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Hypnotherapy is another form of therapy that is sometimes feared, exploited and under-estimated. We have all seen stage hypnotists hypnotise people and make them do just about anything they ask them to and we all say "I'm not doing that"! But Hypnotherapy has helped many people including myself so it may be worth while reading on to see what it could do for you!
What is it?
There are many fears and misunderstandings about the use of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, and the myths and mystery that surround it are totally undeserved. Hopefully this page will help to reassure you that what happens is very normal, certainly non-magical, with generally predictable results.
Hypnosis is usually induced by the use of the therapist's voice, though you are unlikely to actually feel hypnotised. There is no such thing as a 'hypnotised feeling', though many people find their senses to be far more alert than usual – you will certainly not 'lose control' at any time, nor can you be manipulated in anyway.
There is no form of unconsciousness and nobody can be made to do anything that they do not want to do; a person in hypnosis is aware of everything happening around them, aware of themselves and their therapist, and will retain a full and accurate memory of everything afterwards.
Hypnosis, a totally natural phenomenon, is simply a very comfortable and relaxed state during which it is quite easy to converse sensibly with the therapist. Almost anyone can enter the hypnotic state easily, with the exceptions of the truly mentally subnormal, very young children, and anybody under the influence of hard drugs or very large quantities of alcohol. It is inconceivable that any harm could befall anybody in this pleasant state.
Nobody can be hypnotised against their will. Hypnosis is not about control by the hypnotist. It is about working together so that the client can be empowered to create change in his or her life. Nobody can be forced to do anything against their will. The 'control' misconception appears to originate from stage hypnosis which funnily enough also involves people doing exactly what they want to be doing.
This is a reliable and safe therapeutic technique which is centuries old and is recognised by many branches of orthodox medicine as a valuable alternative to drugs, to accelerate healing, and to help combat pain.
Whilst not a panacea for all ills, hypnotherapy can be an effective treatment method for a great many problems where psychological factors are involved.
What can it do?
The mind is a very powerful thing and it can be tuned, programmed or receive suggestions quite easily, though still maintaining control and understanding. The mind controls all of our thoughts – good and bad – but can sometimes be tricked into believing things that are "not quite right" which then signals other parts of the body to react accordingly.
Typical examples of this are "Panic Attacks" and "Phobias" when the mind believes we are in danger and the body reacts accordingly. This is why phobias and panic can be cured by changing the way "we think". You've no doubt heard the expression "it's all in the mind"!
Hypnotherapy allows the hypnotherapist to 'suggest' positive thoughts to the mind to allay the negative thoughts that 'creep in and take over'.
You may know someone who has given up smoking after receiving hypnotherapy and again this is done by suggestions to the sub-conscious mind.
Hypnosis itself is unlikely to provide a relief of symptoms, whatever those symptoms might be. It is the therapy – hypnotherapy – which is carried out within the hypnotised state that is important.
There are two entirely different forms:
This form of treatment is ideal for helping to cope with such things as examination fears, driving test nerves, smoking, nail-biting, some weight-control problems, stress, and so on. Usually, between two and four sessions are needed.
This is used for the more deep-rooted problems. The technique aims to find and remove the underlying original cause of such things as irrational fears, emotional problems, relationship difficulties, psycho sexual problems, lack of confidence, moodiness,sleeping difficulties, stuttering/stammering, anxiety, inferiority complex, unhappiness, phobias, etc. and most other problems where there is a psychological factor at work.
Suggestion therapy merely papers over the cracks, Analytical therapy checks to see why the wall is cracking in the first place, and effects repairs to the foundations.
A combination of Analytical Hypnotherapy and Suggestion Therapy can be used to help with many physical and psychological issues from anxiety, nail biting, and smoking, to IBS and nerve rashes.
The number of sessions that are needed will depend on the severity of the problem and whether you respond quickly to hypnotherapy or not. It is not always possible to cure a problem with just one session and most Hypnotherapists will recommend that you start with 3 sessions and see how it goes. If you are one of the lucky ones then 1 session may be all that is needed.
Finding a Hypnotherapist
The best way to find a "good" hypnotherapist would be from a personal recommendation from someone you know. If you look in the telephone books then there will be hundreds of people listed all promising to be qualified and able to "cure" you. How do you know they can?
To find a reputable Hypnotherapist online then go to the following website:
The National Register of Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists (NRHP is a leading, non-profit making, register of qualified hypno-psychotherapists.
The NRHP keeps a database of hypnotherapists throughout the country and provides a free referral service, for those seeking a reputable practitioner).
It is also worthwhile calling the person you are going to see for a general chat to ensure that a) you feel comfortable with them and b) they can help with your specific problem.
Please take some time to read the following article that was kindly written by John Crawford, a Hypnotherapist (his contact details are below). It is called "When the Gloves come off".
Several years ago it was suggested that I see a hypnotherapist for my health/phobia problems. There was no way I was going to be hypnotised and dancing around the room like a chicken! Then, of course, there were all the newspaper stories that claimed women were raped whilst hypnotised.
Well, I was faced with a dilemma in March 2000 that I wanted to go abroad again (flying) and hadn't done it for 5 years. I was terrified at the thought of going on an aeroplane again so I booked myself on a "Fear of flying course". Bad move – I started getting sleepless nights about it the minute I booked it in January 2000 and the flight wasn't until April!
In March I decided that I had to take drastic action to cure myself of the fear. If people could be hypnotised to give up smoking after just one session then I could be hypnotised to get on the plane and enjoy it!
I went to see a lady called Les Eames and was very scared and wary of what would happen. The first session lasted 2 hours so I could talk about my fears and problems before any hypnotherapy started. Les explained exactly what would happen but it was still really hard to relax.
I had listened to relaxation tapes before and was told that hypnotherapy was no different – and it wasn't. There was relaxing music playing in the background, scented candles burning and a relaxing soothing voice talking to me.
Les suggested things to my sub-conscious mind and to be honest I switched off after a while and my mind wandered off. Apparently that doesn't matter as the sub-conscious mind will still be listening. What I remember most is Les saying to me that if I got on the plane and panicked then I would hear her voice saying "Relax Nicky, relax".
To cut a long story short, I had 3 sessions prior to the flight and did survive it – just! Each time I felt myself losing control, I remembered her words and they helped calm me.
I carried on seeing Les for hypnotherapy for some time afterwards and I also diversified to Reiki as she does that as well.
I recently visited a health farm for a week and took the opportunity of booking a one-off Hypnotherapy session (25/6/03). I needed to get some help with my driving as this was causing me a great deal of panic and anxiety as I hate traffic queues, road-works, roads with no hard-shoulder etc.
I hadn't had any treatment for over 2 years so I was quite looking forward to meeting a new therapist and a new way of doing things.
He was quite assertive in his manner and would stop me every time I said "I can't", "I hate", "I don't". He refused to hear those words and would not accept them at all! He then asked me to close my eyes and go to the place that I feel safe (I have a lovely beach that I like to go to). The first time he tried to relax me it failed cos he told me not to move my hands and feet but open my eyes. I opened my eyes are wiggled my feet. So, he tried again – this time when I opened my eyes I couldn't move my hands and feet – they were numb and heavy. It was a calm and relaxing feeling not scary at all. So then he went on with the Hypnotherapy itself.
I remember everything he said but turned off to some of it – this doesn't matter cos the sub-conscious carries on listening. I remember him telling me to breathe in a colour and breathe out a word. I chose the colour "yellow" and the word "relax". He then told me that when I got panicky I was to breathe in the colour yellow and breathe out the words "relax, slow down".
To cut a long story short, the session was good and I came out feeling really positive. The basic message was "don't be so negative and stop punishing yourself with negative thoughts." I knew that the big test would be the drive home.
Well I survived that too! I was chuffed. I have since been trying to test myself in situations that made me panicky before and so far (a week on) so good – no problems driving. If I start to feel panicky, I say "relax, slow down" and seem to get an inner strength that enables me to cope.