Hypnotherapy holds a lot of mystique in popular culture, and I feel it is important for you to understand that I do not have a magic wand; I cannot put you into a trance and magically change the way your mind works. The Hypnotic trance, which I will describe in more detail below, is only one element of what I do.
From the get-go, I will begin teaching you about the workings of both your conscious and subconscious minds. This will enable you to recognise your problems for what they are, and give you the tools to overcome them. Your role is just as important in this process as mine; you have to be willing to learn, and open to change.
As a solution focused hypnotherapist, I concentrate on how we are going to help you move towards a brighter future. We will not dwell on your past; you will not leave feeling deflated having spent an hour telling me about all the problems in your life. In contrast, you will leave feeling more positive, more in control of yourself, more in control of your emotions.
For a free initial consultation, please contact me through the ‘Contact’ tab above. Alternatively please continue reading to learn more about the science behind hypnotherapy.
The state we operate under during a hypnotherapy session is entirely natural. We enter into several of these ‘trance states’ daily; when we become engrossed in a new book, or when we drive home on ‘auto pilot’. This is something that we all do without realising, and is not a phenomena to be anticipated with fear; It is in fact a highly enjoyable and relaxing experience. During these times, although your conscious mind is relaxed, it remains ‘awake’. Consequently, whilst operating in a trance state you remain totally in control; if something were to happen that required complete alertness, such as a fire alarm sounding, you would immediately snap to attention. Similarly, contrary to the image painted by stage performers, there is nothing that you can be made to say or do by a hypnotherapist without your complete consent.
Despite being a common experience, the trance state is a highly powerful tool when utilised during hypnotherapy. During a hypnotic trance, both your conscious and subconscious minds are active. This equates to a significant increase in the creative power of your mind, allowing a greater concentration and focus. This is why through the use of hypnotherapy, you can achieve positive results in less time that in other, more traditional, forms of therapy. Additionally, because the subconscious mind becomes active, it also becomes accessible. This allows the hypnotherapist to promote positive change by speaking directly to the part of your brain where your automatic thought patterns and destructive behaviors are stored.
It is important to understand that the subconscious is a very powerful and highly influential part of our brain. All of our automatic thought patterns and behaviors are stored in our subconscious. When we first learn a process, such as tying our shoelaces, we learn it consciously. This then becomes automatic, stored for future use in our subconscious. This is how we get out of bed in the morning and remember how to walk, and how to drive our car to work. I am using my subconscious mind at this very moment; formulating a sentence by selecting a number of words out of the thousands which I have learnt; spelling these words using 26 letters, arranging them so that they take on meaning for you as a reader. It is the same for the processes that we have carried out instinctively since birth. My heart is beating, I am breathing, and I am blinking. We would not survive a single day if not for our subconscious mind.
The subconscious can be likened to a vast library, storing all of our memories, feelings and habits. In many ways, although it orchestrates all of the thousands of processes that enable us to live, it does not have the same degree of intelligence as the conscious mind. It is not discriminatory in the habits that it learns; it is as committed to learning to smoke, as it is to learning to read.
Due to its unrelenting desire to keep us safe, it will constantly scroll through its memory banks looking for similarities between what we are experiencing in the present moment, and what we have experienced in the past.
When you see a spider, you may have an overwhelming desire to run in the opposite direction. This is your subconscious directing you. It has located a similar memory from 2002 when a spider surprised you by lowering itself onto your head. You ran away, and it believes that because of this action, you remained safe. It is important to remember that the subconscious has no way to measure the relevance, or the negative impact of these automatic thoughts and behavioral patterns. If you had stayed and ‘faced down’ the spider it is highly likely that you would still have survived the experience. Unfortunately, the subconscious does not think in this way; it cannot be innovative in its approach.
If a habit is ingrained, the subconscious will continue to encourage us to undertake the same habit, at the same time, in the same circumstances. This may be something as simple as encouraging us to smoke when we are in a pub garden. The subconscious does not understand that smoking is a harmful thing to do to your body; it does not have the intelligence to differentiate between positive and negative behaviors. The subconscious recognises that after a cigarette we feel a gradual mounting unease. The fact that another cigarette provides a brief respite is enough to convince the subconscious that smoking is an activity to be repeated.
At times the subconscious can become overly sensitive. This is generally when we have been thinking and acting in a way symptomatic with stress disorders such as depression and anxiety. As a result, it may encourage us to be more alert, ensuring that we remain in state of heightened awareness, looking for danger in our surroundings. This will inevitably result in an increase in our anxiety. In order to keep us safe from perceived dangers, it may encourage us to remain indoors, to not interact, which may result in an increase in our depression.
Hypnotherapy has the ability to help bring this part of your brain under control, enabling you to respond in an appropriate way to situations that originally triggered negative thought patterns and behaviors. By sidestepping your conscious mind and speaking directly to the responsive subconscious, the hypnotherapist can instill new automatic thought patterns to replace the old. For phobic responses, such as a fear of spiders, the hypnotherapist can expose you to your fear, whilst relaxing and encouraging you to imagine a new approach. As a result your subconscious will no longer associate spiders with an increase in anxiety; instead you will be able to remain calm when you encounter them. In the same way, to break negative habits such as smoking, the hypnotherapist can help you to isolate automatic thoughts such as ‘I want a cigarette’ enabling you to recognise these as emotional propaganda created by your subconscious in an effort to protect us. When suffering from depression and anxiety, your subconscious is working in overdrive, forcing you to spend less time thinking rationally and consciously. Through hypnotherapy, the conscious mind is given back control, allowing you to recognise automatic negative thoughts and behaviors for what they are; negative and unhelpful. You will no longer have to bend to every whim of your subconscious. You will be calm, happy and in control.