Have you ever found yourself staring into space, so absorbed in your own thoughts that you’ve missed several minutes of the TV programme you were watching, or, when driving, found that you can’t remember the last few minutes of your journey? If so, you’ve been in a light “trance state”, otherwise known as hypnosis.
This is a completely natural phenomenon, which can be induced using a range of different methods. Don’t expect the “swinging watch” though, I don’t know anyone who uses that these days! The therapist can then deepen the trance to a dream-like state where they can bypass your conscious mind and communicate directly with your subconscious mind.
This does not mean that you are “in their power”, and you cannot be made to do anything that goes against your principles. Forget what you may have seen in “hypnotic” shows on stage and TV; that’s showbiz, and is only intended for entertainment.
What happens next depends on the purpose of the session:
Suggestion Therapy –
Can be used to address specific problems or habits such as smoking, moderate weight loss or confidence issues.
Is used to re-visit past events and deal with the emotions attached to them, and progression can be used to address fears, hopes and dreams for the future.
Guided Affective Imagery –
A dream-like fantasy, where the therapist sets a scene and allows you to explore it, giving guidance along the way. The only limit is your imagination! This can be a lot of fun, but actually has a serious purpose, giving an insight into your personality and the issues in your life, and has a variety of therapeutic uses.
Being in hypnosis is not like being asleep or being under anaesthetic. In most cases you will be aware of what is happening, you will be able to respond to questions and suggestions, and afterwards you will remember what happened. In fact, two-way communication is important so that the therapist can keep track of what’s going on in your mind during the session.
After coming out of hypnosis you will probably feel drowsy for a short while, and then feel just pleasantly relaxed. There are no unpleasant side effects, but suggestions put in place during hypnosis can change the way you react to certain circumstances, the temptation to have a cigarette for example, or feelings of anxiety in an exam.
What if I can’t be hypnotised?
We are all unique individuals, and some people are more resistant to hypnosis than others, however, everyone can be hypnotised if they allow themselves to be. A skilled therapist will have a variety of ways of dealing with resistance, in addition to the trust and rapport built with the client.