The problem with the word ‘hypnosis’ is that it’s often used to point to both the way in which the process is induced and its results and methods.
To make matters complicated there’s the fact that all hypnosis is ultimately self-hypnosis. This is because it is the individual who is making hypnosis happen, whether a hypnotist is actually guiding the process or not.
Let’s start by explaining what a typical hypnotherapy session consists of. Here follows the main stages of a session:
The Induction is the way hypnosis is created. These can vary greatly. Some hypnotherapists think of the induction as the very beginning of a session when a client is induced into a very light hypnotic state followed by the deepening.
The deepening is often seen as the time when a deeper state of hypnosis is reached.
Other hypnotherapists think of the induction as the part of the session during which a medium state of hypnosis is facilitated in the client and the deepening is either seen as simply part of it or as an optional element that allows the client to enter a deeper state of hypnotic ‘trance’.
I don’t think it is particularly important which way we interpret it, as both understandings produce the same effect.
VARIOUS TECHNIQUES TO ACHIEVE PRE-DECIDED GOALS
After the induction / deepening phase comes the interesting part. This is when various techniques are used to achieve the goals that are pre-determined by the client.
The general public may assume that suggestions are all that is used in this part of the session but this would be a gross oversimplification.
There are a plethora of techniques skilled hypnotherapists use to create change in clients which are more or less interactive.
Hypnotherapy is less a science and more of an art, because each client is different and a good therapist will use specific techniques for specific clients at specific times even if the general procedure might be very similar for similar ailments.
This is to ensure the therapy is well timed and fits the client’s specific personality and needs.
After this part is over the client is guided back to ‘normal conscious awareness’ and helped to transition smoothly to everyday external reality.
This structure is always used in any type of hypnosis although the length of each phase may differ.e that suggestions are all that is used in this part of the session but this would be a gross oversimplification.
The next most useful way I can categorise hypnosis is to divide it into ‘guided’ and ‘unguided’ . Let us look at ‘guided’ hypnosis first.
If you want to succeed in anything in life you need to know how to influence your mind. You need to know how to make your mind do what you want it to do, not what you don’t.
Have you ever noticed how we are surrounded by messages like 'Don't drink and drive' 'Don't forget your passport' 'Don't touch the button! 'Don't eat junk!' And how many times have you have ended up doing the very thing you were told not to? Why is that? The answer lies in understanding how the mind processes information.
For many years I have tried to explain to my clients how to successfully influence their mind but only recently I have come across an explanation that is both simple and accurate. I will borrow and adapt Marisa Peer's framework to make it very clear how to effectively communicate with your own mind.
In a previous article, I have explored how our negative core beliefs keep us stuck. If you are not familiar with this I suggest you read “How to get Unstuck” first.
Now before going ahead make yourself comfortable. Take a pen and paper and get ready to do some very valuable work that will make a real difference in your life. Take your time with this. The more you put into it the more you will get out of it.
Ok, let’s get down to work: start by writing down the first restrictive negative belief you want to change. Then proceed with the following steps:
1) On a scale of 1-10, how true does this belief subjectively feel?
2) On a scale of 1-1- how true is this belief in reality? (be as neutral and objective as possible)
3) When does this belief the most emotionally convincing?
4) When does it feel the least emotionally convincing? Take your time answering this question as this will reveal to you what conditions exasperate the issue and what makes it better.
5) What actual evidence do you have for this belief? what supports it? Be realistic and as neutral as possible
6) What actual evidence contradicts and challenges this belief? What evidence is there to show you it might not be necessarily true?
7) What possible advantages are making you want to hold on to it? In what way could this belief be serving you beneficially in some perverse way?
8) What disadvantages are there in holding on to it?
9) Now remind yourself of a circumstance in the past when you had doubts about a belief. Go back to that time and recall what it felt like to experience doubt. How did you know you were doubting your previously firm beliefs? what were you experiencing? what made you change your mind?
10) Recalling and staying with this doubting state start doubting your current belief. Ask yourself those questions again: does this belief really fit with what is truly important to me? In the past, when did this belief interfere with what I wanted to do? What would it be like to be free of this old belief?
11) After rolling these questions in your mind for a while focus again.
Is this negative belief an over-generalization? Is it the result of catastrophizing? Is it just a personal attack against your person or others? Does it label you or others into something fixed? Is it the result of demanding of yourself something unreasonable, such as ‘you SHOULD be or do such and such”?
12) After careful consideration how true does your old belief feel now on a scale of 1-10? Now comes the fun part: relax, take a few deep breathes and close your eyes. Imagine that there’s a furnace somewhere deep inside yourself.
If you really want to permanently destroy that old belief imagine throwing it into that fire and watch it burn away into ashes. Take pleasure in doing this.
13) Now ask yourself: what would be a more helpful and realistic alternative belief to have? State it positively (say what you want not what you don’t want!).
Make sure you are happy with it. Word it in the present tense, as if it was happening now. (i.e. I believe I am good enough as I am, or, I believe I deserve love just as I am)
14) On a scale of 1-10, how true does it feel right now?
15) As you did before ask yourself, when does the new belief feel the least and the most emotionally convincing.
16) Examine the evidence against this new belief? Is there any problem with it? Then find evidence that proves its correctness and usefulness. Write it down
17) Write down any disadvantages there may be for holding this new positive belief. Be as objective as possible
18) Write down all the advantages of holding this new positive belief now.
19) Now go inside yourself again. Recall a time in the past when you felt receptive and willing to learn. Remember what it was like to be open to change and new beliefs. How did it feel? Re-live that time in as much detail as possible. Where in your body did you feel those feelings? What were you telling yourself? Do all it is possible now to achieve that same state again now.
20) Staying with that memory of feeling receptive and open focus on your new belief. How would it feel to accept this new belief? How is it better than the previous one? How different would your life be if you held this new belief as your own? What would you be doing that you were doing before? What could you achieve and overcome that you weren’t able to before? Think about all this and engage with your new belief.
21) Now evaluate your new belief. Do you need to make any changes? Can you improve on it in any way? How good do you feel holding it? On a scale of 1-10, how true does it feel now?
Now decide to take some action. What can you do differently right now, today, as a result of having acquired this new belief? If you truly believed in it, what would you do differently? Set yourself a task based on this belief being true and decide what action you would take.
Start doing things differently right now so that your new belief gets empirical support and you experience it in your life. This way it gets verified, enhanced and supported and therefore embedded in your new behavior patterns.
Have fun with it, experiment and watch your life change and feel great as a result!
When we are blocked in an area of our lives it often is due to the fact that we feel safer that way. We may feel unhappy but that is easier to deal with than our fear of the unknown. We begin to change when the pain we experience in staying stuck is bigger than the anticipated pain of change.
A lot of fear comes down to our negative core beliefs : deeply held beliefs acquired some time in the past due to painful experiences. Becoming conscious and challenging these beliefs is the first step in the process of change.
For a moment, think about something you would really like to do or be right now but don’t feel able to. When you’ve got that, write it down. Do that now. Maybe you have always wanted to be an artist so write down “I am a capable and talented artist”.
Now, in all probability a voice in your head has just emerged to criticize this statement bringing up all sorts of reasons why this is either impossible or a bad idea. Positive affirmations can give us a sense of safety and hope if we let them but at first you will probably feel they sound fake, embarassing or not right. No surprise there. If you have spent all your life bludgeoning yourself with negative beliefs such as “I am worthless” or “I am not good enough” or “I must be perfect to deserve success” anything else will sound unfamiliar and syrupy or cheesy . So saying to yourself ” I am lovable just as I am” or “I am capable and confident” will surely sound untrue at first.
The problem with not accepting a belief because it doesn’ t sound right though is that feelings are a result of thoughts and if you want to change a feeling you have got to change the thought first. It’s a bit like the idea of “fake it til you make it”. You can’t wait to feel it to believe it, you gotta believe it to feel it! Luckily there are some ways to get around this obstacle, but all of these do involve a certain willingness to suspend judgement and take a leap of faith, as well as engage our rational mind doubting limiting old beliefs.
So what is that critical monster in your head saying when you tell it you already are what you want to be ?( After saying your affirmation: i.e. “I am ok just as I am” )
Listen to the objections that come your way. What s the cruel voice saying inside your head ? “so you’re ok as you are… ah ah sure you are!”, “who are you kidding?”, “You are ugly”, “You will never change”, “You can’t do anything right”, “No-one will ever love you unless you are perfect”, etc etc… You will be amazed at the rotten things you can come up with. Write them down. These are your personal negative core beliefs.
Once you have written them down you can start having a good look at where these beliefs come from: Mom and dad? Your school bully? The boy/girl you were in love with when you were ten? Teachers that pushed you too hard? Your little jealous sister ? Scan your blurts for possible sources. Time travel back into your life in five year increments and list by name who influenced you the most in each block of time.
Once you have identified these challenge their opinions. What self serving reason could they have had to have done or said what they did do or say? How did their own worldview influence them ? What did they believe about themselves ? What messages did they grow up with ? Remember this is not about blaming or condoning, just understanding and distinguishing their beliefs from what yours would be if you hadn’t accepted theirs as true. If there is still a lot of emotional energy involved in recalling these memories you might have to release it first so you can forgive them and yourself and move on.
Keep in mind that it is also possible your negative beliefs may come from subtle non direct messages received from your environment or from an experience of something that happened to you where others were not directly involved:
Maybe you felt different because of a situation you found yourself in; maybe you were abandoned by a significant other; maybe you fell ill and became isolated; maybe you were born with something that set you apart from others and you yourself came up with the negative conclusion that you were not Ok just as you were: the possibilities are endless and very personal.
Whatever your monster is, after it has been brought up to the light of day you can start working on challenging its critical voice and changing those negative beliefs that keep you stuck and unhappy. If you would like help with a practical cognitive behavioral approach to this, read this article about “how to get rid of negative core beliefs”.
It has often been said that one of the hardest things to tackle is drug addiction. However there are ways to help people who are addicted to drugs. One of these is to use hypnosis. There are several centers that use group hypnosis to tackle this problem.
First of all, just as it would happen in an individual session, the sufferers will be prepared, by being given a through explanation of the process. Then trance will be induced, deepened and used by giving detailed suggestions geared towards cessation of the destructive habit.
Suggestions to this effect will probably make willing subjects give up their addiction for the foreseeable future, provided their motivation to change was strong.
The only problem with this is its generalized approach. Because the therapy is not individualized and since people get addicted to drugs for all kinds of personal reasons and might be at different stages in their process of healing, it might be that this way of working is only suited to some and not to all.
It is well known that hypnotherapy can be highly effective in treating people with an addiction to cigarettes. In the same way other addictions can be treated very effectively because the same principle is at work : hypnosis bypasses the critical conscious mind and deals directly with the subconscious.
Clinical trials have showed that out of ten individuals that tried group hypnosis to treat their drug addiction , all of them stayed drug free for six months after their sessions came to an end. However, after two years had passed, seven out of ten stayed drug free while the other three went back to taking drugs.
Obviously these results are very positive, and while results may not show up immediately , after a few sessions it has been proven that people stay clean for an average of two years or more.
There are some factors that are going to influence whether an addict is going to respond positively to this “group” approach. First of all, as already mentioned, there must be a strong motivation to stay free of drugs and a willingness to try hypnotherapy.
One of the first things you should ask yourself , if you have a drug problem, is whether you are willing to admit that you do have a problem and if you would be comfortable to join a centre for rehabilitation. Once there you could try many of the different techniques that will be on offer and if you don’t succeed with the others, try group hypnosis.
If on the other hand you feel you’d rather seek individual treatment you could see a hypnotherapist as well as a counsellor / psychotherapist and tackle the problem with their joined support. It is very important when you do this that you are truthful and you collaborate fully with them. They are bound by confidentiality and they will be able to help you more if you answer their questions with honesty.
Hypnotherapy, whether used in a group or not is very helpful in the treatment of addictions and it has been found to be highly effective in treating people with all sorts of issues. The only prerequisite is to be open to it working.
Whether you decide to go for the group sessions or the individual therapy, one session is not going to enough. A few sessions will be necessary (probably more when group hypnosis is concerned), but you will be able to feel the results fairly quickly, within the fist few days or weeks after you have started seeing a hypnotherapist.