When someone mentions hypnosis or hypnotherapy, it’s quite likely that stage hypnosis springs to mind: people running around doing chicken impressions etc. That kind of thing is likely to involve stooges, placed in the audience to create a dramatic effect. Hypnotherapy is nothing like that!
Andrew Parr, whose Professional Hypnotherapy training I’ve completed, describes it like this:
“Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state of mind that can also be induced at will, either by oneself or with the help of another, in which both the conscious and unconscious mind may become more suggestible, and information in both the conscious and unconscious mind may be more accessible and open to influence and change.”
Hypnosis is a natural state, that we all experience in our daily lives, for example, being in a ‘trance’ is a bit like when you just zone out, or do things on automatic pilot, like when you’re driving a familiar route and suddenly you’ve reached your destination, without knowing how! You’re still safe and in control and can come back to your normal consciousness whenever you want to.
This state of mind can be induced through relaxing your body and mind into a state of deep relaxation, in which you can experience feelings of peace and tranquillity. This takes you away from your conscious mind and all of its thoughts and worries, and enables the subconscious mind to be more open to suggestions, allowing you to engage your imagination to a greater extent than usual.
As the General Hypnotherapy Register put it:
‘Hypnosis is a state of mind, enhanced by (although not exclusively) mental and physical relaxation, in which our subconscious is able to communicate with our conscious mind.’
The main purpose of Hypnotherapy is to enable the client to access and update or change their unconscious beliefs, which create thoughts, feelings and behaviour which interfere with their ability to live their lives as happily as possible. These beliefs are a bit like our inner library. Memories are stored and our beliefs are built from these; any situation is examined against these belief systems and if they are seen to be a threat (from stored past experiences) this can trigger the ‘F’ response: Fight/Flight/Freeze, and off you go again into familiar patterns of anger, fear, anxiety, etc.
Before using the Hypnotherapy techniques, the therapist encourages the client to express their concerns, what they would like to be different in their lives and the kind of work they’d like to do. After this comes some physical relaxation, progressing to relaxing visualisations etc. Hypnotherapy falls into two main categories, which can overlap to some extent, but it’s always the client’s choice what they do.
Suggestion Therapy The use of suggestions/positive affirmations, which can later be repeated by the client as self-hypnotic mantras. When you think about it, each time we think something, for example “I’m hopeless, I’ll never succeed”, it’s a form of auto-suggestion, which confirms and reinforces how bad we feel about ourselves. Different kinds of visualisation can also be used.
Analytical Hypnotherapy, goes deeper to uncover the root cause of a problem, facilitates getting in touch with, and expressing previously unexpressed emotions and then re-evaluating how this affects your belief system and how you think, feel and behave in the present.
This is a fairly simplistic explanation and there is a lot more to it than that. As an Integrative Therapist I like to blend different therapeutic approaches together where appropriate or beneficial, so Hypnotherapy could be one of these. If this sounds interesting to you – why not try it out?
Amanda Morgan is available to take new clients. You can book an appointment with her via our website - just click on Book An Appointment to view her calendar.