Hypnotherapy can be a very effective way to deal with a number of concerns. Whether you are looking to manage feelings of anxiety, anger or depression or have a habit, obsession or addiction as a result, hypnotherapy can be a very positive and powerful way of moving forward. Some people look to hypnotherapy to increase performance at work or in sport. Some people use it to manage nerves before an exam or performance. Hypnotherapy can be a rapid method of stopping smoking.
However, a lot of people may not consider hypnotherapy as a viable treatment because of the myths that surround it. In is inevitable that such an enigmatic intervention could be viewed in such a sceptical way so, in this blog, I will explain away so of the misconceptions, mysteries and concerns that seem to surround this form of therapy.
It isn’t really real, is it? How could a hypnotist get people to do all of that crazy stuff? Is that what will happen in the therapy room?
From the beginning of the stage presentation, the stage hypnotist will use certain tests to pick subjects that are going to be the most impressive subjects to hypnotise. These people are generally those who don’t need much of a reason to partake and perform. Hypnosis is good for lowering inhibition… Alcohol does this as well. These outgoing subjects are most likely to go along with the hypnotist’s suggestions. They are happy to perform. It is, therefore, likely, that someone who is naturally more reserved, would be less inclined to accept the hypnotist’s suggestions in a trance like state.
Generally, in clinical hypnotherapy, the clients are open to suggestions about change (i.e. feeling more confident, motivated, rejecting phobias etc) as this is the reason why they have come. The sample is self-selective. They have not come to perform or ‘dance like a chicken’ so that is really not possible in a clinical setting. A hypnotherapist cannot make you do anything against your moral code or that you are opposed to.
I have heard that not everyone can be hypnotised so it may not work for me.
Hypnotherapy induces a state similar to REM sleep. Since everyone sleeps, everyone can generally enter this state quite easily. Deeper trance states can be more hit and miss but these states are not used nor needed in therapeutic hypnotherapy.
I have never been hypnotised before. I don’t know what to expect
Most of us enter a hypnotic trance regularly, in fact, several times during a day. It is unlikely that when you drove to the shops you remember or even focused on every turn and traffic signal. This is because you were on autopilot or, indeed, trance. Trance feels similar to an intense daydream but it is different for everyone.
Can a hypnotist retrieve memories?
Not at all. Hypnotherapy will fire up the imagination using relaxation and suggestibility. Any experience recalled through this is likely to be less reliable than fully conscious memory.
What does hypnotherapy feel like?
Hypnosis is a highly subjective experience. Generally speaking the ideal state to work with a client within the middle ground between awake and asleep although, in reality, clients drift round from one to another in one session. It has a lot in common with REM (Rapid Eye Movement) which is one of the initial stages of sleep and feels like a state of intense focus and imagination (a dream of daydream). A lot of clients have an expectation that they will be in a mesmerised state which will take them to another dimension. The reality is that clients are generally much more ‘in the room’ than that. The most frequent description is that clients feel awake, conscious but in a state of deep relaxation where they don’t want to move and can let their imagination take the lead.
I am too mentally strong to be hypnotised
Some people will describe all hypnosis as self-hypnosis and therefore about the focus of the client not the mental weakness. Sports people will often use hypnosis techniques to increase performance which would suggest an association with mental strength not weakness. This myth seems to be a hangover from the days when hypnosis was seen to be about the strength and wizardry of the hypnotist when, in fact, they are just ‘read the map’ whilst the subject ‘drives the car’.
Am I under the control of the hypnotist?
Absolutely not. You always have full control or your body and your mind. As you are in a state on semi-consciousness you always have the final say. In fact, your focus is more intense as you lose more control of your automatic reactions (flight or fight) so that you intellectual mind can take over.