Hypnotherapy can be utilised to assist in a myriad of ways therapeutically for reducing anxiety, to build confidence, to lose weight, to quit smoking, and as a mode of gentle exposure therapy to aid in reducing the intensity of various fears and phobias, however, there are many common myths and misconceptions surrounding its use, what is involved, and its validity. In order to put your mind at ease if you are simply interested in the idea of hypnotherapy or possibly considering whether it may be an appropriate option for you, here are the top three most common myths I have encountered when discussing the topic with clients in recent years.
- A hypnotherapist has the power to make you do something against your will….typically, act like a chicken: Incorrect! This is often a gimmick used in live stage shows by magicians and performers to shock and entertain. It is important to understand that when using hypnotherapy for therapeutic outcomes, though we may be relaxed in trance, the mind is always looking out for us, just like when we are asleep. For example, if we hear an unexpected noise or feel too cold when the covers fall off, our mind will alert us enough to take some appropriate action to explore this problem, like by waking up to investigate, or by pulling the covers up around us again. The mind will not let you do anything you don’t want to do especially if it is against your core values or beliefs. Your mind is always looking out for you, protecting you from harm.
- Hypnotherapy as a quick-fix or last resort: Yes and no. Hypnotherapy can ‘cure’ some in as little as one session, however, for this to occur, the individual needs to be interested in achieving those goals to begin with and open to the effects of hypnotherapy. If you are looking for results, are open to the idea of hypnotherapy and are cooperative/allow yourself to relax into the trance, then hypnotherapy can be great for unblocking fixed thinking or barriers that would otherwise prevent you from achieving your goals. Sometimes this can even involve ego strengthening and confidence building. Also, the benefits of a therapist teaching an individual self-hypnosis during session cannot be underestimated. During this relaxed and suggestible phase if the tools for self-hypnosis are taught to an individual, they may have greater confidence and power to enact relaxed and trance-like states by themselves and for themselves outside of the session. This can enable individuals to connect with a sense of peace, calm, clarity and confidence more often in their lives and hence they may feel more capable in their abilities to deal with, or more accepting of adversities that may occur when striving for a certain goal.
- Being hypnotised is like being asleep: Untrue! Relaxing into hypnotic trance is just a heightened state of suggestibility, not sleep. What many do not realise is that we all naturally go into trance multiple times throughout the week and day and this is not a state that is foreign to us. Things like daydreaming, driving long distances without having to put too much energy or focus into the task, or becoming enthralled in a book with little notion of the time are all examples of how we experience the trance-like state of hypnosis in our everyday life. Things seem to be happening automatically but you may not feel fully connected to or conscious of them. This is a natural rest state for us to be in and it is during this state where we are more relaxed and open to suggestions.
I hope these points help you understand the hypnotherapy process a little better, give you more confidence in a process you may have been considering and dispel some of the myths. If you would like to discuss whether hypnotherapy may be able to help you, then we are always happy to speak with you.
Alyce Mayman, Counsellor and Psychotherapist
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