As a professional hypnotherapist I’m regularly cornered at social events and dinner parties by fascinated friends (new and old); quizzing me on “all things hypnotherapy”. Just the mention of hypnosis and what I do seems to create fascination and intrigue. Perhaps you can relate?
So, for the benefit of the curious or those more seriously contemplating therapy in my clinic, I’ve prepared this short article to help you understand hypnosis and hypnotherapy. I’ll cover the more regularly asked questions and even some of what might be described as “rude Q&A”. Some within my profession regard this information as secret and not to be shared. I’ll let you decide. Hopefully you enjoy it.
Before I get into the secrets; what hypnosis really is and how hypnotherapy actually works, let’s first fire up your imagination…
What if your mind had a Control Panel through which you were able to dial-up, dial-down, add or take away some aspect of how you think, feel or operate? A way to introduce a new perspective or skill; or to enhance or modify an existing one?
What would you change, if you could?
Is there something you wish you could do, or do better…but can’t. Perhaps something like get to sleep easily, hold your temper, speak publicly or meet and chat to the opposite sex?
Alternatively, there might be something you wish you could stop doing, such as being stressed and anxious? Perhaps it would be to lose a bad habit or phobia or stop climaxing too early or too late?
Would you like to see or experience certain things differently to reduce anxiety; perhaps worry less and have better confidence and happier feelings? Would you like to have increased or different sensations, say during sex? Perhaps reduce or silence unwanted sensations such as for acute or phantom pain?
Think about that… What would you change, about you…if you could?
Well you CAN. All of this is possible. In fact, these are just a few examples. While there isn’t a physical Control Panel you do in a sense have one, figuratively speaking.
I’m able to adjust, add or even remove thought patterns at my client’s request, with quite a high degree of precision. That’s clinical hypnotherapy. I can help you create the change you want by accessing such capability.
To achieve that, it all starts with hypnosis. That’s the process by which I guide my client or “Subject” into a trance state. Later, I’ll explain why this is highly useful for therapeutic purposes. For now, stay with me on the definitions and building a basic understanding of hypnosis.
What Is Hypnosis And What Is “Trance”?
Hypnosis is a phenomenon that evokes a range of reactions in the imagination of the casual observer. From curious and fascinated, to sceptical or even fearful of its apparent “power of control”. Some see it as shrouded in mysticism. Most misunderstand it. Yet when expertly applied in a clinical environment with therapeutic goals and intent, its benefits can be transformational and enduring, even literally life changing.
So let’s demystify hypnosis and trance.
Hypnosis is the process by which someone deliberately guides their “Subject” (the person being hypnotised) into a “trance state”. Later, I’ll explain why this is highly useful for therapeutic purposes. For now, stay with me on the definitions and building basic understanding.
In a hypnosis session the trance state is achieved deliberately and intentionally. The Subject typically doesn’t fall asleep or become unconscious, have total amnesia or surrender control. In fact, they simply become very deeply relaxed.
What’s it like? Imagine someone communicating with you in a way that creates within you a state of deep comfort and ease, heightened awareness, focused attention and higher “suggestibility”… all at once. That, in simple terms is the process called “hypnotic induction”; the way someone is taken into a hypnotic state. That state is called “trance”.
There’s nothing magical or indeed unusual about going into trance. In fact, trance state is something that each of us experience quite naturally every day. We just don’t recognise it as such. Allow me to explain.
Trance is a term often inappropriately applied and misunderstood. In trance, the subject may appear to be deeply relaxed, with eyes open or closed in a state not unlike daydreaming. Examples include moments where we “drift” under a warm shower, become deeply absorbed by a piece of music, or find ourselves lost in thought as we do something particularly routine like shaving or mowing the lawn. You might experience it at times of deep thought, when entering and exiting sleep or at times when you’re absorbed in intense concentration. Have you ever driven home from work and realised “Wow, I don’t really remember the last few minutes of driving. I must have been on autopilot?”
More likely than not, in each of these circumstances (and there are many others), you’re in an automatically or naturally achieved trance state. In case you’re wondering; yes, you can be in a trance state with your eyes open or closed.
In technical terms, we all have five levels of natural brain activity. We drift in and out of them all at different stages during the day and night. Trance takes us to the Alpha and Theta levels; which are the ones through which our unconscious thinking can be most readily addressed, modified and reshaped. They are also states of great creativity and problem solving, for the same reason.
In trance, subjects are in almost all cases consciously aware and in control of what is going on. It is certainly not a puppet or zombie-like state. Blame Hollywood and vaudeville for that misconception. My clients really enjoy being in trance state. They describe it as a pleasant combination of deep relaxation and focused concentration. Sound familiar? It should!
This is one of the most important realisations for you and one of hypnotherapy’s least often shared secrets. You already know how to go into trance and do it unconsciously and naturally every day. Who knew, right?
This makes hypnotherapy a very natural therapy, achieved through a natural process without the need for drugs or chemicals.
Why is this important? Think about it. If it’s something you already know how to do, your therapist simply guides you there deliberately, rather than you unconsciously drifting there as is otherwise the case. The hypnotic induction is as simple and benign as that. You already know how to get yourself out of trance too. You’re in the driver’s seat, just as you are in the previous examples.
Absorb that thought. When I guide you into trance you actually take yourself there; I simply facilitate it. That puts an entirely different complexion on the experience, doesn’t it?
This also means that there is almost no such thing as someone who can’t be hypnotised. What can be the case however, is that a person decides, consciously or subconsciously, to actively resist induction into trance. That’s actually pretty rare and its proof once again that the Subject is really in control after all.
So in theory, achieving trance part is easy…for both of us
So why do you need me at all? The finesse in hypnotherapy is not just about assisting a client safely and comfortably into and out of trance. It’s what we work on together once you’re there and how we do it that are really important from the perspective of getting results. My role is to carefully manage the depth and nature of your trance throughout the process and apply just the right mix of Strategic Psychotherapy components.
The state of trance, managed correctly, is one of deeply focussed and directed unconscious concentration and a heightened susceptibility to suggestion. Hypnosis is therefore a very useful approach for helping a person to change patterns of thinking, feelings and behaviours. When methods such as Strategic Psychotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Ericksonian hypnotic suggestion are applied during trance, with deliberately directed and “targeted” focus, this is called hypnotherapy. That is, intelligently directed therapy applied under hypnosis.
In my practice, I tailor and apply a treatment plan for each individual client that uses the “right” hypnotic methods and therapeutic techniques to help them feel most comfortable and to optimise therapeutic results.
How I do that varies from person to person and session to session. It’s explained in a lot more detail on my website if you’re interested. I won’t repeat it all here.
There’s lots more to read and explore within the “Understanding Hypnotherapy” section of my website. My YouTube channel has many short videos on related subjects to watch here. It’s all my own work; I hope you enjoy it.
What’s the Experience Like?
Firstly, you’re no doubt wondering how it “feels”. Almost universally, my clients return from their first trace state with a warm smile and comments such as “that was sooo nice”; “so relaxing”; “different than I expected, in a good way”. They typically become better and better at achieving trance quickly in subsequent, and say they really look forward to doing it again.
I can imagine that might take an enormous weight off your mind, as you realise it’s nothing new, that you are in charge and that it feels quite pleasant.
Once in trance, they’re more readily receptive and suggestible and thus can be more easily influenced and treated. There’s lots of clinical evidence to show that messages received in that highly receptive state have far deeper and more lasting effect.
The methods I use during treatment typically follow what is known as the modern hypnotherapy or “Ericksonian” approach.
Unlike more traditional approaches which utilise “scripted” and fairly directive commands, Ericksonian hypnotherapy is far more indirect and evocative. It is proven to be far more effective, achieving lasting results.
Put simply, before we start treatment, we talk at length about what is troubling you and “how that operates for you in your specific case”. We look at what strengths or skills you might have that will be useful to address the changes you seek. We explore exceptions in your life when the problem isn’t a problem. We define the changes you wish to achieve and create a tailored treatment plan; just for you, your way. Almost no two plans are the same.
You typically don’t speak unless I ask you to ask my client’s to speak unless I ask them to. I generally only do so to check in and see how they’re feeling, unless we’ve previously agreed that’s what you want and your treatment goals require.
The trance component of treatment typically takes from 20-40 minutes depending on what we’re treating and how easily you can achieve trance.
So there you have it in a nutshell. Hypnotherapy is a safe and natural process, that harness what you already know how to do, and directs it towards you achieving real and sustained change.
So what’s stopping you? Contact me now to explore how you can achieve the change or improvement you need.
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