1) How and why does hypnosis work?
Precisely how hypnosis works is still not known. But most of the mind’s workings are still shrouded in mystery, and hypnosis is no exception! Precisely how your mind carries out easy, everyday things such as walking, talking, and recognising faces, is just not known. Hypnosis taps into a natural ability of the mind in roughly the following way. The mind is divided into two parts, the conscious and the unconscious. People use the conscious part in making everyday decisions, while the unconscious is home to our memories, beliefs, fears and behavioural patterns. It is the unconscious mind that responds to hypnosis.
Hypnotherapy combines this deep state of relaxation with therapy to promote relatively fast and lasting personal transformation, change, and development.
Therapy combined with hypnosis can help you gain access to a deeper wisdom and understanding. The level of relaxation is the key to regaining control of thoughts and feelings that do not honour how you wish to present yourself and how you wish to feel. You can let go of negative thoughts and labels that you have absorbed in the past, and replace them with thoughts and feelings, and labels that reflect the truest, the best and the brightest in your life now.
In a session of interactive hypnotherapy, you design the suggestions that are to be installed within your subconscious mind. You get to choose and to suggest, and to embed, the words and the phrases that best reflect the feelings and the values that you, as an individual, wish to govern your own personality. You get to design your own labels!
2) Would I be put to sleep?
The state of hypnosis is an altered state of awareness. It is a heightened state of awareness. It is not a state of sleep. Hypnosis is a way to reach a delicious state of relaxation, a state in which time passes very quickly. At the end of a session, you may find it quite incredible to learn that you have been in this relaxed state for almost an hour or more. An hour in hypnosis is, in a sense, equivalent to a couple of hours of sleep, in so far as one awakens from the relaxation feeling rested, rejuvenated, and mentally cleansed.
Hypnosis is not a passive state. You can laugh in hypnosis, and you can cry in hypnosis. Neither emotion will necessarily disturb the state of relaxation. If, however, you were to be faced with some form of danger ? if, say, someone outside the practice room were to shout "Fire!" then you, the client, would immediately end the hypnotic state. (Of course your hypnotherapist would intervene to bring you out anyway, but she wouldn't need to.) Your natural protective faculties would bring you back into the room, fully back into full waking consciousness.
3) Is Hypnotherapy safe?
Interactive hypnotherapy is a very nurturing process of negotiation and persuasion with lots of lasting, positive effects. You should find that your self-esteem and self-confidence are boosted, whatever areas of your life you are working on. Just think about what you want to achieve and keep an open mind.
4) What happens during a consultation?
Having made an appointment, clients often ask whether any preparation is necessary, and what to bring. Well, I suggest that you bring an open mind.
I often say to my clients that, as a therapist, I am a facilitator ? a cheerleader, a partner in your dance ? a player on your team. But it is you that creates the music, and the song. In a deep state of hypnosis it is your wisdom that provides the content. It is the wisdom that is within yourself that affords you the clarity and the understanding. Remember always ? you are the composer and you are the arranger of your life's song and dance. Interactive hypnotherapy positions you in a state of relaxation to take hold of your creative reins and to steer a fresh course.
As the client, when you arrive at your first session, you will be invited to share more about your interest in hypnotherapy and your reason for coming. You will be asked: What do you want to achieve? How would you like to feel? How would you like to experience yourself? Or, even, what do you want to be called?
You will be gently guided into a state of relaxation, and the interactive dance will begin.
5) Is it safe to go to an amateur hypnotherapist?
It may well be safe, but you would be safer to seek a professional who is associated with a professional body such as the Hypnotherapy Society. Hypnotherapy is essentially a very safe and enjoyable procedure, but obviously it involves placing trust in an individual, and you will want to be sure that your therapist is worthy of that trust. It is perfectly normal to seek referrals, and endorsements from former clients, or recommendations from a professional body.
Just as you may seek a second opinion about a builder, or an accountant, before hiring them to start work on your home or your financial affairs, do get an independent opinion of prospective hypnotherapists. Discuss the nature of your interest in hypnotherapy with each of them, and get a sense of how you feel they respond to you.
Use common sense, and if in doubt ask for further information and justification. A responsible hypnotherapist will be delighted to clear up any doubts or questions you may have.
6) How can I check the credentials of my hypnotherapist?
Feel free to ask questions, such as the following:
- Which professional body do you belong to?
(You can request a telephone number for the professional body if you wish. Every professional body has a code of ethics, and this will be supplied to you on request.)
- Where and with which organisation or teacher did you train?
- How long have you been practising as a hypnotherapist?
- Will I be fully participating in the process?
(Some hypnotherapists offer direct suggestion hypnosis.)
- When reading promotional literature employ common sense, and if in doubt ask for further information and justification of any over the top claims.
7) May I video my session?
Video-recording a session is not usual practice. Most hypnotherapists will not be equipped to do this. If you were willing to provide the equipment to video-record your session it is unlikely your request would be refused. Do bear in mind that the set up time may eat into your therapy work. It may be more realistic just to make an audio-tape recording of your session. Again, this is not a common practice and therapist may not have the necessary equipment to hand.
Before you do either, do consider what your reasons for recording the session are? Do you really need to?
You may associate the word ‘hypnotism’ with what you have seen on television and on the stage, or what you may have heard second-hand about stage hypnosis. You may believe that in hypnosis you may lose control, may be humiliated, embarrassed, or reveal a secret. You may fear that you will not remember what happened to you. In fact, hypnotherapy – unlike stage hypnosis – is a process of negotiation and persuasion. You are in control each and every step of the way. You are very much aware of everything both you and your therapist say and you will remember the gist of everything said by the therapist and yourself. As you have already discovered, hypnosis is a heightened state of awareness. It is not a state of sleep.
Hypnosis is essentially the same sort of thing as self-hypnosis, in so far as the crucial ingredient is that the mind allows itself to relax. A hypnotherapist can neither make you go into the state of hypnosis, nor keep you in a state of hypnosis against your will. This fact promotes a strong feeling of security and self-confidence. Going into hypnosis relies on your interest and willingness to be aided and guided into this deliciously altered state.
Forget the notion that you will be hypnotised by a swinging pocket watch. You are much more likely to be invited to imagine a pleasant and relaxing walk in a favourite place; or to focus your gaze on an imaginary spot, in the palm of the hypnotherapist’s hand or on the ceiling of the practice room.
Hypnosis is a voluntary state. Hypnotherapy relies on your willingness to be guided into this deliciously relaxing state.
Hypnosis is a state of presence as opposed to a state of absence. You will be very aware of everything that takes place. Hypnosis is not about logging out. Rather it is a process to help you to log in – to a deeper wisdom.
You will be aware of everything you say and everything that is going on. You will remember the gist of what both you and your hypnotherapist say. You will be aware of outside sounds and any movement in the room, but this will not unduly disturb you.
8) Can I be made to do something I do not want to do?
If any form of words or ideas were to be introduced that were contrary to your morals, your values, beliefs, and culture ? be they issues of faith or otherwise ? then you will leave the trance state. You will not do anything, or act in any way, that is contrary to what you would be disposed to do in full conscious awareness.
Knowing and remembering the essential detail of what happens during each and every session keeps you in touch with your experience and keeps you in control.
The reason that people who have experienced stage hypnosis do not appear to remember what happened to them is that the stage hypnotist embedded a specific command to that effect.
9) Will I have to relive traumatic events from my past?
Not necessarily, but if you feel there’s a time or event that affects how you are now, it can be helpful to revisit it. You can decide this with your therapist’s help. For example, you may go back to your first day at school, when you may have felt abandoned, rejected, frightened and insecure after being left there by a parent you implored not to leave you. Or maybe you’ll go back to when you were 11 years old and overheard your parent’s friend comparing you unfavourably with a sibling.
Hypnotherapy can give you surprisingly immediate links with past and present personal circumstances. Constructively and positively, you discover that it was as painful and traumatic for your parent to leave you on that first day at school as it was for you. It did not mean that they were abandoning you; they still loved you in the same way. The 11 year-old ugly duckling can meet her beautiful and successful swan. She will be amazed and delighted to discover her.
10) Will I be offered any guarantee?
Hypnotherapeutic success is impossible to guarantee. Guarantees come with toasters and kettles, not human beings! Do not believe in guarantees with respect to any complementary therapy!
The Advertising Standards Agency takes a very dim view of 'guaranteed' hypnotherapy results in printed advertisements. Any reference to guaranteed success would contravene their rules.
11) What can hypnotherapy cure?
Curious as it may seem, the majority of people do not come to hypnotherapy for a ‘cure’ as such. People come for a hypnotherapy session to gain clarity and understanding of what is going on at an emotional level inside themselves. They come to take control of certain negative emotions and responses to situations and to ‘things’ that erupt in uncertain and disturbing ways. Such ‘things’ may be anything from aeroplanes or lizards. Many healthy and happy people who come for hypnotherapy say that in every other part of their lives, they are happy with who they are.
They simply want help getting on top of one aspect of their lives, such as …improving their confidence and self-esteem; to gain freedom from anxiety and panic attacks; to tackle a specific challenge such as public speaking, an interview, a driving test, or losing weight; or stopping smoking, nail biting, going red in front of authority figures, being afraid of spiders or heights; or simply moving on from not believing they can succeed.
Some come to hypnotherapy because their usually healthy minds suddenly become unhealthy, perhaps because of a loss of a job or relationship, or perhaps for no apparent reason at all. The bottom can appear to drop out of their world. Their usual buoyancy, happiness, and their robust sense of self-esteem sink without trace. They come for help with depression.
12) What do clients tend when they come out of hypnosis?
“I don’t really know how, or why but … yes, I felt it straight away. I felt like I wanted to put on different clothes ? more confident clothes ? to show people I’m more confident. It was like ? I’m fine. I don’t have to hide behind anything.”
“I really had a change. There were ten people [at a university panel interview]. Talking to the boss across the table, I really felt good. I was more confident to speak. I didn’t feel any fear.”
“Every day I noticed the difference in things that I was doing. Just amazing!”
“The blushing is still there, but I have felt so much more relaxed. I have not been talking down to myself. I have generally been a lot lighter. I cannot believe I’ve noticed the difference so quickly. Incredible.”
“I understand a bit more. I can see the pattern repeating itself. Negativity. It has brought up a lot of negativity. I’m not in a healthy relationship. I destroy, rather than protect myself.”
13) How much would it cost?
Consultation fees vary around the UK and you will usually pay more in London than elsewhere in the country. You should expect to pay between £50 and £120 for each session. If this seems expensive, then bear in mind that interactive hypnotherapy does not involve you in attending therapy week after week, after week. It is a fast-track form of therapy.
Be aware of the difference between ‘interactive hypnotherapy’ and ‘direct suggestion hypnotherapy’. In interactive hypnotherapy, there is a continuous dialogue throughout the session, between you and the therapist. In direct suggestion, the therapist ‘prescribes’ the suggestion by reading a script for say, confidence or weight loss. The words of the suggestion may be general and not tailor-made to fit your special and personal way of speaking. Direct suggestion hypnotherapy may take many more sessions to accomplish the same results, so you need to be aware of this when comparing prices.
14) Is it available on the NHS?
It is in some areas – it depends on the decision made by your local NHS Trust. Smoking cessation classes may well be offered. Call your local health authority for more information.
15) How many sessions will I need?
Interactive hypnotherapy can achieve results within three to five sessions, each session lasting approximately one to one and a half hours. The average number of sessions is three.
By Deborah Marshall-Warren
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