I tend to be asked many questions about hypnosis, personal training and the workings of the unconscious mind. Performance hypnotists, who either work on stage or on television, can go out of their way to mislead audiences. Their antics might be an effective devise for creating a compelling performance, but are perhaps less helpful in terms of giving an accurate picture of what to expect from a clinical hypnotherapist. Indeed, it is hardly surprising that a number of misconceptions have become entrenched.
Here are answers to some of the things I am regularly asked. This is not a comprehensive list, which means you may well have others. If this is the case, I cordially invite you to contact me with them.
My instinctive response to this question is “yes”, although it has to be said that some people tend not to go quite as deeply into trance as others might do – at least not at first. There seems to be a variety of factors influencing a person’s hypnotisability. Research suggests that the strongest of these is likely to be a client’s motivation and his or her relationship to the therapist. Others might include a fear of losing control, an inability to distinguish ambiguous inner sensations such as relaxation or tension, a fear of anticipated change and various other negative situational factors.
A person’s fear of losing control can be his or her single biggest obstacle to hypnotherapy. Concerns tend largely to be based on a misconception about the nature of hypnosis, with some people buying into the myth that a therapist is able to use hypnosis to take control of his or her mind. This is far from the truth. There is actually little difference between a state of hypnosis and the sort of trance-like state you might experience when you become fully engrossed in a novel, watch a movie or get caught up in a piece of music you love. The same people who fear hypnosis will, of course, see little to worry about in any of these everyday activities.
Whether working on a stage or on television, it is the task of a performance hypnotist to create an entertaining show. To do this, the performer will invariably build the illusion that he or she is able to take control of the minds and behaviour of the subjects that end up sharing his or her stage. The seemingly all-powerful hypnotist, who can cause these subjects to fall under some sort of magical spell, will appear to be able to make them perform actions, with or without their consent.
The short answer to this question is “no”. Hypnosis necessarily involves focused attention, whether directed either inwardly or outwardly. For this reason, it is a bit like asking if you can get stuck in reading a book. You may become distracted for a while, but you certainly cannot, in any way, get "stuck" in concentration. During hypnosis, you remain in control throughout. You are able to take yourself down into trance and, equally, you are able to end a session whenever you so choose.
I do hope these explanations will go some way to answering any questions you may have had about hypnosis. If you have others about this or any aspect of my work, please free to contact me with them.
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