Altering Mindsets in Addition to Altering States of Consciousness


Tunnels & Windows

Those who use hypnosis for clinical problem solving are often trained in the observation and management of states of consciousness. While changes in consciousness can help produce new opportunities for learning and performance on therapeutic tasks, it is a change in mindset that governs the overall response of a person to his or her life. When the client is stuck in a mindset of despair, conformity, impulsiveness, or procrastination, he or she will be ill-prepared to cope with complex problems that require tenacity or creative solutions. Therapy under these conditions will be slow and difficult. The process will feel as if the th
erapist is doing most of the work. In contrast, a person who has his or her thoughts, emotions, and motivation governed by a problem solving mindset will have greater access to the mental resources required to meet the challenges of daily living. The five core components of the problem solving mindset include: optimism, intuition, insight, deliberation, and a commitment to implementation.  These mindsets can be communicated simply, sometimes with a single question or statement. For example, to communicate optimism we simply convey the idea that, “You can!” and for insight, “Invent new possibilities!” and for intuition, “You already know!” and for deliberation, “You should consider …” and finally for implementation, “You will!”

This tendency to operate in accord with a mindset is innate and has been studied in social psychology under the rubric of “mindset theory.” Mindsets do not need to be taught but rather can be activated or triggered by those who understand the mental dynamics of problem solving. For examples of this, think of the skillful basketball coach who is able to get his team to play harder even though they are losing by a large margin (i.e., optimism), or the gifted classroom teacher who is able to get her students to “think outside of the box” (i.e., insight), or the sage who tells his disciples, “You will know what to do when the time comes” (i.e., intuition), or the pragmatic priest who helps keep kids off of drugs and off the streets by getting them to really consider the choices they are making (i.e., deliberation), or the determined commander who orders, “Burn the boats!” so that the only way home is to defeat the enemy (i.e., implementation). Knowing how to use these mindsets for clinical problem solving, and how to activate them within others; increases the probability that both client and therapist will thrive and find enjoyment in meeting the immediate challenge. Rather than being content with symptom removal, this method of practice is focused on equipping the individual for more effective problem solving throughout the lifespan. This objective is reflected in the adage, “Give a man a fish and he is fed for a day. Teach him to fish, and he is fed for a lifetime.” Students of this practice not only learn how to help clients thrive in the face of adversity, but also how their own lives can be enriched by learning to view each problem as an opportunity waiting to be discovered.


5 Responses to “Altering Mindsets in Addition to Altering States of Consciousness”
  1. Nathan says:

    Dear Dr Short,

    I just want to thank you for your article about Mindset Theory, and for the pdf you linked to. Very useful!

    I’ve been stuck in a Ph.D. life trap (and life opportunity!) for ten years. After trying a lot of different modalities I’m finally really seeing the connection between trauma, dissociation, attention, avoidance coping, distraction, and procrastination. And it isn’t just past trauma, it is recurrent trauma! I found a short article by Dr Kerson that synthesized a lot of the connections that I’ve been making ( ).

    I do give great attention to the importance of mindstates. Kerson’s article mentions the Ego-state modality. On my own, I’ve recognized the importance of knowing aware of whether I am in a Dependency-Subjugation mindstate, a rebellious mindstate, or more of an adult, mature, and balanced mindstate.

    So it was great to come across your article. When so much attention is given to these fixed, medicalized, life-long, burdensome diagnoses, like “bipolar disorder ii”, it is refreshing to see attention given to mindstates, with the recognition that healthy ones sometimes can be invoked fairly quickly!

    Anyway, I read the pdf you linked to, and I am optimistically using my insight, intuition, deliberative skills to try out the combined MCII technique that Gollwitzer described: Mental Contrasting to establish goals, and setting Implementation Intentions to anticipate and bridge crux points. And that’s a commitment!

    Just wanted to share.

    Thanks again,


    • Dan Short says:


      This is awesome, it sounds like you have discovered your point of passion. It is difficult to escape existing frames of reference, and see new possibilities for experiencing reality, but it sounds like you have done it.
      Thanks for sharing, Dan

  2. Menaj Shamsaee says:

    Dr. Short,

    I absolutely love the simplicity that you bring into therapy; focusing on individual empowerment and making use of enormous talent and resources that the mind has. Only when we can distract from symptoms and diagnosis and focus on brain’s ability to solve problems we have truly helped the client!

    Thank you for the the article!


  3. lunarstar11 says:

    Therapies are really helpful to get rid of an addiction. My brother had sought the help of a rehab center in British Columbia (Edgewood) to get rid of codeine addiction. They really helped him and now, he’s relieved from his addiction problem. The mental strength and attitude of the quitter are as much important as the recovery plan for a better result.

    • Dan Short says:

      This is wonderful news for your brother. I believe one of the great secrets to successful therapy is the client, and his or her desire to have a better life.

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