“…But I thought you were just going to fix me while my eyes were closed?” and Other Misconceptions About Hypnotherapy

You may be very familiar with hypnosis and how hypnotherapy works, and you’re just looking for someone competent, trustworthy and local to help you accomplish the changes you want to make. If that’s you, great – no need to keep reading, unless it’s 2:00am, and you’ve been struggling with insomnia ;-).

If, on the other hand, hypnotherapy is something you’ve wondered about, but all you know is what you saw at a stage show at the state fair, this is for you.

Speaking of stage shows, let’s get to this one right away:

Who hasn’t seen a hypnosis stage show? The hypnotist comes on stage, often very dramatic in dress and demeanor, making great claims of what is possible with hypnosis. S/he ends the introduction by asking for volunteers to come up on stage to be part of the “hypnosis demonstration.”

OK, stop right there. Any professional hypnotist/entertainer knows there will be two kinds of volunteers: Those who WANT to be part of a show and will do about anything to be the center of attention, and those who want to heckle the hypnotist or prove it all a hoax.

Knowing this, the hypnotist usually starts with about twenty volunteers. Then, after some introductions and conditioning questions and statements, starts the induction. Within the first few moments, it becomes apparent who is “co-operating” and who wants to “prove it all a hoax.” The first group is kept on stage, and the second group is excused. Simple. Then the hypnotist and his cooperative volunteers continue with the show, everyone has a great time, and hopefully, he’ll sell a few CD’s after the show.

Lest you think I’m disrespecting stage hypnotists, let me set that straight right now: No, I am not! A good stage hypnotist is very skilled, indeed. Those he retains to be part of the show will go into a hypnotic state, and do or experience things they wouldn’t otherwise do or experience. It will be a great demonstration of the power of the mind – complete with high drama, comedy and entertainment – but it’s not hypnotherapy.

In hypnotherapy, the drama is all on the inside. If you were to watch a hypnotherapy session, you’d likely find it boring – or maybe kind of silly, especially if you’ve experienced conventional talk therapy, where a great deal of time is devoted to talking about and analyzing your history and the events that resulted in the issues for which you were seeking help. Talk therapy has its place, and may be right for you, in your circumstances. But if what you’re after is inner healing, freedom from negative/unhelpful thought patterns or behaviors, and positive change that doesn’t drain your “willpower,” hypnotherapy is for you! And it is fast, efficient, and very powerful.

So. Let me continue with a confession: Some of the following misconceptions were actually my own, before I learned the facts. And, some I heard from others. Now, let’s get on to what those are.

“I thought I would feel like I was asleep or have like a fainting sensation, and then wake up and not know what happened.”

Um, no. While it is very possible you MAY not remember part of the session, most of the time you will remember it all – and your “inner wisdom” remembers all you need from the session, so you don’t have to worry about “missing something.” Most of the time, you will experience a very pleasant, very deep state of relaxation, body and mind – though it is also very possible to be in a hypnotic state while not physically relaxed. Think athletes or actors in character or artists creating. They have learned to make excellent use of the hypnotic state while physically active.

“Can I lose my ‘free will’ and accept suggestions that go against my values?”

Again, no. In hypnotherapy, it is possible that you will gain new perspective on beliefs and values that may have served you at one point in your life, but are now keeping you stuck in unhelpful or unhealthy thought and behavior patterns. Any changes in those areas will be as a result of your new perspective – and will be changes that you choose, not “installed” by the hypnotherapist.

“What about the spiritual aspect? My pastor/priest/spiritual leader told me I could be opening myself up to spiritual danger.”

If you pray or meditate regularly, you are already quite familiar with the hypnotic state. Hypnosis is neither anti-religious nor pro-religious. It can be used for good or bad depending on the hypnotist and the subject. With a few exceptions, most religious groups accept the proper ethical use of hypnosis for helping people. Of course, wherever there is misunderstanding or misconception, there is likely to be fear. And fear can be used to keep people stuck. Jesus was all about setting people free. Remember: “Perfect love casts out fear.”

“I thought only the weak-minded could be hypnotized.”

False. As a matter of fact, the higher one’s intelligence, and the more creative and vivid their imagination, the more benefit they stand to gain from hypnotherapy. The only client I could not help with hypnosis had an IQ of about 70.

“I thought you were just going to fix me while my eyes were closed.”

Yes, I’ve actually heard that, and no, that’s not how hypnotherapy works! Most forms of hypnotherapy are “very low content” – meaning the hypnotherapist doesn’t need a lot of detail about your past pain or woundings that have led to the patterns you want to change. While hypnotherapy is usually relaxing, it’s NOT passive. Once you are at the appropriate depth level for the work to be done, you WILL be doing work: Productive, healthy, probably pleasant – and almost certainly cathartic work. Whatever it is that is motivating you to seek out hypnotherapy, or even just investigate it, is the part of you that knows what you need to heal or make the changes you desire. That’s the part that too often gets “drowned out” or overwhelmed by all the many voices vying for your attention, or just your own “mind chatter.” That’s the part that knows what you need, and can be heard when the mind is quiet. And a quiet mind is a powerful mind.

One not-widely-recognized aspect of mental AND physical health is stress. Oh, sure, we know what it’s like to be stressed out, and we all have our ways of managing it, whether through prayer or meditation practice, massage therapy, or (my personal favorite) a spa mani-pedi! These can all be quite helpful to release some levels of stress.

But here I’m talking about the kind of deep stress that can have profound and deleterious effects on your health: from chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, to unhealthy habits such as smoking, and even infertility. And of course, this is not an exhaustive list!

There is nothing like hypnotherapy to release that deep stress, and restore balance to the brain and autonomic nervous system. When balance to the brain and nervous system is restored and the “chattering mind” is quieted, your mind and body work together, and healing can happen – sometimes, incredible, mind-blowing, miraculous healing, whether physical or emotional/mental. And if you have (so far) been blessed with good health, releasing that deep stress can not only keep you that way, but also increase your emotional freedom and joy in living.

It would be my honor to assist you in your journey to wholeness and joy!