“People are disturbed not by things but the views they take of them”… (Epictetus)

At the core of human emotional disturbance is our tendency to transform desires, wants and preferences into rigid, unhealthy beliefs, rules and demands. These demands might be: I must…; I should…; I have to… I’ve got to; and … it HAS to be!

Often these beliefs are unconscious. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy works towards making our operating beliefs conscious and identifying whether they are healthy and helpful, or unhealthy and unhelpful.

Think of your mind as a computer. Just as you wouldn’t want a corrupt computer operating system – so you don’t want unhealthy beliefs to be underlying and negatively influencing and informing every action, thought, feeling and behaviour.

An unhealthy and self-defeating belief is:

Unrealistic, irrational, illogical, unhelpful and creates psychological disturbance.

This is what it looks like: “This is absolutely AWFUL and the end of my world”! - negative events are viewed as being exaggeratedly and unrealistically 101% bad.
“I can’t BEAR it”! “I’ll NEVER survive this”! – a perceived inability to tolerate discomfort or frustration.
“I’m useless – that’s why I wasn’t promoted” – putting the self down and negatively rating the self based on perceived failures and inadequacies.

Unhealthy beliefs create:

· distorted, unhelpful thinking
· unconstructive behaviour
· living life in a negatively limiting and destructive way

A healthy belief is:

Logical, realistic, helpful and promotes psychological well-being.

This is what it looks like:

“ This is really difficult and painful but I know that I will get through this somehow and that life will go on, at least I still have xyz” – where 100% bad does not exist as it possible to think of something worse.

“This is really challenging and I don’t like it but I can cope with it and work towards it changing for the better”– the ability to tolerate frustration and discomfort despite having a desire or preference blocked.

“I’m really disappointed about not getting that promotion but accept that I am a fallible human being and that my self worth does not depend on getting that job”. – accepting that all humans are fallible but intrinsically worthy, regardless of their successes and disappointments.

Healthy beliefs accept the fact that we don’t always get what we want and that although this may be very difficult it is not the end of the world!

Healthy beliefs create:

· clear, focused and helpful thinking constructive behaviour
· living life in an empowered, self responsible and positive way

We have a common misperception that an event, person or situation causes us to feel a certain way – that something outside of ourselves or out of our control determines how we are going to feel at any given time, eg. “That massive traffic jam really made me angry and ****** off!”

Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT) developed by psychologist Albert Ellis, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), developed by psychiatrist Aaron Beck fundamentally contest this misperception.

They represent this using the ABC model:

A: (Activating event) represents the trigger
B: Represents the belief about the trigger/event. This can be healthy or unhealthy
C: Represents the emotional, behavioural and psychological consequence that follow from the beliefs about A.

This model promotes that unhealthy beliefs will lead to unhealthy consequences and that healthy beliefs will lead to healthy consequences.

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy works with this model and helps the client to understand that emotions and beliefs are caused by beliefs and thinking. The ABC model also includes disputing irrational beliefs (D); and enabling the client to implement new effective ways of feeling and behaving (E).

This is done consciously through discussion and various tasks, and working directly with the unconscious mind in hypnosis. Hypnosis is a relaxed state of altered consciousness that allows for creative helpful problem solving, negotiation and suggestion for implementing new helpful and healthy beliefs and psychological change.

Our thoughts truly do create our reality and we can choose to create a potentially devastating and negative reality, or a potentially hopeful and positive reality. However this often takes work and self discipline! It can be easy to indulge in negative, victim self talk and create feelings of emotional disturbance.

We need to listen and watch out for the ways in which we disturb ourselves. This might be by distorting reality, demanding, seeing events as awful, discomfort intolerance and detrimentally judging ourselves and others. We can then choose to practise healthy and helpful ways of thinking and subsequently feeling.

Through conscious practice and awareness positive change is always possible!


Unhealthy negative emotions Healthy negative Emotions


Unhealthy anger Healthy anger
Anxiety Concern
Depression Sadness
Guilt Remorse
Shame Regret
Hurt Disappointment
Unhealthy jealousy Healthy jealousy
Unhealthy envy Healthy envy