When most people think of hypnosis they think of getting up on stage, following a swinging pendulum with their eyes, and somehow end up clucking like a chicken. While stage hypnosis is terribly entertaining, it is nothing like what goes on in a clinical setting. It is important to note that you do not go “under hypnosis”, but rather, go into the hypnotic state. Semantics are important here, because “going under” implies being under the control of the hypnotherapist, which is entirely inaccurate. Hypnosis is a natural yet slightly altered state of consciousness where the conscious mind is off to the side and the subconscious mind is open to suggestions. If you think about a route that you drive frequently, sometimes you end up at your location and realize you don’t even really remember the drive. That is a form of hypnosis. Ever found yourself daydreaming during class? That is a form of hypnosis. There are varying degrees and depths of the state, yet for the intents and purposes of professional, clinical hypnotherapy, a light to medium state of hypnosis is all that is required and is actually preferable.
Another thing to recognize is that you are totally in control of yourself while in the hypnotic state. Consider the driving analogy. If you zone out while you’re driving, and an animal jumps out in front of your car, you will still have the awareness and the control to hit the brakes. Nobody can make you do anything against your will, as you are not unaware of what is happening. The part of your mind that decides what feels right and wrong, what information you would like to disclose or not, and what behaviors you would like to display or not, is not somehow turned off. At any given point, you can reject whatever suggestion is delivered to you. The best news, though, is that a properly trained, professional hypnotherapist would have no interest in taking over your mind. We are here to help facilitate the process of shifting the clients self-limiting and self-deprecating beliefs for the purpose of permanent, profound and positive change. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, the practitioner is only there to guide and facilitate. Therefore, if at any given moment the client is unhappy or uncomfortable, he/she can simply open their eyes and terminate the session.
As with all interpersonal relationships, rapport is everything. When looking for a hypnotherapist, finding the right person is crucial. It is important for the client to be fully educated about hypnosis, and each sub modality that may be used under the umbrella of hypnotherapy. From there, finding a practitioner who builds a sense of safety and comfort is paramount to not only having a more pleasant experience, but also for having better results.