What is Hypnotherapy?

So, what is hypnotherapy? Hypnotherapy is a therapy that uses hypnosis to make a change. Hypnosis is an altered state of awareness whereby the unconscious mind is more open to suggestions that correspond to 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 a 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 is 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 on 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 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 medication works to treat a certain ailment.

What is NLP?

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) encompasses what are considered to be the three most influential components associated with producing human experience: neurology, language and patterning. It is a practical approach to change that contains a range of highly effective tools and techniques for changing behaviours and is highly integrated into disciplines such as psychology, personal development and coaching. In essence, it is like a user manual for your brain.

In order to fully understand NLP, it helps to break it down into its three component parts:

Neuro—This refers to our neurology (our brain, nervous system and sense organs). How we take in the world via our senses.

Linguistic—This refers to language and how we use it to communicate with others as well as ourselves (internal dialogue).

Programming—This refers to our behavioural patterns.

As humans, we receive and process information about the world through specialised receptors and our sense organs (part of our nervous system). There are five senses: sight (visual), hearing (auditory), touch (kinesthetic), smell (olfactory) and taste (gustatory), although we tend to process most of the information that affects our behaviours through three of these: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. The information processed through our sense organs gets transmitted to the brain. The brain then filters this information to create an internal representation based on a range of factors including our beliefs, past experiences, etc. In NLP we call this internal representation our “map”.

An operating principle of NLP is that “The map is not the territory”. This means that our internal representation (map) is not an exact reading of the world, but an interpretation that is created by filtering the information through specific personal filters. Our internal representation then affects our state and physiology by selecting the best behaviour (programme) that we currently have at our disposal to handle the situation that we are presented with.

We cannot change the world, but we can change our internal representations. This is where NLP works. In our NLP sessions, we look at the structure of your experience, not the content. As NLP Practitioners, we are not interested in the past. The past has happened and we see no value in reliving it over and over again, especially if the past event in question was traumatic. This does not mean that we are not sympathetic, but we are more interested in how we can change the meaning behind your internal struggle in order to stop it from ever holding you back again.

If our nervous system is how we perceive the world, then NLP is the tool for producing specific communications with it in order to get the best results possible in any given situation.