Hypnosis is mysterious and peculiar. It is not fully understood. Some therapists are taught a very diluted version of hypnosis and they market themselves with statements about hypnosis that are not true. They are true to the techniques they use, but not to hypnosis. Here are six common misconceptions about hypnosis and their relevance to effective change work. Some are encouraged by practicing therapists and some are just urban legends.
Hypnosis is a sleep like state
Hypnosis gets its name from the Greek God of sleep, Hypnos, which is misleading. Relaxation and sleep are two very common suggestions used in the induction process. The relaxed state you often see in hypnotised people is the acceptance of a suggestion, but it is not hypnosis. It is the effect not the cause.
In a stage show you will see the subjects slumped when the hypnotist is not using them, they look like they are asleep, puppets with their strings cut, yet as soon as the puppeteer gives them an instruction they jump to it – you do not do that when you are asleep. When they are doing what they are told as part of the performance – eating an onion or falling in love with a mop – in the reality that the hypnotist has given them they are in they still hypnotised and they are very definitely not asleep.
In therapy the client will spend a lot of time with their eyes closed in a relaxed state as in therapy the attention is turned inwards and so it makes sense to block out external stimulus, but they are not asleep, they are following instructions given to them by the hypnotist, rearranging their subconscious patterns and changing their lives.
A good therapist will ensure some sort of two way communication between themselves and the client so they can gauge the effectiveness of what they are doing as they go. This might involve talking with the client, asking for head nods or shakes or establishing Ideo Motor Responses which are tiny involuntary muscle movements – one for Yes and one for No. You cannot do that with someone who is asleep.
The most common phrase from a clients mouth when you wake them up is something along the lines of ‘that was weird’ – probably not the first phrase uttered each morning.
The Hypnotist cannot make you do anything you do not want to do!
Many hypnotherapists will claim this on their FAQ pages, they will tell you that you are completely in control throughout the session as many hypnotherapy schools teach this. Any therapist that claims this is not using hypnosis or they do not understand the tools of their own trade. Hypnosis is the acceptance of suggestion without question, without reservation, without inhibition and that is exactly why you go to hypnotist rather than a counsellor or psychotherapist which work with your conscious faculty at the pace you wish to go to try and get past problems – hypnosis removes your conscious critical faculty from the equation to get you fast results.
Let’s examine the term ‘want’. Let’s
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