Does online hypnotherapy work?
When the pandemic started in 2020, many professionals had to pivot to online working, including hypnotherapists. Moving sessions that would typically happen in-person online has opened up more opportunities for people to access hypnotherapy, but some were cautious, wondering if it could really be as effective as a face-to-face session.
To learn more, we sat down for a virtual chat of our own with hypnotherapist Emily Fennell, who has taken her practice online.
To start with, Emily explains what hypnotherapy really is and how it can support people. “I always think people get hung up on the first bit of the word, that ‘hypno’ bit. That’s the part that often sends people running for the hills as it’s so misunderstood. I prefer instead to focus on that second part – it’s a form of therapy and we’re simply using hypnosis as a really effective tool within that process of therapy.
“So hypnosis, which is perfectly achievable for everybody and is very enjoyable, it’s just a state of mind where you’re able to let that chattering, analytical, conscious part of your mind take a bit of a backseat. This frees you up with the therapist to work with the part that’s, if we’re honest, actually causing a lot of problems in the first place, the more automatic, instinctive, behavioural part of us that we call the subconscious mind.”
Having a background in counselling, Emily is an advocate of therapies such as counselling but admits that there are times where talking alone doesn’t quite cut it. This is where hypnotherapy comes in, helping us make changes on a subconscious level.
When it comes to having hypnotherapy online, Emily notes that it’s a very similar process to how it would be in person. You would arrange an appointment and your therapist will send over instructions for taking the call, which may involve using a programme like Skype or Zoom. Then it’s simply a case of talking with your therapist and enjoying the relaxing nature of hypnosis.
Is online hypnotherapy as effective as face-to-face hypnotherapy?
This is a question we often see when discussing online hypnotherapy and we put it to Emily.
“My answer is, yes, it’s absolutely as effective if the right things are put in place. The only slight question mark for me is around enjoyment – whether it can be as enjoyable and as comfortable. And then, it depends on the individual.”
Emily explains that some of her clients who have seen her both online and in-person say they prefer working with her online as they can make themselves more comfortable in their own homes. For others, however, getting out of the ‘work’ or ‘parenting’ headspace they might be in at home could prove tricky.
“But again, there are lots of things that can be done about that,” Emily says.
“I advise a lot of preparation, not only thinking about the technical aspects, like charging your laptop and eliminating distractions but also the psychological aspect of it and making it a special time for you. It’s your time.”
What should you do if you’re worried about the tech side of things?
Another concern that can come up for people is dealing with the technology aspect of working online. From setting up an account on a platform to worrying about connection, we asked Emily what people could do if they were worried.
“I think firstly, I’d say – I get it. I’m not a technical whiz at all and I’m happy to help and support people with that. It’s really not too difficult. I tend to use Skype so my handout that I will email to somebody has a step-by-step breakdown of how to get an account and then everything else, like making sure that your battery is fully charged, considering what device you might want to use, etc.
“I’m always happy to have a trial chat session with somebody for five minutes to see how that feels because, if it’s the first time that you’re sat in front of a screen talking to a disembodied face, it does feel completely bizarre. And I get it. So I think lots of therapists would be very happy to help you with that. Also, you can always ask family members as well for that little bit of tech support, and you don’t necessarily need to tell them what it’s for.”
For those concerned about what would happen if connection is lost, Emily reminds us that we can’t get ‘stuck’ in hypnosis. “The therapist is helping guide you into that beautiful state, but they are not the final word on when you come out of that state.”
Describing it as similar to going into autopilot on a familiar drive, Emily explains that when something unexpected happens, we’ll be able to pull ourselves out of it.
“If you don’t hear my voice for more than a few minutes, or you’ve got any other concerns to think that the signal’s gone, then you’ll simply open your eyes and turn your attention to resolving it.”
Getting the most out of an online hypnotherapy session
When asked how people could be sure to get the most from their online hypnotherapy session, Emily shares that preparation can be really helpful.
“Preparation is key and just… trying it out! Having your own moment in silence maybe a day or so before and seeing how it feels in that moment can help. Your appointment is not the moment to suddenly realise that you’ve got an irritating, noisy clock or something. So just take that into consideration. Sometimes people like to have a blanket to hand because when your body is beautifully relaxed, then your body temperature can cool a little bit.”
Emily goes on to explain that there will always be time at the start of the session to get acclimatised to working online and to get as comfortable as possible. And then? Then all you need to do is listen, relax and let the work begin.
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