Hypnotherapy – an introduction with facts and fiction
HYPNOTHERAPY … FACTS AND FICTION
Does the word hypnosis conjure up images of people prancing about on stage flapping their arms and making plok-plok-plok chook noises? Or perhaps of swinging watches? Yes, it was frequently used as entertainment in the past and this has led to heaps of misconceptions about it’s more serious applications. For a start, the ‘stage chooks’ only followed that suggestion because they agreed to do so. Hypnosis cannot make anyone do anything that is against their wishes. So first fact … you do not surrender control of your mind when in an hypnotic state.
Hypnosis is actually a state of deep relaxation in which everyday concerns and anxieties can fade away and the mind can focus on whatever you choose. It is a state of mind in which you must choose to be open to suggestion before any suggestions can take hold. In hypnotherapy you can choose to end the session at any time by simply rousing yourself to a more wakeful state.
The focus is always on the things you wish to change within yourself. Say you are a high-stress person ‘by nature’, or you know someone who is. You consciously do not wish to be this way and yet, somehow, that’s the way you habitually respond to life’s pressures. You worry lots, maybe you explode easily, probably your blood pressure goes too high too fast, and on it goes. Or it may be that you want to change any other unhelpful habit of behaviour you have acquired, such as being a perfectionist, or being too controlling, procrastinating or indecisive. Or it may be more specific than a habit; you may be pregnant and want to manage your fear of giving birth, or you may want to be able to give a speech without your mind seizing up. Or perhaps you want to stop smoking. Such personal change is the subject matter of hypnotherapy.
It is the patterns of beliefs about ourselves that are embedded in our subconscious mind that drive such automatic reactions, our unhelpful behaviours, our personal characteristics, so personal change usually involves the sub-conscious mind, because that is the driver of our habits and emotional responses.
In the relaxed hypnotic state the subconscious part of the mind is best able to respond creatively to suggestion and imagery. It can focus on the things you wish to change, free from critical or anxious thoughts. It is open to suggestion and can begin to absorb fresh belief patterns. The therapist works with you beforehand to determine exactly what you want and makes suggestions that are in accordance with your wishes.
But does it work? A growing body of research is documenting the efficacy of hypnotherapy and brain scanning has documented the changes that take place in the brain under hypnosis. We know that it works in many applications and that it is safe.
So you see, those ‘stage chooks’ wanted to perform on a stage, or they wouldn’t have volunteered, and they knew the suggestions they’d be given would be asking them to do weird and hilarious things. The hypnotic state enabled them to do what many of them would not have been brave enough to do normally….let go of their inhibitions about performing on a stage.
Used in therapy, hypnosis is actually a powerful way of enhancing your control over your own habits, emotions and indeed your life.