The subject of hypnosis is often greeted with considerable skepticism or concern. It is an understandable response when stage shows, clucking subjects and memory loss are the only exposure most people have to the topic. The therapeutic use of hypnosis has little resemblance at all. Therapeutic hypnosis at aspire is a very calming experience that is used specifically to assist you to change the aspect of your life that is holding you back. Willpower alone can produce shifts in behaviour when motivation remains high and the conditions remain ideal but that is rarely the case. This is where hypnosis, used in conjunction with other psychotherapeutic techniques, can be incredibly useful because the changes you want to make can be driven by your unconscious mind, your powerful mind-body control system. Please take a look at the information below or call us if you have any questions.
What is Hypnosis?
What is Hypnotherapy?
Is Hypnotherapy for me?
Hypnosis is often described as an altered state of consciousness (day dreaming in a busy, noisy room is a good example of an altered state). An altered state can be self-induced or induced via the guidance of another person, if so, the subject generally retains awareness of the presence of the inducer. Simply put, when you are in hypnosis or a hypnotic state you are in a different state to your normal waking state. My favourite explanation of what is going on during hypnosis can be found in the book 'Human Givens'. The authors, Tyrrell and Griffin explain that the brain activity which occurs during a hypnotic state is almost identical to that of the R.E.M. (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep. According to their research, during this stage of sleep the mind finishes or closes off incomplete emotional experiences from the day before in the form of metaphors and imagery, allowing the individual to maintain healthy instinctive emotional responses as well as the ability to inhibit emotions, if that is required. During hypnosis the mind often uses metaphors and imagery in order to bring about a desired therapeutic change. Hypnosis has also been described as the learning state of the mind. All manner of learnings and understandings can be adopted and incorporated in this state.
Hypnotherapy is the application of hypnotic techniques to bring about therapeutic changes. The hypnotherapist helps the client to use their inner resources and strengths in order to achieve their goals. The techniques used are far removed from what one might see when hypnosis is used in stage shows or on TV for entertainment purposes. The client remains in control throughout.
Because hypnosis is a common phenomena that we all activate naturally throughout each day, there is no reason why hypnosis cannot work for everyone. Most find the experience of hypnosis very relaxing and enjoyable. Besides hypnosis, there are a large number of other strategies and techniques that can be employed to enable change such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), Mindfulness etc.
How does hypnotherapy work?
The conscious and unconscious mind Imaginal absorption Who is in control?
This is a very difficult question to answer as there are many wide and varied opinions; this answer is by no means authoritative but rather my best attempt...
Hypnotherapists (and others) use a model to describe the mind. In this model the mind has two parts, the conscious mind and the unconscious mind (sometimes the term subconscious is used but for simplicity we use unconscious).
The conscious mind is the part of your mind that you use to solve problems, to process information consciously and through which we build an understanding of the world we live in. With our conscious mind we solve puzzles, theorise, categorise, formulate etc. It is said to be able to handle between five and nine pieces of information each second. So If you were to pay attention, right now, to the feeling in the big toe of your right foot, one of the 5-9 items previously running would have to drop off to make way for the big toe!
The unconscious mind is the part of your mind that controls all the thousands or maybe millions of mind/body processes that run in the background. For example, the next time you have a conversation with someone you may notice all the fine muscle movements in your facial muscles. While you are talking you will be unconsciously engaging various muscles in your face to communicate empathy, joy, frustration, anger etc. but this usually takes place with no conscious effort at all. It is your unconscious mind that regulates these complex processes.
Your unconscious mind at any given moment has to cope with information that is being sent to the brain via every single nerve receptor in your body. It handles this vast amount of information very differently to the conscious mind; rather than process the information the way the conscious mind would, it sets up behavioural patterns or habits as 'automatic' responses to the stimuli/situation you encounter.
The unconscious constantly assesses the situation you are in, refers back to your memory for similar situations and if there was a particular 'automatic' behaviour that 'worked' in that scenario (i.e. enabled you to survive), it will most likely engage that same behaviour again, thus creating a pattern. The more a pattern is repeated, the more likely a particular behaviour will become the 'default' unconscious choice or response to a given scenario.
Sometimes certain responses or behaviours that may have once had a positive payoff can become unwanted or unpleasant. They may be stopped by decisions made by the conscious mind alone via your own will-power but not always. Some patterns seem to remain stuck despite all the willing and determined effort we can muster.
The role of hypnosis... For some reason (and there are many out there, including the Human Givens theory), when a person is in a state of hypnosis or trance, the unconscious mind becomes more open to adjusting or modifying a particular automatic response or behaviour. The change is made entirely through the resources and 'strengths' of the person being hypnotised. The skill of the therapist lies in their ability to assist their clients to engage those resources successfully and bring about the desired change.
For more information on qualified hypnotherapists visit the website of the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH).
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