Many people are unsure about whether or not they can be hypnotized and whether hypnosis and hypnotherapy can be useful for them. If you are curious about hypnosis, please contact us. We are happy to give you a no-obligation consultation either in person or on the phone to explain how hypnosis works and how it can possibly address your specific issues or problems.
The term "hypnosis" comes from the Greek word hypnos, meaning "sleep." Hypnotherapists use exercises that bring about deep relaxation and an altered state of consciousness, also known as a trance. A person in a deeply focused state is unusually responsive to an idea or image, but this does not mean that a hypnotist can control the person's mind and free will. On the contrary, hypnosis can actually teach you how to master your own states of awareness. By doing so you can affect your own bodily functions and psychological responses.
How does hypnosis work?
When something happens to us, we remember it and learn a particular behavior in response to what happened. Each time something similar happens, our physical and emotional reactions attached to the memory are repeated. In some cases these reactions are unhealthy. In some forms of hypnotherapy, a trained therapist guides you to remember the event that led to the first reaction, separate the memory from the learned behavior, and replace unhealthy behaviors with new, healthier ones.
During hypnosis, your body relaxes and your thoughts become more focused. Like other relaxation techniques, hypnosis lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and changes certain types of brain wave activity. In this relaxed state, you will feel at ease physically yet fully awake mentally and may be highly responsive to suggestion. If you are trying to quit smoking, for example, a therapist's suggestion may help you to see yourself as a nonsmoker going through your daily life with ease. You may also receive suggestions on ways to reduce your anxiety, take a break, or enjoy life smoke-free.
What happens during a visit to the hypnotherapist?
During your first visit, you will be asked about your medical history and what brought you in -- what condition you would like to address. The hypnotherapist may explain to you what hypnosis is and how it works. You will work together to determine the specific modalities or tools that you both feel will be helpful. Depending on the session, the hypnotherapist acts as your guide - you control your journey, and the therapist is there to support you. Some techniques will be taught to you and used with your eyes open; others will require that you become fully relaxed and supported in trance. You and your therapist will decide your comfort levels with any technique before you begin them. The hypnotherapist will also teach you the basics of self-hypnosis, and may provide you with further information, CD, MP3 file, or other tools to support you as you continue to practice what you have learned on your own.
There are several stages of a hypnotherapy session:
- Reframing the problem - discussing the issue with the hypnotherapist and deciding that you want to work on it
- Becoming relaxed, then focused (deeply engaged in the words or images suggested by the hypnotherapist)
- Allowing your conscious mind to relax, becoming inwardly centered
- Engaging your subconscious mind to address your issue guided and facilitated by the therapist
- Returning to usual awareness
- Reflecting on the experience in conversation with the therapist
How many treatments will I need?
Depending on the work you want to do, you may choose to engage in repeated sessions. Sessions are generally about an hour with some sessions, such as your intake session, being booked for 90 minutes. You and your hypnotherapist will discuss the work you want to do, and usually by the end of the first session, you will both have a pretty good idea of how many sessions you will want to schedule. Single issues such as smoking cessation can take anywhere from 1 to 6 session - it all depends on you and what you need to become a comfortable and confident non-smoker. A hypnotherapist can teach you self-regulation skills. For instance, someone with arthritis may learn to turn down pain like the volume on a radio. Hypnotherapy can also be used to help manage chronic illness. Self-hypnosis can enhance a sense of control, which is often lacking when someone has a chronic illness.
Are there any limitations associated with hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is never an alternative to primary medical care, but it can be a beneficial and supportive tool for you to use. A good hypnotherapist will always advise you of the limitations of hypnotic tools and therapies, and encourage you to be working with appropriate licensed medical and mental health providers. During your intake session, you and the therapist will determine what support you need, and it may be suggested that you seek other professional help. Some work you may want to do is outside the scope of a hypnotherapist's practice, and they will likely refer you to someone who is capable and qualified of addressing your needs.
When in doubt, ASK.
Hypnotherapy provides you the option to do some very deep and beneficial work and see results in a very short time-frame. You need to be sure that you are working with someone who is operating in your best interests so that you are comfortable relaxing, opening up your mind, and doing the work that you have set out to do. If you don't understand what is being suggested as a treatment, or if you don't see how procedures could help you, say so. Your hypnotherapist will be encouraging your participation in your healing, and you have every right to make your sessions beneficial for you. Ask questions, ask for more information if you want it - your therapist should be more than willing to support your inquiries and growth.
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