Tips for preparing yourself mentally for hypnotherapy
Are you considering hypnotherapy to help you overcome a personal struggle or achieve a goal? Here are some tips to help you get ready for your hypnotherapy session so that you can make the most of your experience.
Think about your goals
Before you attend your hypnotherapy session, I want to reassure you that being 100% clear on your goals isn’t really necessary, but it is very helpful to have an idea of what you’re looking to get out of therapy.
Hypnotherapy is a multitool, and it can be used in many different ways to achieve different goals. It can be used to treat various conditions, including anxiety, depression, addiction, and phobias. It can help to get to the bottom of behavioural struggles, such as excess drinking or comfort eating. It can also be used for changing how you see yourself – improving your self-esteem, social confidence or dealing with challenging beliefs, such as a fear of failure.
Setting clear goals can help you and your therapist focus on what's important and develop a plan to achieve your desired outcomes. So, a few days before your session, spend 10 minutes writing about what you want to get out of therapy, and what changes you'd like to see in yourself.
Know that you don’t need to relax
People new to hypnotherapy can often feel a lot of performance pressure to arrive at a session stressed out, and then ‘relax’ on cue. My clients typically arrive with a very busy mind, and a lot going on in their life. I reassure them that they don’t need to clear their mind during the session or try to force themselves to relax.
Hypnotherapy allows you to arrive as you are, with the brain you have, and in the emotional state which is there already. You don’t need to change anything about yourself in order to come to your session – an experienced hypnotherapist will adjust and accommodate your specific needs.
Be reassured that you have already experienced hypnosis before
Often, clients worry that they don’t feel ‘hypnotisable’, or that they don’t know what hypnosis will feel like. I ask them whether they’ve ever become absorbed in a good film or gone for a long drive and settled into the driving process without really needing to consciously think about it. Well, that exact feeling is a kind of hypnosis.
Hypnosis might seem like this mythical state of mind, difficult to reach and can only be induced by hypnotists, but it couldn’t be more opposite – as humans, we fall in and out of trance states all the time.
Hypnosis tends to happen when we’re immersed in an activity. For instance, if you look at someone scrolling on their phone, you might notice that they have dropped into a trance. They still know who they are, what’s going on, and can ‘come to’ if needed, but they are otherwise pleasantly absorbed in doing something enjoyable.
Now, if I asked them to try to deliberately ‘be’ in a trance state, it might become quite difficult, because they’re putting a lot of effort in – rather than just naturally glancing at their phone and eventually dropping into a pleasant trance without thinking about it.
Hypnosis is much the same, we don’t need to worry about ‘getting into’ a trance. Falling into a pleasant trance is something that happens naturally when we’re doing something engaging. In the hypnotherapy world, this usually occurs when listening along to the therapist’s voice.
Be open-minded to variations in the therapy
Together, you and the therapist might explore a few different styles of hypnosis to find the one that suits you the best. For instance, some of my clients prefer spending most of our session talking and exploring, followed by shorter hypnosis with very vivid imagery. Another client might tell me they aren’t visual thinkers, but really enjoy listening to me describe a long walk through the forest, detailing lots of sounds and sensations.
In other sessions with clients, hypnosis isn’t something we formally ‘start’ or ‘end’, but a deepening of a conversation, when I ask the client to redirect their attention to their breathing or ask which parts of their body are feeling more tense or more relaxed, and they naturally begin to recentre.
There is more to hypnotherapy than being hypnotised
Most people are surprised to hear that you don’t need to be in hypnosis for hypnotherapy to be helpful and effective. Hypnosis is a relaxed state of mind which supports and assists the process of therapy, not the therapy itself.
The healing and the changes are due to engaging in the process of working with a therapist to explore what is showing up in the way of your goals, and the self-awareness you develop by responding to your inner environment. So you can take all the pressure off – without hypnosis, there is still great therapy!
Talk about your concerns, fears or pre-conceived ideas of hypnosis with your therapist
Your hypnotherapist will have heard all of these questions and concerns before, I can assure you. A good therapist will be compassionate and understanding towards your fears and questions.
If you are worried that you’re not in hypnosis, talk to your therapist about it. You might be surprised to hear that throughout the session, you were dropping in and out of trance states, but maybe your perception of hypnosis is that it has to be a deep trance state.
If you feel like you are having to play along or perform for the therapist, then ask yourself if you feel comfortable enough with the therapist to tell them so. A good therapist will respond to this honesty and use it as a way to improve the therapeutic relationship.
Tell your hypnotherapist about environments and experiences you love
Hypnotherapists are not mind-readers, and it’s fantastic when a client tells us about the types of activities and places they enjoy. If someone can describe an amazing place or situation that happened in the past, it gives us something to work with.
For instance, one of my clients’ favourite memories is sitting around a campfire on the beach with 18 of her closest friends. The conversation is flowing all around her, people are laughing at jokes that she is just too far away to hear… Then she sees a smile break across someone’s face, and she beams back. It’s dusk, but the air is still warm… And. in that moment, she felt so in touch with who she is at her centre, so connected to her values and her purpose.
Now, as a therapist I can invent a safe environment and describe it in detail to a client, and we can develop it and adjust it together over time. But it can be really powerful to work with something that is already a great memory, and to revisit this place in a session to evoke a particular feeling. For example, if she wanted some clarity on setting a direction for her career, I might invite her to step back into that campfire memory where she felt aligned with her values and her purpose, and then use that strong sense of clarity to think about her career options.
Contrast this with another client, who feels his most liberated when he has complete isolation. For him, the perfect place to think about his values would be climbing an ice-topped mountain with just his equipment and his wits, taking the perfect route he knows inside out, the cold air whistling around his ears as he digs his spiked boots into the ice. No one can contact him in this place, and he’s completely free to have his own thoughts and perspective. Stepping into this place through hypnosis helps him to put aside the opinions of other people and reconnect with his own goals.
Hypnotherapy is a great way to get to know your mind, what settles you, or what inspires you. You may know already the sorts of places and experiences you enjoy or hate.
You should certainly tell your therapist about places and situations which you specifically don’t find enjoyable. For instance, I have a client who has sensory issues around wet sand – therefore, a charming walk along the shoreline of a beach would not be featured in our sessions!
Sharing these sorts of details with your hypnotherapist helps you to build incredible enriching environments for your therapy sessions.
I hope that from reading this article you’ve become a little bit more comfortable and familiar with hypnotherapy and feel ready to go into your hypnotherapy session with a couple of goals in mind.
If you’re looking for a hypnotherapist to work with, then feel free to get in touch with me by booking your free 30-minute phone consultation. I would love to help you to process the overwhelm and struggle, so that you can live your life.
I'm an accredited hypnotherapist and trained psychotherapist, which allows me to use a wide range of techniques to help identify the root cause of your struggle, and work to overcome it. I tailor our sessions so that we focus on the techniques and tools which you find to be the most effective and the most enjoyable. If you have any questions, you can send me an email.