What is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy refers to the use of hypnosis in therapy. Hypnosis is best defined as a state of relaxation in which the conscious mind is calmed, so allowing communication with the unconscious mind. This communication is two-way: The unconscious mind provides information - often in the form of images, relevant memories, or feelings – but it also “opens” to receive positive and beneficial suggestions which are in the interest of the patient. This is where the skill of the therapist is most important, working with the patient’s unconscious mind to suggest desired changes appropriately. If both the conscious and the unconscious mind work together for one’s wellbeing, changes are far more likely to happen. The unconscious mind maintains many unconscious actions such as habits. That is why hypnotherapy is so effective for changing habits.
Our therapy is always goal-oriented and solution-focussed. This means that patient and therapist work together to a specific end, to become a non-smoker for example, or to be able to perform an action that previously caused fear or led to avoidance. I employ a number of cognitive, behaviour and analytical techniques within a hypnotherapeutic context. Therefore there are a range of tools which can be used not only in the therapy room but at home as well. I often teach self-hypnosis to give you the ability to achieve a wonderful state of relaxation and to empower you with a therapeutic tool that can be used to make other positive changes in your life.
I encourage the asking of questions, as it is essential that the patient feel in control of the process. Often, people’s questions relate to the techniques used, or more generally about hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Here are some of the most commonly asked:
What does a hypnotic state feel like?
You already know what it is like to be hypnotised! Remember a time when you have been so engrossed in an activity that you didn’t notice what was going on around you, or when time seemed to fly by? These are all hypnotic states, as are those moments when you are waking up and as you are going to sleep. Hypnotic trance is best described as a very pleasant relaxing feeling, somewhere between asleep and awake yet often combined with conscious awareness. If you have practiced meditation for example, you will have purposefully experienced this kind of state.
Can you make me do something I don't want to do?
No. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, your unconscious mind will not allow you to do anything that you do not wish to do. There is always a part of you that is alert and vigilant, whether you are awake, in hypnotic trance, or deeply asleep. Your mind will simply reject suggestions which are not in line with your own desires and well-being. Similarly, your unconscious mind will not reveal information that it does not wish to give, or that you are not ready to receive. Finally, ethical and professional working means we work only toward your desired goal and within your system of beliefs and values. My code of conduct sets out an ethical and practical framework for the therapeutic relationship and is sent prior to our first session.
Is hypnotherapy safe?
Yes, hypnotherapy is safe. Remember, it is a naturally occurring state. Therapy with hypnosis is wholly organic and never involves taking any substances. Indeed, unlike working with medication, there are no harmful side effects and benefits can be long-lasting.
Would I still need to see a doctor if I have a medical condition or if I’m on medication?
Absolutely. It is essential to have a medical examination with regard to any medical condition. Clinical Hypnotherapy works as an highly effective compliment with regard to various established medical symptoms (read more about symptoms and treatments.) Indeed you should continue taking any medication as prescribed by your doctor and only reduce or eliminate such medication in consultation with your medical doctor. I will never tell you to take or not take any medication.
So do I just come to you and sit passively while you make my symptoms disappear?
Not exactly. The positive and rapid results of hypnotherapy make some people believe that there is some magic involved and that the patient need only sit passively while the therapist conducts his hypnotherapy. The truth is that the patient is fully involved at every step of the process. Even though the body is relaxed, the mind is working very hard. The patient is doing a lot of the change work while the therapist guides the patient to his inner resources. It is far from a passive experience. Indeed, the patient is usually given “homework” do to outside of the therapy room, often including self-hypnosis. Therefore, it is clear that the patient is an active participant in the process. The success of therapy will depend on the person’s willingness to fully participate in the process of change!
How do you explain the rapid changes that hypnotherapy can achieve?
Because hypnotherapy is about working with both the conscious and unconscious, both parts of the mind align and work together toward a given aim. Any “homework” given is always related to the therapy, thereby encouraging as many parts of you as possible to point in the same desired direction. As the sources of many of the difficulties we experience reside in the unconscious mind – such as habits, thought patterns, behaviours which have become “automatic” - it follows that working with the unconscious mind, as hypnotherapy does, goes to the “source” of the difficulties, but also to the source of the solutions - for it is here where one can access one’s own answers.
Do our conversations remain confidential?
All information between therapist and patient is totally confidential. With informed consent, I will make written notes of the sessions. These are for clinical purposes and are used to construct a carefully planned therapeutic strategy. These notes are always kept secure and confidential. Professional and legal requirements determine how long notes must be kept. After that they are destroyed. Confidentiality is essential to successful therapy, therefore the patient’s full honesty will increase the effectiveness of the therapeutic process and desired change. A full code of conduct relating to privacy is sent before the first session.
What about stage hypnosis?
As you will have realised by now, clinical hypnotherapy has nothing to do with stage hypnosis. Clinical hypnotherapy is about using the relaxing state of hypnosis for clinical and beneficial ends as discussed and agreed between therapist and patient. It is precisely because the patient wishes to make desired changes that the mind will allows this therapeutic communication to take place. Stage hypnosis exploits a very different desire. Most of the techniques used by a stage hypnotist would never be used by a reputable clinical therapist and certainly have no place in my consulting room.
Contact me through the contact page, or if you prefer to do further independent reading, have a look at the information on the research page. There you’ll also find links to other sites and other people whose work I recommend.
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