What is hypnosis and hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis is the process of entering a state of deep relaxation. It is a natural trance state, like daydreaming, when the mind is at ease and focused and where time seems to pass quickly. It is accompanied by positive feelings of a deeply relaxed mind and body. This deep relaxation helps your subconscious (or unconscious mind) become more attentive and receptive to ideas and so open to desired change.
Hypnotherapy is a treatment that acknowledges that the mind and body do not work in isolation. By enabling you to become totally relaxed, I can help you channel your body's mental and physical self-healing processes that lie in your subconscious. It is your unconscious mind that has the power to make the permanent changes you need. When undergoing hypnotherapy, you are open to the power of suggestion but cannot be induced to do anything against your will; you remain in control at all times. It is a completely safe and effective form of therapy.
What is a trance?
We all experience trance states in our everyday lives, perhaps when we are so absorbed in a task that everything else is forgotten and time passes unnoticed; so trance is a natural state that your mind has experienced frequently already.
Once in a trance you will not lose control, you will be able to move and be aware of what is going on around you. I find that when in a trance I am more aware of the everyday sounds. Some people describe it as an altered state of mind; your mind will become quieter and calmer. You cannot get 'stuck' in a trance and there are no adverse side effects. Some clients are able to clearly remember everything I say, however some remember only snippets; either way is perfectly normal. You may find yourself recalling some of the themes and suggestions between our sessions, again this is usual; your mind is revisiting the ideas and working on solutions.
So trance is a hyper-attentive state when your mind is calm and relaxed. Together we will be able to bring about the changes you want and help to focus on positive behaviour.
What is meant by our conscious and unconscious minds?
As we know our minds are complicated things. I like to see them as icebergs; the conscious mind, the wakeful part, is the part above the water. The part of the iceberg under the water is our unconscious mind, hidden, the area we associate with dreams and sleep, the part we usually keep to ourselves. Our conscious part has the ability to analyse, reason and make value judgements. It usually decides what is possible and impossible for us to do, so the limitations we place on ourselves are often based on a conscious assessment of our life experiences
The unconscious part seems to have a far greater capacity for information than the conscious part; psychologists have known for years that we process an enormous amount of information here.
Our reality is created through the conscious mind communicating with the unconscious mind. Sometimes this communication breaks down and the unconscious tries to protect us by locking away distressing issues and these can make us anxious or even physically ill.
Will the effects of hypnotherapy last?
The pleasant, relaxing feeling hypnotherapy provides can remain with you for some time after leaving the session. I will also give you a number of techniques that will enable you to recreate these positive feelings at any time. You will be able to drive, return to work etc. with no adverse effects.
The overall effects of the therapy can remain with you for life. I will encourage you to use self-hypnosis and relaxation away from the sessions. Many find that the benefits gained from the hypnotherapy have a positive impact in other areas of their lives.
Can anyone be hypnotised? Anyone who has experienced daydreaming or just zoned out for a while has experienced a hypnotic trance. As it is a 'talking therapy' children under 5 and those with severe learning difficulties may find it unsuitable. I will never hypnotise anyone who is not willing.
Are there any people or problems you don't work with?
Both client and therapist need to feel safe and comfortable with each other. I will not continue working with a client who becomes violent or abusive.
Hypnotherapists often have areas in which they are more knowledgeable and skilful or in which they have a personal interest. If I feel that you would be better served by another hypnotherapist or a different type of therapy I will suggest this to you.
How will you induce hypnosis? I use a variety of methods; choosing those that I feel will be most suited to you. One that I use, and can teach you, is progressive relaxation, this helps you to focus on and relax all parts of your body. An alternative approach is to talk you through a pleasant journey perhaps along a beautiful beach or through a tranquil wood; I will always use a destination that suits you. I do ask for your feedback and often incorporate your interests and use your favourite inductions in future sessions.
Will I reveal personal secrets? You remain in control; hypnosis is not a truth pill. Everything discussed is done so in confidence. I do ask all clients to tell me if they are taking recreational or medicinal drugs. As a fully registered hypnotherapist I am bound by the same confidentiality agreements and ethical codes as doctors and other registered therapists.
Do I need to make any special preparations before sessions? I suggest that you choose clothes that you feel comfortable wearing. Some clients feel happier not wearing contact lenses but this is personal preference. Eating and drinking beforehand is also fine, but I do ask that you avoid alcohol. Likewise stimulants such as tea, coffee, colas and cigarettes taken before a session may make relaxation that little harder.
Will it be distressing? Hypnotherapy is a very soothing, non-invasive procedure. However, some issues, by their very nature, may need you to revisit memories or imagine things that make you feel uncomfortable. I will always endeavour to give you the tools and skills to deal with these before you have to face them. You are always in control and can stop any therapeutic techniques, if you wish, at any time.
What about stage hypnosis? Most of us enjoy this form of entertainment but it can cause confusion especially if you want to understand hypnosis and how it works. Films, some television programmes and stage shows give the impression that people are in the total control of the hypnotist. Far from it, the so called 'victims' are in control, they have volunteered and want the chance to perform, whether as a dancing chicken or holding a conversation with a hat stand. They are in their element; all they needed was the right suggestion and a stage to perform upon. In hypnotherapy you and I will have agreed on the suggestions and from this point the world is your stage.
Will it work?
I can't give guarantees. It is not a magic cure-all but is has helped a great number of people on a great number of occasions. It is a partnership: while you are in trance I will give you suggestions to empower you to reach your goals and achieve the changes you want.
If you bring enthusiasm and commitment you are well on the way to solving your problem.
How long is a session, and how many will I need?
Each session will last about an hour; sometimes they may be a little longer or a little shorter as I always ensure that my client gets the maximum benefit and the session ends positively.
Most treatment will probably take several sessions. The number will depend upon the nature of your problem and whether there are any contributing factors that also need resolving; your motivation and goals. Most issues can be successfully treated within 3 and 6 sessions, however some deep rooted or complex problem e.g. depression may need up to 10 sessions. If you compare this to other psychotherapy treatments, which can take from 10 to 20 sessions, hypnotherapy is a very effective short term answer, and clients usually report improvements fairly quickly.
Your first session will be for consultation and here we will discuss your needs and decide upon the most appropriate treatment. It is here that I will be able to answer your questions and allay any worries you may have. If appropriate, I will include a short hypnotic trance and give suggestions for general well-being.
This first session may last up to an hour and a half; the first half an hour is free so if at the end of this time you feel that hypnotherapy is not for you, you may leave owing nothing.
How shall I pay? Payment is made by either cash or cheque at the end of each session.
What do Medical Professions feel about hypnotherapy?
"Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis for treating such conditions as addictions, anxiety, depression, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, phobias and stress. Tests have shown that a person in deep hypnosis is in a state of deep relaxation and engaged in normal mental activity. Once the patient is in this state the therapist uses suggestion, which is aimed at influencing behaviour and relieving symptoms."
NHS Directory 2009
"Enough studies have now accumulated to suggest that the inclusion of hypnotic procedures may be beneficial in the management and treatment of a wide range of conditions and problems. There is convincing evidence that hypnotic procedures are effective in the management and relief of pain; discomfort and distress due to medical and dental procedures and childbirth. Hypnosis and the practice of self-hypnosis may significantly reduce general anxiety, tension and stress in a manner similar to other relaxation and self-regulation procedures; likewise, hypnotic treatment may assist in insomnia in the same way as other relaxation methods. There is encouraging evidence demonstrating the beneficial effects of hypnotherapeutic procedures in alleviating the symptoms of tension headaches and migraine; asthma; gastro-intestinal complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome; warts; and possibly other skin complaints such as eczema, psoriasis and hives.'"
(British Psychological Society 2001)
Do I need to be referred by my GP or psychologist?
No, but I do ask that if your problem is medical, e.g. allergy, IBS, or a skin complaint, that it is properly diagnosed by your doctor first and that if you are on prescribed medication you continue taking it. Likewise, if you are receiving any psychological counselling, I would ask that this too, continues alongside my work.
I may need to contact your doctor or psychologist if I need to have a greater understanding of your condition or to make sure that our sessions together complement their work. This will only be done with your written permission.
Can I bring someone along to the sessions?
I ask that children under 16 are always accompanied by a parent or guardian. I also feel it is appropriate for clients with learning difficulties or certain mental health problems to bring along a suitable companion.
Other than these I do ask you to come alone. I do not have a waiting area but there are plenty of amenities within a short drive should your friend, relative or partner need to pass some time.
Can I have a few examples of how it works?
A smoker can consciously know smoking is harmful and yet is compelled to smoke. Many are fully aware and understand the government health warnings, but none of these can override the powerful unconscious habit. Hypnotherapy tackles the unconscious desire to smoke.
An overweight person may be overeating or eating unhealthy foods even though consciously they know this is unhealthy and want change. The unconscious mind has different ideas but these are hidden from view. The person cannot understand why they yo-yo diet. This is because the unconscious desire to eat too much and the wrong types of food keep silently winning despite the conscious efforts to stop. Specific hypnotic suggestions to eat healthily can change this.
Everyone, including people with arachnophobia, knows British spiders pose no threat whatsoever. Even with this conscious knowledge, they still find their unconscious fears taking over when faced with a spider. Hypnotherapy builds confidence and helps the client to explore and deal with the initial cause.
Hypnotherapy can be used for many medical problems. We shouldn't regard the mind and body as if they are separate entities. A mind that is stressed can cause ulcers in the body. Often just thinking about something, whether it is pleasurable or distressing, can make your heart race and give your stomach butterflies. Our minds and bodies are part of the same system.
Hypnotherapy has been used successfully to treat, manage or improve many medical complaints including, asthma, burns, wounds, skin problems, menstrual problems, IBS and many more. Hypnosis has been used for dental work and even major surgery where people are allergic to anaesthetic.