During stage hypnosis – an event purely done for entertainment – it’s important to remember that these volunteers have generally gone onto the show of their own free choice, knowing that they may be asked to do outlandish things, so it is a fair assumption that these volunteers are quite likely often extroverted types, who are quite happy and one might say, expectant, to be the “star of the show”.
Your first, or perhaps only, known encounter with the phenomenon of hypnosis may have been watching a Hypnotist on stage or screen, encouraging a group of volunteers to bark like a dog or jump around the stage believing themselves to be Madonna or Elvis.
Once the volunteers are on stage, the Hypnotist will usually perform a series of compliance tests, in order to see which members of the group are most likely to follow instructions to the letter and the least compliant members will be asked to return to their seats in the audience. The Hypnotist will then perform a series of hypnotic tests and what are known as “convincers”, to determine who responds best and will then choose these subjects to be the stars of their stage show.
So, the Hypnotist/performer now has a group of extroverted, compliant and highly suggestible volunteers, who are highly likely to follow commands and provide an entertaining show.
Now, I’m not saying that all of the things you see in these such shows are fake, or conversely, all real. This is a complex subject and far beyond the scope of this article. I simply want to highlight the stark contrast between the experience of hypnosis for entertainment purposes and hypnosis in a therapeutic setting.
As a Hypnotherapist, I have found that stage Hypnosis can be a double-edged sword. Whilst on the one hand, it brings attention to the hugely interesting and fascinating phenomenon that is hypnosis, on the other, I have found on many occasions that people have been put off from considering Hypnotherapy as a viable form of therapy due to the worry that they made to do or say something embarrassing or traumatic, or that they may be “under control”.
Hypnosis has a huge stigma surrounding it and that is a real shame, as it is a very real and very achievable state for almost everyone and can be used to create real positive change.
Allow me to allay your fears. Hypnotherapy is most likely nothing like you’d expect! The purpose of using Hypnosis for therapeutic change is that it brings about a hugely resourceful state of deep relaxation and focus, which can be used in innumerable ways to make positive and lasting change. Therefore, having a client walking round a therapy room clucking like a chicken or forgetting their name has zero therapeutic value and, as such, would not be used by any Hypnotherapist worthy of the title.
So what is Hypnotherapy then?
During a Hypnotherapy session with me, we will already have sat for a period of time and discussed what changes you’d like to see happen in your life. At this point, we will have you sat comfortably in a chair, or on the couch if you’d prefer.
I will begin with a hypnotic induction, which is simply where I will help guide you to relax your mind and body. Once this has been established, I will gently guide you into a deeper hypnotic state, or “trance”, as it’s commonly known. Most of us go into a light trance numerous times a day, whilst daydreaming or absorbed in a book, for example. Have you ever had the experience of someone calling out your name multiple times whilst you were lost in your thoughts and didn’t hear them until they raised their voice? So it is very easy to achieve a light trance and, often, a light trance is sufficient to make wonderful changes.
What does hypnosis feel like?
Everyone’s experience of Hypnosis is unique to them but in general, in trance, you will be in a blissfully relaxed physical and mental state, whilst enjoying greater clarity of thought and internal focus.
Just like while engrossed in a good book or film, you may find that outside noises and distractions tend to “blur out”, whilst you focus on the suggestions and ideas I put to you. You will not be asleep. You will not be under control. You will be aware of everything being said that you find relevant or useful and you can bring yourself out of trance whenever you wish, for example if a fire alarm goes off, or you wish to end the session.
What if I can’t be hypnotised?
Because we now understand that most of us go into trance numerous times a day, the answer to the question “can I be hypnotised?” is almost always YES! If you are of average or above average intelligence, you CAN be hypnotised.
Will I lose control?
There is an old saying; “all hypnosis is self hypnosis”. Therefore, I am simply the guide in this process but it is you who is in control of whether you allow yourself to go into hypnosis or not. Hypnosis is NOT mind control. You have complete control over what, if any, information you give out. You will not be asked to talk about or relive unpleasant experiences, talk about your past indiscretions or secrets, or to give away any personal information that you are not comfortable with.
Simply put, you will not be asked to do anything that doesn’t align with your own personal moral or ethical code. Your mind will just reject the suggestion. In fact, it is extremely rare that I will ask a client to speak during hypnosis at all. I personally find that it’s much more pleasant to enjoy the relaxation and not having to worry about answering questions verbally.
Hypnotherapy is a unique and highly effective therapy, allowing profound change to be made in a relatively short time. Now that I have dispelled the many myths and rumours surrounding hypnosis, you can make up your own mind as to whether hypnotherapy is something you want to experience.