This Blog came about due to several conversations over the Christmas period with people who had no idea of what i do for a living! I just always assumed everybody just kind of knew what Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis was!?
After all, we’ve all seen either a stage hypnotist or television programme showing a hypnotist making members of the general public, run around like monkeys doing ridiculous things in the name of comedy right?
Well that’s what I thought! Turns out I was wrong. Some people have absolutely no clue what hypnosis is or what a hypnotherapist is, and even less of a clue about what Clinical Hypnotherapist is and what our wonderful job entails.
The biggest problem with writing this Blog is that there is no defining answer to the actual question.
Even the greatest minds in hypnosis don’t have a definitive answer so all i can actually do is try to explain, dispel some myths and explain what to expect should you ever think of visiting the wonderful world of hypnosis.
The history of hypnosis goes back thousands of years and has been in use and has historical roots based in ancient Egypt, China, Greece and Rome.
I’m not going to bore you with anymore history than that but moving forward to more modern times and with advancements in science we have been able to study more fully the effects of hypnosis, trance states and hypnotic suggestions. We now have access to neuroimaging technology allowing for brain-imaging studies, and these have been very useful in demonstrating the effects of hypnosis to the medical community and general public alike proving its value without having to rely upon subjective reports.
The one thing we can now be certain about is that hypnosis and hypnotherapy definitely works when applied correctly and thoughtfully.
So, how do we answer the question of what hypnosis actually is and what it isn’t?
We can start with the basics that most people will agree on such as hypnosis being a trance like state which we can naturally drift into several times a day. An altered state of consciousness if you like, and a very natural state of being.
Ever daydreamed? Completely zoned out, staring into space? Well you’ve basically just been in a trance state!
It is a mainly pleasant experience, typically involving relaxation. A state where the human body is free from tension, stress and anxiety. Blood pressure generally lessens and metabolic rate will drop. The subject will be less aware of their surroundings and more aware of internal events, and this leads us on to the next point.
It is a mental state which can be induced which will allow access to the sub-conscious mind, the part of the mind that is a storehouse of all of our learning’s, knowledge and beliefs from our very first day on earth.
It is a conscious experience and the patient or individual being hypnotised is fully in control and conscious through-out the process.
Electroencephalographic (EEG) studies have confirmed that during hypnosis subjects or patients are not in a sleep like state, but are actually awake and that they can freely resist hypnotic suggestion should they feel it necessary.
When under hypnosis a client can quite freely wake themselves and walk out of a session if they are uncomfortable. In my experience, my clients tell me that in reality, they are so relaxed and comfortable that they just really can’t be bothered to move. They also tell me they hate it when the time comes when i have to wake them and bring them out of the relaxed state. So, not to brag, but id class that as an enjoyable experience – for both me and the client, as i get a huge amount of personal fulfilment when a client is happy, relaxed and leaves my office on a high!
Hypnosis itself hasn’t changed its basic form for thousands of years, but due to the media it is people’s perception of hypnotherapy and its practice that has changed, and unfortunately due to television programmes such as ITV’s ‘Back In The Room’ people have become suspicious of the practice of hypnosis.
And so we move on to what hypnosis isn’t!
Obviously this question is completely open to personal interpretation but certain things can be stated about what hypnosis definitely is not –
Hypnosis is not dangerous. The practice of hypnosis is no more dangerous than meditation or relaxation techniques. There are no actual credible reports in history showing anybody being harmed by the practice, and several studies and experiments have been conducted in this area and have all failed to provide any evidence as such.
Hypnosis is not mind control or brain washing. All modern research shows that hypnotic subjects remain in control of their actions throughout the hypnotic sessions in the sense that they can easily reject any suggestions, which they find objectionable and can also bring themselves out of the trance like state, if something is said or done which alarms them.
Hypnosis is not a state of unconsciousness , amnesia or sleep. Probably the biggest misconception about hypnosis is that subjects must either be asleep, unconscious and amnesia will occur upon waking. These notions will definitely stem from stage hypnotists, works of fiction and popular movies.
Hypnosis is not a magical form of mind control, again this notion will stem from the stage, fictional books and movies.
Hypnosis is not a tool used to make a subject do something that is against their morals, will or ethics. No hypnotist can make a subject do something that they really don’t want to do.
Hypnosis is not a cure for mental illness. People suffering from psychosis, suicidal depression and other extreme mental disorders should only be treated alongside or in conjunction with their doctor or psychiatrist.
And finally, hypnosis is not a fake, a scam or just a current trend. People tend to want something that is a quick easy fix for their problems –
Hypnosis is not an answer to their problems unless they are willing to make the change, put in a lot of effort and also work on their problems or changes in behaviour.
So to conclude, myself or science has no single way to define what hypnosis is and what it isn’t, the above is based on my personal beliefs and those involved in my profession.
In closing, In my mind hypnosis is a powerful mental tool which we can use to improve and change lives through relaxation, subtle suggestions, and wording, under the correct circumstance when applied professionally and correctly.