You're Back In The Room - Is this really hypnotherapy?
The state of hypnosis is a very natural one. We pass through it briefly each time we go to sleep and each time we wake up. Hypnotherapists use this naturally occurring state to help their clients achieve goals and overcome problems.
There are many popular misconceptions about the subject of hypnosis. They fall broadly into the following four categories:
People relaxing in hypnosis are unconscious and not aware of what takes place whilst in this state.
It’s possible to become trapped in the state of hypnosis.
People in hypnosis can be forced to reveal secrets.
The person who has induced hypnosis can control the mind of the (subject) person in hypnosis and force them to act against their will.
None of the above are true, here’s why:
1) People in hypnosis are not asleep or unconscious; they are in a deep state of relaxation. In this state it’s possible to move, open one’s eyes and/or speak. I’ve met people who have learnt self-hypnosis and used the hypnotic state to study or learn a musical instrument as their concentration is much better whilst in hypnosis.
2) It’s not possible to become trapped in hypnosis. A hypnotherapist will always bring his/her client out of hypnosis at the end of their therapy session. If for any reason they didn‘t one of two things would happen. The client would simply bring themselves out of hypnosis by deciding to, opening their eyes and looking around their surroundings. Or if they were tired they would go from hypnosis into sleep from which they would awake naturally.
Yes, I’ve also heard the stories of travelling stage hypnotists who had to return to a particular town to bring a participant in one of their shows out of hypnosis. Great publicity, but it wouldn’t happen for the reasons shown above.
3) People in hypnosis when asked a question can refuse to answer, lie, or answer truthfully just as they can at any other time. A hypnotherapist takes a client’s case histories before helping them relax in hypnosis, so they only questions they’d be likely to ask during the session are related to their comfort such as “are you warm enough”? Hypnotherapists follow a code of client confidentiality so it’s like talking to your GP. You can speak freely to your hypnotherapist.
4) Relaxing in hypnosis does not override a person’s moral judgements. You do not do something believed to be wrong or dangerous whilst in hypnosis. So you might be wondering why people become more confident, cease smoking or biting their nails because a hypnotherapist suggests it during hypnosis. It’s because in this relaxed state hypnotherapists are able to speak directly to their client’s unconscious minds by bypassing their conscious minds. This is where the negative thoughts of “I’m not confident” or “I need a cigarette” lie.
People tend to seek out hypnotherapy because they want to change something in their lives, so they are happy to follow suggestions. Hypnotherapists are simply doing what they have been asked to do.
So why you might be asking do people do silly things on stage or television whilst in hypnosis?
As one of my colleagues neatly puts it, it’s not necessary for some people to be in hypnosis to do silly things on stage or television. They are extroverts looking for a good night out and a good laugh. When there’s also an opportunity to win prizes it’s even more tempting.
Stage hypnotists choose their subjects carefully - always selecting those they’ve performed with before. They choose extroverts and people clearly enjoying the show and wanting to be part of it. In the case of a television show the small number of participants seen on screen are likely to have been selected from thousands of applicants.
I’ve observed when watching stage hypnosis that the performer starts off with ten or more subjects and whittles them down as follows. He makes a suggestion and anyone who doesn’t follow it is asked to return to their seats. The suggestions become sillier, more outrageous and as more and more participants don’t follow them they are asked to sit down leaving just a couple of hardcore extroverts by the end of the show.
The last time I saw stage hypnosis one lady didn’t follow a single suggestion that she was given and was asked to leave the stage within the first five minutes.
The work of a hypnotherapist is of course totally different from that of a stage hypnotist. Our role is not to entertain but to help people achieve the happy, successful and fulfilled lives that they deserve.
As hypnotherapists we are members of professional associations, are subject to disciplinary proceedings if we fall below accepted standards of behaviour and receive ongoing training throughout our careers.
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