What is Hypnotherapy?
So, what is hypnotherapy? Hypnotherapy is a therapy that uses hypnosis to make change. Hypnosis is an altered state of awareness whereby the unconscious mind is more open to suggestions that correspond with the goals of the individual. This state of awareness is commonly known as a trance. However, the word trance doesn’t give out a true interpretation of what is happening. In truth, this “trance” is a conscious experience. At all times during a hypnosis session, the client is conscious and in control of themselves.
Hypnosis is a structured therapeutic tool. By this it means that it follows a set of procedures that offer flexibility allowing for individually tailored therapy. In terms of a structure, a hypnosis session does follow a set of procedures. However, each part can be modified in order to meet the client’s individual goals. This is where hypnosis differs from other mind therapies such as CBT. Being able to offer flexibility and make the session about what the client wants, works wonders in helping them to feel relaxed and make the desired changes.
How does hypnotherapy work?
When making changes, the hypnotherapist uses positive suggestions that are in line with the goals of the client. The unconscious mind does not process negatives, nor does it process suggestions that go against the beliefs and values of the individual. It is important to note that the mind will focus on whatever you tell it to focus on as well as what you tell it not to focus on. If for example you tell someone not to think of a white elephant, the first thing they are going to do is think of a white elephant. In order to make change, the client must have suggestions of change put across positively. The approach taken by a hypnotherapist can vary and greatly influence the success of the session too.
Hypnosis is gaining a lot of recognition for its effectiveness not only in behavioural change, but also for medical use in pain relief as well as a range of other mental and physical ailments. It is a flexible treatment that can be used for depression, anxiety, pain, stress, habit disorders, fear and phobias, IBS, the list goes on. Hypnosis is also gaining a lot of traction due to the fact that there are no known side effects. During hypnosis, the client simply hears the voice of the therapist. No drugs are administered and therefore the therapy is completely safe.
Hypnotherapy is not…
Hypnotherapy is not stage hypnosis.
It seems that most people are introduced to hypnotherapy through what is commonly known as stage hypnosis. Stage hypnosis is conducted for the medium of entertainment. Throughout the act, the audience are put through a range of different hypnotisability tests. These tests function to entertain but also to thin out those that may believe they can be hypnotised. In these cases, the audience members who are most likely to comply and act the part are picked. This also applies to snap inductions, whereby an individual has seen a hypnotist snap their fingers and put the participant into a trance.
Hypnotherapy is not mind control.
Many believe that the hypnotherapist controls the mind of the individual and makes them do things. This of course is not true. A hypnotherapist feeds the unconscious mind suggestions of positive change that matches the goals of the individual. No one can be controlled through hypnosis just as no one can be controlled out of hypnosis. At all times during hypnosis, the client is in control of themselves. A client will also only accept suggestions that are positive and in line with their goal. The unconscious mind will not take on suggestions that go against the client’s beliefs or values. The client is never subordinate to the therapist. The hypnotherapist is not the dominant character in this partnership, more a facilitator for change.
Hypnotherapy is not a silver bullet.
Often, clients believe that simply by being put into “hypnosis”, all issues can be removed. This is not the case as change comes from a desire for change and willpower. Hypnosis helps the client to get their mind focused on what they actually want and then gets the unconscious mind working towards that goal. This reduces the amount of willpower needed, as willpower is a finite conscious resource and eventually runs low. However, if the unconscious mind is focused towards the goal, then consciously the individual doesn’t need to channel as much willpower in order to work towards their goal. It is also important to remember that the client actually has to want to change. If the client is not really invested in their goal, then the odds of change are slim. This is because the change they potentially want isn’t a must.
Hypnotherapy is not sleep.
Hypnosis it is an altered state of consciousness whereby the unconscious mind is more suggestible. At all times during hypnosis, the client is conscious and in control of themselves. Many people believe that they have been asleep during a hypnosis session. This can be down to a number of factors including time distortion and partial amnesia.
Hypnotherapy is not a placebo.
During hypnosis, it has been observed that different areas of the brain are activated when compared to a placebo. Different areas of the brain are activated, opening neurological pathways between conscious thought processing and unconscious activity and function. Hypnosis also differs from the placebo in terms of ethics. Hypnosis is explained in great detail to the client, whereas a placebo is given deceptively to make an individual think that a medication works to treat a certain ailment.