Hypnotherapy - will I cluck like a chicken?
Hypnotherapy can sometimes be feared, exploited and certainly underestimated.
I once read a transcript from a radio interview with Dr David Spiegel, Associate Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. He said:
“I think many people are afraid of it [hypnosis] because they feel like they will lose control; somebody will take over control. And actually, it’s the opposite. It’s a way of enhancing people’s control over their mental state and over certain aspects of how their body functions. So you are not losing control, you are gaining control with hypnosis, and it’s a very valuable tool.”
What exactly is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is usually induced by the use of the therapist's voice and focusing the mind on something specific. There is no form of unconsciousness and nobody can be made to do anything they don’t want to. If you run around clucking like a chicken, then the good news is that you would be doing that because you want to – possibly having drunk a few pints of beer!
A person in hypnosis can be aware of everything that is happening around them, (the sounds inside the room, etc), and they retain full control and varying degrees of memory afterwards.
It's very similar to a dream. It's like when you drive a car and suddenly think "I'm here already" or when reading a very good book and you get engrossed.
The most important part is the client ‘wanting to participate’ i.e. a willingness to change. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have a belief they can change, they just have to want to change. The belief comes later once they see the change happening.
What can't hypnosis do?
It is generally accepted that all hypnosis is ultimately self-hypnosis. A hypnotherapist merely helps to facilitate your experience – hypnotherapy is not about being made to do things, in fact, it is the opposite, it is about empowerment. If someone tells you they can hypnotise you to do something, ask them to hypnotise you to run naked down the high street and, when they can't, ask them to stop making ridiculous claims!
What can hypnosis do?
Once in a hypnotic trance, the therapist can guide the client’s concentration to bring about personal development and positive change, this is the therapeutic stage of hypnotherapy.
How does this happen?
Hypnosis utilises the most powerful part of our creative potential – our imagination. Take yourself back to being a child, can you recall how your imagination might have you as an actor/actress on stage, playing with an imaginary friend or bringing to life a teddy bear? Possibly you might just have stared into space wondering what you might do at the grand old age of 17 or 18!
Hypnotherapy allows the hypnotherapist to suggest positive thoughts, usually based on the client's suggestions, to override negative thoughts and to provide motivation where the mind has put in blocks i.e. not being able to sleep or suddenly not being able to run that marathon quite as quickly.
By relaxing the mind, it is more likely to accept positive suggestions within the subconscious. You move from being critical, judging and negative to a more positive state in which thoughts tend to lead to positive action.
The subconscious is in charge of our patterns of behaviour, i.e. how many times have you blinked whilst reading this article? Yes, that’s your subconscious at work without you realising, whilst your conscious mind has been distracted reading. We don’t have to think ‘blink’, it’s automated. Once the subconscious takes on board positive suggestion and adopts it, then you’ll find new positive habits forming and then they too become automatic.
Hence, instead of doing battle to change, it comes a habit and we know how easy they are to follow.