Hypnosis is hypnosis. However, the stage hypnotist uses hypnosis in the absence of therapeutic gain. Whilst on stage we would be encouraged to act out what is in our imagination, in the clinical setting we are not asked to act out anything. Instead, everything is contained within the imagination only. The part of the brain which is dominant in a trance state does not know the difference between imagination and reality. Therefore, if we imagine what it is we want to achieve, the brain will act in our best interests to achieve it.
There is no typical person. Therapy lasts as long as it does and not a session more. However, hypnotherapy does work very quickly. Phobias can be cured in as little as four sessions and smoking in one double session. Other problems we may want help resolving can take longer, depending on the level of anxiety present. The client will always know when they have achieved all they wish too.
Children, teenagers, adults and seniors can all benefit from hypnotherapy if they have a problem they have determined they would like help to resolve.
Trance is quite ordinary. It is very powerful but it is also very ordinary. We can go into trance when we are driving a car, taking a walk, watching television, walking the dog etc. On average, most human beings go into trance every six or seven minutes throughout the day. But neuroscientists have told us that when we are in a trance, or in a day dreaming state, the mind is using at least four times as much energy as when, for example, we are taking an arithmetic examination. Scientists also tell us what the mind is doing when it is using four times as much energy: it is working hard to come up with solutions we have decided we want in our lives.
When someone is feeling negative about something, they can be said to be operating from the primitive parameters of the emotional mind – the sypmtomology of which is anxiety, anger or depression or a combination of all three. The more time we spend in our primitive mind, as opposed to our intellectual mind (the part of the mind we use when we are positive and solution focused) the more we are encouraged to be negative. Therefore, a person who is negative about one thing can allow themselves to become negative about aspects of their lives completely unconnected to the initial negative thought, since negative thoughts create anxiety, causing further negative thinking.
The therapist is a guide and cannot make a person do anything they would not otherwise do. It is a commonly held idea that has its source in stage shows and films that capitalise on the ‘power’ of the hypnotist. You cannot at any time be made to do anything that you do not want to do.
Whilst the hypnotic state might resemble sleep from a physical point of view, from a mental standpoint the client is generally relaxed and is perhaps more alert than would others be the case. The client remains in a comfortable state where they can think, talk and even move about if necessary. All clients are unique and can experience hypnosis in their own way. We do not in any way become unconscious or semi-conscious, unless we were to fall asleep.
We do not have to try hard to focus on everything that is being said. The subconscious is there the whole time, which means our conscious focus can deviate from what is being said.
Hypnotherapy can be applied to many psychological, emotional and physical disorders. Phobias of all kinds lend themselves well to hypnotherapy and anyone suffering from panic attacks or obsessional compulsive disorders, stress related problems e.g. insomnia, can benefit. Conditions exacerbated by anxiety e.g. irritable bowel syndrome, eczema or asthma respond well. Hypnosis can also be used to relieve pain and reduce the need for painkillers; it can help people overcome addictions to smoking and alcoholism.
We cannot get ‘stuck’ in hypnosis – this is quite impossible. No one has ever been stuck in a hypnotic trance. Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state that we enter and exit during the normal course of the day.
Everyone experiences hypnosis differently. For some it is a state in which there is a focus on the hypnotist’s words and a careful listening. For others, it is more akin to daydreaming and attention may move from one thought to another, sometimes without any conscious attention to what the hypnotherapist is saying. Neither will be more or less effective than the other. It is simply a matter of our personal style.
There is no ‘hypnotised’ feeling per se. People experience hypnosis in different ways. Some may feel colder, numb or lose sensation in their hands and feet; others may not notice any discernible changes. There is no such thing as ‘going under’.
Hypnosis is not ‘going to sleep’, we do not even have to close our eyes, although it will be suggested that we might like to close our eyes in order that there are fewer distractions. When the client is asked to open their eyes, even if outwardly they may appear to be sleeping, they will often open their eyes without hesitation. For those clients who are more relaxed than they realised, their eyes open once the lights are turned on and the music has stopped.
We can voluntarily leave the trance state whenever we wish to. We can also reject anything that is said. The client comes to therapy because of a desire for help in changing a particular area of their life. There exists, therefore, the motivation to make the change needed. If the hypnotherapist were to suggest anything outside of this change, or anything contrary to our motivation for being there, we would recognise it and question it. Everything said is for therapeutic gain.
Some people go into a deep trance state, others into a light one but it is no more important than someone being a light sleepers while others could easily sleep through a thunderstorm. The effect will be the same.
Hypnosis is an amazingly efficient tool that everybody can use to achieve excellence. Whilst in a trance state we have access to the subconscious mind where we can bypass the critical conscious faculty and suggest new ways of operating and thinking, leaving aside the thinking part of the brain and focusing on what positive changes we want to make. These are reinforced whilst encouraging the mind away from the past limitations or negative thoughts as it begins to concentrate wholly on future success.
Any time our attention is focused we are in a trance like state. If someone were to shout ‘stop!’ our attention would immediately be focused on what might be ahead. Being relaxed is simply a more pleasant way of experiencing the hypnotic state.