As clinical hypnotherapists, we work in close cooperation with the medical field. Doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers and therapists refer to us patients whose conditions prove resistant to traditional treatments.
Because our profession is still not fully known and understood, it can be a difficult decision for many to visit a clinical hypnotherapist for the first time. Occasionally, our colleagues in the medical field mention one of their patients could greatly benefit from hypnotherapy but is “too afraid” to make the appointment. This is one of the reasons why a number of us offer a complimentary initial consultation to first-time clients. It takes the pressure off making the first appointment with a hypnotherapist. Knowing there will be no hypnosis conducted during the initial consultation, no fee incurred and no obligation, makes it less stressful for someone to come in to discuss the nature of the work we do and how it can benefit their specific situation, challenges and goals. The initial consultation allows new clients to realize we are professionals, operating in a clinical setting, with proven methods in no way related to esoteric practices, voodoo or mysticism. Mostly, it is an opportunity for them to discover what hypnotherapy truly is, ask any questions they may have and discuss in which ways hypnotherapy can help them overcome the obstacles to their well being, success, balance and peace of mind.
There are two main causes for the common misconceptions about hypnotherapy. The first one is the fictional distortion of hypnosis by the movie industry and by works of fiction in general. Though fiction now tends to give a more accurate picture of hypnosis, not so long ago, it was portrayed as some sort of eerie sleepwalking state in which someone entirely relegated the control of their mind to the hypnotist. This image was blown to such proportions, we still hear today perfectly intelligent individuals declare they want nothing to do with hypnosis because they are not willing to abandon the control of their minds and thoughts to someone else. The second source of misrepresentation comes from the entertainment shows presented by stage hypnotists. In the same manner that on-stage magicians, called illusionists for that very reason, rely on clever tricks to give their audience the illusion they are actually performing magic, stage hypnotists rely on the art of illusion to give their audience the impression their selected subjects are under their full control. The truth is, the volunteers performing on stage remain perfectly in control of their own minds. Stage hypnotists are expertly trained in the art of selecting their subjects. Using precise, accurate and subtle psychological tests, they select individuals whose desire to perform, entertain and create laughter is a predominant interest. Given the right opportunity and suggestions, they are acting on stage as they would naturally do in front of their friends and family.
Contrary to popular myths and legends, and to the dramatization occasionally portrayed by the movie industry, hypnosis is not a state of unconsciousness in which we lose our self-control or enter an eerie trance similar to a sleepwalking state. On the contrary, we are more aware of our surroundings and in better control of our decisions while under hypnosis than we are in our regular conscious state. A person in a state of hypnosis is acutely conscious, fully aware of everything taking place around them and in complete control of every one of their words and actions, including their physical, mental and emotional states. Hypnosis is a natural state of focus and relaxation in which we are capable of accessing more of our mental abilities. Rather than losing control, when we are in a state of hypnosis, we gain control over pieces of our lives, actions and behaviors we did not have control over before.
Common myths about hypnosis also include the belief that some people are not capable of being hypnotized and the fear of staying stuck in hypnosis. Everyone is capable of being hypnotized, as long as they have the desire to be, and the mental ability to focus and follow simple instructions. And no one can stay stuck in hypnosis. Hypnosis is a natural state of being, which we go in and out of often during the course of the day, when we are engrossed in a movie, a lecture or a book for instance, or when we are driving and our mind drifts off while remaining fully focused on our destination. If a person were to be placed in a state of hypnosis and the hypnotherapist would suddenly leave the room, the person might simply open their eyes or, if they are tired and feel comfortable with their surroundings, they might fall asleep for a moment, as naturally as they would at night, and wake up on their own.
Most of us go through life using at best a mere 3 to 5% of our mental capabilities. Hypnosis is one of the most powerful techniques available to gain immediate access to more of the potential of our mind. Being able to access more of the potential of our mind enables us to create instantaneous and lasting changes in ourselves, in our lives and, ultimately, to alter the direction of our paths.
As our colleague Don Mottin, Vice President of the National Guild of Hypnosis, puts it: “The only negative side effect of hypnosis is not to use it.”