Hypnosis - Frequently Asked Questions
by Jon Rhodes
There are many stories about hypnotherapy being dangerous, turning people into a dancing singing Elvis, people not being able to wake up, and unscrupulous hypnotists exploiting their ‘vulnerable’ patients. However there are also many people who are adamant that hypnosis has helped positively change their lives. Millions of people swear that it has helped them with many issues such as weight loss, quitting smoking, other addictions, confidence, phobias, stress, success, and IBS.
There is a fairly large and growing tradition of hypnosis being used for therapeutic purposes - not just for entertainment. In fact therapeutic and entertainment hypnosis are two very different things. A clinical hypnotherapist does not aim to create the illusion of having people ‘under’ his control. Stage hypnotists do this with the clever use of pressure, showmanship, and choosing the correct participants.
I feel that many people are missing out on this powerful yet safe therapeutic tool because they are too afraid to use it. I hope to reassure you by answering these common questions about hypnotherapy.
Is hypnosis dangerous?
A hypnotic trance is actually a very natural state that almost everyone goes into several times per day. In 1955 the British Medical Association set up an inquiry which favourably reported hypnosis as a therapeutic tool. It even recommended that it should be taught at medical schools. Hypnosis was also approved by the Council of Mental Health of the American Medical Association in September of 1958 as a safe practice with no harmful side effects. Since then there has been acceleration in the establishment of hypnosis societies for doctors, dentists, and psychologists. No one has been seriously hurt with hypnosis.
What is a hypnotic trance?
It is a normal and natural state that most of us experience many times every. It often occurs when reading a book or watching TV. Sometimes you can be so absorbed in the book or TV programme that you are not consciously aware that someone is talking to you. Hypnosis is the focussing of the conscious attention in such a narrow corridor of influence. The conscious mind is so intensely focussed that other influences are not being critically analysed by the conscious mind. We still hear them, although we are not always aware. A good example of this is when you are in a place where there are several conversations going on at once. They may all sound like a mass of background noise. However if someone in one of those conversations mentions your name, you then consciously focus on that conversation. How did you know someone said your name? Your subconscious mind (which is far more powerful than your conscious mind) was listening to every conversation AT THE SAME TIME! That is perhaps a reason why you can sometimes “just know” something. Your subconscious mind has absorbed it without you consciously being aware.
What does hypnosis feel like?
Usually when in a trance you feel more mentally and physically relaxed. It is a very pleasant experience, and you can tell that you are still in control. You can still hear exactly what is going on around you, unless you choose to drift your attention away and ignore the hypnotherapist’s voice. You will be aware that you can easily stand up, talk, or move whenever you want. A lot of people (me included) when they first experience a hypnotic trance move their fingers or hands in order to test whether they can move at will. No one has ever been stuck in trance. It is more a case that a patient just “can’t be bothered” to wake up as it feels so pleasant. However they soon become bored and will wake up pretty soon. One trick the old hypnosis pro’s use is to tell the patient that they are charging for the time. It’s amazing how quickly the patient then wakes up!
Can I be made to do things against my will?
You cannot be made to do anything against your will or contrary to your value system. If this was possible, would there not be criminals learning the art of hypnotherapy in order to hypnotise their bank managers to handing over a large sum of cash?! In a trance, you would not unknowingly reveal your deepest secrets. You can very easily lie whilst in a trance, which is one reason why testimony in hypnosis is not permissible evidence in a court of law. A person will only act upon suggestions that serve them in some way or reinforce an expected behaviour, anything else their subconscious will just ignore. Most people develop these misperceptions from seeing or hearing about a Stage Hypnosis show. However they largely achieve their results from showmanship, selection of the more extrovert people, and peer pressure.
How long will it take before I notice a change?
In one session, you can expect to become more relaxed than you are right now. Most people do not relax enough, and some people never seem to relax. Being more relaxed can help most mental and physical problems that you may have. I have often had patients report back to me that people noticed that they seemed more relaxed after just one session. In the past I have significantly helped problems such as IBS, skin complaints, and addictions, by simply doing relaxation work with the patient.
Please keep an open mind when deciding if to use hypnotherapy. I have been a clinical hypnotherapist, trained by the London College of Clinical Hypnotherapy (LCCH), for several years. During this time I have witnessed many things that, quite frankly amaze me at times! I have helped so many people in so many ways, that it would be such a shame for people to miss out simply due to unfounded fear and misinformation. Make sure you find a therapist that has received good training from a well respected body, and you will not be disappointed. It is not perfect. Hypnosis does not solve everything all the time. However it does help almost all of the time, and can create amazing changes some of the time. With a well qualified practitioner, you are pretty much guaranteed a comforting, relaxing, and enjoyable experience, as well as a good shot at gaining very good ground towards your goals. I hope you are not missing out for the wrong reasons.
Jon Rhodes is a very experienced UK clinical hypnotherapist. Click to visit a free hypnosis
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