Hypnosis is quite possibly one of the most misunderstood and controversial methods of psychological therapies, yet it has been used for over 100 years to help people with a wide variety of issues from low self-esteem and depression to fertility and childbirth.
So, what is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy used to reprogram the subconscious mind. When under hypnosis, you put your mind and body into a heightened state of learning, making you more susceptible to positive suggestions for self-improvement or behaviour modification. The goal is to put the subconscious and conscious mind in harmony, which in turn helps give you greater control over your behaviour, emotions and physical wellbeing.
What isn’t hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is not at all like the performances you see in stage shows, where you might see people barking like a dog or clucking like a chicken. There are no swinging pocket watches. In a hypnotherapy session you are in control the entire time. You will hear the suggestions made to you, and you will be able to remember them after the session. Hypnosis cannot do anything that a client resists happening.
Now let’s dispel a few myths:
1. You cannot get stuck in hypnosis – this is quite impossible.
2. You do not become in any way unconscious or semi-conscious.
3. You cannot, at any time, be made to do things you do not want to do.
4. You are totally aware of yourself and your surroundings at all times.
5. You do not go to sleep.
6. You are not in anyone’s power, and nobody can take control of you.
7. You can leave the hypnotic state whenever you want.
8. You cannot lose your mind.
9. Hypnosis cannot permanently remove memories or thoughts from your mind.
10. You will not suddenly blurt out your ‘dark’ secrets.
11. Hypnosis cannot bestow psychic abilities or supernatural powers.
12. Hypnosis cannot make you act against, or abandon, your moral code.
13. You do not say or do ‘funny things’ unless you want to.
14. Hypnosis is a truly natural state of mind and body and is therefore perfectly safe.
How did hypnotherapy start?
Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815)
Many of the clucking chicken images are the result of hypnosis’s forefather, Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) hence the word “mesmerised”. Mesmer believed that there was an invisible force, a cosmic energy that could be harnessed by one person to influence another person’s behaviour. While his theory was wrong, the techniques he used were effective. These techniques were picked up on and developed over the coming years for therapeutic and medical purposes. Sigmund Freud, for instance, used hypnosis techniques. In the mid-1900s, hypnotherapy as we know it evolved. Milton Erickson (1901-1980) pioneered “indirect hypnosis,” during which therapists work with individual patients to shift their perceptions of themselves and their issues.
What’s hypnosis like?
During your first session, you will likely begin by telling the therapist about your goals and issues. You will then work together to come up with a treatment plan. Once you enter a state of hypnosis, your body will feel calm and relaxed, similar to the way you might feel when meditating. Your therapist will speak to you in a calm and gently assertive voice, and place the suggestions you agreed to in your treatment plan into your subconscious mind.
Who does hypnotherapy work for?
If you want to have hypnotherapy, you are a good candidate for it. Hypnosis is a willing state. If someone is trying to hypnotise you against your will, it simply won’t work. For that reason, if you are extremely sceptical of its efficacy, or if you are frightened of it, it may not work for you.
What does it work for?
Hypnotherapy either on its own or in conjunction with conventional mainstream treatment can be extremely effective in the management and improvement of so many issues both psychological and physiological for instance;
• Panic attacks
• Phobias and Fears
• Preparation for surgery and invasive medical procedures
• Pain management and pain relief
• Gastro-intestinal disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome
• Cardiovascular disorders such as high blood pressure
• Dermatological disorders such as Eczema and Psoriasis
• Gynaecological disorders such as PMT, Dysmenorrhoea (painful periods)
• Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD)
• Sleep disorders
• Weight control
• Smoking cessation
• Breaking unwanted habits
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
• Improving sport performance
• Improving academic performance including exam nerves
• Public speaking
• Building self-confidence and self-esteem
• Positive thinking
What doesn’t it work for?
It’s important to remember that hypnotherapists are not medical doctors and hypnosis is not magic or mystic. While hypnosis can help with pain management, it does not cure disease but it has been scientifically proven to promote healing, improve manage and reduce symptoms of many psychological and physiological issues.
Gail Marra D.Hyp MNCH (Acc) LAPHP is a GHR registered Clinical Hypnotherapist accredited by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, National Register of Psychotherapists and Counsellors and the Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council
10 Harley Street, London W1G 9PF Tel: 020 7873 2051
The Chilston Clinic, Royal Tunbridge Wells TN4 8RA Tel: 01892 513535