Other types of modern evidence-based psychotherapy

We psychotherapists are, of course, all working with the same reality, but may be coming at the solutions from different directions. A good example of this is the “Polyvagal Theory of stress” – whilst I as a Clinical Hypnotherapist am working from the rational mind down into the limbic system, they are working from the body up through the Vagus nerve.

Sukie Baxter gives a good (if long) explanation here:


To me, the key points of commonality are:

  • Our nervous system, including our brain, has evolved over 100’s of millions of years
  • The older parts are still there, doing what they have always done
  • Of course these older parts don’t understand rational thoughts, and can’t be changed with rational conversations or thoughts!
  • We understand, perfectly calmly, that our visual processing can be fooled by optical illusions, and our hearing can be fooled by e.g. binaural beats, and so likewise, it should be no surprise that our emotional responses can fooled and get things wrong.
  • An example of this being, that once our survival instincts think we are in a dangerous situation, it will alter the focus of our perceptions towards potential danger, which leads to a feedback-loop: it is looking for danger, so it notices more danger, so it becomes more and more tricked into thinking that we are in danger. Out mind is working exactly as designed – but falling for an illusion caused by “selection bias”.

The rational thing is not to wish our brains worked differently, but rather, to understand how they actually work, and how to get ourselves out of these states.