Written by Jane Pendry
When I say I am a Hypnotherapist, people joke, in a mock serious tone,: “Look in to my eyes, not round my eyes, in my eyes”. Sometimes they refer to the snake in Disney’s Jungle Book, making suitable hand gestures to induce black and white spirals in my eyes. Others ask me if I’m going to make them ‘Bark like a dog” – to which I usually reply jokingly, “Not unless you want me to” (by the way, I can’t actually do that).
The first thing to know about hypnosis is that there are many different ways of inducing it. For therapeutic reasons, in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, my own school of training, hypnosis is a state of trance where clients increase focus and reduce peripheral awareness that enables them to access their subconscious and make changes to the way they think and feel.
Ivan Tyrell of The Human Givens Institute explains how hypnosis can be potentially a cause for good, or a cause for harm. You might be intrigued to hear a hypnotherapist say that hypnosis might be a cause for harm. But let’s be clear what I mean by hypnosis and in what context.
Tyrell explains, “Unfortunately, something mysterious often attaches itself to talk about hypnosis, especially amongst those who style themselves hypnotherapists, as if practitioners who use it have highly specialised, even esoteric, skills – indeed, some seem to encourage that belief.”
As a hypnotherapist, I feel it is important to address people’s fears, and to be honest about the potential for harm. This potential is why qualified hypnotherapists spend so many months training, use tried and tested scripts, and in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, use suggestions not directions.
Trance is a commonplace experience
The first thing to understand about hypnosis is that the experience of trance is very common place. We move in to a trance-like state quite easily and regularly. There is nothing mysterious about it. Hypnotic trance is a state in which we are both focused and deeply relaxed, for example when we are watching an absorbing film, driving along the motorway or playing a sport at which we excel. Trance is a pretty ordinary and every day state.
The Human Givens Institute clarifies what the state of hypnosis is in their considered opinion.: “…hypnosis is not a state of consciousness at all; it is any artificial means of accessing the REM [Rapid Eye Movement period of sleep] state. Thus hypnosis is a process, separate from the trance state that it induces, and its effects are no longer mysterious because this can account for all phenomena associated with it.”
So that clears that up.
This trance like state can be induced by a number of things: drugs, sudden shocks, rituals involving music or clapping, charismatic preaching, unexpected touch, sexual experiences, a beautiful sunset, particular breathing patterns, mindfulness and meditation, being asked to recall specific memories. In fact, any stimulus that arouses strong emotion while paradoxically creating a deeply relaxed state that lowers emotional arousal, can induce trance.
Dreaming is the deepest trance of all.
Trance states are powerful catalysts of change
The Human Givens Institute issues a word of warning. The trance like state is powerful. It can be used for harm or good. Solutions Focused Hypnotherapists are insistent that the state of hypnosis they induce is natural and safe. It’s natural because it is induced through the open and suggestive nature of Ericksonian hypnotic language, and not by using any tricks, shocks or mind control. And it’s safe because Solution Focused Hypnotherapists undertake 450 hours of training, and commit to ongoing Continuous Professional Development. We are also governed by the Code of Conduct laid down by the Association of Solution Focused Hypnotherapists (The AfSFH) and are fully insured and governed by ethical guidelines. I am a full member of the AfSFH.
Most professional hypnotherapists belong to professional bodies and have been thorough trained in the same way. Any therapist who is a member of the National Council of Hypnotherapists (The NCH) will be equally well trained and will follow its Code of Conduct.
Hypnotherapy is not hypnosis
Hypnotherapy is not hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is a therapy that uses hypnosis to benefit people in a controlled, disciplined, supportive and safe way. The NCH defines hypnotherapy as the, “…application of hypnotic techniques in such a way as to bring about therapeutic changes.”
Hypnotherapy can help clients overcome negative perceptions of themselves, low self-esteem, obsessive thoughts about people or things. Some people experience irrational fears of animals or insects, or even objects such as buttons, and hypnotherapy is the ideal therapeutic approach (along with NLP) to overcome these often disabling conditions
What can Hypnotherapy help you with?
For those that suffer from a wide variety of distressing feelings such as panic attacks, social anxiety, shame and guilt, anger or feelings of not being good enough, hypnotherapy is more effective than drugs and psychotherapy. Hypnotherapy can also help people overcome bad habits, from smoking to nail-biting. In all these cases, these positive results come with no side-effects.
Hypnotherapy can help you with a huge range of issues: weight control, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, stress related illnesses, anxiety related disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, sleep issues, self-esteem issues and specific things such as panic attacks, exam stress and performance anxiety.
So if the idea of World Hypnosis Day piqued your interest, do your research. Look for a Hypnotherapist who is trained with an accredited body, fully insured and a member of an appropriate Professional Association. Then you can be assured that the hypnosis you will experience will be safe and you will remain in control of the process.
No tricks, no mind control, no manipulation, just a supportive therapist helping you to make the changes to your own subconscious without stress, and no side effects at all.