Despite what you see on TV, hypnotherapy isn’t just going into a room, lying down on a couch and staring at a watch until you go into a trance and having someone change your thoughts or memories or feelings. (There are definitely times I wish it was that easy!) While I one hundred percent believe hypnotherapy can make a huge difference in changing the way you think or feel, it requires a lot of work by the patient.
So what is hypnotherapy?
Just as the name suggests, hypnotherapy is a type of therapy in which hypnosis is used. You work with a trained hypnotherapist in order to get into a really relaxed state of mind so that your therapist can better guide you towards things like change or acceptance of different emotions, experiences, behaviors, etc. You go into such a deep state of concentration that your conscious mind quiets down, distractions go away, and you’re able to access your unconscious mind. You’re able to get better access to the parts of you that drive the way you think, feel and behave.
When you are hypnotized, even though your conscious mind quiets down, you do remain awake. You can remember everything and though your therapist can help guide you towards different things, they cannot make you do anything against your will. Again, you need to be open and ready to do the work. Depending on what you’re looking to treat with hypnotherapy, it can be hard to let yourself get into a relaxed state and to be open to change. You have to let down barriers and form a bond of trust, which can be very scary for some people.
What is hypnotherapy used to treat?
There are many different things that hypnotherapy would be helpful for if you’re a suitable candidate. Personally, I started seeing a hypnotherapist to help with my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While working to help me to heal from the PTSD, we also worked on my anxiety, depression, panic attacks, fear and rumination. I also know of people who have used it for things like phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, habit changing and insomnia. Again though, these are just some of the things that it can be used effectively for.
Hypnotherapy will not work for everyone.
One of the first things I learned when I started hypnotherapy back in 2018 was that some people are going to be much more suitable for it than others. You have to be able to open your mind and allow yourself to go deeper into your subconscious. This is very difficult for some, who will build up barriers and walls and be so stuck that they will not allow anything to penetrate their mind. These people are not ideal candidates for hypnotherapy.
During my first session with my hypnotherapist, he had me do a couple of tests to see if he thought I’d be a good candidate. The one that I remember best involved me holding a string which had a small weight at the end. I held it out so that the weight hovered over a circle he’d drawn on a piece of paper and concentrated as he told me to visualize the weight following the circle but not to move my hand. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting much and was shocked to see it start moving despite my hand remaining still.
There was another test which in which I held my hands out in front of me, shoulder width apart and then I closed my eyes. I had to follow his audio cues and visualize magnets pulling my hands together but not move them. When he told me to open my eyes, I expected my hands to be still be shoulder width apart, but they were almost touching. I know this can sound a bit hokey, and I probably wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me it happened to them. But it happened to me and I was blown away. My therapist told me he thought that I would make an excellent candidate and that we could begin right away. He also noted that in his experience, people who were more creative or had strong imaginations tended to be better suited for this sort of practice.
How does hypnotherapy work?
As I mentioned earlier, hypnotherapy requires getting into a very relaxed state and being guided by a trained hypnotherapist. I’m sure different therapists might have different methods of helping you to get into this state, but mine used a combination of eye placement, deep breathing, counting, visualizing, grounding, and focusing on specific parts of your body one after another. Then we used imagery to get lower- visualizing steps, elevators, etc. Through suggestion, you’re even able to visualize other locations. This can help you to focus on what you want to change or conquer and make you more open to the guided suggestions. You may begin to have different associations to certain triggers and be able to make changes to the way you are wired to perceive certain things.
Hypnotherapy isn’t one and done.
It isn’t like you go in, sit down and say hypnotize me, spend an hour in the office and suddenly you’re cured. It’s most likely going to take a few sessions for simpler goals and a long series of sessions for heavier issues. I went weekly for a few months and then switched to biweekly for the remainder of a year. I still wasn’t ‘healed’ at the end because let’s be real- you’re never completely healed. But I was MILES ahead of where I had started thanks to my treatment. I went from a panic filled mess who could barely manage to get out of bed in the morning to a fully functioning adult who was committed to healing and creating a life that excited me. I believe it had a HUGE impact on my mind and kicking off my healing journey and I would definitely recommend giving it a try to anyone who is suffering from things like trauma, low self worth, etc.
And of course, regardless of whether you think hypnotherapy is for you or not, I hope you know that you are worthy of love. It is your birthright. You matter and you are not alone.
Thanks for reading.
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