What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is described in many different ways. One simple definition says that hypnosis is a state of focused attention in which we process information differently. An example of this occurring in daily life includes when you go to see a movie and become so engrossed in the story that you do not notice that three hours have passed by. Another example involves driving down a familiar route only to arrive at your destination without remembering the details of having driven there.
How does it work?
In therapy, your psychologist will work with you to determine your goals and whether they are appropriate to combine with hypnosis or whether a different methodology is suggested by the research. (for example cognitive behaviour therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy).
Hypnosis works well when a number of factors are present, including when the client trusts the person they are working with and is motivated to make the changes involved.
How does it feel?
Very normal! For most people hypnosis is very relaxing and pleasant as we do not often take time out to focus upon ourselves and where we would like our lives to be heading and it provides an opporunity to do this in combination with, for most people, a sensation of physical relaxation.
Hypnosis is not the same as being asleep, people are fully conscious, can hear what is happening around them, and can halt the process at any stage if they wish.
Can everyone be hypnotised?
As noted, the successful use of hypnosis depends upon a number of factors. Generally, if people feel highly anxious, mistrustful of the process, are adamant that they “can’t be hypnotised” and so forth, it will be more challenging to obtain a relaxed, focused state.
Do I have to see a psychologist for hypnosis?
Hypnosis is not regulated in many states of Australia. For further information regarding hypnosis and qualifications, please head to the links page and to the South Australian Society of Hypnosis.
What can hypnosis be used for?
Many things…anxiety, depression, fear of heights and flying, pain management, sports performance and so forth. It is best to check with your psychologist whether it is suitable for your specific query.
Please understand that receptionists are usually unable to provide more than very general responses to questions such as “will hypnosis work for me?” or “how many sessions will I need” and it will be better to discuss these queries with your psychologist in an initial consultation.
What is the role of the client?
As a client you are responsible for quite a lot! Therapy is not something done ‘to’ you but something you engage in actively with the assistance of another person. As such there will always be homework tasks associated with a session – for example, this might involve reading some information, an action or skill to practice, or listening to a cd. Generally when hypnosis is involved the session will be recorded for you to practice with later in your own time. Research indicates that clients who complete regular homework make better progress, faster. You will also therefore be responsible for remembering and implementing significant points from each session. How will you do this? Will you bring paper and pen to write during sessions, or set aside time immediately after a session to jot down some notes?
You are also responsible for attendance. A minimum of 24 hours notice is required for cancellations and changes to appointment times, otherwise the full fee applies (without any rebates being applicable). You will generally receive a reminder call before your first appointment, but only for the first appointment.
How long does it last?
Again this can vary, but the hypnosis part of a session will often take approximately 30 minutes.
Can I expect hypnosis during my first session?
Every psychologist is different in this regard, and whether this can be expected will depend upon a number of matters such as the number of issues in question, how many queries the client has, and the complexity of the history involved.
Do I only need hypnosis?
Hypnosis is often used as a tool with other therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy.
I don’t want to “lose control”…
Hypnosis is not about you losing control, it is about harnassing the skills and resources that you have already learnt in your life in a new way, or assisting you to ascertain how to develop new skills.
What about the stage shows…
People taking part in stage shows participate in an thorough process of building expectations and suggestion for what will happen on stage, including the very first invitation to volunteer to be involved which presupposed an interest in the process. Therapy is not the same as a performance.
Repressed memories and legal issues
This is a complex area and will only be touched on briefly here. For more information look for Michel Yapko’s book “Suggestions of Abuse.” As noted, hypnosis is a focused state in which information is processed differently. Memory in hypnosis is sensitive to complex distortions in accuracy and detail. As a result, it is very important to alert your psychologist to any pending legal matters when you first consult – laws in different states can preclude the evidence given by a person known to have undertaken hypnosis.