Hypnosis is a state of mind that we all use frequently. In essence, the Unconscious Mind comes to the fore, and the Conscious Mind moves into the background. A better name for it is 'Daydreaming'. When you're daydreaming, you're in hypnosis!
There is nothing spiritual, weird or mysterious about the hypnotic state. It is a totally natural state that can be likened to the period just before going to sleep. Hypnosis is an inward focusing of attention where the demands of the outside world are switched off. It is a state of deep relaxation during which the analytical mind shuts off making the unconscious mind accessible.
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Many people have a belief that people in hypnosis are somehow "unaware", or "they an't know what they're doing!". This is because stage hypnotists deliberately encourage such beliefs to make the hypnotist seem superior, or marvellous. As a result, many people are really quite nervous when they first arrive. It's all so unnecessary, though.
Hypnotherapy is a non-invasive, useful supplement to orthodox medicine and can also achieve considerable success in its own right. It is the application of talking therapy whilst in hypnosis. Doctors are becoming increasingly supportive of Hypnotherapy as an aid to better health. It can be divided into two distinct parts, Suggestion and Hypnoanalysis.
Whilst in hypnosis, you are not asleep and nothing can happen without your consent. You are not under anyone's control! You can hear everything being said and afterwards will usually remember all that has happened and will definitely remember all that you want to. It is not unusual for people to believe that they were not properly hypnotised because they remember "thinking" during the session, and can remember much, or all, of what happened.
For example: A familiar situation is when you put down your house key, turn away for a moment - and it's gone! You know that the key should be where you believe you put it, but it isn't. You then think furiously, talking yourself through your actions, but still you can't work it out. You then stare blankly at a wall, doorknob, etc., take a breath, and empty your mind. After a few seconds you get that "eureka" moment and the answer comes to you. You have just hypnotised yourself. Your conscious mind allowed the unconscious mind to take over in order to solve the problem.
You remember everything that you want to remember. If you are a bit apprehensive, (and most people are at their first session), you will probably remember everything. Once you are used to being in hypnosis, you will sometimes "miss" some of what has been said. It doesn't really matter because your unconscious mind has heard every word. It's like a car journey, you will 'remember' the journey, but don't normally remember every lamp post you passed - because you don't need to.
When your are in hypnosis, you are much more inclined to accept suggestions that are made to you, as long as they don't feel wrong. All hypnotherapists use lots of suggestions, for instance that you will now feel more positive and motivated, or that you don't really want to eat chocolate any more. Suggestions are often very effective but thay can fade, sometimes quite quickly, especially if there is an underlying psychological problem (which you would treat with Hypnoanalysis).
The memory of a past trauma remains in the short-term memory, with a big red X. The aim of Hypnotherapy is to deal with this memory. It is my intention to uncover hidden traumas and to provoke an outpouring of emotions: what we call an abreaction. Abreactions are good - we use these to finally vent all the negative emotion. Once this X is removed, it will still take a few days for the memory to be processed and moved to long-term memory.
Especially following sessions where many minor problems are dealt with, some clients recall some bad memories, or have "busy" dreams for a few days. These include such things as falling out with friends at Primary School, bad teachers, etc. These soon fade again, as the memories are processed by the brain, however you may feel "down" for a few days. To the therapist, this is good news as it shows that the treament is working. It may not be so pleasant for you, however.
It sometimes happens that the only sign of a psychological problem is some bizarre behaviour, or a single specific problem, such as dreading speaking at meetings, or exam phobia,
or maybe fear of being a passenger in a car. This fear is always rooted in a past traumatic event. Some clients wish or expect to receive only suggestion therapy to "paper over" the problem, and not psychotherapy to treat the cause.
NB I always offer psychotherapy as part of your treatment. (I usually do not confine treatment to one of simply treating symptoms using suggestions. So don't expect to come to me for a single session to help with a phobia, for example.)
Sadly, some hypnotherapists are simply not trained in how to deal with abreactions, or may be a bit afraid of dealing with the "difficult stuff".
The thing is, an abreaction may occur spontaneously, anyway. When this happens, I say "Good!" to myself, and use the opportunity to deal with the memory. The less competent therapist may decide to wake the client to stop the abreaction leaving the client feeling confused and upset. (If this has happened to you with another therapist, don't be put off. You should seek treatment from a better hypnotherapist!)
Hypnotherapy should never be sought by anyone who has a psychotic illness such as Manic Depression ("ordinary" depression is usually ok), or schizophrenia, etc., unless under the guidance of a psychiatrist. The good therapist looks for clues to the mental state of the client, however he or she cannot guarantee to spot the signs. It is important therefore to disclose any relevant medical history.
By the way, people with epilepsy must never use hypnosis, except under special medical supervision. (Don't worry: Hypnosis can't actually CAUSE epilepsy!).
David Stocks RSM
2 Crowhill Road,
Monday to Friday 9am - 7:30pm
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