Despite being a valuable tool used constructively for many years now, hypnotherapy still gets bad press based on media coverage, that portrays it to be a scary or vulnerability inducing experience. It’s always easier to remember the negatives isn’t it? We have images of the stage hypnotist clicking their fingers, or swinging a pendulum while chanting ‘Look into my eeeyes’ and then proceeding to manipulate an unknowing innocent into embarrassing themselves in front of an audience. Then we have TV personalities seemingly controlling perfectly normal, intelligent people into doing things they would never normally do, their showbiz charisma giving the impression that they are powerful, controlling beings
It is possible for a person to cleverly manipulate another, by leading them to believe something knowing full well that they are unaware of the alternative options, thus taking advantage of their limited belief system. For example, a stage hypnotist can cleverly judge the ‘correct’ personality type they need to work with, usually someone who really believes they will easily be controlled by the hypnotist, someone who really wants to be on stage and to go through that sort of experience, or the best ‘victim’, Someone who is nervous or scared; which is a high percentage of the audience when on stage in a heightened state of awareness and pumping full of adrenalin. Whatever you fear, you give power to.
It may sound crazy, and most people who have been stage hypnotised will more than likely adamantly deny it; but by believing it was possible to be controlled, they pretty much allowed themselves to be. The same goes for the subliminal programming of all of us with the use of advertising and other media where we are cleverly manipulated, and so it is possible to be taken in without full knowledge of the process. What we believe is key in all of this.
Because of all these misconceptions, the difference between hypnotism and a hypnotherapy session, is sorely misunderstood. A hypnotherapy session is purely for working with a person so that they can resolve whatever issues they want to resolve, with their permission! It certainly should not be about manipulation.
So let’s look at some of the false beliefs I have often come across with regards to what will happen within a hypnotherapy session:
1. ‘I will be ‘out of control’.
One of the things most of us suffer, is a fear of the unknown. This fear has a tendency to turn us into slight control freaks, and some not so slight, while others such as adrenalin junkies, go out of their way to induce a loss of that control just for the buzz. We like to feel in control to give us the illusion of permanence- think of it as a result of a human inferiority complex. I mean we are mere ‘amoebas’ in an infinite universe after all, far too infinite for us to comprehend, it’s no surprise we can feel like tiny ants about to be crushed at any second. So the thought of someone controlling us and making us do or say things we don’t want to, is a direct threat to any illusion of power over something other than our minds, that we tell ourselves that we have; a threat to our survival instinct.
How ironic though, that humans often take substances in order to ‘let go’ and relax. The difference, we tell ourselves, is that with substances we do it out of our own choice to ourselves. Well here’s the real irony; when we have chosen to seek out a hypnotherapist and want the change we seek, we are pretty much hypnotising ourselves! The therapist is merely the tour guide of your mind. Imagine you’re on holiday and you don’t want the hassle of planning everything or exploring for yourself, that’s where the guide comes in, making it a little easier for you. Or imagine you want to redecorate a room and a piece of furniture is too heavy for you to move on your own, the hypnotherapist is the one that grabs the other side and makes it lighter for you. The intentions, the choices and the control of what goes where, is your decision.
2. I will blurt out a dark secret.
This misconception ties in with the loss of control. You think that you’ll be under control and will unknowingly tell all of your deepest, darkest secrets. Well if you have gone to see a hypnotherapist to deal with intimate or personal subject matter, it would make sense to be as open as you can and not hold things back. Not doing so would just result in a waste of your time and money, because knowing as much as possible about the situation arms the hypnotherapist with the ability to provide you with the best therapy possible. You certainly wouldn’t ‘blurt’ something out like some form of truth Tourette’s, even under hypnosis you will still have the freedom of choice to say what you want to say. One thing worth noting though, is that under hypnosis your subconscious mind is more receptive, and that can make you feel more relaxed. Feeling more relaxed naturally lowers inhibitions, so you may feel comfortable enough to say more than you normally would, still not against your will.
The feeling of hypnosis is variable depending on the person, it can feel like that moment right before you fully wake up, when you can begin to hear sounds and are aware you are waking up. It can also feel like being fully absorbed in a film, the film being the images of your mind taking centre stage, while the viewers around you fade into the background, though you still have an awareness that they are there and of where you are. If you wanted to get up and use the bathroom you could, you still have the power of your mind and your wits about you.
3. I will get ‘stuck’ and won’t wake up.
Well for starters you are not asleep when under hypnosis, and secondly even in the deepest possible state of hypnosis, the state will run its course and your mind will naturally re-alert itself when it’s ready. The hypnotherapist has techniques that can help you to become alert, and should always use them at the end of a session just so that you know your session has come to an end, even though you can become alert naturally. Have you ever heard of anyone being stuck in hypnosis indefinitely anywhere? That would be quite newsworthy! As hypnosis is a natural state of the mind and body that we often enter ourselves various times a day (daydreaming, reading, watching a film, intensely concentrating, meditating) you don’t get ‘stuck’ in it, just as you don’t get stuck in sleep every night. The most likely thing that can happen is that you felt so relaxed that you don’t particularly feel like finishing the state, just like when you want to stay under the duvet on a rainy morning, but your conscious mind will take care of that for you.
So, all in all, hypnotherapy is a positive and natural experience and not to be feared!
If in any doubt of the ethics of a hypnotherapist (every industry can have it’s cowboys and girls) it is your prerogative to find out where they studied, qualifications, associations and insurance. Also a good hypnotherapist should not hesitate to teach you self-hypnosis techniques if needed, so that you can carry on empowering yourself.
If that’s helped and you want to know more or try hypnotherapy, you can visit my website here: www.dynamiccalm.co.uk