What is Hypnosis?
Simply put, hypnosis is a relaxed focused state of concentration; it is a natural psychological process in which the critical thinking of the mind (conscious mind) are bypassed. Although some individuals experience an increased susceptibility to suggestions when in the altered state, it is not always necessary; subjective indicators and subjective changes can be achieved by means of simple suggestions or waking hypnosis.
"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances:
if there is any reaction, both are transformed"
C.J. Jung (This theory places emphasis on the client / therapist relationship).
Example of what happens in a Hypnotherapy Session:
As a clinical hypnotherapist I am accountable for ensuring your own and my own emotional, mental and physical safety within the Hypnotherapy setting.
The first next important thing is for me to be aware of your mental health in relation to whether it is safe to go ahead with therapy. If I feel that your psychological personality warrants referral to an appropriate service because it is beyond the scope of my own abilities, then this is the safest thing to do and I will refer you to a more suitable counsellor or psychiatrist. Also I will check in with you to see whether you are on any medications that warrants you gaining permission from your doctor first before commencing therapy.
An acquisition is carried out with you before any hypnotherapy takes place. This is where I will ask what you are wanting to achieve, the intervention and what’s your idea of safety is in relation to what it looks, sounds, smells, feels and tastes like so that this can be used to create a visualisation of The Safe / Secure Place technique and used with a signal or an anchor (e.g. placing my hand on your hand with permission) if and when you may experience too much associated psychological pain or abreaction during the session.
During the session I will use Hypnotherapy with you to alter the state of your consciousness to allow for collaboration, to by-pass your conscious mind and to gain a pathway into material within the your subconscious mind. First within the peripheral level where material is suppressed and then, the deeper level where material is repressed. Repressed material comes from the unconscious level which when using Hypnotherapy can be really beneficial to you to gain wisdom, understanding and positive insights from. As hypnotherapists we assisting you to remove your conscious mind’s own mode of operation through trance induction to enable access to your unconscious mind to allow for your unresolved issues to be highlighted, processed and released through appropriate interventions and change work. However it’s important, from an clinical point of view to know about the two processes.
Suppression is when your material e.g. challenging thoughts, emotions and impulses can be found at the peripheral level and is defended and guarded by the conscious mind. Suppression as already mentioned, is on a conscious level and can be proactively brought more to awareness through non-hypnotherapeutic methods for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, talking therapies and Counselling. Clients will be able to still look at their past experiences whilst still maintaining awareness of their here and now state.
Repressed is when your material e.g. challenging thoughts, emotions and impulses can be found only at an unconscious level and therefore no longer is accessible consciously and in the your own awareness. Your Repressed material is held deep in your unconscious and it can show via behavioural symptoms you may have such as irrational outbursts, having phobias and through yourself emotionally by having different mood swings. By using Hypnotherapy you are able to re-live earlier negative experiences without being consciously aware of the future to go back or regress back to a younger age by experiencing amnesia for the time following the period to which you have regressed.
However, even though as a hypnotherapist we are aware that you will be holding material either in the peripheral of the conscious mind or a deeper level of the subconscious, we need to be mindful that we keep you safe emotionally and mentally from experiencing the re-living of your trauma which would normally have been blocked by your psychological defence mechanisms held in your subconscious. If you experience or associate emotionally with this repressed trauma this is called an abreaction which is an associated psychological pain which can then re-traumatise you emotionally and mentally. However an abreaction can also show me that there has been some movement of emotion and information from your unconscious to your conscious mind. Sometimes though I may not be able to stop you from having an abreaction happening and if it does happen, I will stay calm, continue speaking to you in a reassuring, comforting and confident voice and remain detached from the experience and facilitate the situation with you by using the techniques and interventions that I would have discussed with you before the hypnotic trance has begun. It is important to stress to you that you will come to no harm and that it is safe for you to be able to release the emotion and I may say something like e.g. “As we both know this memory at this time is very important to you….. I would like you to take me with you along this journey as you experience it……… I cannot hear or see what is happening for you, or even experience your feelings and emotions….. please let me know what is happening to you……… tell me how you are feeling……. There is nothing here that can harm you, you need not fear it, it is only a memory…… You have survived the real-life event and this memory no longer has any power over you, you are in control…… and I want you to know that I am with you by your side all the way so you are not alone”.
Of course, sometimes however, as a hypnotherapist I may want to trigger this abreaction although at the same time being mindful that these abreactions or psychological pain will be remembered by you, however spontaneous amnesia can also re-occur occasionally. By having the abreaction you are releasing the energy that was previously holding down the long-repressed trauma and it can also generate awareness for you in order to make you feel liberated emotionally and mentally.
If you do experience an abreaction and experience psychological pain/emotions that are attached to long-repressed memories then The Safe / Secure Place technique is the industry standard procedure I will use to be able to use with you to allow you to retreat into a psychological haven / safe space that we have already discussed with you before the trance was started. It’s about ensuring that you are feeling safe and secure in your haven and when an abreaction happens I will give a signal and you can then go to this safe place in your mind. This promotes calmness for you client and then allows for the me as your hypnotherapist to continue to go back with you to the memory that causes the distress. This procedure may be oscillated with the traumatic memory a few times within the therapy session to allow you to be gradually exposed and desensitised to the trauma i.e. the power of the emotion you experience is lessened, then back to safety and so on to process. However it is also important to be mindful if you become overwhelmingly distressed that it may not longer be emotionally or mentally safe to continue to expose you further during this particular session.
For example: If you do have an abreaction to perhaps a memory of someone that bullied you in school. This memory has given you a negative emotion of anger, fear, revenge or hate towards that individual. You may now be associating with the memory and that individual and those emotions have been brought up from your repressed memory of how you felt then and you are feeling them now in the present within a memory. These negative feelings need to be processed and released safely.
Using dissociation methods you can be helped to manage your feelings and your abreaction can be calmed and the negative emotion can be neutralised. By taking the memory, using submodalities, I can ask you to lessen the intensity of that emotion by changing the image of the memory in you mind e.g. moving the image onto a wall away from you, changing the colour in the memory to black and white, changing the memory from clear to blurry, make the memory smaller in shape. However another way to lessen the emotion and to keep you safe if you are seeing and experiencing yourself inside your visual memory is to dissociate you from the memory by asking you to see yourself in the memory as an adult with the younger self which helps to put distance between yourself and the emotions with the memory. This can also be done by watching a video and having you feel like you have a remote control in your hand where you are in control of the film in front of you using a technique called systematic densensitisation (graded exposure therapy).
It is important for me to keep you emotionally and mentally safe even at the end of a session because when an abreaction subsides, you are at your most vulnerable and you need to be assisted to reframe or resolve your issue at hand. It is beneficial for you to leave the session with helpful new insights, beliefs and strategies.
From an emotional safety aspect also ensuring that you don’t become dependent emotionally on me as this can threaten the safety of both of us. Another emotional safety aspect is that you are the expert in your own life and that as your hypnotherapist I am simply providing you with the tools to access your own resources and it is you yourself that is making the changes. Also other hypnotherapy techniques can be used such as an Emotional Detox technique where we don’t need to know the content consciously.