Who is in control in hypnotherapy?
1365 Days Ago
I had an interesting conversation the other day. I was asked if anyone can hypnotise a person, or if you need special skills to be able to do it. I found this a fascinating insight into the generally held misperceptions of what hypnosis is. I mean really there is no mystery to what I do. Being a people person, with a soothing tone of voice and a fairly creative way with words is enough to guide another through the process of hypnotherapy. The real magic is the process that occurs within the person being hypnotised.
The state of hypnosis is one that we all experience many times through out the day. Have you ever had that feeling of glazing over when someone is talking to you? Lost in your own thoughts for a moment, having to jump back to the present conversation to ask the person to repeat what they just said. Or looking out the window on a hot sunny day at work? Allowing your mind to travel down the road and over the fields, down to that cool river you just discovered last month. Or drifting off while making a cup of tea, wrangling over that difficult conversation you have just had or need to have in the next hour? These are all naturally occuring instances of hypnosis, in which your unconscious mind - which controls automatic behaviour - is running the show, while your conscious mind is busy planning or reviewing, or simply just escaping for a while.
And this is the key to hypnosis. While your rational mind is engaged with some thought process, it becomes disengaged from the present environment, while the unconscious mind is autopilot. In fact, it is doing this all the time. For example, we don't have to consciously breathe or make our hearts beat or digest our food. It is done automatically. And many of our thought and behaviour processes are automatic too. So if a person is actively encouraged to disengage - usually made more effective if the person trusts the hypnotherapist - direct communication with the unconscious mind is now more possible. It is at this level that positive changes can be made.
Of course, this is where training is appropriate, because the unconscious mind has a language of its own. The person who is unaware of the possible ways the unconscious mind can interpret suggestions can potentially cause damage, but even then it is the person's own mind that is choosing to act on the given ideas. Ideally, images and suggestions guide the unconscious to make the positive changes that it is ready to make, placing control firmly in the person's own mind. The hypnotherapist in this role is a facilitator rather than a manipulator.
Interestingly, the conscious mind can always return to full control when there is an unexpected change in the environment. The boss coming over, the kettle lead sparking, a knock at the door. I'm sure you have experienced that sudden pull back to the present moment, as the conscious mind returns to a full awareness of what is going on. This is true during hypnosis too. The experience is within the person, not within the hypnotherapist.
Many of the misperceptions seem to come from demonstrations of stage hypnotism, where people are apparently under the control of the hypnotist. Of course these people implicitly give their consent to perform and are often screened for susceptibility. I wonder if some of them are even hypnotised at all, merely acting out what they think they must do, and thereby perpetuating the myth for the rest of us. I am sure this is why many people who try hypnotherapy for the first time are surprised. They discover that they always are, and always have been, the sole operator of their own mind. Would it surprise you to know how in control you can be? Try a no obligation taster session to find out what the experience is like for you.
Article written by Emma Reed - Ledbury
I offer somatic-processing and emotion-based integrative counselling and progressive hypnotherapy to help you transition to a new phase of life by overcoming fear and self-worth issues.
"Emma is a calm, welcoming and respectful therapist".
My name is Emma, and I am an experienced counsellor and hypnotherapist working in Ledbury and Malvern. I... [read more]