When I tell people I work as a hypnotherapist, the most common responses I receive are one of the following:

“Does it work?”
“I don’t think I can be hypnotised.”
“So will you seize control of my mind and make me do things I don’t want to do, or things that will humiliate me, like dance like a chicken or bark like a dog?”

This goes to show just how little is understood about hypnotherapy – a wonderfully powerful medium designed for therapeutic change – and the misleading myths influenced by the entertainment genre of stage hypnotism designed to make money from spectacle.

Hypnotherapy and hypnotism do share methods to achieve a desired outcome. We use similar patterns of language, inviting the subject / client to follow our instruction with suggestions that lead to achieving our desired or intended outcomes. If the client follows the instructions given them, it leads them to a state of focussed attention in which suggestions can be given to effect the final desired and intended outcome.

This is where the similarities end. For a good hypnotherapist, the intended outcome is the benefit and change the client wishes for themselves; for a stage hypnotist, the intended outcome is to entertain a paying audience, an audience that will be more entertained and satisfied with more outlandish spectacles. Ultimately, the client / subject always has the choice to follow, or not to follow the instructions and suggestions given to them…

So people are right to think hypnotherapy is all about the power and control of the mind – it is. It’s about focusing the power of YOUR mind when you control and choose where you focus that power. A knife has many uses, but the knife itself has no intrinsic value…. whether the knife is used to take or save a life is down to the person using it.

There is no magic in hypnosis. Indeed we find ourselves in a natural state of hypnotic trance on many occasions every day… For instance when was the last time you got so involved in something, you lost all concept of time… maybe when you were relaxing with friends or reading a good book? Or maybe you were so involved in a tv programme or sports game, your partner had to call you a few times before their voice penetrated your trance deeply enough to get your attention? These are all states of naturalistic trance -we became so absorbed in what we are focussing the power of our mind on, all else fades in to the background.

Now also consider if you will, the events/journeys we have to do/make every day? Whether it’s brushing your teeth; your journey to work; your return journey; or your bed time ritual… When was the last time you actually paid attention – I mean really paid attention – to that task? We do these things so frequently they become automatic and we do them unconsciously without thinking – the behaviour has embedded in our subconscious mind and becomes pretty much a habit – we do them in a trance.

If we are able to hypnotise ourselves into a trance state with daily behaviours, we are equally able to and frequently do hypnotise ourselves into a trance state with the inner messages we give ourselves in relation to how we think feel and believe about ourselves, the world, and ourselves in the world. If these inner messages are negative, (often learned early in life when we have a naive and immature understanding of the world) then we expect negative, focusing our mind on finding confirmation of the negative. We generally find the thing we seek evidence for thus reinforcing the negative messages, leading to a hypnotic reinforcement over and over and over and over again of the negative, until eventually the original content of the negative message slips below conscious awareness.

When I work with my clients, it brings to mind a guilty pleasure of a TV programme called ‘Tattoo Fixers’ – very skilled tattooists cover over crude and now unwanted tattoos with things of beauty. Most often, in the past the client happily or drunkenly chose to permanently mark their bodies with an image or meaningful symbol and now they regret or feel limited by it. In some instances they feel even scarred by their tattoo. Life has moved on, their thinking is different, they don’t see the world in the same way, and they realise this old tattoo no longer works for them. They come to the tattoo fixers to cover the ‘bad’ tattoo with something that works better for them now. They have now changed the imprint on their bodies to something that makes them happy.

Hypnotherapy? It’s about focusing the full power of your mind with specific and positive intention to letting go of and moving away from powerfully embedded (sometimes life-) limiting or negative thoughts / feelings or beliefs about ourselves, our lives, the world and ourselves in relation to the world.

Through creative visualisation, guided imagery, direct suggestion and powerful therapeutic interventions, It’s about coming to understand ourselves and setting aside unresourceful ways of being which affect our daily existence, instead focusing the full power of our own minds towards freeing ourselves… Towards becoming best versions of ourselves, thinking / feeling / believing more resourcefully, more abundantly, more positively about ourselves, our lives, the world and ourselves in relation to the world and making this the imprint in our hearts and mind, not the old tattoo.

So for my clients it’s about harnessing the power of their mind. For me as the hypnotherapist, it’s about ensuring my intention is to help the client get what they want for themselves.