It would be useful to have read the pages about how your mind works and how personal limitations develop before reading this page.
The Essence of Hypnotherapy
I am about to tell you something about hypnotherapy that should immediately dampen any fears about being hypnotised or losing control.
Are you ready?
(Hypnotherapy is actually a process of de-hypnosis – re-educating the subconscious mind beyond all the junk you’ve absorbed).
In its many guises, hypnosis contributes to our thoughts, behaviours and feelings. This is through influence, the suggestions of our parents, friends, teachers and colleagues, repetition of attitudes or perceptions through the media and adverts, our own experiences, and the basic mechanics of trying to simplify a complicated world.
You simply can’t be expected to know everything, so your brain searches for patterns, associations, attitudes and beliefs to narrow it all down into the perception you have of life.
This is a great thing, as without such things we simply wouldn’t know what to think or feel about anything. But for every bit of ‘narrowing down’ of options, there is a risk that something important is being excluded.
You may have developed an attitude of being all strong and independent, when deep down you crave for the option to just have a cry and not feel bad about it. You may have learned to associate public speaking with fear and rejection, when you want to have the option to be confident and charismatic instead.
So to make the world simpler and to cope with it all, we reduce our options by making a lot of our inner workings ‘automatic’. The arachnophobe doesn’t choose to be afraid of spiders, it is automatic. They don’t have the option of not being afraid.
Hypnotherapy increases your choices in life. I wouldn’t want the arachnophobe to never be afraid of spiders, because not having that choice is just as limiting as only being afraid. Instead I provide them the choice, the ability to control how to feel.
There are processes that occur naturally to gradually limit our choices over how we think, behave, perceive or feel. These processes have been carefully researched, studied, practiced and developed by the hypnotherapist in order to reverse the limitations, and free up more choices for you.
The same psychology can be used to limit choices but in a more useful fashion, such as limiting you to not smoking again. So, a smoker could be given the choice to be able to quit, and be able to choose to feel confident and proud about it (as opposed to uncertain or anxious). Further, they could be given subconscious associations that compel them to quit smoking, so that they don’t have much conscious control over it at all. Whilst this is limiting (for example they may want to smoke socially) it may be a limitation that is welcomed.
Deep down within you is an abundant reservoir of resourceful energy. The flow becomes trapped behind the giant dam of your self-image, or how you see yourself subconsciously. As expectations, attitudes, perceptions, and self-beliefs get shaken, the dam walls crumble and more of your resources are freed up.
This is what hypnotherapy is all about.
Hypnotherapy in practice
Hypnotherapy begins with finding out exactly what you want. Not just a vague idea – what exactly you want. This is crucial to allow yourself to know when you’ve got there! Its also important for the hypnotherapist to have something to work towards – rather than ‘just feeling better’. Your goal should be somehow measurable. So ‘just feeling better’ would become ‘feeling good enough to …(whatever you would do differently).’ Goals should also be in the positive – there is no use in wanting to ‘not feel anxious’ because: you aren’t filling the gap with what you do want to feel; and you are feeding the idea of ‘anxiety’ to your subconscious all the time.
The majority of hypnotherapy is then about finding out where exactly your subconscious mind has become ‘mid-educated’. It could be a belief you absorbed from a parent that says “I’m not good enough”. It could be a belief that “if I don’t eat for comfort I’ll be miserable”. It could be an automatic association which has built up between ‘people’ and ‘feeling anxious’.
Directed hypnosis can then be used to re-educate your subconscious mind. This can take many forms. It could be:
- Direct hypnotic suggestion (once you are in a relaxed state of mind, your subconscious absorbs new positive ideas more readily)
- Realisation or belief-modification through discussion or visual exercises
- Emotional work such as regression or ‘Gestalt’ therapy to release blocked emotions (and the beliefs they held)
- Learning new psychological skills for self-awareness or state control
- Exercises to help re-pattern automatic responses
- Creative hypnotic work to adjust your subconscious ‘mental movies’ so your subconscious responds in the way you want it to
It is also important to then re-integrate new learnings, ideas and beliefs by ensuring that they won’t undo themselves. For example, people or situations may exist that ‘undo’ a lot of the good work, if they haven’t been taken into account and prepared for.
Multiple sessions are necessary to:
- Ensure that you uncover enough about whats going on (and what is influencing it)
- Develop increasing rapport and trust, as well as responsiveness to hypnotic processes
- Allow the repetition of suggestion to increase its absorption
- Allow adequate time to adjust and reflect on thoughts and changes to feedback into the sessions
- Ensure you have reached your goal – rather than just hoping ‘things work out from now on’ (because they may not).
Even the simple stuff…
But what about just losing weight? Or stopping smoking?
The mistake that a lot of hypnotherapists make (especially the “Let me cure you in a single session!” kind) is in assuming that such things are simple. Yes you can get a lot of benefit from a single session, and it may indeed be worthwhile, however if you really want to get to the bottom of something and have lasting change, you do need to put in some commitment. Many issues can actually be the tips of far deeper icebergs. Also, frequently, a person has big issues which they are only unconsciously aware of, and they present with smaller things just to ‘get a better idea’ before moving into deeper issues. This can happen without the client even being consciously aware of their strategy.
The only issues which are suitable, in my opinion, for very short term work are:
- Confidence boost for a presentation or interview
- Simple relaxation (like a mind-treat)
- Phobias (although not always)
- A one-off ‘blast’ of discussion or work just so you can get a better idea of your situation (and what you need to do).
But if you remember just one thing…
The important thing to remember is this – an issue is an issue because you don’t have conscious control over it. You don’t have conscious control because there are subconscious dynamics going on outside of your awareness. Basically, you don’t always know the reasons why.
It is tempting to think about why you do, feel or behave a certain way and to think you know. But the truth is that a vast majority of clients are quite surprised when they begin to become truly self aware.
Elsewhere on this site I talk about the minds amazing ability to rationalise – its this process which gets a lot of people into a lot of problems – because the rationalisations are not only wrong, they distract the person from realising that something else is going on.
It ain’t what you don’t know that’s the problem – its what you think you know, that just ain’t so.
Which is why its always helpful and useful in life to bounce of other people and seek their opinions and perceptions. And when it comes to matters of the mind, a professional is advised!