Frequently Asked Questions

What is hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy includes a number of techniques that enable you to enlist the help of your unconscious mind to bring about therapeutic changes. Your therapist will assist you to access your inner resources to achieve realistic goals. He will normally do this by inducing a “hypnotic trance”, which is simply a state of altered awareness, not sleep or unconsciousness. Trance may be described as a “natural learning state”.

What does trance feel like?

Everyone experiences trance differently. For some, it may not feel any different to the normal “waking” state. But normally it’s similar to that feeling of deep calm that you experience just before falling asleep at night or just before waking in the morning. It’s an entirely natural state; every time you get absorbed in a book or a TV programme you are in trance!

Will I lose control of myself?

Hypnotherapy is not a passive experience it is not something that the therapist does to you. It is more like a partnership between the two of you, with the therapist guiding you to focus on your internal world and access the huge store of resources held in your unconscious mind. You will remain fully in control and will be able to come out of trance at any time you choose. You will not be made to do or say anything against your will, or to give away any secrets. You will only be asked for sufficient information to enable your therapist to help you with your current problem.

So I won’t be made to bark like a dog or quack like a duck??

Absolutely not! The difference between hypnotherapy and stage hypnosis is one of context. They both involve hypnosis, but a hypnotherapist uses this for therapeutic purposes only, not for entertainment. The Code of Ethics of the NCH makes it clear that the Council takes a dim view of any use of hypnosis by its members for entertainment purposes.

Will you swing a watch in front of my eyes?

There are many different techniques, known as “inductions”, available to the therapist, who will use the methods which he considers to be best for each individual client. The swinging watch is a “classical” hypnosis technique which you will be unlikely to experience with any therapist trained in modern methods, normally referred to as “informal”, “permissive” or “Ericksonian” (see NLP, below). In most cases the therapist will use only his voice to take you gently into trance, although he may use other techniques in appropriate cases. He will never use drugs.

Can anybody be hypnotised?

Nobody can be hypnotised against his or her will, so you cannot be hypnotised if you choose not to be. Provided that you allow yourself to be hypnotised, however, almost everyone can be hypnotised, but not necessarily by the same hypnotist.

Is hypnosis safe?

Absolutely. Hypnosis is a 100% natural state; you have been in trance many times today. You cannot become stuck in trance, as you are always in control, although you may feel so comfortable that you may decide to remain in trance a little while longer. You cannot stay in trance indefinitely because your bodily functions would arouse you, even if your therapist stopped talking for a while. The worst thing that can happen is that you may become too comfortable and fall asleep!

Does it always work?

No, no more than any other form of orthodox or complementary medicine. A responsible therapist will soon detect if the therapy is inappropriate and discharge the client so that he or she can seek help elsewhere. This may be a different form of therapy, although in some cases another hypnotherapist may have more success because of the different client/therapist “mix”.

What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?

NLP is a revolutionary approach to human communication and development, based on the discovery that by changing how you think you can change what you think. NLP can change your mind and your life, for faster learning, better relationships and greater success. It can help you overcome fears and increase your confidence. NLP techniques have a close affinity with Ericksonian hypnosis, as Milton Erickson was one of the therapists on whom the founders of NLP “modelled” their system; formal trance is not necessary for their use, but it will enhance their effects.

What are Eye Movement Therapies?

Although the exact mechanism is unclear, the principle behind eye movement therapies is that our brains have two halves, left and right, joined by a “bridge” called the corpus callosum.  Sometimes, our mental processing of an event or feeling is not completed in the usual way; by encouraging movement between the left and right brains while the mind focuses on the troublesome event (or an aspect of it) we can trigger the processing which was previously left incomplete. Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is the most widely known eye movement therapy.  It has had extensive testing, starting with Vietnam veterans and others who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and is approved for treatment of PTSD by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). However, both EMDR and other eye movement therapies can also be used for many less serious issues, and can even be taught to clients for self-help use. Despite the name, some of these therapies do not require eye movements; communication between the left and right brains can be stimulated simply by tapping both sides of the body.

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