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What Hypnotherapy Is (And Some Misconceptions)


There are many misconceptions surrounding hypnotherapy at a time when it is only a process of inducing a very relaxed physical and mental state (i.e. a trance) more like guided day-dreaming or meditation. The hypnotherapist, in this process, supports you work-out being stuck, modify maladaptive behavior, or eliminate stressors in multiple ways. Effecting positive change can range from curing phobias, to dealing with low self-esteem, to resolving repressed traumas, to installing new beliefs, and many more….. The whole idea of inducing a trance is to facilitate your getting in touch with your unconscious mind – that part of your mind that has command over much of your behavior, emotions, and ingrained beliefs; hence, make important life transformations. During the process, your conscious mind is asked to relegate to the periphery. It is that logical analytical part of your mind that has everything you are aware of at the moment (i.e. the spotlight mechanism directing your attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior). You may wonder: why, then, seek the unconscious mind during hypnotherapy?

Your conscious mind is deliberate and has limited capacity. It relies heavily on the automatic unconscious mind to deal with overwhelming diversified other functions. Known for multi-tasking, your unconscious mind is by far the larger store of all your memories and is the domain of your emotions both of which continue to have influence over you without your awareness. Your unconscious mind is guided by the principle of least effort and loves repetition; thus, is responsible for creating and maintaining your habits (of thought and behavior). Your perceptions are formed, controlled, and are similarly maintained by your unconscious mind; hence, internal and external events are interpreted through schemas formulated at the unconscious level. For your protection, your unconscious mind represses memories of unresolved negative emotions as well as thoughts that are too anxiety provoking for your conscious awareness (i.e. ideas you’d spank yourself real hard for even considering). It, furthermore, runs and preserves your bodily process (e.g. you don’t notice that your heart beats, nor are you aware of your stress hormones being released in your system). No wonder, then, we seek to communicate with your unconscious mind to involve the whole of your mental processes in working for you; not against you.

In hypnotherapy, the aim is to tackle any concerns controlled by your unconscious mind (and these are plenty as briefed above). To help you speed up processes of change, hypnosis takes a short cut targeting the root causes of behavior, beliefs and emotions. Many prominent figures used hypnosis to enhance their achievement like: Mozart, Thomas Edison, Einstein, Sir Winston Churchill, and Henry Ford to name a few. Others used it to overcome their life tragedies (e.g. Jackie Kennedy-Onassis), beat the habit of smoking (e.g. Drew Barrymore), or make it as champions (e.g. Tiger Woods). To date, many are still reluctant to take this quick fix because of many circulated popular misconceptions that portray hypnosis as scary or dangerous. Frequently asked questions are addressed herein to clarify:

–       Is hypnosis really safe? Yes, hypnosis is a normal state that you go in and out of everyday without noticing. Spacing out while driving, or being totally engrossed in a movie are trance-like states. An autopilot takes over and you’d be totally absorbed in focus. The state induced in hypnotherapy is very similar. The difference is that your focus will be totally inward on your internal states in a dream-like fashion. After a session, many wonder whether they were in fact hypnotized, as the induced state resembles so much normal experiences. There are no mysteries about it and no magic (though I consider the after effects more like “white magic”).

 –       Do I end-up sharing my deepest secrets? No, you won’t say anything you’d rather remain private; and you can openly express your reluctance to share your secrets during the session. It helps more, though, if you verbalize your thoughts out, as your hypnotherapist will better be able to guide you in resolving any issue. Besides, why would you be reluctant to talk about what bothers you? Get it off your shoulders. Confidentiality of anything you discuss is ensured through-out the process. That’s an oath your hypnotherapist abides by all the time.

 –       What if I am the type who cannot be hypnotized (i.e. I’m un-suggestible)? Everyone can be hypnotized. We are in trance at least twice a day: when we wake up in the morning and as we fall asleep. It is your choice to willingly collaborate with your hypnotherapist or not; go deeper or not; cooperate to solve what’s bothering you or decide to forfeit the highway to effecting positive change. It is known that smart people are easily hypnotized because they can easily follow instructions. It’s not a sign of being too gullible, weak-minded or submissiveness. Hypnosis just creates the space for solving problems. And practically we all get immersed in our own thought processes whether we like it or not. The only difference in a hypnotic session is that you will have someone guiding you through the process to achieve the outcomes you desire.

 –       What if my hypnotherapist suggests that I do things I don’t approve of (e.g. robbing a bank or take off my clothes)? You will never do anything that violates your values or find objectionable in normal circumstances. This myth has grounds in stage hypnosis during which extroverted people volunteer to be in the arena. They totally let go of their inhibition and engage in outlandish behavior. It’s their choice to be in the spotlight, but clearly have an excuse by blaming it on the hypnotist. You can always check the credentials of your hypnotherapist (many charlatans have intruded on the profession and Hollywood movies jazzed up their stories by making up such exciting scenarios). Certified hypnotherapists abide by a code of ethics and would definitely not cross the lines.

–       Would I be completely under the control of the hypnotherapist? No, you won’t. The degree of control over you is only that which you allow. Your conscious mind will keep track of all the session details while you do the change work with your unconscious mind. Your hypnotherapist will merely suggest imagery and thoughts that instill a new way of being (one that you choose). You remain at all times in charge of accepting the suggestions or not. You are the one in control of your heightened state of alertness, memory, and concentration. If for any reason your hypnotherapist says anything you don’t agree with, you can still control the flow of the session and express your disapproval. It’s not that you are stripped of any power; on the contrary.

 –       Will I forget what went on during the session? No, you won’t unless it’s a therapeutically induced amnesia to forget a past trauma (the light can be made dimmer on distressing memories). The empowering suggestions by your hypnotherapist will linger and you will remember everything that took place during the session. The suggestions are repeated continuously to become your new driving force. These will positively influence the way you behave and emotionally react to life events. Unless you are motivated to forget and express that to your hypnotherapist, it is not usually the norm.

 –       Would I sleep during hypnosis? And what if I don’t wake up? Although many use the term “sleep” to induce hypnosis, it is not “sleeping” per se. It just refers to a state akin to “sleeping” when you experience utmost relaxation and calmness. It differs with sleeping because your senses remain alert during hypnosis. They don’t shut down.  You, especially focus more on your hypnotherapist’s voice. I personally prefer to use the term “relax” instead of “sleep” just so it eliminates this confusion. Never worry about not being able to return from trance; the choice to return to your previous state remains up to you any time. And when the session is over, you will always feel more refreshed, invigorated, and more empowered. If for any reason you do fall asleep (i.e. because you’re very tired), you will easily be awakened when I tell you that you’ll be charged extra for “over-using” that relaxing chair :).

 As a final note and after clarifying the above misconceptions, a survey of the psychotherapy literature by psychologist Alfred A. Barrios, Ph.D. (published in the American Health Magazine) revealed that hypnotherapy recovery rates after 6 sessions were 93%. Using Psychoanalysis, recovery rates were 38% after 600 sessions. Using Behavioral Therapy, recovery rates were 72% after 22 sessions. Knowing all this by now, are you prompted to take a short cut to effecting positive change through hypnosis, or would you rather keep postponing?

Note: Please refer to “Contact 3Ds” on this website if you need to know more about hypnotherapy or benifit from this service.

 

 

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