What might a client expect in a first hypnotherapy session? First the hypnotherapist will make sure that the client is at ease by conversationally establishing rapport, and sharing a little information about hypnosis, and then the hypnotherapist will gather information by asking questions about the client's goals. Once the hypnotherapist has gathered the necessary information it's time to begin the formal hypnotic induction. An "induction" is the proceedure used to guide someone into a hypnotic state. The client, who will be seated in a recliner typically, will be asked to close the eyes, and relax. The hypnotherapist begins speaking in a soothing voice, which is usually lower in pitch than normal speaking tones. This begins to set the stage with the unconscious mind of the client for something different to happen, and separates the hypnotic situation from normal conversational interaction.
A common induction technique is a "progressive relaxation" in which the client is asked to imagine a wave of relaxation moving through the body beginning at the head, moving down into the facial muscles, neck, chest, and so on. Once in trance, the hypnotherapist may use† metaphors and stories, as well as direct and indirect suggestions to the client to make the necessary changes to accomplish the client's outcome. While in trance the client is aware of what is being said to them, can choose to accept or reject any suggestion, and will usually remember what happened during the session, although spontaneous amnesia for a session is fairly common. It frequently surprises many to learn that someone in trance does not necessarily have any particular feelings of being "tranced out". Hypnosis is similar to the mental states of common experiences like driving past an expressway exit, as mentioned earlier. We don't feel
tranced out then, even though our minds are "somewhere else".
The body does not distinguish between imagination and reality. A good example of this is when we're watching a movie and jump when something sudden happens on the screen. We're watching imaginary events, mere projected pictures and recorded sounds, but our body reacts with a startle response. The state of hypnosis amplifies our responses to imagery and imagination. So when one is in a trance, the imagination can be used to intensify any feeling or thought, and through the suggestive guidance of a hypnotherapist attach it to an internal cue, like a thought, image, or feeling. The end result is that the client begins to effortlessly work out regularly, feel more satisfied while eating less food, or step into a winner's mentality every time when setting up for a bench press.
By Wesley Anderson Doctor of Clinical Hypnotherapy
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