Most people don’t really know much about hypnotherapy. It all seems a bit, well, strange. We’ve all seen the clichés of swinging clocks and the mantra ‘you are feeling sleepy’ or the image of someone being forced to cluck like a chicken. The television has celebrities being forced to do bizarre and radical things, all in the name of entertainment.
Nothing is done to you, but with you. And the effects can be amazing.
But that’s not what hypnotherapy is. Hypnotherapy isn’t strange or scary. The London College of Clinical Hypnosis offers the definition that “Simply speaking hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness. Clinical Hypnosis or Hypnotherapy, therefore, is the use of an altered state of consciousness, or trance, for therapeutic endpoint. This means that people are not treated with hypnosis but are treated in hypnosis.”
There’s lots of evidence that it works
In 1999, the British Medical Journal published a Clinical Review of current research in the field. They argued that enough studies have now accumulated a suggest that the inclusion of hypnotic procedures may be beneficial in the management and treatment of a wide range of conditions and problems encountered in the practice of medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy.
Smoking cessation, long term remission from addiction and weight loss have all been shown to have a positive relationship with hypnosis. Plus, stress levels and sleep quality improve with the treatment.
Everything that comes out in hypnotherapy is what is already in us
Everything that comes out in hypnotherapy is already there, but is sometimes buried due to fear, experience or emotion.
Hypnosis works by connecting your outer awareness to your inner consciousness. Rather than ‘plant’ ideas, therapists help you to access them. Hypnotherapist Javier Orti describes the process as like “detectives finding the missing link” between thought patterns and embedded beliefs from the past that might be keeping us stuck in the present. “It’s a state of awareness but with the mind’s filter switched off. People often know intuitively more than they rationally understand. Hypnosis is a way to gain access to that potential knowledge.”
You can only go as far as you want to
If your subconscious resists change then you won’t change. It’s why hypnotherapy only works as a partnership between your inner self, your actions and your therapy. Some people are unable or unwilling, consciously or unconsciously, to reach the places within them that hypnotherapy can access. Some people fight hypnosis because their brain is afraid of change. In these cases it can help to work on confidence and embracing change, before addressing the topic directly.
Yet we can’t deny that change isn’t scary. However much we might want to change, the reality can be daunting. Perhaps it’s a positive fear. I like to think of this distinction put forward by Rabbi Alan Lew, and shared widely by Tara Mohr.
In Ancient Hebrew pachad is “projected or imagined fear,” the “fear whose objects are imagined.” The irrational fear of something unknown, when we create stories in our heads about what might happen. But there’s also a second Hebrew word for fear, yirah. Rabbi Lew describes yirah as “the fear that overcomes us when we suddenly find ourselves in possession of considerably more energy than we are used to, inhabiting a larger space than we are used to inhabiting.” This is what hypnotherapy can bring us into – a greater space in life, where opportunity and outlook are expanded.
It’s scary for sure, but also liberating, enlivening, and brilliant.
As Javier says “I have seen people change their lives around. I have seen kids about to be expelled from school become house captains, or get great reports and I have seen people demotivated with their life and career regain enthusiasm and happiness. I believe that everyone can live their lives to their full potential, achieve their goals and realise true happiness.”
If hypnotherapy can help us get there, perhaps it’s not so scary after all?