What happens during my first solution focused hypnotherapy session?

by | | Hypnotherapy and you

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy sessions follow a well-researched structure. Essentially this means that the structure of your first session will be very similar if not identical to your last. The timings of each part of the session may differ but the order and flow of the parts will be the same.

By reading this article you will find out what parts make up your session and discover the reason for the inclusion of each one.

Inconsequential language

This starts at the beginning of each session. Instead of the term inconsequential language, you might prefer to think of it as a chat. I’ll greet you into the session then we have a quick natter about what we’ve been up to during our day or any fun things that have happened during our days. Popular topics seem to be the weather (very British), crazy things our children have done, books/ podcasts we’ve been reading or listening to and any hobbies and interests we’ve taken part in.

Why is this included?

It’s really important that we build up a rapport. While most of the session is quite structured this first few minutes is a good time to find out more about each other’s lives and the things that we enjoy.

a family gardening

What’s been good?

For all the time that we work together, you will be asked to write down 3 little positive things that have happened during your day. This means that you will usually have around 20 things on your list when you see me the following week. If your memory is as bad as mine, then please feel free to bring your list to your session. If you feel like a challenge, then leave it behind and let’s see how many you can remember.

Why is this included?

When we have anxiety and low mood we spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking from our primitive brain. This part of our brain really isn’t that clever. Its main aim is to ensure our survival but it will try and muscle in and take control of our thinking if we let it.

By talking about the positive things that have been happening during your week you allow your thinking to come from a part of your brain known as your left pre-frontal cortex. This part of your brain is much more intelligent, rational, positive and logical and therefore you will be in a much better position to answer the questions that will be directed at you later in the session.

A woman standing next to a picture of the workings of the brain

Brain revision

You will have been given a lot of information during your initial consultation. I would have spent around 15 minutes detailing how your brain works and explaining why you feel the way you do. During our first session, I will go over this explanation so you have a good understanding of your brain, why it’s currently working against you and what we need to do to get it back on your side.

During subsequent sessions where appropriate, I’ll teach you different techniques so that you are able to take control of your anxiety should it rear its ugly head during the day.

Why is this included?

For you to be as engaged in your therapy as much as possible it’s really important that you understand what is happening inside your brain to make you feel the way you do. If I just tell you to do something but you don’t understand why I’m asking you to do it, or the benefit that you’ll receive from doing it, then the likelihood is that you won’t continue to do it.

By applying the techniques when you notice you are feeling anxious or if a negative thought stick inside your mind, you’ll be better able to stop them in their tracks and be able to get on with the rest of your day.

Solution Focused Questions

With solution focused hypnotherapy we are not concerned about analysing your problem. Our focus is always on the outcome that you want to achieve. It’s not to say that we can’t talk about the past, but if we do it’s to highlight the strengths and resources that you used that enabled you to deal with that situation.

It’s important that we establish what your best hopes are. In other words, what do you want the outcome to be at the end of our time working together? This will then provide the focus for my questions.

Some typical questions I will ask include:

What are your best hopes?

How will your life be different when you’ve achieved your best hopes?

On a scale of 1 -10, how close are you to achieving your best hopes?

What would be the first thing that you would notice if you were a step closer to achieving your best hopes?

Who else would notice?

What would they see?

Why is this included?

All the time you are answering these questions your brain is slowly changing through a process called neuroplasticity. Effectively you are changing the structure of your brain.  Neurons are firing and wiring together to build up new pathways in your brain. Your brain is working behind the scenes to help you achieve your best hopes.

A woman listening to a hypnosis track

Guided Relaxation

The last part is the part which most people enjoy the most. At this point you’ve done all the hard work so you can just close your eyes, lie back and relax. I’ll put on some calming music and then read a variety of different scripts and metaphors. You might imagine being on a tropical island visualising all your worries spiraling up into a cloud, or you might see them all floating away from you in a hot air balloon.

As long as you have the ability to relax (which you most certainly do as otherwise you’d never be able to sleep) then you will get an enormous amount of benefit from this part of your session.

Why is it included?

During hypnosis, your brain waves change. As you relax your brain waves alter and rather than beta waves being more prominent your brain produces more alpha and then theta waves. As this happens the parts of your brain that create stress hormones become less prominent, this allows other parts of your brain to become more active.

During this daydream-like state, your brain becomes more focused and is able to visualise and problem-solve. It’s very similar to what happens during your REM sleep stage (this is when you dream). This is the reason why we are told to ‘sleep on it’ before making a big decision. It’s when you sleep your brain is able to problem-solve, which is why you are able to make a more informed decision the next morning.

As we have been previously talking about your best hopes, your brain will focus on this and continue to build up pathways to help make this future a reality. As the parts of your brain that problem-solve become more active during hypnosis, you will build these pathways up at an increased rate.

These pathways will be built in your prefrontal cortex, the intelligent part of your brain. This means you will spend more time thinking from this part of your brain (where there is no anxiety) as opposed to the emotional, negative, obsessional part.


So hopefully now you are more knowledgeable about what parts make up a solution focused hypnotherapy session and understand that it’s a process based on the science of how your brain works.

Perhaps you might be interested in reading some other articles in my ‘Hypnotherapy and you’ series including:

A users guide to solution focused hypnotherapy

What happens during an initial consultation?

Is solution focused hypnotherapy right for me?