The three important things to know about hypnosis are that:
- It is completely safe
- You are awake and fully in control
- No one can make or suggest you do anything that you don't want to do
It's nothing like the entertaining hypnotists you may have seen on the telly.
One of the most famous hypnotherapists of all time, Dave Elman, famously said (n the only book he published) that 'all hypnosis is self hypnosis'. What he meant by this is that it is impossible for someone to enter trance unless they choose to.
Hypnosis (or trance) sounds extraordinary but we go into trance many times every day. It happens when we concentrate on something intently and temporarily shut out the outside world as if we cant even hear it. You will have experienced this in all sorts of ways. For example:
- in a busy office, if you are really focus on a deadline, you can sometimes totally disregard the background noise (as if it's not there) whereas at other times the noise that other colleagues are making can really bother you
- when driving up the motorway, you notice you have driven for 20 miles and you cant remember doing so because you were so absorbed in your own thoughts. You drove perfect safely
- when you go our for a run or cycle ride and at certain times you cant feel yourself putting in the physical effort, you are away with your own thoughts and in the zone
- when you are concentrating on something (gardening, knitting, crafts, problem solving, watching a great movie, spending quality time with your partner) and you temporarily totally forget all about the difficult problem you had on your mind
It is interesting that in these situations, when we are not thinking directly about a problem, we suddenly seem to come up with solutions. The same can happen after a good night' sleep.
During the hypnotherapy sessions we purposely support clients to enter trance. This is achieved through the use of guided relaxation, imagery, story telling and metaphor. These are intentionally vague and ambiguous so that the clients themselves decide what to make of them and how to make use of them.
The trance part of the session usually lasts for about 30 minutes and takes place on a couch or reclining chair (see photo above) that is also in the therapy room. You can chose whether to be covered with a light blanket and some prefer this and some prefer not to, it's up to you.
In this relaxed and calm state, the mind, being free of distractions, seems to see things that have been obscured. It becomes open to new possibilities and aware of new solutions to the things that you want to change. Dave Elman described trance as bypassing our 'critical faculty', i.e. the part of our mind that often puts up a barrier to new suggestions.
Trance is also an opportunity to bolster a client's confidence and motivation to achieve their goal for the coming week.
During trance we sometimes ask clients to indicate with a raise of their hand or finger if they have achieved a certain stage. We never touch clients during trance or during any other part of our sessions except perhaps for a welcome handshake (before COVID).
At the end of trance, some clients feel a bit groggy for a minute or two, like if you fall asleep on the settee in the afternoon and wake up feeling a bit dazed. But this wares off very quickly. Despite some of the myths about hypnosis, there is not even a single documented case of someone remaining in trance. This is an interesting and entertaining story but that is all.
Some people do drift off to sleep for a few minutes during trance, as I have done myself, and this is perfectly normal.
All clients are able to download my free sleep audio which allows them to go into trance at home and become more familiar with it.
All the people I have worked with enjoy and look forward to the trance part of the session. It is very relaxing, somehow ordinary yet somehow extraordinary at the same time.
Why not come and find out for yourself?