Here are some common fears and misconceptions about hypnotherapy and hypnosis:
Will I be asleep?
No. Hypnosis is not sleep. You will be aware of everything that’s going on. It’s common for people new to hypnotherapy to think that it’s ‘not working’, because they are still aware of everything. That’s not true.
Many of the techniques we will explore together make use of only a very light trance, sometimes just a conversational trance. You may not even be aware that we are working in a trance state, but at any point in which you are deeply focused on either what I am saying or what you are thinking or talking about, you will likely be in a light trance. You can find out more about trance states and hypnotherapy here (National Council for Hypnotherapy external website).
During some techniques, however, you may become so deeply relaxed that you fall into a light sleep. This is a different state to hypnosis and is likely only to last for a very brief time before you wake up naturally.
Will I forget what happens while I’m hypnotised?
No. Modern hypnotherapy, including the work that I will do with you, is conducted while you are in a light trance state. Most people know exactly what’s going on almost all of the time when they are in this state. While you might not remember afterwards every word that I have said to you, you will be aware of everything at the time and you will remember every part of the hypnotherapy process. In the unlikely event of my saying something to you while in this relaxed state that you were not happy or comfortable with, you would be able to object to it immediately.
Will I lose control?
No. I don’t have the power to make you do anything against your will. My role in hypnotherapy is to guide you through the therapeutic process towards a positive outcome. You will participate in every step along the way, always in control as to whether you want to stop or continue.
Will I cluck like a chicken?
No. Well, not unless you want to! Stage hypnotists only appear to have this power over people because they have selected extremely suggestible people to demonstrate on, usually extroverts, who want to go along with that type of experience. At no point will clucking like a chicken be beneficial to your hypnotherapy, so we will avoid it. Unless, of course, it would be beneficial to your therapy… but only you can tell me that.
Will I reveal my darkest secrets?
No. And unless they are beneficial to the hypnotherapy, I don’t really want to know them! Your secrets will remain secret. Any information you do tell me will be totally of your own free will, and will remain confidential.
Only gullible people can be hypnotised, right?
Wrong! There is a big difference between gullibility and suggestibility All hypnosis is really self-hypnosis. I am simply guiding you to relax yourself, and asking you to follow my instructions and suggestions. I can’t force you to do it, or do it for you. Actually, people who are willing to try out new ideas and are open to new experiences usually see better results from hypnotherapy.
Will I get stuck in hypnosis?
Absolutely not. You will always wake up out of hypnosis. Of course, the trance state is a very pleasant state to be in, and you may choose to stay in it for a few moments longer than necessary. But that would be your choice.
But I can’t be hypnotised…
You can. Hypnosis is a natural state – we are in hypnosis many times each day. We pass through hypnosis on our way to sleep and when we wake up each morning. Recent studies of ultradian rhythms (biorhythms that are less than one day long) conclude that every 90 to 120 minutes we pass into a state physiologically identical to hypnosis. So, when people ask: “Can I be hypnotised?” the answer is: “You already have been.”
Becoming absorbed in a good book or movie is experiencing hypnosis. Driving on long trips on automatic pilot is known as motorway hypnosis. Becoming bored or allowing your mind to drift away leads to hypnosis. Becoming extremely engaged in something and allowing your mind to focus means that you are experiencing hypnosis. Because of the rhythmic sounds and swaying, riding on the train is often a highly hypnotic experience.
Hypnosis is a state in which you can think clearly, and your imagination is active. It’s a state where you could move if you wanted to or if there were an emergency, but you would rather just remain pleasantly relaxed. It’s a state in which beneficial ideas can more quickly and easily gain access to the inner mind. And because we all experience trance states each day, we can understand just how safe it is.