‘I had hypnotherapy once; and it didn’t work for me.’
As a hypnotherapist, I often hear these dreaded words. It could be from someone who had tried and failed to give up smoking, maybe another who still suffers from her fear of spiders and yet someone else whose constant anxiety remains unresolved.
So what’s going on?
Even in these enlightened times of internet access, media bombardment and information overload; hypnotherapy still remains to many something deeply mysterious and frequently misunderstood. The prevailing image of the Victorian ‘Mesmerist’ with top-hat; goatee and swirling cloak still persists in many people’s minds. Whereas others will think firstly of the antics of Paul McKenna, or perhaps a ‘hypnotic’ show at the local pub ending with volunteers enthusiastically clucking like chickens or divesting themselves of various pieces of clothing.
None of which is particularly helpful to a profession that has benefited countless thousands of sufferers over the last century.
Hypnotherapy finally attained its rightful place as a method of highly effective intervention only as recently as 1955 when the British Medical Society officially recognised hypnosis as a legitimate medical procedure. The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association followed suit in 1958. That this was achieved at all was primarily the result of the work of Milton Erickson who is regarded as the father of modern hypnotherapy. Of course the work by Freud and Jung cannot be underestimated either. But misinformation still abounds, so I will try to offer a little insight here into how and why it is so effective.
Hypnosis is not a strange or unnatural state. It feels very much like day-dreaming, or the state between sleeping and waking. We all experience this feeling of ‘drifting off’ many times throughout our day. The hypnotherapist helps you to reach this state in a relaxed and easily attainable way. While in this relaxed state, your conscious mind is still completely aware of what is going on throughout, but your subconscious is free to accept positive thoughts and ideas much more readily. This enables you to change fixed negative ideas into strong positive attitudes about yourself and your surroundings.
You cannot actually ‘make’ anybody do anything in hypnosis. Hypnosis will not give anybody power over the person who is hypnotised. However, control is a big issue with many people and there has been this persistent fear that people under hypnosis effectively ‘give up control’. This is simply untrue and if you approach hypnosis with an open mind and a readiness to accept that it can help you, you will soon demonstrate to yourself that you are not giving anything up. On the contrary, you are gaining a great deal. So I always invite my clients to allow themselves to relax and enjoy the experience.