Clinical hypnosis’ value for situational anxiety

On Friday, December 10th  2010, Jeffrey Lazarus, M.D, a Menlo Park pediatrician who specializes in the treatment of situational anxiety and test-taking anxiety utilizing clinical hypnosis, was the speaker at PEN’s morning session held at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Dr. Lazarus works primarily with children and feels that clinical hypnosis can assist students with their academic performance if they are affected by anxiety or distractibility.  Clinical hypnosis is defined as helping another reach a highly focused state of mind.  In that condition a student is able to visualize doing things he or she didn’t expect they could. 

Anxiety happens when a student overestimates the risks/challenges or when he or she underestimates his/her resources.  For example, a child who starts coughing because he feels anxious can in a highly focused state of mid learn to stop this condition before it gets to the cough state.   One of Dr. Lazarus’ students visualized a stop sign and now uses this image as a tool when the condition begins to make its presence known.  

 If negative self-talk is the issues, he helps the student learn how to deep breath, relaxing their muscles as he teaches them meditation, positive self-talk and clinical hypnosis/guided imagery.  Dr. Lazarus was clear that a highly focused state doesn’t necessarily mean an individual is relaxed. Rather, the guided imagery process enables an individual to find a place in their imagination where they feel relaxed, like a beach or driving down a mountain, or listening to music, whatever.  It’s that state that the student recalls during times of stress.

 The issue of distraction or lack of focus where the student might be thinking about recess, playing after school or remembering a fight with a friend/student can also benefit from clinical hypnosis.  The process of visualization can provide confidence and focus. 

Dr. Lazarus commented that he screens his patients before introducing clinical hypnosis into their life.  If he discovers the child has a hearing or vision issue or learning disability that requires special attention he recommends other specialists in the field required.  He was clear this approach is not for everyone. However, his experience and the results have proven to him and his clients that clinical hypnosis provides an opportunity for an individual to perform differently. It helps students think about how to solve their problems.  

More can be learned about his approach on his website: