Stress and anxiety contribute to a lot of ill health and unhappiness in our society, and clinical hypnotherapy is increasingly popular with people who are looking for non pharmacological ways to manage the mental and emotional challenges of life.
Clinical Hypnosis aims to help people relax and develop their ability to cope with stressful experiences in a more constructive or empowered way in order to enhance their personal health and happiness.
So what’s it all about?
Hypnotherapy has long been recognised to be a very powerful method for personal development, and it is used by people all around the world to help deal with a wide range of issues and problems.
In essence, hypnotherapy is a skilled verbal communication that takes a client into a state of heightened relaxation and altered awareness. Once a client is relaxed in this way it is possible to use the power of their subconscious mind and direct their imagination in such a way as to bring about intended alterations in sensations, perceptions, feelings, thoughts and behaviour in order to effect change in their life, often within a relatively short space of time.
Using the power of the subconscious mind in this way can be very beneficial as the subconscious mind is an untapped resource for creativity, the source of all your emotions, and therefore directs nearly all of your behaviour. It also has a significant influence on the functioning of your autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for maintaining the body in good health and regulating all the ‘automatic’ processes of your body that keep you alive and well (e.g. breathing, blood circulation, tissue repair, controlling blood sugar levels, and so on).
Why would someone have hypnotherapy?
People may choose to have hypnotherapy for a variety of reasons – they may want to learn to relax deeply; to change an unwanted habit; to conquer a fear such as public speaking or to enhance an aspect of their lives such as sports performance.
Hypnotherapy is widely acknowledged as an effective therapy for a wide variety of medical, dental and psychological problems. Areas of application include anxiety and stress related conditions, weight control, addictive behaviours (including smoking, alcohol and substance misuse) and confidence issues.
What does hypnosis feel like?
You feel deeply relaxed and calm, but aware of everything happening around you. It is a pleasant and enjoyable state, very similar to daydreaming or drifting off to sleep. You will feel wonderfully relaxed and you may find that your sleep will be of a much better quality.
How do I get started?
When you meet with a hypnotherapist for the first time they will explore exactly what you want to achieve and how hypnotherapy may be able to help. The hypnotherapist will ask you questions about your previous medical history and your general health and lifestyle, and then you and the hypnotherapist will decide together on the changes or goals that are desired.
What if I can’t be hypnotised?
Don’t worry. The only people who can’t be hypnotised are those who don’t want to be hypnotised. Everyone else can be hypnotised, but the depths and response levels do differ from person to person.
Will I know what’s going on?
Of course, and you will also be able to remember the full details of the experience of being hypnotised. In some ways the feeling of being hypnotised is a bit like the feeling you might have if you are lying in bed in the morning with no pressing need or desire to get up. You can hear everything going on around you, but it doesn’t bother you at all. Most importantly, the feeling is not one of loss of control, but rather a feeling of having a calm and relaxed guide to your deeper personal resources.
Will I be unconscious?
No. Hypnotherapy is dealing with the subconscious mind, but this has nothing at all to do with being unconscious. What’s more, if you were unconscious you would not be able to hear the suggestions or instructions from the hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapy is a state of calm, relaxed, focused attention creating suggestions and commands directed to your subconscious mind for conscious change.
I don’t like the idea of having my mind being controlled.
It’s not – you are in control at all times. You will always be treated with the utmost respect and anything discussed will be in the strictest confidence. Clinical hypnotherapy is nothing like the silly things you see people doing during ‘stage hypnosis’, which relies on compliance, expectation from the audience and perception of what the audience expects.
Can you guarantee me a cure?
Nothing in life is guaranteed, and it is not professional to offer one. However, you can be assured that as professionals all therapists can indeed guarantee that they will bring all their skills, knowledge, experience and ongoing training to bear in bringing you lasting relief in your problem.
Can I get hypnotherapy on the NHS?
There is limited access, depending on your area and your Primary Care Trust.
Can children be treated with hypnotherapy?
Yes, children can be treated using hypnotherapy from the age of about six, provided they have a good attention span.
How many sessions of hypnotherapy will I need?
This will depend upon your individual circumstances. This is something that you will discuss with your therapist when you first meet and many therapists will agree a set number of sessions with you which they will review with you. Depending on the issues you want to address hypnotherapy can often be a relatively short process.
How long is a session?
An individual session will usually take 40 – 60 minutes and your therapist will make this clear to you at your first meeting. In some cases a session can take longer but you will discuss this with your therapist in advance.
How often will I see my therapist?
This is something that you will decide with your therapist. It may be once a week but this is flexible for example you may meet once a week initially and then decide together that you want to meet more or less frequently depending on how you feel.
How much will hypnotherapy cost?
This is something that will be discussed with you at your first contact and you will usually be asked to pay for each session as you go.
What happens if I can’t relax?
Your therapist is skilled at helping people to relax and there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way for you to behave. Try not to worry about things like this as this may make you feel less relaxed. This is something you will be led into gently – and your therapist will be aware of your apprehensions.
What happens if I fall asleep or don’t wake up?
The state of relaxation that you enter is not the same as sleeping – but some people do fall asleep and this is nothing to worry about. You will be in a secure environment and your therapist will be aware of this possibility. Your therapist will also explain about the method that they will use to ensure you are fully aware and ready to get on with your usual activities after the session.
I’m still worried I may say or do something stupid
When you meet with your therapist for the first time do tell them about any concerns that you may have and they will be able to reassure you.
How do I know if my hypnotherapist is ethical?
Use a member of the National Hypnotherapy Society – then you have the security of knowing that they have been verified by the Society, that it has checked their qualifications and experience, that they have suitable insurance, and that they are governed by the Society’s Code of Ethics.
Is it confidential?
Yes it is important that you feel that you can talk about things in complete confidence. Your therapist will not talk about you with others – the only time they might breach confidentiality is if by keeping a confidence it could cause significant harm to you, your therapist or another person – for example if your life is at risk. They will explain about this when you first meet.
I am taking prescribed medication – is it ok to have hypnotherapy as well?
It is likely that when you first meet your hypnotherapist they will ask you about any pre-existing medical conditions that you may have and also if you are taking any prescribed medication. Sometimes they might ask you to check with your GP before you start hypnotherapy.