What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is the process of using hypnosis to interact with the subconscious mind in an open-reflective process to create positive change in your life. There are many techniques and many styles and many applications of hypnotherapy. They all have several things in common: (1) a strong desire to change, (2) a state of deeply relaxed focus, and (3) language and visualisation in relationship to emotions.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is simply a state of relaxed focus. It is a natural state. In fact, each of us enters such a state – sometimes called a trance state – at least twice a day: once when we are falling asleep, and once when we are waking up. That kind of fuzzy, timeless state between dreaming and awake is a trance state. When a nine-minute snooze-button seems to give you enough time to have an-hour long dream, that’s a trance state.
There are many other times that people enter a natural state of trance. Driving, watching TV, listening to music, working on a favourite hobby or activity in the “flow” state. These are all “altered states of consciousness,” and all are various levels of trance. Trance is normal, natural and common.
Some people leave their first hypnotherapy session saying, “I wasn’t hypnotised – I knew what was going on the whole time!” Well of course you did! Hypnosis is not a state of amnesia or of no awareness. Just the opposite true, in fact: hypnosis is a state of very heightened awareness and focus.
Hollywood has perpetrated many myths about hypnosis, and not remembering anything from the hypnosis session is one of those myths. Only under special circumstances would a person forget everything from a session.
Much more can be accomplished when the person undergoing hypnosis remembers everything.
What can’t be treated with hypnotherapy?
Serious psychiatric or mental health problems are referred to a qualified psychotherapist or psychiatrist. Medical problems with the physical body must always be treated by a physician, who can, at his or her discretion, prescribe hypnotherapy for pain control, hypnoanesthesgia or relaxation.
Drug addiction, family dynamics disorders, clinical depression and other such problems need to be treated by doctors and psychiatrists, who can, at their discretion, prescribe hypnotherapy as a supplementary treatment.
Will I bark like a dog or cluck like a chicken?
Let me guess: you’ve seen a stage show where a hypnotist made people do all these crazy things. Or, perhaps you have ideas from Hollywood’s movies and TV. The stage hypnotist carefully selects his subjects (watch how many volunteers he has sit down), and he chooses people he knows WILL bark like a dog. They will because somewhere inside them is a part that loves to entertain. And they will do it because, deep down inside, they don’t believe there is anything wrong with barking like a dog.
Hypnosis can not make you do something that is against your morals or ethics. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, in truth, and no hypnotist can make you do something that you really don’t want to do. That’s why some people can be hypnotised to stop smoking and yet they still smoke. You have to want the change, agree with the change, and then hypnosis is an instrument for helping make that change better, faster, and permanent.
Will I lose control?
This is another Hollywood myth. You always have control, and you can always hear what’s going on. Hypnosis is nothing but a state of relaxed deep focus. It is a natural state that you enter at least twice a day (while waking up and while falling asleep!), and probably much more often than that. If at any time you are in trance and you wish to be fully awake, you can just count to yourself “1 – 2- 3” and open your eyes.
My friend tried hypnosis to quit smoking and it didn’t work.
There is more to changing a serious habit like smoking than just a few hypnotic suggestions, I’m afraid. In the simplest terms, the person must want the change, and they must have a replacement for smoking. Hypnosis can be used to find a healthy, effective replacement, and then it can be used to help flip the subconscious over to the new, healthy habits.
While sitting in a room with 50 other people in a seminar, or listening to a stop-smoking CD can work, it is usually much more effective to have a personalized session with a hypnotherapist, who can customize the approach, language and replacement suggestions to match your lifestyle and circumstances.
How much does hypnotherapy cost?
Of course it varies from city to city and from professional to professional. The average seems to be somewhere between £75 and £125 per session, with session commonly being between an hour and an hour and a half long. Some Hypnotherapists offer pay-one-price programs – for smoking cessation, for example, where you pay £300 or £400 for all the sessions in the program. This can be a good approach to ensure that effective follow-up sessions take place.
How do I choose a good hypnotherapist?
I would recommend talking with them over the phone, and asking any questions you have. Any questions at all. They should be able to answer any questions you have in a friendly, informative, and understandable manner.
You should select a hypnotherapist that seems warm and friendly, and is easy to for you to understand and follow. Their voice should be pleasing to you, especially since you will probably be listening to cassette tapes with their voice on them many times.
If you are worried about qualifications, ask if they are members of any professional hypnotherapy organisations, and why they chose to belong to the ones they do. Ask them about a code of ethics. Ask for references if you like! If they can’t supply you with any, don’t use them. It’s always a good bet to check your local Better Business Bureau to see if there have been complaints filed in the past on this person.
All in all, you should be comfortable with the person’s demeanour, voice, and instructional style. Typically, the first twenty minutes of your first session with a hypnotherapist will be an introduction to hypnosis and a bit of chat about the changes you would like to make. If you find the hypnotherapist rubbing you the wrong way after this twenty minute chat, you should simply say that you don’t think you are quite ready to be hypnotised yet, and you would like to try another day. Then interview other hypnotherapists until you find one you like.
Why should I learn self-hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a powerful life skill for the modern person. There is a great deal of stress to be handled in today’s work environment, schools, and society in general. Self-hypnosis, at the most basic level, is wonderful for de-stressing, calming, and restoring a healthful energy to your body. It gives a sense of control and connectedness to your mind and body that supports confidence and success.
After becoming more skilled in self-hypnosis, you’ll find that it can help you maintain motivation and peak performance, as well as health and vigour. It can help you make clear decisions. It is incredibly powerful to be able to discover what your subconscious beliefs and patterns are and be able to change them at will. You can literally design your life! Cope with almost any problem. Remain more calm and centred in day to day life. You can design your patterns and beliefs to propel you to your highest goals and to your vision of success.
How is hypnotherapy different than affirmations?
Hypnotherapy has the advantage of being able to communicate with the subconscious in a two-way fashion. Affirmations don’t facilitate direct responses from the subconscious; they only seek to speak to the subconscious.
A post-hypnotic suggestion is also different than an affirmation: effects tend to be more direct, more specific, and more immediate when using post-hypnotic suggestions.
Other than that, the language of hypnosis and of affirmations is similar. Both are always expressed in the present tense, and always in the positive. If you ever meet a hypnotherapist that uses the words, “don’t smoke” as a direct suggestion, choose a different hypnotherapist!
Isn’t Hypnosis dangerous?
Myths about hypnosis, perpetuated by Hollywood movies, urban legends and fiction books lead people to think all kinds of things about hypnosis, including that it is somehow dangerous. Some people have heard that you can go into trance and not wake up. Or that the hypnotist can make you do things you don’t want to do. These things are untrue. You are always in control, always able to “came back” to full waking state at anytime if you wanted or needed to. The number one job of the subconscious mind is to protect you, and it is always on the job.
Of course, you will want to choose a hypnotherapist that has been well trained and that is trustworthy. Select one that gives you confidence. Hypnosis is a safe and beneficial procedure when facilitated by an ethical and trained professional.
Do always keep in mind that hypnosis is not a treatment or cure for mental illness, and people suffering from psychosis, suicidal depression, or that are on medications for psychological stability should only be hypnotised by their doctors or psychiatrists or by an experienced hypnotherapist with the client’s doctor or psychiatrist present.