In the process of promoting Navya hypnotherapy, there are many hurdles I face when educating people about what it is. This is partially because the word hypnotherapy comes with its own immediate assumptions, and because of the wide array of different hypnotherapy styles and services that are typically offered.
Hypnosis in general gets relegated to the world of alternate therapies, also known as “complementary” therapies. Being grouped into this category immediately places us at a disadvantage when it comes to being taken seriously by skeptical, scientifically-minded people, at the forefront of which is the psychological community itself.
And while it’s true that there is a wide range of hypnosis and hypnotherapy techniques, a typical Navya Hypnosis Assisted Psychotherapy session is informed by, and may include, many techniques that are found in classic therapy modalities, ones which are taught to every therapist as part of their training.
(It’s worth noting that many therapy modalities actually have little empirical evidence either, yet somehow we have our own mental constructs of what is considered mainstream and what is alternative.)
Here is a non-exhaustive list of techniques and influences that Hishtalmoot draws upon during the course of a session, with the attitude of tapping into whatever works best in each modality to create an experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.
First off, Navya’s sessions could be broadly classified as person-centered hypnotic regression therapy. Regression Hypnosis Therapy is more complex than a lot of hypnosis and has its own clinical guidelines and an international board. Yet it is still considered an alternative modality, as this Amazon bestseller’s category can attest: The Art of Hypnotic Regression Therapy: A Clinical Guide
Guided imagery is a key part of many therapeutic modalities, and it can be argued that regression, at its most basic form, is simply guiding the client to imagine their past. (It can also be useful too to help them imagine positive future outcomes as well)
At the core of any regression work is the operating assumption that part of us is a child that never grew up, our Inner Child. Freud himself laid the groundwork for his theory, highlighting different stages of human development (which have since been debunked as an oversimplification at the very least), and theorizing that we can get “stuck” in certain stages, and adopt adult versions of these behaviors, for example being “anal” about details.
Although the psychological community has moved on from Freud’s thinking, the operating understanding that it is our childhood and formative experiences that continue to shape how we are in the world is still a mainstay of modern psychology, and many modalities deliberately strive to direct attention towards our inner child as part of our healing process. Hishtalmoot does so in an overt way, oftentimes inviting an adult and child version of the same person into an imagined scene in order to interact and learn from each other.
Thomas Wilson built upon the methods of others in the realm of “Re-parenting”, essentially learning to be your own parent in areas when your actual parents have failed you. It’s worth noting that his specific technique involved “time-limited regression” of having schizophrenic clients regress back to their childhood memories for five two-hour sessions.
Somatic Experiencing – somatic experiencing is a technique whereby the client is instructed to connect to the felt sensations in their body. Asking themselves what emotions feel like, and where they experience them on a somatic level.
Somatic experiencing is gaining a lot of recognition when it comes to healing trauma, as trauma victims often disconnect from their bodies as a coping mechanism, even as the body itself holds on to the trauma. Learning to reconnect to their wounded parts and deliberately healing them by releasing trauma is a core part of Somatic Experiencing.
In Hishtalmoot, we use the body as the ultimate guide to what is really going on inside of ourselves. We operate with the principle that “the body doesn’t lie” and contentiously strive to deepen our felt experience and then release any memories and emotions that are locked into these parts of ourselves.
A similar approach is espoused by sensorimotor psychotherapy, which deliberately strives to re-experience the somatic leftovers of trauma that are stored in our bodies, as part of the process of healing.
Gestalt and IFS
In Navya, our philosophy is that we are trying to achieve greater wholeness through healing.
The assumption is that we have “fractured” different “parts” of ourselves in order to survive our childhood and cope with adverse experiences and that learning to heal these parts allows them to integrate back into our selves in a way that serves better serves us.
This concept draws heavily upon the classic Gestalt therapy modality, which itself is a German word for “wholeness”, which seeks to view people from a broader perspective of all the different influences in their life, mind, body, soul, and their unique circumstances and experiences.
Gestalt therapy often speaks of us having different parts, which often contradict each other in their needs. The classic “part of me wants this, but another part of me does not”. Internal Family Systems also relies heavily on this concept of parts. finding a resolution to different parts comes from recognizing and acknowledging them no matter how unappealing they may seem at first glance; this is a key tenet in both Gestalt and IFS.
Besides this shared philosophy, there are also key techniques that Navya borrows from each. Gestalt employs an “empty chair technique” where you essentially role-play significant people in your life to gain an empathetic understanding of their world view, hypnosis lends itself to this with great effect.
Similarly, Gestalt often encourages exaggeration of emotions to highlight certain nuances of our behaviors and emotions, the equivalent of “zooming in” to your experience and giving yourself permission to experience it fully. At Navya , we often encourage clients to deliberately feel an emotion as strongly as possible – this often has the inverse effect of actually lessening the intensity of the emotion after a few moments go by.
Finally, Gestalt also emphasizes the “here and now”, which Navya does as well. It may seem surprising to talk so much about regressing to your childhood while still talking about being in the present moment, but the reality is that we continuously use our present felt-sense to guide us. It is as though our past is continuously playing out in our minds, over and over again; we simply need to tap into what is already there. And so, we’re not really going back in time, but rather experiencing all the ways in which our past still influences our present moment.
Meanwhile, IFS operates with the philosophy that each of your parts has a “voice”, a unique way of talking to you that you can often recognize is actually that of significant people in your life, like parents or teachers. It also teaches that all parts, no matter how unpleasant, are ultimately acting with our own best interests in mind. Through hypnosis, we can actually uncover what it is that our parts are trying to do for us and that more often than not, there is an even greater danger they are protecting us from.
No discussion about hypnosis would be complete without a mention of Eriksonian Hypnosis. Milton Erickson was a gifted therapist who introduced the concept of conversational hypnosis – getting clients to change rapidly, just by talking to them. One famous example had him curing an adolescent of a certain behavior by simply asking one sentence – “how surprised will you be when you find your behavior has changed?”
Erickson was a master of understanding people’s deepest needs, and instantly speaking to that place. His techniques for overcoming resistance, the times when parts of ourselves do not want to change, are ones that we regularly apply at Navya.
First, there is the double bind, essentially presenting two options as a choice but really both are acceptable options. “Which pajamas would you like to wear to bed?” is a classic example that parents often use, implying the inevitable bedtime and still offering the illusion of choice around the matter.
Similarly, there is the contrarian embracing of resistance, where one is invited to actually deliberately feel more of whatever they don’t want to feel. Does part of you want to feel tense? Invite it to feel more tense than it ever thought possible. This contrarian approach, which I like to refer to as “emotional judo”, never fights resistance head-on. Instead, it uses its own “weight” against it, with remarkable success.
Beyond specific techniques which we employ throughout a session, there is also a set of guiding philosophies that underly much of what we do. These inform our overall approach, the “mindset” we take as we undertake our personal growth work.
Fears and Shadows
Carl Jung wrote a lot about shadow work – the concept that personal growth must occur by grappling with the parts of ourselves that live in the shadows. The parts that aren’t pretty. The parts we’d rather hide. These are the areas where we must venture if we want to change as people. At Navya , that’s probably our most important guiding principle – that we must look at darkness head-on and dive directly into it if we want to create lasting change.
In a similar vein, Existential therapy, which was developed by psychologists like Victor Frankl and Irving Yalom, is all about embracing fear. It stipulates that as humans, there are several core fears that we all struggle with, and spend much of our life trying to avoid or transcend. As the name suggests, these fears are deeply existential and involve fears of death, suffering, lack of meaning, loneliness, and more.
Existential therapy believes that real growth comes from embracing these fears, letting ourselves be afraid, and grappling with these existential matters deliberately. At Navya, these themes are central to the inner work we do, and we continuously strive to implement the Vipassana Buddhist principle of experiencing life as it is, not as we’d like it to be.
Last but not least, there is a Hakomi, with whom Navya shares multiple values. Hakomi preaches mindfulness and the turning of our attention inwards to find insight and answers. It prioritizes compassion and gentleness and emphasizes a no-violence no-force approach to personal growth. There is a guiding belief that humans are self-correcting, that as humans we have what we need to thrive contained within ourselves.
At Navya , that is our golden rule: the best personal growth is achieved through relaxing, through not trying, and through radical and contrarian self-acceptance. We believe that our own mind contains the keys to our success and the answers to all our personal questions. It’s simply a matter of getting out of our own way.
We relax, we dive deep, we embrace our shadows, and we find wholeness.