Will you make me cluck like a chicken?
If I had a pound for everyone who asked me this, I’d be a rich woman. Many of us get our ideas about hypnosis from watching people do daft things on the telly with stage hypnotists, so understandably people considering coming for hypnotherapy have some questions concerning what hypnosis is all about.
What is hypnosis?
Another way of describing hypnosis is a state of trance. We all go through a trance state as we’re dropping off to sleep but we also go in and out of mini-trances throughout the day. So trance is perfectly natural and is our human ability to day-dream.
You will have experienced this at times when you’re doing something familiar like having a shower or driving the car when your mind drifts off to another place altogether. Often these are the times when we have an idea, find an answer that we’ve been looking for or suddenly remember that thing we’ve been wracking our brains about.
It’s a time of focused concentration and when we’re in trance the subconscious fight/flight/freeze part of our brain (which can sabotage us) can switch off. When we’re in this state we become more open to consider ideas and suggestions about new ways of thinking, feeling and doing things and to using our imaginations to help us find creative ways to deal with problems and make the changes we desire. We can more readily reassess our self-limiting beliefs and begin to make positive choices for the future. Consequently, these are the reasons we use hypnosis in the therapy room.
Can everyone be hypnotised – I’m sure I couldn’t be?
We all have different susceptibilities to hypnosis – some people go very deep and won’t consciously hear much of what I’m saying in hypnosis, whereas others will maintain a light trance and hear every word. Because it’s a natural state of being we can even wonder if anything is actually happening. However we can see from brain scans that a state of trance generates similar brain waves to rapid eye movement sleep – our brain’s processing mechanism, helping us to let go of stress and move forward.
There’s no good or bad, right or wrong way to experience hypnosis, just your way. If you’re capable of focused concentration, you’re capable of hypnosis.
Will I be out of control and do silly things?
The answer is a definite no to this. Hypnosis can’t get you to do anything that is against your will or moral code. However deeply you are hypnotised, a suggestion or idea that went against your ethics would be quickly discarded by the brain. Those people you see on telly do things because they actually want to, not because the hypnotist tells them to.
Rather than being out of control, hypnosis helps us to feel more IN control. It’s a time when the conscious and the unconscious parts of the brain can focus on the same thing allowing you to plant seeds of change and use your imagination constructively to visualise how you want to act and think.
Can I get stuck in hypnosis?
Again, this is another no. We can choose to leave a state of trance whenever we wish. If we’ve been deeply focused we might experience some moments of disorientation as we come out of it, a bit like when someone interrupts you when you’re immersed in an activity and you feel like you’ve been “miles away” and take a few seconds to re-orient. In the therapy room I always invite you gently to come out of hypnosis, but even if you’re self-hypnotising at home you would return to a usual state of alertness when you were ready.
Hypnosis within the partnership of the therapeutic process is a powerful way for you to calm the anxious/miserable part of the brain enabling you to envisage your preferred future and begin to work towards achieving it. People generally find it relaxing and enjoyable although the brain is still working hard. Most importantly how you enter into it is really within your control and choice and will vary depending on how you feel on the day – no one can make you cluck like a chicken except you.
Michele Lazarus became a Solution-Focused Hypnotherapist in 2013 after experiencing how hypnotherapy helped her make changes in her own life. Her past career was as a counsellor and management trainer in a variety of health and social wellbeing roles in the NHS and the not-for-profit sector.