Don’t believe the hype: 6 common hypnotherapy myths
Many people are still very unclear about what hypnosis is and what it involves. This was brought home to me a few days ago, when I told someone I was a hypnotherapist and got the following response:
“Oh, does all that stuff on T.V. really work then?”
It struck me that although hypnotherapy has moved on a great deal over the past few decades, the general public’s views of it may not have.
Although modern hypnotherapy is now a widely-accepted complementary therapy, many myths about hypnosis and hypnotherapy still persist. These may be stopping people from experiencing the benefits of hypnotherapy.
Below, I’ve addressed six of the most common myths. If you’re thinking about hypnotherapy as a possible treatment, hopefully this will provide you with a more accurate view of what hypnotherapy is and what it might be able to do for you.
Myth one: There’s something mystical or magical about hypnotherapy
No, there’s nothing mystical or magical about hypnosis. Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation and focused attention. In this this state we’re more susceptible to suggestions, hypnotherapists use this hypnotic ‘state’ to introduce suggestions that will help bring about positive change.
It’s important to point out that hypnosis is based on normal psychological processes – there’s really nothing mysterious about it.
Myth two: The hypnotherapist has ‘special powers’
Hypnotherapists don’t have any special powers. We’ve just been trained to use certain techniques to help clients address their issues – whether that’s relieving anxiety, dealing with a phobia, building confidence, or addressing unhelpful habits.
As hypnotherapists, we’re really there to work with you – helping you understand your issue better and then guiding you through the process of using hypnosis to address it. A good hypnotherapist will be able to explain what they’re doing and why, and this should help make it clear that there’s a real logic and method to hypnotherapy.
Myth three: I might be made to do something I don’t want to do
This is a common myth, but the truth is that you’re in conscious control throughout the time you’re in hypnosis. While you’re in hypnosis, your hypnotherapist will give you suggestions to help you deal with you issue, but you won’t be made to do things against your will.
Your hypnotherapists will also conduct an assessment before beginning work, and develop a treatment plan that’s agreed with you. This means that everything that’s done is agreed and in line with your treatment plan.
Myth four: You’re ‘asleep’ when you’re in hypnosis
Because people often go into hypnosis with their eyes closed, there’s often an assumption that they’re ‘asleep’. In fact you’re awake and focused when you’re in hypnosis.
A good analogy is the times when you’re engrossed in a movie. You’re awake, but focused, and not completely aware of everything that’s going on around you. However, if a fire alarm went off, you’d be aware of it and respond. Being in hypnosis is a similar state – you’re awake but focused on being in hypnosis.
Myth five: I might get stuck in hypnosis
Because hypnosis is a state of relaxation and focused attention, it’s not possible to get ‘stuck’ in hypnosis.
At the end of your hypnosis session, your hypnotherapist will usually go through a process to help you ‘emerge’ from hypnosis and return to alertness prior to leaving the session. But even if this wasn’t done, you wouldn’t be stuck in hypnosis, you’d just gradually regain your alertness.
Myth six: It’ll never work for me – I can’t be hypnotised
It’s true that some people are more ‘hypnotisable’ than others, but it’s still the case that almost anybody can be hypnotised. Hypnosis involves skills that can be learnt and improved on, so even people who have difficult being hypnotised at first can be very hypnotisable after a while.
Of course, it’s also true that you can’t be hypnotised against your will - if you don’t want to be hypnotised, then you can’t be.