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Misunderstandings About Hypnosis

Jun 27, 2008
Hypnosis refers to being in a trance like state, the kind of states that people experience naturally all the time in daily life. If you have ever been driving somewhere and have suddenly realised you have reached your destination, whilst being absorbed in thoughts about other things, if you have ever been so engrossed in a good book or movie, that you have been unaware of time or distractions, if you have ever daydreamed, then you have experienced trance.

Hypnotherapist's use hypnotic techniques in order to induce a trance like state in the individual. Whilst the individual is in trance, the therapist makes suggestions towards the client's goal. Hypnotherapy is based on the belief that when a person is in a trance state, conscious criticism and analysis is switched off, allowing therapy to be directed at the unconscious mind. It is also understood that the unconscious mind has access to areas of yourself that your conscious mind doesn't. For example, people have used self-hypnosis to control pain, control physiological functions such as heart rate and solve problems, which they are unable to do consciously.

As an Occupational Therapist, Edinburgh who often uses hypnotic techniques, at my NLP and Hypnotherapy practice, Edinburgh for therapeutic benefits, I am aware that many people have inaccurate beliefs about hypnosis. For example, a friend asked me if I could work with her husband to make him give up smoking and pick up his socks! Two activities which he had no intention of stopping! In fact hypnotherapists cannot make people do anything they do not want to do and this will be explained along with other common misconceptions.

1. Hypnotherapists can make you do things against your will - This is not the case. During hypnosis you will be in a relaxed state and choose to follow the therapists voice and listen to the suggestions. The session relies on 100% commitment from the client, as all the work is carried out by the client in their imagination. The therapist can guide but cannot control what goes on inside your head. Therefore, if the therapist ever made any suggestions, which did not fit with your values or which you did not agree with, then you would immediately come out of your relaxed trance state. Since the success of hypnotherapy relies so much on the motivation and commitment of the client, a hypnotherapist cannot get rid of a 'problem' that your not that bothered about solving.

2. Hypnosis is like being in a deep sleep - Unlike sleep, during hypnosis you will actually be highly aware of your surroundings and your senses will be switched on as you concentrate and focus on the therapists voice.

3. Some people can't be hypnotised - Most people can go into relaxed trance states, as it's a normal experience that we have in life. A person who is particularly nervous about hypnotherapy, perhaps due to misconceptions about it, could resist going into trance if they really didn't want too. A good hypnotherapist is able to guide a nervous client into relaxation, this can be done at the clients own pace over a few sessions.

4. Hypnosis is therapy - There is a big difference between a stage hypnotist and an experienced hypnotherapist. Hypnosis is a technique. Hypnotherapy is the therapy that is carried out during trance. A hypnotherapist must have a good understanding of clinical conditions and disorders in order to assess and treat appropriately. For this reason it's important to ascertain what experience your hypnotherapist has.

5. I've had hypnotherapy and I didn't go under! - The first time I had hypnotherapy,I had the experience of being unsure of whether I had been 'successfully' hypnotised. The reason is that some people expect hypnosis to feel unique in some way, when it is a familiar feeling of being relaxed and highly focused, like during day-dreaming. It's not like being anesthetised!
About the Author
Karen is a mental health occupational therapist. She has worked in the NHS with people with mental health problems. Karen practices privately in Edinburgh using NLP and hypnotherapy, Edinburgh in order to treat a range of emotional, psychological problems. Visit http://www.karenhastings.co.uk
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