and stressor to the stimulus causing it. Selye researched the effects of stress on rats and other animals by exposing them to unpleasant or harmful stimuli. He found that all animals display a similar sequence of reactions, manifesting in three distinct stages, Alarm, Resistance and Exhaustion. He labeled this universal response to stressors the general adaptation syndrome or GAS. When a threat or stressor is identified or realised, the body's stress response is a state of alarm. During this stage adrenaline will be produced in order to bring about the fight-or-flight response. As Dr David Beales, a specialist in the field of stress, commented recently, “There is not enough oxygen in the brain to solve a problem or make s good decision,” This problem occurs because the blood has been diverted from the thinking brain to the emotional brain, which diverts energy to the muscles to provide the fight or flight response. (Whitten, 2009). Resistance is the second stage. If the stressor persists, it becomes necessary to attempt some means of coping with the stress. Although the body begins to try to adapt to the strains or demands of the environment, the body cannot keep this up indefinitely, so its resources are gradually depleted. Exhaustion is the third and final stage in the GAS model. At this point, all of the body's resources are eventually depleted and the body is unable to maintain normal function. The result can manifest itself in obvious illnesses such as ulcers, depression, diabetes, trouble with the digestive system or even cardiovascular problems, along with other mental illnesses. Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman suggested in 1984 that stress can be thought of as resulting from an “imbalance between demands and resources” or as occurring when “pressure exceeds one's perceived ability to cope”. Stress management was developed and premised on the idea that stress is not a direct response to a stressor but rather one's resources and ability to cope mediate the stress response and are amenable to change, thus allowing stress to be controllable. Treating Stress with Hypnotherapy
Based on the work of Lazarus and Folkman, in order to develop an effective stress management programme it is first necessary to identify the factors that are central to a person controlling his/her stress, and to identify the intervention methods which effectively target these factors. Lazarus and Folkman's interpretation of stress focuses on the transaction between people and their external environment (known as the Transactional Model). The model proposes that stress can be reduced by helping stressed people change their perceptions of stressors, providing them with strategies to help them cope and improving their confidence in their ability to do so. Hadley and Staudacher support this view in their book Hypnosis for Change (Hadley &...