My three-stage approach to Therapy

My three-stage approach to Therapy can be highlighted with the acronym, A.I.R. and sets out the journey a client will go on when undertaking work with me.

There are no set time limits dictating a stage. A stage may take three sessions, or it may become apparent to a client after only one.

I am governed by a Code of Ethics and Practices that dictate that an average course of treatment should be around six sessions, up to twelve in extreme cases. I will not keep you coming to see me year in, year out.

Although, occasionally I’ll have clients that wish to have a “top-up” session just for the sensation of being hypnotised again. A General Relaxation session with me is a good, cost-effective way of experiencing total relaxation and stress release!

The goal at Steve Smith Hypnotherapy is to not only help a client get answers to their issue but to keep them in good stead for the rest of their life!

Although there are often patterns within that connect us all, everyone’s journey is different and unique, and I’ve attempted here to break down a typical journey through the three stages to give an insight into how I approach Therapy.



  • Defining what Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy are.

  • Hypnotherapy understands that a clients’ problem, and answers, lie within the sub-conscious.

  • Psych-Education. How the brain and two minds (conscious and sub-conscious) work, their function and roles, and how they are geared for survival.

  • Building awareness of the relationship between mind and body, how our thoughts drive our emotions, which in turn drive behaviour, and the resultant imagery created by our subconscious imagination.

  • Understanding that our behaviour is a conditioned response to our environment and that they are conditioned by our experience.

  • Understanding that our brain filters reality based on our instincts and our experience, allocating incoming stimuli along the following lines and generating a physiological response: - normal, routine (relaxed state), threatening, traumatic, stressful (fight/flight/freeze) or desirable, pleasure-seeking (feed or breed).

  • Understanding that, as part of our survival instinct, our brain is constantly assessing our environment for threats. If we sense a threatening situation, we will tend to replay a conditioned response; one that our sub-conscious has learnt from a young age.

  • Understanding that our subconscious can’t tell the difference between real and imagined, and will generate the resultant physiological response accordingly. So, a trigger can be either external (driven by exposure to something in our environment) or internal (our thought processes) or both.

  • Understanding that our brain sometimes works too hard in trying to protect us, causing our mental health, and sometimes our physical health, to suffer.

  • Understanding that what we sometimes respond to is a negative thought, triggered by stimuli in our environment, and given context by our personal history.

  • Mapping out a client’s issue using a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy map (1-2-3-4) and an intensive, solution focussed questionnaire. This C.B.T. map details the client’s issue along four key elements. Triggers, emotional perception and how it relates to personal history, cognition (thought processes, core beliefs, cognitive distortions) and behaviours (safety behaviours, distress patterns). The questionnaire will disclose the client’s goals, motivations, and how they respond mentally, emotionally and behaviourally to their environment. This all helps to move the client from current behaviour to their ideal behaviour which is based on how they would choose to react.

  • Understanding the importance of daily Mindfulness or Meditation exercises to combat rumination (overthinking) and being able to invoke the relaxation response at will.

  • Understanding that this also helps to train the mind to shift its focus from thoughts to sensations.

  • Understanding that our thoughts, memories, mental images etc., are ours, but they are not us.

  • The importance of knowing how to diaphragmatically breathe and realising that this simple exercise can heighten our awareness of our relationship to our environment.

Introspection and Investigation.

One of the most important elements to Therapy is to unlock Core Beliefs, Drivers and Cognitive Distortions (the #3 on the C.B.T. map). Sometimes we need to dig a bit deeper to uncover these as they are often hard to define.

Our Core Beliefs are how we see the world and ourselves within it and are shaped from our experiences starting from the second trimester (yes, before we were born).

Drivers are the negative thoughts we have about ourselves. The voices in our head that put us down or criticise us harshly. These voices are usually echoes of past things said to us that caused us emotional pain.

Cognitive Distortions are where our thinking is appraising reality incorrectly and where we succumb to a negative situation in our past that emotionally and mentally hurt us.

The Introspection/Investigation stage needs to have these defined so that we can unlock what is known as The Initial Stimulating Event. This is where we were first exposed to a trauma that started the shaping of our Core Beliefs. What should have happened didn’t and what should not have happened did.

Once we have this, we can then reframe it and reappraise it with experienced, wiser, adult eyes. We can also use this event to catapult us into the next stage.

Techniques used in this stage include.

  • Inner Child work (John Bradshaw)

  • Free Association (Freud)

  • C.B.T. exercises

  • Parts Therapy (Roy Hunter)

  • PinPoint Regression

  • Self-Awareness Journal

  • Thought Log

  • Basic Gestalt (Perls. Empty chair exercise etc.)

  • Basic Psychosynthesis (Assagioli)

  • Le Cron 7 part questionnaire


This last stage is usually the last session I will have with a client. It is a reinforcement of everything we’ve learned and a way to rehearse and future pace in trance, the strategies learnt from previous sessions.