There are many misunderstandings regarding hypnosis. Many people associate it with stage hypnotism, something mysterious or weird. Some people are fearful that they will be out of control when they are ‘under hypnosis’ while others firmly believe they cannot be hypnotised. It is important to make a distinction between hypnosis and a trance state. Trance is simply a state of focused attention. All of us, without exception, go into trance several times during the course of a day. Have you ever had the experience of driving somewhere familiar then not remembering your journey once you arrive? Do you daydream? Have you ever got so absorbed in a task, or so into a book, that you become unaware of time passing? All these and more are normal everyday trance states. Hypnosis however, is what happens within the trance state. Having therapy when you are very stressed, anxious or depressed can be a trigger for going into an unintended trance, and at times like this a therapist could be unwittingly hypnotising their client in an unhelpful way (for example by telling them that their depression is so deep seated they may never be free of it). That is why it is important to go to a therapist who has been properly trained, specifically in solution-focused hypnotherapy that is coming from the Human Givens approach. That means that whatever changes are introduced by the therapist should be firstly identified by you, the client, as ones that will both help you to get your needs better met and also help you to move forward with your life.
My job as a hypnotist is to help you, through trance induction,to become so relaxed that you can allow new patterns (chosen and identified by you) to be set up in your unconscious, as this is where all learning, throughout our life, takes place. Once you have learned something (learning to walk or drive is a good example) it becomes something you know how to do unconsciously, instinctively. Once a new pattern has been set up in the unconscious mind, then it is much easier to carry it over into real life. Almost all undesirable states can be reversed, minimized or dissolved through hypnosis.
It’s actually the other way around. So if you find yourself habitually falling into negative thinking patterns, no matter how much you try and tell yourself to be positive, it is because your thoughts are being driven by your emotions. So trying to change your way of thinking will not work, as emotions are much more powerful than thoughts – they are driven by our emotional, primitive brain which is millions of years older than our higher, thinking brain (the cortex). This is where hypnosis comes in. You do not consciously decide to become negative (which is why you can’t consciously decide to become positive), it happens over time, and is driven by your emotions. Using hypnosis in a solution-focused way will access your unconscious and turn embedded patterns around, which in turn will change the way you feel about things, and this in turn will change the way that you think.
Likewise with addictions, bad habits and phobias. You don’t wake up one day and consciously decide to become addicted to smoking, or biting your nails, or over-eating. Nor do you choose to become phobic about, say, dogs, spiders or the outdoors. Which is why ‘willpower’ or ‘talking to yourself’ is of little or no help in these instances. Again, changing unconscious patterns will enable you to stop wanting to indulge your habit – you will simply loose interest. And the fear response to your phobic trigger will simply not be there anymore.