"Does hypnosis work?"
Is a question I’m often asked as a hypnotherapist.My answer is, “It’s not does it work, but how well it works.”
And this depends on you (my client) and me (the hypnotherapist).
I’ll come back to this in a minute, but first I need to set the record straight.
What hypnosis isn't.
It isn’t about me making you dance the funky chicken or eat an onion on stage.
Hypnosis is best described as focused attention.
In fact, it’s something you can do to yourself when you get engrossed in reading a book (lose yourself), or in a good film and you forget whether you’re at home or in the cinema.
You’ve immersed yourself.
So hypnosis is, in effect, something you do to yourself with my help.
It makes you more open to suggestions, relax and use your imagination.
At all times you are fully conscious, but what you have done is ‘tune out’ all the distractions around you.
You do it to yourself with my help. You exclude all your other thoughts.
So what's hypnotherapy?
What's the difference?
Quite simply the ‘hypno’ bit is the hypnosis. The focussing of your attention. The ‘therapy’ bit is what we’re treating.
We’re getting you to focus solely on what is concerning you:
- quitting smoking
- losing weight
- stopping panicking
- boosting your confidence
- control addictions
- calming your stress
- a better night’s sleep
- overcoming a fear or phobia
- being more outgoing
- lowering your IBS
- boosting your sports performance
- helping you giving birth
In other words, your conscious mind takes a back seat while we talk to your subconscious mind about habits that you want to change.
Changing your habits. Hypnosis with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Your cognitive behaviour means how you think, feel and act. It’s your current pattern of how you do things. For example, why you smoke, overeat or worry.
This is what we discuss before hypnosis.
And then under hypnosis, we work to change your habits for the better using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
So. Back to the original question. Does hypnosis work?
When I started to answer this question I said "it depends", and it does.
There’s one key factor to making hypnosis work.
It’s called the working alliance.
It’s how you, the client, and me, the hypnotherapist, connect with each other.
Form a bond.
And this is what makes hypnosis and hypnotherapy work.
The commitment from both sides to make a real lasting positive difference.
I need your commitment. And you have to buy in at every stage.
From recognising the problem, why it’s a problem, agreeing goals and how they will be achieved, and why the plan will work.
It helps us to write these points down and then we both agree and sign.
Something we can both refer to.
And with a strong bond we can work through what may be tough times.
Confronting emotions and anxieties that bring uncomfortable feelings to the surface.
Another way of looking at this is that you, the client, have to believe I understand you. I accept and support you regardless.
If we can get these things working then hypnosis can be a powerful tool for changing you for the better.
James Thomas is a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist based in Lincolnshire. He runs The Gentle Mind Hypnotherapy Ltd.
He believes we are what we tell ourselves. That when we relax we are kinder to ourselves.