Hypnotherapy: Beneficial or Scary?
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).
So what exactly is hypnosis? And how can accredited and regulated hypnotherapists use it to help you manage and resolve anxiety, depression and related disorders.
Ivan Tyrell of The Human Givens Institute explains how hypnosis can be potentially a cause for good, or harm. You might be intrigued to hear a hypnotherapist say that hypnosis might be a cause for harm.
Tyrell explains, “Unfortunately, something mysterious often attaches itself to talk about hypnosis … as if practitioners who use it have highly specialised, even esoteric, skills – indeed, some seem to encourage that belief.”
As a qualified Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, I feel it is important to address people’s fears, and to be honest about the potential for harm from an unaccredited therapist. This potential is why accredited hypnotherapists spend so many months training, use tried and tested scripts, and use suggestions not directions.
Trance is a commonplace experience
The first thing to understand about hypnosis is that the experience of trance is not esoteric and mysterious. It is very common place. We move into a trance-like state quite easily and regularly. 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. Hypnosis is a means of inducing that state.
The Human Givens Institute states that: “…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, and 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
Solutions Focused Hypnotherapists know 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 thoroughly 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.
The NCH defines hypnotherapy as the, “…application of hypnotic techniques in such a way as to bring about therapeutic changes”.
So hypnotherapy is not hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is a therapy that uses hypnosis to benefit people in a controlled, disciplined, supportive and safe way.
What can Hypnotherapy help you with?
Hypnotherapy can help clients overcome negative perceptions of themselves, low self-esteem and 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
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, sleep issues, self-esteem issues and specific things such as panic attacks, exam stress and performance anxiety.
Look for a Hypnotherapist who is trained with an accredited body, who is 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 changes to your own subconscious without stress. And no side effects at all.