Category Archives: Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy

Possible Selves

I stumbled upon this article by the New York Times a couple weeks ago, and have been thinking about it. I do want to apologise for not updating my blog as regularly as I used to, I will probably write a personal piece to share why and what has been happening in my private life. 

So a brief summary of the short article:


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Summary of content:

  • The “possible selves” describes how people envision their futures: what they may become, or want to become, or even fear becoming.
  • These possible selves, both positive (A violin student who wants to become a musician) and negative (A person whose feared possible self is an alcoholic may become a teetotaler.), are closely related to motivation.
  • Conjuring positive possible selves can improve well-being and alleviate symptoms of depression by holding out the potential for a better future.
  • So how do we construct that positive self and do what we envision?
    • Take action: Making the transition “requires you to say now, today, this week, these are the steps I can actually take” to attain that goal.
    • Find an expert companion: A supportive person who knows your strengths and weaknesses — and opens your eyes to potential selves you hadn’t considered.
    • Share your goal: Doing so makes you more likely to achieve it
    • Reach out to your weak ties: Whether you’re job hunting or seeking breakthrough advice, people in your larger network are more likely to help surface fresh ideas than those closest to you are.

So you might know that I’m trained in Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy and have been practising since 2013. One of the first exercises that students learn in the diploma course is a script writing exercise, asking your client or volunteer to envision how things will be like after they have achieved their goal. So say you have a goal to become a hypnotherapist (or working out every day, a dancer, a confident and eloquent public speaker, a calm mother etc), you will then ask about a specific situation once you have achieved that, where are you, what are you doing, what are you thinking, how are you feeling, what are your body sensations like, what are your facial expression and body gestures, what are the social and financial and other impacts etc. 

Doing so often motivates people to work towards their goal. It most likely increases the feel good hormones (like dopamine etc) when you see your goal achieved, and then these hormones keep you going. Of course, during the process if there’s any obstacles or any skills needed, we can use imagination or hypnosis to facilitate that too.





她说,因为自己的身型,尤其在生了儿子以后,她已经自卑很久了。周围不再有朋友,因为她完全躲开大家,深怕自己的身材成为大家的笑话。而她的事业也不发展了,“没有物理治疗师可以这么胖的”。每次照镜子的时候,她就觉得自己恶心,渐渐地也不照镜子了。这些社交问题、工作问题、自卑心理等,常常使她陷入低落的情绪,而最能快速使她脱离低落情绪的方式,就是吃… 她常常可以一口气把6、7个包子吃完。尤其在独处时,她更是会不断的吃,可能把一条面包、几包薯片、巧克力等都往嘴里塞,来安抚自己的情绪和自卑感。不用说,撑饱以后,马上的自卑、恶心、嫌弃、罪恶感就会涌现… 然后不断地陷入这样的恶性循环…



我用接纳与承诺疗法(ACT)开始和她治疗,然后才开始用催眠(Hypno-CBT),这个过程中,她变得更自信,更敢言,而这个自信不只是对他人,也包括对她自己,比如当心里想“再吃一个包子吧!明天再减!”,她有能力坚决的对自己说”NO!!”。这个过程中,她发现她原来不只无法对他人说不,她也无法对自己说不,总是太过随波逐流的活着,没有主见,没有目标,没有坚持… 除此之外,咨询开始的一个月后,她的体重每星期稳定持续减少 0.5-1kg,主要因为她不再被食物所控制,而且有能力更经心的感受真正的“饥饿”和经心的享受食物和进食,而不是盲目的“吞”!她还发现当她经心的进食时,其实原来她一点也不爱吃包子,以前却可以一次过吃下至少6-7个。她变得更了解自己的感受和身体的感觉,学会更疼爱自己,做对自己的身心有益的事。三个多月后,她对我说,这个治疗和探索的过程让她发现,其实她根本不想要多一个孩子,她想要专注的把儿子带大,这才是她真正想要的,所以虽然体重减轻了,她或许在两三个月可以再次尝试人工受孕,但她在更了解自己后,有能力做出她自己想要的决定,而先生也支持她。


How to explain “Law of Attractions” scientifically?

Last night Mark was explaining “goal visualisation” to some of the College’s students in China (with me doing interpretation of course, since he doesn’t speak Mandarin and the students mostly don’t understand English). Then a student asked, “When we tell clients to visualise their goals, isn’t this to do with law of attraction?”

The law of attraction (LOA) is the belief that the universe creates and provides for you that which your thoughts are focused on, so if you think positively, you will attract positive stuff. But it’s very much believed by most scientists that this is a pseudoscience. Yet when you do think about it, it seems to “exist”, so how do we explain it from a scientific perspective?

So here is Mark’s answer.

We are perceiving millions pieces of information in every second, through our eyes, skins, ears, etc all parts of our body. But our brain filters the irrelevant information away just so we are taking in what’s relevant. For example, our eyes can only see a few words each time, but we have the illusion that we can see the whole page, or we thought we can see the whole room, but in fact the eyes can only see a small portion of it, and the rest is made up by the brain, based on information it has. We didn’t actually see it.

When we set up a goal and visualise it, what makes it more likely to come true?

Let’s say now you’ve decided that you want to buy this Kawasaki Ninja motorbike one day when you are able to. And once this becomes your goal, somehow, all in a sudden, you start to notice this motorcycle on the road a lot more than usual. Obviously people don’t just start to ride on it just because it’s now your goal, but what? Your mind now sees it as relevant to you, and starts to allow it to enter your awareness. In other words, you start to notice it more now that it’s your goal, all the while they have been running on the roads.

So when you set a goal and is committed to it, you start to focus on it, your attention is on it, you are motivated to achieve it, you become more open to related information and opportunities, your attitudes also get more active (as opposed to passive), so it seems that “you think positively, you get positive outcome”, but during this process, there are many psychological and biological factors involved.

I remember buying a pair of running shorts from Decathlon or a Snoopy tee from Uniqlo, and in the next two weeks or so, I started to notice quite a few people wearing it. The mind now sees that this is “relevant” to me, while previously this would have been filtered out.

So say now your goal is to look for a job. You would now naturally notice more of the job searching platforms, vacancy advertisements, career advisory services, job centres etc, and thus you would naturally be exposed to more opportunities. So it’s not that thinking about getting a job gets you a job, but your attitudes of becoming more open and your behaviour matter. If you think very positively and do nothing at all all day, does all the positivity still happen out of nowhere?

Likewise let’s say you think that you are an unlucky person, and you’re likely to “see” how unlucky you are and feel miserable about it. Well if you only focus on all the bad things that happen to you and also expect the bad things to happen, it’s difficult to become lucky, right?

Perhaps I can also take this opportunity to recommend John Krumboltz’s “Luck is No Accident”, we can create our own luck, by staying open and curious, not planning much, and expect things to go unexpectedly.





我经常向他们解释,只要我们相信,我们就可以通过催眠实现很多事情。确实,头脑的力量是巨大的。但是这个目标是唯一的例外。不幸的是,我们的思想和记忆并没有像我们期望的那样发挥作用。它们与书橱上个别存储各种文件的文件夹不同,可以经常参阅和置放却不会被影响(就像您在动画 Inside Out!中看到的那样)。




是的,就创造虚假的记忆而言,催眠是一个很好的工具,这是有大量科学研究根据的。您可能会在催眠过程中“回忆”一些比真实感觉更真实的东西,但是那不是真实的……您可以在以下视频中观看更多:为什么您的记忆不能被相信 (需要的话,你可以点选中文字幕自动翻译):


但这并不意味着催眠治疗师或心理治疗师将无济于事。 我实行循证催眠疗法,我可以使用催眠治疗来帮助您学习接纳这个人或记忆或婚外情等作为您“人生历史”的一部分,让它对您的影响变小,学会与之共处并继续前进,而不会干扰您的日常生活。 我也可以使用催眠来促进适当的总结这段关系,告别这段关系和记忆。 试想想,如果它不再对您的生活造成多少影响,对您来说仍然是一个问题吗?

I want to forget someone

As a hypnotherapist (to be exact, cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, or Hypno-CBT therapist), I get clients with this sort of goal every now and then. Usually they want to forget a specific someone, a relationship, totally get rid of a piece of memory (again usually to do with a specific person).

Naturally our rational mind would tell us this is actually not possible, based on science and what we already know about human mind, right? Yet when it comes to hypnosis and hypnotherapy, people generally “lost their senses”, everything that seems impossible elsewhere, seems possible when it comes to hypnosis.

This is right and wrong at the same time. Indeed we can achieve great things with hypnosis, we live more confidently, we become more assertive, we are happier, we confront our greatest fear, we live more according to value, we quit smoking and bad habits, we enjoy life better, we reach our fullest potential, we handle crisis and stress better, we can manage pain that we couldn’t bear before, we … forget someone?

I often explain to them, we can achieve a lot of things with hypnosis when we believe we can. Indeed the power of the mind is great. But this goal being the only exception. Unfortunately our mind and memories don’t work the way we want it to be. They are not like folders on your shelves that are stored individually, and can be accessed and discarded separately without affecting each other (just like what you saw in the animation Inside Out!).

In “Inside Out”, memories are stored individually as if documents on the shelves.

Our mind, body, emotions, feelings, behavour and thoughts are all interconnected, and so are our memories. Each time you take out the memory of “first day in school”, you changed some part of it (depending on the mood and condition you are in when you think about it etc), and you strengthen some related links connected to it and weaken some other.

Imagine if you want to forget this boyfriend or an affair or a lost child, and I’m able to take it away just like that, what about other memories and people and events connected to it? What is going to fill up the emptiness of these years? Perhaps I can make up something there…?

Yes, hypnosis is a great tool in terms of creating false memories. There have been plenty of research showing that. You might “recall” something during hypnosis which feel more real than what’s real, but it just isn’t real… You can watch more about it here in this clip: Why your memories can’t be trusted-

So right, we can’t remove the memories, and it’s unethical for us to create false memories to replace them (after all hypnotherapists are not god, who are we to decide your life stories and simply change it? But undeniably there are some hypnotherapy approach that do that, and we shall discuss this perhaps next time).

Yet it doesn’t mean we can’t help. I practice evidence-based hypnotherapy, I can use hypnosis to help you learn to accept this person or memory or relationship as part of your history, let it affect you less, learn to live with it and move on without having it interfering your life. I can also use hypnosis to facilitate proper closure and goodbye for the relationship and memory too. So, is it still a problem for you if it no longer has so much an impact in your life?