[ What is hypnotherapy || Does it work and how || What happens in a hypnotherapy session ]
Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis or trance to assist people in dealing with medical and non medical conditions or in changing habits. As a complimentary medical technique, it is used to create a semi conscious state where increased suggestibility and relaxed awareness can be combined with suggestions, guided visualisation and metaphor. It is most commonly used to create change in habits and in some cases physical conditions.
Does hypnotherapy work
My usual answer to that question is.., it depends on the therapist.
With a flexible approach most people can achieve benefit from a hypnosis session. Flexibility is often needed because people have preconceived idea’s about what hypnosis is, based on a belief in it being mind control or little more than stage hypnosis where people seem to lose control of themselves.
This is unuseful for hypnotherapy which for the most part is practised by professional well trained and experienced therapists who’s intention is to help you overcome a challenge or create a new habit.
While hypnotherapy is often an effective treatment, it is still often not considered mainstream enough over more traditional methods such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and psychotherapy.
Hypnotherapy may not suit everyone. There is no one magic way of helping people.
With an experienced hypnotherapist though.., most people can achieve varying levels of trance.
Contrary to belief, during a hypnotherapy session you remain in control and are often more aware, rather than less aware.
Used alone or combined with other methods such as NLP or talking therapies, hypnosis can be a powerful tool for change where traditional methods have been ineffective.
How does hypnotherapy work
During a hypnotherapy session you are very calm and relaxed. Your conscious thoughts tend to drift away.
Often hypnotherapists will refer to a conscious mind and an unconscious or subconscious mind.
Our conscious mind is what we are primarily aware of all day while our unconscious or subconscious mind is where the learnings and knowledge we have that guide our automatic behaviour are stored.
This is how the brain works. IE: Once you have learnt something well enough or that has significance for safety (real or perceived).., the mind considers it to be part of your operating system. And to save mental time and clarity, your mind makes it automatic rather than needing to be thought about constantly.
We learn through association
For example, you do not need to keep learning about a hot stove being painful to touch each time you see one. You know instantly and don’t even have to think consciously about it. The challenge is, that sometimes you may ‘accidentally’ learn that something is painful when in reality it is not. An example of this is being scared once or twice by the sudden sight of a spider and developing a phobia of them.
This is your brain trying to protect you by keeping you away from them, because your fear reaction triggered the brain to make the association that all spiders are dangerous.
During a hypnotherapy session as you relax, you tend to get more in touch with the unconscious parts of your mind which are where memories, beliefs and habitual impulses are stored and acted upon. Thus by being guided into this state, new choices and associations can be made, old habits can be replaced by new ones, and memories that have been forgotten can be accessed and understood from a now older and wiser perspective.
In a sense, a hypnotic trace state is where it becomes easier to re-program or de-program your automatic actions and thoughts without the conscious mind chatter that can get in the way of making these changes.
What happens in a hypnotherapy session
Typically a session will start with the therapist asking questions to gain clarity on what you want before any official trance work.
You will be invited to either lie down or sit in a comfortable chair and the process will begin with an induction phase. IE: The part of the session that is designed to relax you into a trance state. Bear in mind that there are varying levels of trance and that you do not need to go into what feels like a deep state for the trance to work. Certain goals however will be better suited to a deeper trance than others.
There are a number of ways that an induction can go. You may be guided to visualise yourself somewhere. You may start by focussing on something with your eyes open first like a spot on the wall. You may be guided to tense and release each body part one after the other. Or you may just be invited to listen as the therapist tells a specific story that has metaphoric meaning (this can also make up part of the suggestion phase of the session).
Once relaxed, what happens next
The second phase of the session is where the ‘work’ is done although often the two will blend into each other in a way that you don’t notice.
Sometimes the therapist will simply give you positive suggestions for change at this point, tell a story, guide you to do something visually and/or verbally with past people or memories.., or simply gather information to be used in another way.
Because the conscious part of your mind is in the background at this point you are less likely to reject the suggestions and rather accept them as being true for you.
Again remember you are always in control and will under almost all circumstances only accept suggestions that are beneficial to you. It is very rare to have a negative suggestion be accepted unless it is already true for you and this is of course where the integrity and trust of the therapist comes into play.
On that note, if you feel untrusting of the therapist at any time.., then it is best for your time and their‘s to end the session. As without trust, you will not let go and relax into a useful hypnotic trance anyway.
If you’ve never been to a hypnotherapy session I suggest you give it a trance and go. Slight bit of hypnosis humour there.