Whenever I tell people for the first time that I’m a Hypnotherapist, after the inevitable round of “Look into my eyes….. you’re back in the room!” jokes, I’m usually asked something like “Can you really make me cluck like a chicken?”. My usual answer is “only if you want to!” So….. do you want to cluck like a chicken? There are lots of myths about Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy, below I hope to bust, explain or clarify some of them:
Myth number 1: ‘Hypnotists can control my mind’
The answer to this is quite simply that they can’t. The best hypnotist in the world (yes, even Derren Brown) cannot control your mind or make you do something you do not wish to do. Only you can control your own mind. If you do something whilst in a hypnotic trance, it is because you want to do it. A good hypnotist can make suggestions in such a way that you may follow them almost unconsciously, but if you really don’t want to do something, you won’t – simple as that. So, yes, the guy on stage clucking like a chicken – he’s doing it because he wants to!
Myth number 2: ‘I won’t remember anything that happens during hypnosis’
Whilst it’s true that some people do go into deep trance through hypnosis, for most people it feels like a lovely, relaxing, daydreaming sort of feeling. You are fully aware at all times, even if you may feel very sleepy. For example, if something were to happen that needed your immediate attention, you would be able to become alert straight away. You may not remember every word the hypnotherapist says to you during a hypnosis session, but your subconscious will be taking in everything it needs (and wants) to.
Myth number 3: ‘Stage hypnosis is just an act and their ‘victims’ are really stooges’
I suspect that some stage hypnotists may use stooges. But I prefer to believe that most do not. Stage hypnotists are very skilled, but their talents are different to those of the clinical hypnotherapist. The stage hypnotist’s main skill is in selecting the right person to work with. You may have noticed a stage hypnotist taking the audience through various ‘tests’, then selecting a few members and eventually whittling them down to one person. This is a process of selecting the person who is most suggestible, most obedient and therefore most likely to do the hypnotist’s bidding on stage. The hypnotist will reject anyone who appears to be resistant, unwilling or sceptical. Even Derren Brown goes through this process, though sometimes he does it off camera. Stage hypnotist are very good at picking the best person to work with, and once they have, their talents appear all the more amazing.
Myth number 4: ‘There’s no science behind Hypnosis, it’s just hocus pocus’
Hypnosis, or trance, is actually a very natural state that we drift in and out of several times a day. The periods just before sleeping and on first waking up are trance-like states. Any meditative or engrossing activities, such as driving or watching television, can also invoke the trance state. At these times the frequency of our brain waves slows down from Beta (15-40 cycles per second) to Alpha (9 to 14 cycles per second) and then Theta (5 – 8 cycles per second). Research has shown that an alert (Beta) brain can slow down into Theta mode very quickly with the use of hypnosis. When in the Theta state of mental relaxation, the brain is actually able to think more freely and creatively and ideas or information can emerge from the subconscious more easily. This is what makes hypnosis so effective. It is a very positive mental state and therefore very healthy and beneficial.
Myth number 5: ‘Not everyone can be hypnotised’
This is true to an extent. Some people resist hypnosis or are not able to become relaxed enough to fully enjoy the experience. The good news is that this can be worked on, and a good hypnotherapist will be able to help even the most ‘resistant’ person to experience and enjoy hypnosis. The key to making the most of a hypnosis session is to relax as much as possible and, most importantly, not to make any effort whatsoever. The process will happen all by itself if you stop worrying about ‘doing it right’ and just allow it to happen. Also remember that everyone experiences hypnosis differently, so there is no right way or wrong way to feel. Some people report feeling sleepy, others just more relaxed; some people say it feels like daydreaming; some say they feel tingly; some people feel warmer, others cooler; some people can visualise bright colours….everyone experiences hypnosis in their own way. Just enjoy it!
Myth number 6: ‘Only medical professionals should carry out hypnotherapy‘
This is not the case. Many of the world’s most successful hypnotherapists have not been medically trained, some of them have even trained medical professionals themselves. Whilst it is important to find a suitably qualified and experienced hypnotherapist, it is not necessary to look for one who is also medically trained. In the UK I recommend that you look for a hypnotherapist who is registered with the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council – CNHC – which is the UK regulator of the complementary healthcare sector. Hypnotherapy training does cover important medical information, and a good hypnotherapist will be knowledgeable about most medical conditions and treatments; they will also know when it is advisable to refer a client to a doctor. Many hypnotherapists – such as myself – have also trained in related areas such as counselling and psychotherapy. It is important to check your hypnotherapist’s credentials and to ask about them if you are unsure. The skills of a good hypnotists are not exclusive to medical professionals. Though, happily, the medical profession is becoming more aware of the benefits and uses of hypnosis and hypnotherapy.
I hope this has busted some of the myths you may have heard about hypnotherapy. Please feel free to email me with any other questions and I will happily post my answers here.