Does Hypnotherapy Work?
Discover how and why this powerful healing method can work (or decide it’s hocus-pocus but you need to read this first).
What is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is the practice to achieve hypnosis, a natural state that we all enter without any conscious recognition. Some people liken it to a half awake, half asleep experience. In actual fact, in order to go to sleep at night you need to go through the hypnotic state, and before you wake too. This means at least twice a day you are naturally going into hypnosis. There are many other times during the day too where you may recognise you have been driving for 15 minutes and don’t remember the journey or perhaps reading something and don’t remember what you read.
The technical term for the hypnotic state is the Alpha/Theta state and for those who are meditators this is the state you go to as well. The difference between hypnosis and meditation is simple; during hypnosis I talk to your mind and you can chose to drift or listen, whereas with meditation the aim is to think of a mantra or nothing. Both are very powerful states where the emotional part of the brain is open to learning new ways of thinking and behaving.
The big question is: Does hypnotherapy work?
Contrary to some people’s beliefs that during the hypnotic state we are out of control, in fact it is the opposite. During this window of time, the unconscious mind is incredibly intuitive and open to new ways of thinking and feeling. As a result, whether you want to lose weight, stop smoking or help fertility or something else, yes – hypnosis can help you overcome life’s obstacles.
But ‘how’ does hypnosis work?
Hypnosis is a powerful science based therapy that helps people deal with emotional issues that are holding them back. For many people who have cravings or phobias or negative thinking, and feel incredibly frustrated that they just can’t seem to change certain behaviours, rest assured change is absolutely possible. Whilst in the hypnotic state the conscious mind is suppressed, which gives the individual an opportunity to bypass conscious rationale that often inhibits emotional and behavioural changes.
By altering our state of consciousness in hypnosis we are in fact turning off the analytical left-hand side of the brain, while the non-analytical right-hand side is made more alert. The conscious control of the mind is inhibited, and the unconscious mind awoken.
Think of it like this: Your unconscious mind is like a library where all of your emotional responses are stored, so that when you feel angry, scared or have a sense of self doubt, your mind, in a nano second, will scan your unconscious mind and ask it ‘What did I do last time to make myself feel better?’ If it was chocolate, wine, cigarettes or avoidance of life in some way, unbeknown to you, you will continue these responses until you tell this part of your mind a different story. And this is why hypnosis is so powerful at helping people change. Thankfully, habits can be unlearned and with the power of hypnosis you can re-learn how you really want to respond in much more supportive ways.
A common question asked to me is ‘Why would I want to sabotage myself by doing these unhelpful behaviours?’ The answer is; the unconscious mind is impersonal. It doesn’t know the difference between good and bad (hence why people smoke and drink coca cola), it just knows after a period of time that how you respond is acceptable, whether it is helpful or not.
It could be that as a child you watched your mother when she was stressed drinking wine or your father when he was angry necking that beer really quickly and now you do the same. A lot of our habits we inherit from the family system, such as anxiety and depression. We are not conscious of it when we are younger but we can mimic unhelpful habits from family members as a way (at the time) to feel like we understand them and belong more to them.
I am not, however, suggesting that all bad behaviours stem from parents and siblings but it is one way we learn how to be.
Another common way of creating unhelpful habits is what I call ‘One Trial Learning’. An example of this would be if someone is feeling highly stressed or anxious, and I am talking extreme high end scale here, they are in a vulnerable state. One of the roles of the unconscious mind is to protect us against vulnerability. So if someone is charged with all this fear and extreme levels of adrenaline, the brain and body will demand some sort of immediate solution to calm that person down. If it is a cigarette or a glass of wine or a biscuit, then the next time that person experiences those feelings it will demand those responses and before you know it an unconscious habit has taken place.
Many people say to me that they have no willpower and I say to them the good news is willpower is not true. What is actually happening is that your unconscious mind will always override your conscious wishes. So if you decide on a Monday that you are going to start a diet or Tuesday that you are going to have an alcohol free day and you end up not succeeding, you are not weak willed but rather habitually conditioned to this response.
So this is good news for those who feel that they are in a rut about life, whether it is an unhelpful relationship or are feeling down about feeling stuck in life. This habit of thinking can be unlearnt and hypnosis is, to my knowledge, the best way to do it. Hypnosis can help a range of health issues such weight loss, anxiety, confidence and depression.
How does it feel to be hypnotised?
It is wonderful state of relaxation. Some people may be a little nervous and hear all that I say, while others will drift in and out and hear some or nothing. It doesn’t matter whether you hear or remember; the good news is that you don’t need to. The unconscious mind is open all of the time, 24 hours a day, managing your bodily functions too. It is your conscious mind that goes to sleep at night – the rest of you stays wide awake!
As the body is released from conscious control during the relaxed trance-like state of hypnosis, breathing becomes slower and deeper, the pulse rate drops and the metabolic rate falls, hence you may need a blanket over you as you might be a little chilly.
So if you feel that you would like to change something but don’t know how, try hypnosis with a reputable practitioner and watch how amazing you can be!