Is hypnotherapy different to hypnosis? Hypnotherapy is a branch of clinical hypnosis. Before the word “hypnotherapy” was coined there was only “hypnotism”. Hypnotism is a huge subject and covers all forms and methods of hypnosis.
Basically there were two types of hypnotism practiced to begin with. There was the hypnotism used for entertainment purposes, called “stage hypnosis”, and there was the hypnotism used to help people to achieve their personal goals.
Because the general public in those days didn't understand how hypnosis worked, hypnosis, when used in the world of entertainment, tended to scare people. We have a natural fear of the unknown which we at last seem to be outgrowing as a species. For this reason, those people that practiced hypnotism to help others wanted to distance their art from that of stage hypnosis, even though some of the best hypnotists started out entertaining the public with hypnosis. They came up with the term “clinical hypnosis”.
Once clinical hypnosis had been differentiated from stage hypnosis, people started to specialise in the therapeutic branch of hypnotism. The word “therapy” literally means "curing” or “healing”. The objective of therapy is to correct health problems and so the word “hypnotherapy” was born to promote the use of hypnosis to help people to correct their heath problems.
Many people today would be surprised at the number of health problems hypnotherapy is able to help with. Hospitals in the UK are starting to employ hypnotherapists to help their patients that suffer with IBS and to help with painless childbirth. A number of years ago the Queen of Belgium had thyroid surgery and opted for “hypnosedation” instead of chemical anaesthesia. Hypnotherapy is also used to control pain as demonstrated in class below by one of the true masters of hypnotherapy, Gerald F Kein.
As the world continues to learn more about what consciousness is and how it works, more people are turning to hypnotherapy for answers including the doctors and the scientists. Hypnotherapy is non-invasive; there is no cutting, stitching, injecting or swallowing of chemicals in hypnotherapy. It’s also much faster, and thus cheaper and more effective than other forms of therapy.
How is hypnosis different from using affirmations? Hypnosis is different to using affirmations due to “critical factor bypass”. The “critical factor” is a filter in the conscious mind that decides whether you’re comfortable or not with incoming information. If I say “the sky is green and the grass is blue”, unless you’re an alien, you’d probably feel uncomfortable with that information.
That uncomfortable feeling is your critical factor rejecting that information. If I say “the sky is blue and the grass is green” you’re probably comfortable with that statement and means your critical factor didn't reject it.
If a morbidly obese person says to himself, “I'm slim, trim health and happy”, he’d probably feel a little uncomfortable with that affirmation. In this case, because the critical factor knows it’s not true, the information is rejected. It doesn't matter how many times he says it to himself, it’s not going to stick any-time soon. How many times would you have to tell yourself that the sky is green before it you’d believe it?
It would take a lot of work and a lot of time for that affirmation to get through the critical factor to become a subconscious fact. Of course, the subconscious is like an organic computer and so once it is a subconscious fact, it’s just a matter of time before the subconscious mind turns that information into reality. It’s just a matter of time before the person is slim, trim, healthy and happy.
Now there are some short cuts. It’s useful to know that the conscious mind is a very focussed mind and as such can only be in one place at a time. You can only focus on one thing at a time. If you give yourself affirmations and at the same time distract your conscious mind, the chances of these suggestions going through to the subconscious are greatly improved.
For example, if you repeated the affirmation “I'm slim, trim, healthy and happy” to yourself while tapping away at different parts of your face and forehead, your conscious mind would probably be too busy with the tapping to reject all of the affirmations (critical factor bypass). Of course this method would be far faster than just using affirmation alone, but becomes far more powerful with repetition.
This method may also sound a lot like “Emotional Freedom Technique” and having studied hypnosis since childhood, I'm sure it’s no different. There are other methods one can employ to bypass the critical factor too, but by far the most effective I know of is hypnosis. You can achieve a far superior degree of critical factor bypass with hypnosis and this allows information that you consider “reasonable and pleasing” to flow easily into the subconscious mind at a greatly increased rate.
To demonstrate how well hypnosis can work for you, enjoy the Ormond McGill clip below. It’s shorter than ten minutes and very informative. Bear in mind while watching, the client will only accept suggestions deemed “reasonable and pleasing”.
Is stage hypnosis real? The answer is yes and no. Yes, in the sense that the stage hypnotist is using hypnosis and the people on the stage are hypnotised. No, in the sense that the people on the stage are all volunteers and will not do anything that they don’t want to do.
People that are hypnotised will only do things that they consider “acceptable”. By “acceptable”, I mean that it must be both “reasonable” and “pleasing” to the person in hypnosis. Anyone that’s practiced hypnosis for any length of time will tell you that you can’t get people to do anything they don’t want to do in hypnosis.
What this means is that the stage hypnotist needs to be very selective about who he chooses from the audience if he wants to put on a good show. For example, are you the type of person that enjoys running around on stage like a fool? If you are, you’re the exact type of person the stage hypnotist wants on his stage. If not, he doesn’t want you, or anyone like you, anywhere near his stage! If he has ten people on his stage that don’t want to be there, his show will fail!
So, how on earth does a stage hypnotist get ten people that think it’s reasonable and pleasing onto his stage? It’s very easy! First of all the stage hypnotist will warm up the crowd. He’ll get his audience to relax a bit and start to enjoy the show by kicking off with some comedy and good laughs. Obviously, stage hypnotists need to be good comedians. Once the audience has had a few laughs he’ll ask them if they’re having fun, and then he watches very carefully to see the response.
Those people that most enthusiastically reply are the ones that are most likely to think that playing the fool on stage is reasonable and pleasing. They’re the ones he wants and they’re the ones who can’t wait for the invitation (yes, hard to believe for me too, but some people actually love being the centre of attention). He then warns the audience that they can’t have any fun seated in the audience because all of the fun is on the stage. He might even repeat that statement a few times to really make his point. He then announces to the audience that he’s about to count to ten, and that if they aren’t on the stage by the count of ten they will lose out on all the fun! He then he starts counting!
Of course, by the count of ten, all those people that love playing the fool are all standing on the stage staring at the audience. They think the audience is losing out on a lot fun and the audience thinks they’ve gone mad! Most people are afraid of public speaking or of being exposed to an audience and the stage hypnotist knows this. He also knows that a small percentage of people aren’t afraid and these are the people he wants. So now there are fifty people on stage that all want to be there. The stage hypnotists doesn’t want fifty people, he only wants the ten funniest people.
The stage hypnotist then guides the people on stage into hypnosis using an induction. Once they’re in hypnosis he gives them something silly to do and then watches them. It’s immediately obvious who he does and doesn’t want on his stage. He chooses the ten funniest people and dismisses the rest. The stage hypnotist now has the ten people in very deep hypnosis and they all want to be there. These people think it’s both reasonable and pleasing to run around the stage and play the fool. They’re waiting for his first suggestion so they can impress the audience with their comedy genius.
The stage hypnotist will then give them a suggestion such as “when I snap my fingers you’re a chicken” and then snaps his fingers and we all know what happens. These people start off acting like chickens. They start flapping their elbows and making the most peculiar sounds. They may start off very slowly but as they’re competing for attention they usually get into character very quickly.
The trouble with stage hypnosis is that sometimes the people in the audience don’t know what hypnosis is or how it works. They aren’t aware that the people on stage are quite happy to be running around playing the fool. They are afraid of being on stage and become afraid that they too may be made to run around on stage. This is a very frightening prospect to many from all walks of life. To make matters worse, some people will exploit these fears in the name of entertainment.
Fortunately, things are changing. Now that we’re in the internet era, it’s possible to spread ideas and information very quickly. People are learning what hypnosis really is and how many people are benefiting from it. Also, it would seem that the stage hypnotists have learned that their audience is more enlightened these days and enjoy the show even more when it’s not scary. For this reason most stage hypnotists are totally transparent with their methods and even go to lengths to explain what they’re doing to their audience. In many cases, laughter is the best medicine. Below is a short clip of my favourite stage hypnotist, Andre the Hilarious Hypnotist, in action.
Is hypnosis like sleep? Hypnosis is not at all like sleep and has nothing to do with sleep. Many of my clients, about to experience hypnosis for the first time, will tell me that they expect to lose consciousness during the session. After their hypnotherapy session they're almost always surprised to report that they were aware of everything and were able to hear everything and remembered everything.
If you watch a person going into hypnosis it really does look like the person is going to sleep. They’re not! The word “hypnosis” was originally coined by a Scottish surgeon named James Braid. James Braid obviously also thought it had something to do with sleep because “Hypnos” is the Greek god of sleep. Dr Braid later realized his mistake and tried to rename hypnosis by calling it "monoideaism” (a marked preoccupation with one idea or subject). Unfortunately the word hypnosis stuck and is still in use today.
I remember years ago having two sisters visit my practice together. One sister, let’s call her Lilly, wanted some work done in hypnosis and her sister, Eve, was there to keep her company. Having
completing a thorough preliminary consultation with Lilly, with her permission I helped guide her into hypnosis. As she was able to follow instructions well she quickly dropped into a deep state of hypnosis and I went ahead and did the work. At the end of the session I emerged her from hypnosis. She took one look at me and said “I wasn't hypnotised! I could hear everything you said!”
I should have been flabbergasted. I’d just spent a full hour very thoroughly explaining to her why she would be able to hear everything I was saying when in deep hypnosis! But I wasn't. This is a normal reaction to people that are new to hypnosis. Their expectation of losing consciousness is sometimes so great that they completely ignore my advice. Fortunately her sister Eve was sitting patiently in the waiting room. I called her to come and help.
With both sisters seated comfortably in my office, I again directed Lilly into hypnosis. As she dropped into hypnosis all the tension left her face, her shoulders sagged and it was obvious to Eve watching this that something had happened. Her sister was breathing very lightly and her body was completely limp. I looked at Eve and shrugged. She returned my stare and nodded confirmation. I emerged Lilly from hypnosis and asked her if she’s been hypnotised to which she said “NO!”
Eve couldn’t believe it! She started laughing and shook her head. She'd just watched her sister drop into a deep state of hypnosis! It was nice to have someone understand how the hypnotherapist feels for a change! Eve described what she’d witnessed to her sister Lilly, who still insisted that she’d not been hypnotised because she was aware of everything and could remember everything.
The trouble with hypnosis is there isn’t a bell that rings inside your head when you’re in hypnosis. It just feels like you’re sitting with your eyes closed listening to, and following directions. Of course you feel more relaxed in hypnosis if the hypnotherapist suggests that you do. In hypnosis your mind is more alert and more wide awake than it is right now. Hypnosis has nothing to do with sleep. It never has and it never will.
Is it normal to feel nervous the first time I’m Hypnotised? Almost all of my clients feel a little nervous about going into hypnosis for the first time. The reason most people feel a little nervous about hypnosis the first time is because they’re concerned, at some level, about losing control or blurting out their secrets. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. You are always in control while in hypnosis.
Most of these erroneous perceptions come from the world of entertainment. Cartoons, stage hypnosis and novels create the false impression that the hypnotist has some power over the person going into hypnosis.
This is obviously wrong. If you think about it rationally for a moment, hypnosis would be outlawed if it could make people lose control of themselves. Hypnosis would be illegal if it could get people to do things they didn’t want to do. Do you honestly think politicians would allow me, or any other hypnotist, to practice hypnotherapy if it meant I could get you to vote for me instead of them?
The facts are very simple. People will only do what they consider both reasonable and pleasing while in hypnosis. A suggestion that is reasonable but not pleasing will not be accepted and nor will a suggestion that’s pleasing but not reasonable. Stage hypnotists will only use volunteers and the volunteers must all think that it’s reasonable and pleasing to act the fool for the audience or the show will fail. Watch the last scene in the short video below to see what I mean.
I realise of course that just because I told that you’re in control probably won’t prevent you from feeling a little nervous about your first session. It’s normal to have a measure of fear for the unknown. That’s perfectly okay. A good hypnotherapist will be aware of this and will help you to understand what hypnosis is and how it works during the preliminary consultation. A good hypnotherapist will work with you at your pace until you’re feeling comfortable with the process. Only then, and with your permission, will your hypnotherapist guide you into hypnosis so you can experience it. A preliminary consultation isn't a brief meeting with the practitioner so you can meet. It’s a very important session designed to help you to become comfortable with the process so you don’t have to spend a lot of time and money learning through trial and error.
Most people are surprised to discover that hypnosis feels very much like sitting in a comfortable chair with your eyes closed while you listen to someone else giving you directions. Which reminds me; with hypnosis there is no injecting. There is no cutting, stitching or diagnosing. You don’t have to swallow chemicals or breathe in any gasses either. Registered hypnotherapists are required to abide by strict codes of conduct and ethics. All the hypnotherapist ever does is talk to you and so there’s no need to be nervous at all, but it’s okay if you are.
What is Hypnosis? Hypnosis is a tool that allows you to move your awareness from where it is now, to where it needs to be, in order to achieve your goals more easily. It's a naturally occurring focussed state of enhanced suggestibility that creates a communication tool between the conscious and subconscious portions of the mind.
The technical definition for hypnosis is “the bypassing of the critical factor of the conscious mind and the establishment of acceptable selective thinking”.
What this means is that two things need to happen at the same time for hypnosis to occur in a person’s consciousness:
First, the analytical part of the mind that normally rejects new information is bypassed.
Secondly, information that’s acceptable to the person in hypnosis is accepted into the subconscious mind, replacing the old information. Once the old information is replaced it can no longer be acted on. This is very similar to resetting the date and time on your mobile phone. The mobile phone will only use the new information once it's been accepted and this principle is equally true with your mind.
It’s important to note that only information that’s reasonable and pleasing will be accepted by the subconscious mind. The subconscious minds primary task is to keep you safe. To do this it stores all the information you've accumulated in your life and uses this as a reference. The subconscious mind does not need to “think”. It already knows what’s good for you, and what isn't, based on your past experience. For this reason you can’t get people to do what they don’t want to do in hypnosis.
Even stage hypnotists can’t get people to do what they don’t want to do. Stage hypnotists have to use volunteers on stage to present a successful show. All the people on stage during a stage hypnosis show will only do what they consider to be reasonable and pleasing. The stage hypnotist has to fill his stage with people that consider it reasonable and pleasing to play the fool on stage to entertain the audience, or the show will fail. For this reason volunteers are taken from the audience.
Troy Robins - Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Oxford & Witney, Oxfordshire in the UK.