The New Year and new goals are fast approaching and some people may be looking for ways to help themselves succeed with their resolutions. We take a look at the technique of hypnotherapy and how it can help.
Mention the word hypnosis and you may think of famous hypnotists such as Paul McKenna or Derren Brown. Perhaps you have seen a stage hypnotist at work and wonder how it could possibly be useful other than for the entertainment value of watching someone pretending to be a chicken? However when used in a therapeutic setting, hypnotists claim to be able to alter habits, reduce stress and help with self development and achievement of goals. It is commonly advocated as a useful technique in the cessation of smoking.
The word hypnosis stems from the Greek word Hypnos which means to sleep. The state of hypnosis however is not sleep but is an altered mental and physical state characterised by a slowing of brainwaves. Similar states are achieved when we day dream, or undertake techniques like meditation and yoga nidra. Essentially it is a way to access the power of the subconscious mind. It has been studied for over 200 years by many famous psychologists including Sigmund Freud.
When the hypnotic state is used for therapy it is called hypnotherapy and when used for entertainment it is called stage hypnosis. During the hypnotic state people have more focussed concentration, are less susceptible to outside stimuli and more open to suggestion from the hypnotherapist.
There are many different forms of hypnotherapy and it is not regulated by specific law in the UK. There are however various self regulatory bodies such as The National Hypnotherapy Society. These help ensure and maintain standards and safeguards within the profession.
Hypnotherapy is recognised as a useful complimentary treatment and can be an effective in many ways from hypnobirthing or weight loss to dealing with anxiety. You can read more about this HERE. However, it is not usually available on the NHS.
Many practitioners use a type of hypnotherapy called solution focused hypnotherapy. Unlike some forms of counselling where you delve deeply into the root of the problem the hypnotherapist will instead suggest you focus on how you can achieve positive outcomes and cope differently with the challenges of everyday life. This will normally be achieved over the course of several sessions as you re-train your brain to respond differently to stimuli.
The common format of a session will include an introduction of the technique and discussion of what you want to achieve, followed by the induction of the hypnotic state. The hypnosis is often achieved by following a visualisation or story lead by the hypnotherapist that will take you deeper into the subconscious state. Our brains are very susceptible to storytelling as it is the traditional way we used to teach young children and pass information on between the generations. Depending on your goals it may be suggested you visualise achieving them, or simply being calm and in control of the direction you want to go in the future. At the end of the session the hypnotherapists should safely bring you out of the hypnotic state.