HYPNOTHERAPY ... YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Article by Deborah Marshall-Warren
Published in Here's Health magazine, July 2003
Do you want to lose weight, give up smoking or feel more motivated? If so, then hypnotherapy can help you achieve your goals. Here, Here's Health Hypnotherapy Adviser Deborah Marshall-Warren explains how.
When I first saw people embarrassing themselves on stage under hypnosis, I thought to myself: 'How can this be a helpful therapy?' But forget swinging pendulums and animal impersonations -- hypnotherapy is very different from stage hypnosis. Rather than triggering you to act out of character then forget what you've you done -- which stage hypnotists do by embedding a command to this effect -- hypnotherapy works with your intuition and subconscious knowledge to help you overcome a block, work through a problem or achieve a goal.
What's the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis is a deep state of relaxation. If you've tried meditation or yoga, you may have experienced something like it, as these can induce a mild hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is the process that takes you into this relaxed state and combines it with therapy to help you let go of negative thoughts and feelings, and replace them with positive ones. There are two types of hypnotherapy: interactive, where the client and therapist maintain a continual dialogue; and direct suggestion, where the therapist works from a script for a specific aim such as weight loss or giving up smoking. Interactive hypnotherapy tends to have faster, more dramatic results.
But how exactly does hypnotherapy work?
The therapist uses a form of words that encourages the mind to relax, giving you access to your subconscious and allowing you to suggest things to it. But the key point is that it is you who allows your mind to go into this state; a hypnotherapist can neither induce it nor keep you in a state of hypnosis against your will. Going into hypnosis relies on your interest and willingness to be guided into this different state of consciousness.
How can it help me?
Many people find hypnotherapy helps them get on top of one particular aspect of their lives, such as improving their confidence and self-esteem; feeling free from anxiety and panic attacks; tackling a specific challenge such as public speaking, an interview, or a driving test; achieving long-term goals such as losing weight, stopping smoking or nail-biting; beating a fear; or simply moving on from not believing they can succeed. It is basically a form of life coaching.
Will I have to relive traumatic events from my past?
Not necessarily, but if you feel there's a time or event that affects how you you are now, it can be helpful to revisit it. You can decide this with your therapist's help. For example, you may go back to your first day of school, when you may have felt abandoned, rejected, frightened and insecure after being left there by a parent you implored not to leave you. Or maybe you'll go back to when you were eleven years old and overheard your parent's friend comparing you unfavourably with a sibling.
Hypnotherapy can give you surprisingly immediate links with past and present personal circumstances. Constructively and positively, you discover that it was as painful and traumatic for your parents to leave you on that first day at school as it was for you. It did not mean they were abandoning you; they still loved you in the same way. The eleven-year-old ugly duckling can meet her beautiful and successful swan. She will be amazed and delighted to discover her.
Will I lose control?
No -- hypnotherapy is a process of negotiation and persuasion. You are in control each and every step of the way. You are very aware of everything both you and your therapist say and you will remember everything said. You will not do anything, or act in any way, that is contrary to what you would do in full conscious awareness. It is very different from stage hypnosis,where the hypnotist embeds in the subconscious a command that causes people to act differently and not to remember what they did.
How long does it take to see results
Interactive hypnotherapy can achieve results within three to five sessions. Each session lasts between an hour and a hour-and-a-half. The average number of sessions is three.
How do I go about choosing a hypnotherapist?
If possible, get recommendations from your doctor, a complementary practitioner or a friend. Always check a therapist's qualifications and affiliations with professional organisations. Arrange a consultation to discuss your needs with them, and use common sense. If in doubt, ask for further information and justification. And bear in mind that hypnotherapeutic success is impossible to guarantee.
Is it available on the NHS?
It is in some areas -- it depends on the decision made by your local NHS trust. smoking cessation classes may well be offered. Call your local health authority for more information.
Interactive hypnotherapy is a very nurturing process of negotiation and persuasion with lots of lasting, positive effects. You should find that your self-esteem and self-confidence are boosted, whatever areas of your life you're working on. Just think about what you want to achieve and keep an open mind.
Does it work well with other therapies?
Hypnotherapy can work very well alongside counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), as it can help to remove blocks that can hinder these more conventional forms of therapy.
How much does it cost?
Consultation fees vary around the country and you will usually pay more in London than elsewhere in the country. You should expect to pay between £50 and £120 for each session. If this seems a little expensive, bear in mind it's a fast-track form of therapy requiring far fewer sessions than more conventional methods.
What should I ask?
When you first meet a hypnotherapist, ask the following questions to help put your mind at ease.
- Which professional body do you belong to? (You can request a contact tele phone number if you wish. Every professional body has a code of ethics to which they adhere, and this can be supplied on request.)
- Where and with which organisation or teacher did you train?
- How long have you been practising as a hypnotherapist?
- Will I be fully participating in the process? (Some hypnotherapists offer direct suggestion hypnosis.)
- How many sessions will it take and how long are they?
Further reading: I'm Afraid of Hypnosis But I don't Know Why by Deborah Marshall-Warrren (Whole-Being Books, £12.99)
© 2003, Deborah Marshall-Warren