I have found that hypnotherapy is best used to uncover and deal with deeply rooted, underlying emotional issues. It has the effect of significantly reducing the number of sessions needed for many of the individual therapy issues while achieving lasting change – but it is by no means the only mechanism, nor is it necessarily the most appropriate.
I will only use Medical Hypnoanalysis if I judge it to be the best option, and then only if my client is completely comfortable..
Aim of hypnotherapy
Do I need hypnotherapy?
If you are tired of experiencing any of the following; hypnotherapy could change your life forever (only if you are completely comfortable – while hypnotherapy will speed things up, conventional therapies on their own can also accomplish positive change):
- Feeling out of control, stressed and burnt out
- Scared of new situations
- Feeling anxious and down
- Constantly worried and feeling that you are not good enough
- Relationships in a mess
- Low self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image keeping you from reaching you full potential
- Pre-conceived ideas and negative attitudes a ball and chain keeping you back
- Life weighing you down and in need of self-improvement
- Using food, substance abuse, work to help you cope with life and relationship challenges
- Not getting enough sleep and never being able to wake up fully rested and recuperated
- Difficulty concentrating, focusing and remembering
- Fear of public speaking, test anxiety
Benefits of hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy will help you to understand yourself and other people better. You will learn to cope with your problems more effectively. Often clients refer to the hypnotherapy process as "breaking free from the past". For example, they are at last able to overcome the ongoing fear that an abusive childhood has started and move ahead – living a life free from the past.
Conditions commonly treated with the aid of hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is a very powerful tool to reach the negative emotional connections in the subconscious mind and could therefore work miracles for many clients. Though it is very powerful it is not a wonder cure that works wonders for everyone - no treatment (either medical or psychological) works equally well for all people. It is important to realise that your mind could affect your body in a very powerful way when looking at medical conditions. When you become anxious - a psychological state - it causes your body to react in a similar way by increasing your heart rate, you tremble, breathing accelerates and becomes more shallow, blood pressure rises, you sweat, etc.
When you relax, which is a psychological state, the opposite happens. In a very simple way this illustrates how your mind could affect your body. The implication is that we can utilise this principle in hypnotherapy to assist the body in the process of physical healing. Relaxing therefore facilitates healing. The opposite is true as well: The mind could directly cause some physical diseases. It is extremely important in these cases to discover the negative emotional connections in the subconscious mind and to break these connections. Then the resources of the subconscious mind need to be utilised to help with the healing. A wide range of psychological conditions, psychosomatic disorders and even medical conditions could be successfully treated with hypnosis. These are a few:
Anxiety and stress management
Low self-image, low self-esteem and low confidence
Obesity, weight control, eating disorders
Concentration difficulties, test anxiety and learning disorders
Self-improvement in study skills
What happens in hypnotherapy?
You remain in control and aware during every session while the therapist guides you into hypnosis and helps you to identify the root cause of your problem by means of a specifically designed word association exercise and age regressions. You have direct access to the subconscious attitudes and feelings that shape your unwanted behaviour and with the guidance of the therapist you are in the perfect position to change them.
Once the underlying reason of the problem has been identified, suggestions are used to help you untie the subconscious knot and free you to live a healthier, more productive life. Old negative thought patterns are replaced by positive suggestions, which, in turn, would put you on the road to a well, emotionally balanced and mature individual. The strongest, fastest and most long-lasting changes are often achieved by incorporating these aspects with conventional therapy.
Common fears of hypnosis
I won't be able to go into hypnosis.
The main function of the subconscious mind is to protect you and ensure your survival at all levels of existence. It is therefore understandable that the subconscious mind will try to prevent any situation where it feels your safety, and therefore your survival, is being threatened. Some people may thus resist going into hypnosis due to fears based on misconceptions about hypnosis, or because they do not trust the hypnotherapist. It is therefore of paramount importance to select a psychologist with professional training in hypnotherapy from a recognised facility who will be able to clear up all misconceptions about hypnosis and instil trust.
Evil spirits could take possession of me while I am in hypnosis.
In hypnosis you are awake, aware, in control and cannot be made to do anything against your will. The main function of your subconscious mind is to protect you and ensure your survival at all levels of existence. Therefore neither you nor your subconscious mind will allow anything to happen that could be harmful to you while you are in hypnosis.
I won't be able to come out of hypnosis.
In hypnosis you are awake, aware and in control - similar to when you are not in hypnosis. Therefore the state of hypnosis actually feels so normal that you will doubt that you were in hypnosis at all. You may even be surprised to discover that a whole hour have elapsed while to you it felt like five minutes. Seeing that you are awake in hypnosis anyway, you will always return to the ordinary, usual way of functioning when you are ready. Even if you fall asleep while you are in hypnosis - which could happen - you will sleep normally and awake as from normal sleep.
I'm scared hypnosis is dangerous.
The subconscious mind is immensely complex and although extremely rare, unpredictable things may happen while you are in hypnosis. An experienced, professionally trained hypnotherapist is specifically equipped to handle such situations without danger or risk to the client.
I am scared the focus of the hypnotherapy will be on my childhood and not on the problems that I am experiencing now in adulthood.
During hypnotherapy the focus is not so much on the rational, reasonably controlled, adult mind as it is on the emotionally charged, irrational behaviour over which you have little or no control in adulthood. The seeds of past behaviour were planted early in life and as the years go by tend to self-propagate. In hypnosis it is the childhood perceptions that are changed in order for the adult behaviour to change accordingly. The focus of hypnotherapy is actually to trace emotional patterns of response from childhood to adulthood.
Childhood experiences have a lifelong effect on a person's behaviour and therefore understanding these helps overcome present problems. Age regression is the most valuable tool used to trace emotional patterns of response from earlier times. The adult / rational mind – which is the area of the mind that is able to take in and use positive suggestions – is then used to overcome old, negative patterns.
Misconceptions about hypnosis
The word “hypnosis” is derived from the word "sleep". It is therefore a common misconception that someone in a hypnotic trance is asleep or unconscious. The truth is that a person in hypnosis is awake and the mind is focused on something specific. Outside noises are ignored and the person is more open to suggestion for learning and inner exploration to facilitate change. A person in hypnosis does not become unconscious. In truth one will be aware of everything at all times. Another common misconception is that a hypnotized person loses his/her will and is partially or completely under the command of the hypnotherapist. The perception exists that the hypnotherapist has the power to go into your subconscious mind and discover all your secrets (PIN numbers, passwords, etc.) and that you won't be able to withhold anything and will always tell the truth. In fact, the person who is in hypnosis is the one in control and cannot be made to do anything against their will. Such a person will not reveal any information that they wish to keep secret. Therefore the will of a person in hypnosis is not weakened in any way. Hypnosis, particularly the deeper forms, could appear to be like sleep because the person's body could be typically very still and quiet. There is usually a great deal of mental activity. Measurements of
brain activity during hypnosis show a significant level of neurological activity. A person in hypnosis is therefore not asleep but allowing intentions for change to take effect.
On-stage hypnosis: How it works
Stage hypnosis thrives on the impression that the hypnotist possesses power over other people and by flicking his fingers they are totally under his control. It appears that these people are then in a deep sleep or coma-like state and they have no self-control or are totally unaware of what is happening. The hypnotist appears to be demanding things that the subject seems to be unable to resist. Appearances are deceiving though!
If the people on stage were really in a deep sleep or coma-like state and totally unaware of what is happening, they would not be able to hear the hypnotist's demands, never mind be able to comply. A person in hypnosis is not asleep nor unaware of what is happening, but awake and totally aware. THE PERSON is totally in control while in hypnosis, and not the hypnotist. Since it is impossible for anyone to force someone else's body to relax or force them to act on suggestions, this confirms that the person in hypnosis is the one in control. The hypnotist could help the person on stage to relax by giving the suggestion, but the person who relaxes does that all by themselves. The key to stage hypnosis lies in the hypnotist's ability to (1) select individuals who are most likely to be able to enter a relaxed state in front of an audience, while at the same time possessing the need to perform or thrill an audience even though this may be a suppressed need, and (2) selecting the subject's tasks such that they have a high entertainment value for the audience. Also, (3) the hypnotist will take care not to ask the subject to perform any acts that would result in an internal conflict that is stronger than the need to perform. In this relaxed state, the hypnotist can then facilitate the subject's need to perform and thrill an audience. If the hypnotist were to ask the subject to do something that is fundamentally against their principles or creates a danger to them, the subject will recognise it and not play along. When the subject does not seem to remember his/her actions, it is again simply the result of them having concluded that, by not consciously remembering his/her actions, he/she is continuing to perform and thrill an audience. As a consequence the audience is entertained and the subject gets a positive response after acting on an existing need. The idea that one is a passive victim of the hypnotist while in hypnosis, with no willpower and fully under the control of the hypnotist, is therefore a total misconception.