A question I ask clients when they come for their first hypnotherapy session is “Have you ever been hypnotised before?”. If, as is usual, they haven’t, I go on to explore their ideas of what it might feel like. Because many people have a very inaccurate perception of what hypnosis feels like.
A lot of the blame for this lies with TV and film. Most of us have seen footage of a stage hypnotist touching someone on the shoulder, only for the “victim” to slump into a deep sleep. The subject then does something completely out of character.
How is this different from hypnotherapy?
As a hypnotherapist, I could create this rapid, deep sleep effect, but I wouldn’t want to. It’s neither helpful nor desirable.
The technique I use is much slower and gentler. I will talk to you, using the combination of my words and your imagination to put you into a deeply relaxed state. You may be completely aware of every word I say. You may find it difficult to keep track. Or you may find my words are simply washing over you. None of this matters.
The important thing is that your body and mind are totally relaxed, with your consciousness focused in such a way that the rest of the world seems to fade away. People often liken it to being completely absorbed in a book or a hobby, so their sense of time is distorted and nothing else seems to matter.
In this state your conscious mind is distracted and I can talk directly to your unconscious. I can communicate with you using symbolism, metaphor and imagery – all things that your unconscious mind finds it easy to understand. If necessary, I can even ask you questions without your conscious mind censoring the answers.
So therapeutic hypnosis creates a sensation that is very different from the dramatic effects you might see on TV. And one that is far more helpful.