Home Articles Store Ask Del About Hypnosis About Del Testimonials For Therapists Links Contact
hypnotherapy books

Del Morrill, M.S. C.C.H


A Center for Counseling & Hypnosis
Tacoma, Washington, USA
(253) 752-1506

What's Hypnosis Got to do with Weight Control?

Other than the running of the automatic body, from the time we are born we first learn everything consciously -- how to eat, how to walk, how to tie our shoes, how to brush our teeth, etc. At first, we are aware of every little motion in trying to learn something; but after we get used to it, it becomes automatic. The process is how a habit is picked up by the subconscious or unconscious part of one's mind. A lot of ideas presented to us would get acted out eventually, if we are encouraged enough, either positively or negatively. The same is true of our eating habits and food ideas. We learned many of them from the types of foods our parents had on the table, and what priority food had in family life and friendships. How emotionally important was food to our family? What style of mealtimes did we have (pleasant, unpleasant)? How important was it to eat all the food on our plate? How important was it to not waste food ("Think of the starving children in China.")? What foods were forced upon us? What foods gave us comfort? What were we offered when we were ill that we didn't get as much when we were well? What was given to us when we were good, and denied when we were "naughty"? We learned from parents, relatives, teachers, and peers just what they thought of someone who had extra weight on them, or didn't have enough weight. We may have had a parent who was overly concerned about our weight. Children we went to school with may have been harsh on other children who were "pudgy" ("Fatty, fatty, two-by-four" -- Prejudices begin early!). All of this was passed on to us from the time we were born. Sometimes inadvertent comments were made, which may been intended in the most loving way -- for instance, to a sick child, "You've got to eat or you'll die." These were picked up at the subconscious (unconscious) levels of the mind. Sometimes a tone of voice may have implied what a person may not have meant in a negative way: "You're so skinny! You look sick! You need to eat more." Sometimes food was pressed upon others, often producing guilt: "But I baked it especially for you!" Many of us chose to protect ourselves along the years from the slings and arrows of life with various layers of the body, while others defended themselves in other ways. The layers might be to protect from the comments of others about being "chubby," or to protect form unwelcome advances, or to prove to someone our minds are more important than our looks, etc. Some layers express anger, resentment or rebellion against another person, or even against oneself. Probably there are as many layers as there are people's experiences. And all of these lie in our deeper self -- the subconscious/unconscious mind. These incidences -- whether intended or unintended, implied or said overtly -- contributed to our concepts of self, food, and weight. And all of these buried themselves in our subconscious/unconscious mind. And, so, we eat... or we starve ourselves.... These images, experiences and feelings become the subconscious drives and underlying motivation related to how we handle food and our eating patterns. So, it is at that level that substantial and long-lasting changes often have to come about. Habits may be changed at a conscious level for a time; but the conscious mind holds only SHORT-term memory and SHORT-term motivation. The deeper causes of those habits often must be identified, reached, and released at the deeper "levels" of the mind where they lie (the unconscious/subconscious self), in order for long-lasting change to take place. By doing so, chances for permanent change are increased many-fold. Habits get changed naturally, without a person feeling deprived. Healthy foods are chosen that are suitable for each particular person, and in amounts appropriate to their own natural weight and size. Self-confidence increases, and one's self-esteem is positively affected. This is the role of hypnotherapy and the use of hypnosis, from my perspective. And, this is why I do what I do. When I work with an individual on weight control, I first do an intake with the individual that focuses on weight management. It includes questions that help me know more about the client and his or her family of origin. The intake goes on to ask about the family's attitudes and experiences concerning food, weight, eating around the table, etc. Then there are sections that allow the client to check off eating habits, foods eaten or not eaten, and when they eat (emotional eating). Doing an intake allows me to get some feeling about the real concerns the person has, and possible problems that lie more deeply. Because I believe sessions should involve critical awareness as well as the hypnotic work, I give printed information and suggestions during the sessions on basic health information related to food, eating and cooking processes, as well as some suggestions for certain food substitutions. I include a couple of articles that pertain to our misperceptions about our bodies. A week's work of logging sheets divided into morning, afternoon, and evening, are given as homework. The left column is for logging what is taken into oneself daily, and the right column is to note what they've felt like, and experienced, during the day. This allows me to discern any relationship between food and emotional and physical well-being. At the bottom of the sheet there is a space for them to note any particular insights they've had or changes they've noticed. From the beginning of our work together I never speak of "losing" or "loss" when it comes to weight. Those words, which are used so constantly with discussions about weight control, bring up guilt and the desire to "find what one has lost." Since words have power, and the client doesn't wish to find the weight they get rid of, I choose instead to use such words as get rid of, discard, shed, etc. The hypnosis sessions include seeking out the problem behind the habits and symptoms, improving eating and exercising habits, drinking enough water, and encouraging a healthy functioning of the body. I create special suggestions that directly cut over against early training concerning food, eating habits and attitudes about weight. I include suggestions that assist clients in becoming comfortable with their changing body size, so that they are less inclined to return to the weight that had become a kind of "comfort zone." I add a lot about self-confidence, motivation, belief in oneself as worthy, and having the courage and ability to change. I help the client release protective layers, if it seems appropriate. I speak to the child part of the adult, if I feel it is involved in the weight issue. If a person comes to me truly willing to change, it is wonderfully fulfilling for me, as their co-partner. I find hypnotic processes to be the finest methods of any I have ever learned as a counselor, and feel privileged to assist my clients in the journey they have undertaken.

--copyright Del Hunter Morrill





Ask Del

About Hypnosis

About Del


For Therapists