Hypnosis can be described as an active process of focused attention on a particular idea, or suggestion where you become so absorbed in something imagined that your body responds as if it’s actually happening.
Hypnotherapy is a skilled communication aimed at directing a person’s imagination in a way that helps elicit changes in some perceptions, sensations, feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Hypnotherapy delivers therapeutic techniques in a state of relaxed and focused attention (hypnosis) where your mind is more open to suggestion and receptive to therapeutic change work.
Unfortunately, there are many myths about hypnosis, not helped by movies and stage hypnosis which can portray it as some sort of “magic.” The following myth-buster aims to provide clarity for some common misunderstandings:
Myth 1: Hypnosis is ‘magic’ or pseudoscience.
Hypnosis is a state of suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination, not dissimilar to daydreaming, or when we become so absorbed in a book or a movie that we can become ‘caught up’ in the story and laugh, or cry, even though we know at a conscious level that the story is something not real. Using hypnosis to focus our attention in different ways means you’re able to create and change your thinking patterns and perceptions, retraining your mindset. Studies show it’s an effective tool to help with sleep, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, procrastination and more.
Myth 2: You can be hypnotised against your will.
Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis is not a form of mind control and you can’t be hypnotised into doing things against your will. It’s not possible to be forced into a hypnotic state, instead you allow yourself to be hypnotised. It is a voluntary altering of your own consciousness, and you are always in control.
Myth 3: I could get ‘stuck’ in hypnosis
Hypnosis is very safe and is actually just a natural state of focus and suggestibility. Any time there is an emergency, a person would naturally be able to come out hypnosis by opening their eyes, and stretching or speaking. It’s like worrying that you’ll get ‘stuck’ in a daydream, it’s just not possible.
Myth 4: A person under hypnosis is asleep or unconscious.
Although you may close your eyes during hypnosis, or feel as though you are drifting back and forth between sleep and wakefulness, you will never lose your full sense of awareness or fall asleep. Roughly 90% of people report being aware of everything that happens, and relaxation helps but is not essential to hypnosis.
Myth 5: Only some people can be hypnotised
Whilst it is true that some people are more suggestible to hypnosis, it often comes down to the person’s motivation, willingness and ability to concentrate. Everyone is suggestible to a certain degree which means everybody can be hypnotised, if they want to be; if you are interested in something and it is something that you want, then you will be open to its effects. It is reassuring to know that hypnosis is a learnable skill and practicing regularly helps enhance hypnotisability and responsiveness.
Approach your hypnotherapy session with a positive attitude
In order to derive the most benefit from hypnotherapy, it is essential to understand that hypnosis is a collaborative process and requires commitment from you. Having a good understanding of the active role you play in your hypnotherapy session will greatly help increase the chances of success of the therapy. As such we’ve outlined below some key areas to think about to help you prepare for and adopt a healthy mindset to your hypnotherapy sessions.
- Trust yourself to respond well to hypnosis and trust the therapist and techniques. As described above, hypnosis can be defined in terms of focused attention upon a particular idea, or suggestion; so have faith in yourself and believe that you can do it. Self-trust is important and encourages a belief that one can be effective and succeed at making changes. Hypnosis is a learnable skill and the more you practice the better your experience will be.
- Have a positive attitude. It is important that you have a positive and optimistic attitude toward hypnotherapy and a collaborative and proactive attitude toward treatment. Adopting an attitude of curiosity about your potential to benefit from hypnosis is beneficial and important. Equally important, is being willing to engage in a hypnotic mindset, i.e. one that engages the imagination and becomes absorbed on the things being suggested. Adopt the role, use your imagination and ‘act as if’ the ideas being suggested are your reality. The more you engage in the process, the more you will feel the benefits.
- You are self-motivated to engage in hypnotherapy and are not, for example, merely undertaking therapy to please or satisfy someone else. Motivation to make certain changes may be the single most important variable in psychological therapy and is strongly correlated with success, which is why we look at your motivation levels and commitment to achieve your goals during the assessment session. Collaboration with self-help schedules is a strong indication of how well motivated you are, and so engaging in the exercises and tasks set between sessions is crucial to the success of the therapy.
- Expectation. Adopt a positive and realistic expectation about hypnosis. For example, you understand and appreciate that hypnosis is a learnable skill that requires practice; it is not a quick fix. If you expect to respond well and actively engage in the process, then you are more likely to do well and have a positive outcome.
As you can see, hypnosis is a collaborative process where together, you and your therapist work towards the accomplishment of your therapeutic goals. Your clinical hypnotherapist is absolutely committed to helping you achieve those goals. Their role is to guide you through a series of suggestions and ideas and support you, fully along the way. Your role is to use your imagination to engage fully in the process, focus on the ideas being suggested and use your thoughts and imaginative skills to absorb yourself in the experience, as much as possible.