Taking Responsibility for Your Healing Journey

Too often my clients who seek help through hypnotherapy for their issues and problems expect me to provide a magic bullet. All I have to do, apparently, is reprogram their faulty brains and they will magically find that they are slimmer, stronger, more focused or whatever else it is that they seek. While hypnosis is often much faster as a therapeutic modality than some other more traditional methods, it nevertheless requires that the client fully participate in the process and be willing to explore the depths of their own psyche, even for issues like smoking or nail biting that are relatively simple to treat.

Processing our “stuff” is what therapy is all about, whether you prefer a counselor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist or a hypnotherapist. The issues that bring clients to me such a weight problems, anger management, stress, insomnia, substance abuse etc. are symptoms. These symptoms are a way for our bodies, minds and spirits to communicate with us that something is off, not right within. The path of life is not smooth and easy, we lose loved ones, we get our feelings hurt, we feel loneliness, we suffer from illnesses and accidents and for some, the past is a gaping hole of pain that they have no desire to fall into again. All of these things, if not processed, get buried in our psyches, festering until we reach a crisis of epic proportions that can no longer be ignored and we seek the help of a professional. So why do we assume that healing from a crude morass of mental anguish is going to be a cake-walk? Perhaps this naïve belief that someone else can magically fix you comes from our modern medical system where questioning the doctor and participating in making choices with regard to treatment and medication is regarding by many practitioners as a declaration of war.

Medical doctors spend years in school studying, dissecting, experimenting and working within a strict hierarchy that seldom allows for underlings to question the wisdom of their elders. We have respect for doctors because they have taken the time and energy required to undergo a rigorous, intense training to obtain a deep understanding and knowledge of a very complex system, the human body. Doctors deserve our respect and admiration for this reason. Also, we like having someone that has answers, someone that can make us feel better quickly without requiring too much active participation from us. It can be incredibly comforting when we’re ill to just let go and let someone else take the driver’s seat for a change.

I think that’s what many of my clients want from me when they first book an appointment, especially when they’ve been to another type of therapist and not gotten the answers they were expecting, not received the quick prescription for an addled, unsettled mind. In today’s instant gratification world, we want what we want and we want it now! We don’t like waiting in line for groceries, we are fast food addicts, and we hire people to clean our houses, wash our cars, fill our gas tanks, take care of the dirty work for us and we want it done yesterday. Therapy is dirty work that requires time and effort on the patient’s part as well as that of the therapist. In our frantically busy world, we seem to prefer the quick fix.

For many, the quick fixes actually work for a time. Certainly we feel better after a course of antibiotics for an infection, and we never really have to delve into the whys and wherefores of how we got the illness in the first place. Other quick fixes include fad diets, crazy eating plans that work if we buy the products, stick to a strict schedule of coming to “counseling” sessions given by glorified sales people and adhere to rigorous exercise regimens that would make an Olympic athlete look lazy. We can get pills for just about anything, depression, anxiety attacks, insomnia, appetite control, hormone replacement, pain management, allergies and the list goes on. At no time are we ever asked to find the cause, to return to the root problem and heal at a profound level. The quick fix offers denial, repression and masking and we take it because it’s easier and faster than the real thing. Falling for the façade of a fast fix has its price; it sets us up to fail, and fail we do. We get sicker, we regain the weight, we increase the dose, we turn to alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, smoking rather than taking responsibility for our own health, for our most precious bodies and minds because we’re afraid we might discover something terrible, afraid we might have to take some time for ourselves, afraid it might be hard work.

What can make therapy so powerful, gratifying and so intensely healing is that with the help of a therapist, guiding and assisting us, showing us the way and holding our hand through the rough parts, we can do the work and it’s not as difficult or as agonizing as we thought it would be. We have to be willing to go to sometimes painful places, to re-live distress, sorrow and grief and to forgive what may once have been the unforgivable. Taking responsibility for our own pain, owning it before releasing it, is incredibly empowering. Suddenly we feel pride at having the courage to embark on the journey and tremendous sense of accomplishment when we finally see it through. This is what it means not to blame, finger point, quit, take a pill or scream “hurry up!” when the going gets rough. This what responsibility feels like and the reality is, it can feel really, really good.

Author's Bio: 

Alison L. Longley is a Master of Clinical Hypnotherapy, certified practitioner of NLP, PSYCH-K, Heart Resonance energy work and HypnoBirthing prenatal education. She is the owner/operator of Breakthrough Wellness Centre in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada. For more information, please visit her website at: