Frequent Asked Questions
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a pleasant, voluntary state of immersed concentration, during which the conscious mind is relaxed and passive, while the subconscious mind is alert and susceptible to suggestion. By creating a heightened state of awareness through deep relaxation methods, the subconscious mind is more open to suggestions that help promote positive change.
Hypnosis is a natural state for your mind. You experience hypnosis many times during a day. Every time you fall asleep or wake up, you pass through an hypnotic state. You have likely experienced a form of hypnosis while driving your car - you arrive at your destination but you don’t have a clear memory of how you got there. Your conscious mind was distracted but your subconscious mind was alert and active.
There are a lot of misconceptions about hypnosis, the majority of which stems from media misinformation. You may have seen or heard about hypnotized subjects doing ridiculous things on stage at a hypnosis show, but rest assured that hypnotized subjects don't do anything against their will. While subjects are receptive to suggestion under hypnosis, they are always awake and in control.
What is Client Centered Hypnotherapy?
Client centered hypnotherapy focuses on the needs of the client and is based in large part on the work of Charles Tebbetts and Roy Hunter, experts in the art of professional hypnotherapy. They recognized that classic hypnosis techniques that utilize suggestions and imagery alone have been shown to be helpful, but only for a subset of people. A competent hypnotherapist should be able to help most people and this can be achieved by utilizing a goal-based therapeutic approach based on four therapeutic objectives:
1. Suggestion and imagery
2. Discover the cause
3. Release (emotional attachment to the cause)
4. Subconscious relearning
These four therapeutic objectives are the cornerstones of client centered hypnotherapy, whether accomplished within one hypnotherapy session or across several sessions. Effective results often require fulfilling all four objectives.
Suggestion and imagery
All actions, thoughts, and habits are motivated (that is, moved, energized, or activated) by something. As Freud emphasized in his theory of multiple determinants, there are usually multiple motives. Often these motivational determinants are contradictory. Emotions are the experience of these motivators or activators, the inner driving force (or motor activation energy) of the mind. When there is a strong motivational desire for change, direct suggestions, images, and post-hypnotic suggestions (either direct or indirect) may be sufficient for some clients, however most clients have conflicting motivations for making changes. Therefore, most people need more than just direct suggestions and imagery to achieve lasting success.
Discover the Cause
Hypnotists don't diagnose unless they are authorized to do so. The client-centered approach is based on the concept that with the right hypnotherapy techniques, the client's inner mind can reveal the root cause of the problem. Diagnosing is often a naming process, not an analysis and understanding of client-centered psychodynamics. If there is unconscious resistance, there is a reason for it. We can choose from a variety of techniques that will allow the subconscious mind to uncover the root cause of the problem, such as hypnotic regression therapy, ego-state therapy, parts therapy or ideomotor signaling. Hypnotists who use client-centered hypnosis do not attempt to identify the cause. Instead, the hypnotist asks the client's subconscious mind for permission to reveal the cause.
A hypnotist should not come to conclusions in advance about the cause of a client's problem and then use other hypnotic techniques such as direct suggestion hypnosis or regression therapy to validate those conclusions. This could lead to inappropriate leading which can result in false memories or subconscious confabulation. A client-centered approach consists of finding ways to get the client's own mind to reveal the cause. Preconceptions instilled by a hypnotist can taint the trance and lead the client down the wrong path. Even if the conclusion is correct, another important cause may not come up during the session.
Release (emotional attachment to the cause)
Many clients are unable to spontaneously release the tethered emotions associated with their problem at a subconscious level unless prompted to do so during a deep hypnotic experience. One or more hypnotherapy techniques are then used to facilitate liberation, which often involves forgiving oneself and letting go of others. Release must be achieved on a subconscious level, not just a conscious level.
To forgive does not mean to condone. The words "release" or "let go" are often more comfortable for a client than the word "forgive." Regardless of the formulation, it is important that clients also forgive themselves. This means letting go of the hooks that are crippling emotionally and/or physically. To forgive means to give up. It refers to letting go of emotional attachment to the perceived cause of the current problem and embracing what is most important to the client, including themselves. Even if it is not communicated to the hypnotist, the subconscious mind must discover and identify the cause of the problem in order to release it to achieve lasting results.
Many techniques can be used to facilitate release, including hypnotic regression therapy, ego-state therapy, parts therapy or ideomotor signaling. If a problem is solved without discovering the cause and releasing it, the subconscious mind can easily reproduce the same problem or worse. Treating symptoms without treating the cause is often insufficient and could lead to the unconscious substitution of a worse symptom.
We need to assess the client's current understanding of the causes of the problems discovered and how those causes have affected the client in the past and going forward. When someone successfully gives up a bad habit, their subconscious beliefs continue to influence their results even after discovering and letting go of the cause of the habit. Clients who have failed in the past to give up on bad habits can actually start again if they fantasize about it often enough. The imagination and our emotions are the language of the unconscious. One of the basic laws of hypnosis is the law of dominance effect, which states that when the will (or willpower) is in conflict with the imagination (or emotion), the imagination always wins. To ensure successful hypnotherapy results the client must believe that the results are permanent, otherwise the old habit may return.
To facilitate adult understanding at the subconscious level we can use a number of client-centered techniques to achieve lasting results. Therapeutic “insight” must be emotionally grounded. Intellectual (or left brain) understanding is not enough. Once the subconscious mind believes the problem has been resolved, unhindered by previously discovered causes, and emotionally resolved, the client is free to empower themselves to achieve their desired goals.
What does it feel like to be hypnotized?
Every individual is unique and different. Some people say that their body feels very heavy, others say they feel as though they're floating away. Most people will agree that it's a lovely feeling because they are more relaxed than they have ever been before.
You will be aware of everything that is happening and being said the whole time, however you will be so deeply relaxed that you may find yourself drifting into different levels of awareness. You may forget some of the things said to you consciously, but your subconscious mind remembers everything it needs to. Your subconscious mind is active throughout and it is this that your therapist is working with.
Can I be hypnotized against my will?
Hypnosis requires cooperation between two people. Your hypnotist will show you the way and you can choose if you want to go there or not. Anyone can resist hypnosis during a session and it won't work. If you are not prepared to accept that hypnosis could benefit you then you are not ready for it yet.
How many sessions are needed?
Hypnotherapy is different than psychotherapy. Hypnotists are not therapists, we don't diagnose clients, offer psychological treatments, or offer medical advice. Our role is to help a client tap into the power of their own inner mind (subconscious mind) and enable them to make dramatic and long lasting changes to their behavior. Unlike traditional therapy, with hypnosis we can often overcome unwanted behavior in as little as one session. Each client is unique and the reason for their unwanted behavior is unique to them. A client has to want to change, it cannot be imposed on them; as such there are no guarantees with hypnosis. A session typically lasts between 1.5 to 2 hours. Each session is individualized and confidential.