What is hypnosis?
You will have heard of it, but you may be wondering ‘What is Hypnosis?’ and ‘Is it Safe?’
Hypnosis is a very natural state that we all enter naturally at least twice daily as our brain activity slows down to a frequency called “alpha”. We pass through “alpha” on the way to and from sleep. It is perhaps best described as an altered state of conscious awareness– not sleep – in which the client normally remains aware of what is happening (even if they appear to be sleeping!) but in which they can tune out – or by-pass – the critical faculty of the mind; the bit that thinks, questions and analyses. We also enter into a hypnotic state when we switch to “automatic pilot” when driving a familiar route or when we become engrossed in a good book or film. I find that the easiest way to explain hypnosis is to consider why a film script that we know to be fictional and acted by actors can actually change the physiology of our bodies and cause us to cry real tears and feel real emotion. How can something that is no more than a figment of our imagination produce a physical reaction in the body? The answer is that when we are in a hypnotic state, the conscious mind is dampened down or switched to “idle” and the subconscious, which is both more easily accessible in this state and more open to suggestion, has no ability to distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. This is why a nightmare can be so terrifying to a young child. This is also why TV adverts are so effective at getting us to part with our money! Here’s a video of someone being hypnotised:
What is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is the act or process of using the hypnotic state to access and interact with the subconscious mind in order to identify any negative and unhelpful behaviours, memories or beliefs and bring about positive changes in the client’s life. As the “language” of the subconscious is the imagination, hypnotherapy relies heavily on the use of visualization techniques to connect with, and release, negative emotions and to produce positive ones.Whilst issues may be complex, the principles of hypnosis are relatively straight forward, but for hypnotherapy to work effectively and produce lasting results the Client-Therapist relationship must be one of mutual trust and respect, and there must be a strong desire to change on the part of the client; no hypnotist in the world would be able to hypnotize you if you did not wish to be hypnotized.
Being hypnotized for the first time.
It is not unusual for a client not to feel hypnotised the first time they go to a hypnotherapist. This is usually due on the one hand to a misunderstanding about what hypnosis is and on the other due to a slight fear or concern about “losing control” in front of someone they do not know. This is why it is so important for the Therapist to a) explain fully the process of hypnosis and what to expect and b) spend time building a relationship and establishing the trust of the client.