Using Clinical Hypnosis to Build Confidence and Self Esteem

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Two weeks ago we posted 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Hypnotherapy and received so much positive feedback that this morning, we’re lucky to follow up with a post from Elaine Suben, NYC psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, about the how-tos of clinical hypnosis. Particularly, how can hypnosis help you build confidence and self-esteem?

Elaine Suben LCSW-R is a psychotherapist in private practice in the Financial District of NYC. After graduating with her MSW from the NYU Silver School of Social Work, she honed her clinical skills in outpatient mental health clinics and private practice, in Brooklyn and Manhattan, working with children, adolescents, families, couples, adults and seniors. Elaine utilizes a psychodynamic approach to treatment and incorporates mindfulness and positive psychology into her work. She completed her post-graduate training in clinical hypnosis at the Center for the Advancement of Training in Clinical Hypnosis and was certified by the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis. Elaine is also a member of the NYS Society for Clinical Social Work and the National Association of Social Workers.

For more information or to schedule a phone consultation, contact Elaine at elaine.suben@gmail.com


What is Clinical Hypnosis?

Clinical hypnosis is a tool to help people “tap into” and utilize their strengths in order to fulfill their potential and reach their goals. This treatment approach helps us become “unstuck” and gain insight into how negative thoughts can keep us down. Clients explore, with their therapist’s guidance, how to “open up doors” and think creatively. This frees us to access internal positive resources and lift self-imposed limitations.

Common quotes related to hypnosis are, “Trance is a natural everyday experience” and “You use hypnosis not as a cure but as a means of establishing a favorable climate in which to learn” (—Milton Erickson).

Accordingly, clinical hypnosis facilitates one’s ability to go into trance, or an altered state of consciousness. In this state, one experiences a heightened sense of perception and focused concentration. This allows the conscious mind to recede into the background, while the subconscious mind emerges, bypassing linear thinking, and accessing all the positive resources one is born with for creative problem solving. The shift is from the intellectual to the experiential.

Stages of Clinical Hypnosis

  1. Induction

    The client settles into a comfortable position, either sitting upright with feet planted on the ground, or in a supine position. The therapist utilizes words, imagery, suggestion and metaphor to gently lead the client to a place of relaxation and calm. This “settling in” process transitions the client from waking consciousness.

Some examples of inductions are:

  • Focused Breathing—paying attention to natural rhythm and pace of the breath, then taking longer, slower inhalations/exhalations to connect with the body and quiet the mind

  • Progressive Body Scan—starting at the top of the head and imagining a soothing waterfall of relaxation descending down throughout the body, noticing where there’s comfort

  • Visual Imagery—An example of visual imagery is, “Thoughts can be like leaves flowing down the river, and you can decide to let them go”. (—Nancy M. Napier)

2. Deepening

In this stage, the client accesses a deeper state of relaxation, leading to a trance-like state in which the conscious mind (cognition) recedes into the background, and the subconscious mind emerges and grows more and more present.

Some examples of deepening are:

  • Walking Down the Patio Steps—imagining one is on the patio of a beautiful home in the country and notices steps leading down to a lovely garden. With each step down, one starts to feel more relaxed and curious to explore the garden.

  • The Elevator Technique—imagining one is on the fifth floor of a lovely, ornate or modern building, and seated in the elevator that is decorated to one’s liking, descending floor by floor, allowing oneself to descend deeper into relaxation, and feeling curious to arrive in the lobby.

Both examples above utilize imagery of descending and settling down.

3. Utilization/Exploration

This is the “work” of hypnotherapy. The goal is to build confidence and self-esteem, and some examples of ways to do this are:

  • Connecting with a Special Place—that you’ve been to or want to go to that promotes calm and ease, and recalling the sensations of that experience. For example, feeling the sand beneath your toes as you walk along the shore of a turquoise ocean, with the tide rolling in and out.

  • Age Regression—going back in your ”memory bank” to a time before you had the problem. For example, recalling a time when you had accomplished a goal or felt proud of an achievement, or spent an enjoyable day with a friend

  • Age Progression—seeing the Future Self, when you’ve overcome and resolved the challenges you are experiencing now, envisioning oneself as a competent, capable person who has found effective solutions to improve the quality of one’s life

  • Inner Advisor—accessing the wisdom and guidance that lies within yourself, “tuning in to the wise self” (perhaps an elder family member, or a person one admires) who can lead one to make choices that promote positive change

  • Hypnoprojectives—Split Screen (as on a computer)—seeing the challenges you may be facing on one side of a screen (representations of self doubt and confusion), and dimming the picture or pushing the delete button, and seeing the resolution of those challenges on the other side (imagery of a happy, confident self), and turning up that screen to a brighter contrast

4. Termination

The therapist may slowly count backwards from ten, as the client gently comes back “into the room” into a normal waking state, restored and refreshed and ready to go on with his or her day.

Is the benefit of hypnotherapy only experienced in the room?

Clients can learn self-hypnotic techniques to utilize outside of sessions.

Clinical hypnosis may be utilized in conjunction with ongoing talk therapy that is already established, or as a separate, stand-alone therapeutic approach.

On confidence, self-esteem, and more

A dictionary definition of confidence is: a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.

With confidence and self-esteem, we can move forward in life with a sense of ease and wellbeing, feeling “right with the world” and sharing our talents and gifts with the universe. Hypnotherapy can help you get there.

Clinical hypnosis has also has been found to be effective in addressing habit/smoking cessation, pain management, phobias, preparation for childbirth and preparation for surgery.

And as Rilke said, “The only journey is the one within.”


Thank you, Elaine, for sharing your perspective and such helpful insight about hypnotherapy with us today.

If you’d like to connect with Elaine directly to learn more about her work or book an appointment, please email her at elaine.suben@gmail.com. We know she looks forward to hearing from you.

Any thoughts, questions, or topics you’d like to see featured on the blog? We’re all ears: connect@mywellbeing.com or let’s chat on social @findmywellbeing.