HYPNOTHERAPY IS A POWERFUL MODALITY FOR MANY LIFE ISSUES INCLUDING TRAUMA, ANXIETY AND PAIN MANAGEMENT
Hypnosis is a state of altered consciousness that occurs normally in every person just before he or she enters into the sleep state. In therapeutic hypnotherapy we prolong this brief interlude so that we can work within its bounds.
Yes, because it is a normal state that everyone passes through before going to sleep. However, it is possible to resist hypnosis like it is possible to resist going to sleep. But even if one resists hypnosis, with practice, the resistance can be overcome.
There is no magic in hypnosis. There are some conditions in which it is useful and others in which no great benefit is derived. It is employed in medicine to reduce tension and pain which accompany various physical problems, and to aid certain rehabilitative procedures. In psychological practice, it is helpful in short term therapy, and also, in some cases, in long term treatment where resistance has been encountered.
Only a qualified professional person should decide whether one needs hypnotherapy or could benefit from it. The professional person requires special training in the techniques and uses of hypnosis before he or she can be considered qualified, and should be certified in Hypnotherapy.
The hypnotic state is no more dangerous than is the sleep state. Unfortunately, unskilled operators may give subjects foolish suggestions, such as one often witnesses in stage hypnosis, where the trance is exploited for entertainment purposes. A delicately balanced and sensitive person exposed to unwise and humiliating suggestions may respond with anxiety. On the whole, there are no dangers in hypnosis when practiced by ethical and qualified practitioners.
The experience of being hypnotized is no different from the experience of relaxing and of starting to fall asleep. Because this experience is so familiar to you, and because you may expect something startlingly different in hypnosis, you may get discouraged when a trance is induced. Remember, you are not anesthetized, you are not unconscious, you are not asleep. Your mind is active, your thoughts are under your control, you perceive all stimuli, and you are in complete communication with the therapist. The only unique thing you may experience is a feeling of heaviness in your arms, and tingling in your hands and fingers. If you are habitually a deep sleeper, you may doze momentarily. If you are a light sleeper, you may have the feeling that you are completely awake.
If you can conceive of hypnotherapy as a spectrum of awareness that stretches from waking to sleep, you will realize that some aspects are close to the waking state, and share the phenomena of waking; and some aspects are close to sleep, and participate in the phenomena of light sleep. But over the entire spectrum, suggestibility is increased; and this is what makes hypnotherapy potentially beneficial, provided we put the suggestibility to a constructive use. The depth of hypnosis does not always correlate with the degree of suggestibility. In other words, even if you go no deeper than the lightest stages of hypnosis and are merely mildly relaxed, you will still be able to benefit from its therapeutic effects. It so happens that with practice you should be able to go deeper, but this really is not too important in the great majority of cases.
The human mind is extremely suggestible and is being bombarded constantly with suggestive stimuli from the outside, and suggestive thoughts and ideas from the inside. A good deal of suffering is the consequence of “negative” thoughts and impulses invading one’s mind from subconscious recesses. Unfortunately, past experiences, guilt feelings, and repudiated impulses and desires are incessantly pushing themselves into awareness, directly or in disguised forms, sabotaging one’s happiness, health, and efficiency. By the time one has reached adulthood, he has built up “negative” modes of thinking, feeling and acting which persist like bad habits. And like any habits, they are hard to break.
In hypnotherapy, we attempt to replace these “negative” attitudes with “positive” ones. But it takes time to disintegrate old habit patterns: so do not be discouraged if there is no immediate effect. If you continue to practice the principles taught to you by your therapist, you will eventually notice change. Even though there may be no apparent alterations on the surface, a restructuring is going on underneath. An analogy may make this clear. If you hold a batch of white blotters above the level of your eyes to that you see the bottom blotter, and if you dribble drops of ink onto the top blotter, you will observe nothing different for a while until sufficient ink has been poured to soak through the entire thickness. Eventually the ink will come down. During this period while nothing seemingly was happening, penetrations were occurring. Had the process been stopped before enough ink had been poured we would be tempted to consider the process a failure. Suggestions in hypnotherapy are like ink poured on layers of resistance; one must keep repeating them before they come through to influence old, destructive patterns.
It is important to mention to your therapist your reactions to treatment and to her, no matter how unfounded, unfair or ridiculous these reactions may seem. If for any reason you believe you should interrupt therapy, mention your desire to do so to your therapist. Important clues may be derived from your reactions, dreams, and resistance that will provide an understanding of your inner conflicts, and help in your treatment.
“Relaxation exercises”, “self hypnosis”, and “auto hypnosis” are interchangeable terms for a reinforcing process that may be valuable in helping your therapist help you. If this adjunct is necessary, it will be employed. The techniques are simple and safe.
What is the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy? First of all, it helps to understand that the subconscious mind is like a machine in some respects. Using the techniques of hypnosis, you can deliver an instruction to your subconscious such as "Don't smoke," and for a time you will stop smoking. However, we're not just machines: we're living beings motivated by needs. Bad habits are "bad" simply because they don't really meet the need they're trying to meet. If you give your mind a hypnotic suggestion to stop a bad habit, you may succeed in stopping that behavior for a time, but the pressure of the unanswered need will eventually bring that bad habit back, or create another, equally troublesome problem to take its place. Hypnotherapy combines the power of hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion with therapeutic understanding. Hypnotherapy helps you connect with your genuine need and design an effective strategy to fulfill that need. Your bad habit or life problem is like a dandelion in your yard. Trying to solve it with hypnosis is like pulling off the top of the weed and leaving its roots in the ground. For a time, you won't see a dandelion in that spot on your lawn, but as the rain falls and the sun shines, that dandelion will grow back. Hypnotherapy is like digging out the weed by its root so that it will never grow back again.
-Jack Elias, CHT