You may already know that the word hypnosis comes from the the greek word ‘hypnos’ which means ‘sleep’, it’s an unfortunate choice of wording as it leads people to believe that you are being put to sleep and therefore have no control, when in fact, it is just the conscious mind (or the nervous system) that is what I would call ‘resting’ while the subconscious is ‘awakening’.
On this note: hypnotherapy and stage hypnotism are very different! Stage hypnotists choose their subjects via discreet testing or analysing and go for the person they believe will have less resistance, then they often induce hypnosis via surprise and confusional hypnosis techniques, which catches people off-guard. A person still has control of themselves, but the problem is, they don’t realise that, and so give in to the notion that they are under control, kind of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The hypnotist is well aware of the power they have been granted and uses it to achieve what they need, so ultimately some manipulation has to be involved.
Going back to what is hypnotherapy, here’s some more background.
The types of therapy are generally :
- Suggestion and visualisation therapy- which can be broken down into-
- Direct suggestion therapy- ‘you WILL feel more alert’
- Indirect suggestion therapy- ‘you MAY FIND that you feel more alert’
Direct suggestion therapy can be powerful but does not always work with certain personality types or certain issues. A resolute organisational character (also known as ‘anal retentive’ by the lovely Freud) may dislike this as they like to be in control. It can work well with a more ‘intuitive adaptive’ character that already has a strong desire for change, and the change wanted seems reachable to them with a bit of help, so it won’t feel like a command.
Indirect suggestion therapy is how I normally work, as it works well for most personalities, and allows people to give themselves permission to take the suggestion if they wish. These sessions can normally be tackled within anything from 1-6 sessions- totally dependent on the person and issue at hand. Occasionally I mix in some direct suggestion towards the end, when people are more relaxed and change seems do-able.
- Cognitive hypnotherapy:
This works with a combination of NLP (neuro linguistic programming) and cognitive behavioural therapy. It’s pretty much using those therapies within a state of Hypnosis. I don’t use this and am not trained in it, but it’s interesting to know how many variations of therapy are out there.
- Hypno-analysis or analytical hypnotherapy:
Freudian free-association – various memories accessed and released in no particular order, until various ‘abreactions’ are achieved, an abreaction is a release of emotion during session. This allows for changes in all aspects of the persons life and wellbeing.
Regression to cause- this is also accessiong memories to release abreactions, but you pinpoint an emotion or the symptoms of a condition you have, and take yourself back to memories where you felt the same. So you are trying to access specific memories that may contain the root cause of the problem.
I am trained in both, but prefer free-association as it encompasses everything about the person and leaves no stone unturned! No dark skeletons left in the closet so to speak. It is a long-term commitment however, and for some can take a while to complete if they do not attend every week, it takes anything from 3 months – 3 years! I would say 3 months is the person that attends every single week and has a strong desire for change. The discomfort of some of the sessions causes some to drop out, and then some re-start at a later date, I know this from experience.
With suggestion therapy, each session is customised especially for the person, based on the language used and responses given during consultation, I can gauge what the best way will be to guide the person into hypnosis, and I can plan more or less which techniques would work best. There are some cowboys out there who take a week or weekend course and then call themselves hypnotherapists, and read off a generic script. Generic scripts are there for ideas and guidance; if you’ve trained with enough hours and case studies, then a good hypnotherapist often doesn’t even need the guidance and just makes their own script or session plan, customising suggestions and visualisations based on their training and on the client. You can determine a good hypnotherapist by the associations and qualifications/schools they went to.
With Hypno-analysis, you never know what’s going to happen! All I need is to guide the person into a deeper state of hypnosis and then let them guide me through their past…where I must be fully attentive to any scenarios that need more exploration or analysing, so I would only cut in when needed, but otherwise the client does most of the talking.
Hypnotherapy works with client consent and based on training guidelines, and is always for client benefit.
About Ema Borges
She sees clients at reCentre in Balham and Kingyo Therapy in South Molton Street, see her website Dynamic Calm for more information.