Hypnosis is a talking therapy. It uses words to help the client to change their behaviour. Our first session will start with the taking of a detailed client record to understand the client and their problem. Sessions may vary in length between one hour and 1 1/2 hours. Smoking is normally dealt with in two sessions. Other problems might be dealt with in a single session but more commonly take several, depending on their complexity. However, a consultant hypnotist expect to help their clients (assuming that it is a problem which can be helped with hypnosis) in relatively few sessions compared, say, to traditional psychotherapy where it may be usual to have weekly sessions for a long period of time. A hypnotist will normally expect to see some beneficial change in the client after three sessions.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TAKING THE CLIENT RECORD?
If you have not been in hypnosis before, the consultant hypnotist will want to explain hypnosis to you, and answer any questions you may have, to ensure that you are entirely comfortable about the process. Sometimes people who have seen stage hypnosis shows do not realise how pleasurable, in fact how ordinary, a hypnotic trance can be. Everybody is different, but most people feel a pleasant heaviness in their arms and legs; a feeling that while they could move them they would rather not bother. Your eyes will be closed and there may be a similar feeling in the eyelids. You can hear everything that is going on around you and, in particular, the voice of the therapist, but other sounds will start to seem less relevant, your mind may drift a little and you may not be sure whether you have heard everything that has been said. It is your conscious mind that is having this doubt; your unconscious mind will have absorbed it all.
NOW THAT YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH HYPNOSIS, WHAT NEXT?
There are a number of hypnotic trance phenomena but the most relevant one for the client to understand is the posthypnotic suggestion. This is a suggestion made to the client while in trance but which will continue to affect the client and influence his or her behaviour when out of trance. At a first session, hypnosis may be used to start giving suggestions for change, or it may just be used for relaxation and to prepare the client’s subconscious mind for change at the next session. Either way, the consultant hypnotist is likely to take you into a hypnotic trance during your first session. Most people find that the immediate effect — the feeling that you have while in trance — becomes stronger each time you go into trance
THE HYPNOTIC PROCESS
There are a large number of ways of inducing a hypnotic trance, some fast and some slow, some just using words and some physical actions. Once a person has gone into trance the consultant hypnotist will often use a further script to deepen the trance. This may be done with visual imagery, encouraging the client to imagine a garden, a beach or a mountain walk; or it may use an awakening of early memories; or it may be by confusing the conscious mind in some way so that it becomes preoccupied or, alternatively, chooses to go off duty. Whichever way is chosen, the effect is to create a deeper relaxation of both body and mind, giving easier access to the subconscious mind. At this point the hypnotist will start to give suggestions, which may be direct or indirect, knowing that they will be taken on board by the subconscious mind, without interference from the logical, rational, conscious mind.
The consultant hypnotist may well teach you self-hypnosis. This is a simple technique which you can use to relax in your own home. While relaxing you can reinforce the suggestions you have been given, you can review your goals and give yourself more motivation, or you can simply relax (very helpful for insomnia). Your consultant hypnotist may ask you to do certain tasks between sessions, such as keeping an eating diary if you want to reduce weight, or doing something which you previously had a reluctance to do if you have a phobia. In some cases the consultant hypnotist may give you a CD containing the suggestions which you have already been given in trance. The reason for the repetition, whether in self hypnosis, or listening to a CD, is that the subconscious mind is affected by compounding and will give more weight or importance to a suggestion received many times. The advertising industry knows all about this!
WHAT CAN HYPNOTHERAPY HELP YOU WITH?
Because hypnosis works by offering ideas for change to the subconscious mind it can be helpful with any behavior or disorders caused by, or affected in some way by, the state of the client’s mind. This turns out to be quite a long list of psychosomatic or psychogenic conditions, some of which are listed below. However, if you have some problem which is not specifically listed, and you wonder whether hypnosis can help you you only have to ask, see Contact. Although hypnosis can be a very effective way to help you, the client, you must remember that it should not be thought of as a magic wand! Neither you nor the consultant hypnotist will know everything that is in your subconscious mind; every client is unique and, while the session will be tailored to you as an individual, the consultant hypnotist is not omnipotent.
CHANGING UNWANTED BEHAVIOR
Many of us are creatures of habit, and when it is a good habit that can be very helpful by ensuring that we do things which are necessary or beneficial. But when it is a bad habit, or one which we no longer think is good although we may have thought so at one time, then we seem to be a prisoner of our past. Despite all our good intentions to change we find that will power is not enough. Our logical minds know that we should change our behavior but somehow it is just too difficult, and each time we try to change, but fail, this reinforces in us a feeling that we cannot change. Both hypnosis and NLP provide excellent ways of breaking the cycle of failure and so can help you to make the change that you want to make. This is an important point — you must want to make the change — and it is not sufficient for somebody else (e.g. a parent or spouse) to think that you should make the change. If your heart is not in it the change is unlikely to happen. Examples of behavioral change: Smoking cessation Over eating and weight reduction Insomnia Nail-biting Blushing Addictions Alcohol .
Often if we look at people who are more successful in life we realise that it is not because they are more intelligent, rather it is because they are more confident and better motivated to achieve their objective. In their own mind they have convinced themselves that they can succeed and, as a result, they do succeed. Achieving a more positive attitude of mind is a normal part of any hypnosis session. Of course, the goals that we set ourselves must be reasonable bearing in mind the skills that we have and the effort that we are prepared to put in. Failure to achieve our goals, or a conflict between work pressures, life pressures and the time available, can lead to stress. The more stressed we feel, the worse we perform and a vicious circle develops. Hypnosis, with its emphasis on relaxation, can be a potent force for change when allied with better goal and priority setting, leading to management and reduction of stress. Under the wide heading of personal development we can list:
- Building self confidence and self-esteem
- Encouraging relaxation
- Stress management
- Emotional difficulties
- Relationship problems
- Reduction of anxiety
- Exam preparation
- Driving test preparation
- Life coaching and goal setting
- Sports or artistic performance enhancement