This Is Not Hypnotherapy - Misconceptions About Seeing a Hypnotherapist

In some shadowy corner of the popular mind there are many misconceptions about Hypnotherapy. The fear that you may be made to eat an apple and the next moment you will believe you are Sir Isaac Newton, or perhaps that you are a caterpillar. That an onion smells of roses. That a watch swinging in front of your eyes will rob you of your mind and turn you into a mindless zombie in a catatonic trance for the rest of eternity. A crazy and distorted montage of misunderstanding and fear. That is not hypnotherapy.

During hypnotherapy you are in control, and you won’t be asked to do anything you don’t want to do.

The fear that the hypnotherapist will be a derisive person full of malice, probably with a beard and staring eyes who will kidnap your mind like a cruel boy with a remote control and fly it into a wall at high speed. That is not hypnotherapy.

A properly qualified hypnotherapist will be registered to a professional body, and will be in supervision with someone more experienced than them. They will have subscribed to a code of ethics such as can be found here: http://www.general-hypnotherapy-register.com/Listings/COE.htm

The character of Svengali, from the novel “Trilby” by George Du Maurier does not help. The depiction of Svengali in the 1931 film of the same name staring John Barrymore didn’t help, and is pretty creepy. Follow this link to the internet archive and have a look if you dare: http://www.archive.org/details/SvengaliJohnBarrymoreBKCap1931 This is not hypnotherapy.

Hypnosis and mesmerism have long been a useful vehicle in fiction and film as a mechanism by which a malevolent being may wreak psychological havoc. I think this is because it is not understood or experienced by most people, and in our modern western culture speaks to an unexpressed primeval part of the mind.

Some people fear that they will accidentally reveal terrible things in the trance. “I strangled the cat” “I’m in love with the undertaker” “I fantasize about dressing up as a huntsman and chasing the vicar round the table”. That is not hypnotherapy.

You won’t accidentally reveal things that you don’t want to. A level of disclosure is necessary for any therapy to take place whether it be CBT, psychoanalysis, or counselling, but in the end it is you who will decide what you reveal.

Another fear is that the hypnotherapist will be down your local pub, spilling the beans about the delicate matters you have discussed, riding your fears for a laugh like a cruel comedian on a tortured horse. That is not hypnotherapy.

Confidentiality is central to the work of all therapists. As with all therapies mutual trust and rapport are the essential foundations of the therapeutic relationship. Or perhaps, worse still, given the British impulse to please, that you may fear that you won’t be hypnotised at all, and you will have to pretend to be in a trance in order not to offend, after all quiet desperation is the English way (to quote Pink Floyd). That is not hypnotherapy either.

The word hypnotise carries with it a huge baggage. Actually the hypnotic state is not as unusual as people often think. It is rather a concentrated daydream state, or similar to that transitional state between wakefulness and sleep. It is possible to talk and think and move in this state. It feels pleasant and you get wrapped up in your thoughts.

At the other end of the spectrum of misunderstanding is the idea that hypnotism and hypnotherapy is some kind of magic bullet. That in order to give up smoking all you have to do is submit to the mojo of mesmo, and you will awake a non smoker. That is not hypnotherapy either.

Motivation to resolve your challenge is essential. Whether it is weight loss, controlling smoking or drinking, anxiety or fear, compulsion or poor concentration – whatever it is there needs to be a level of motivation.

I think a good analogy is to imagine that you are on an expedition; it is your expedition and it is your journey. The hypnotherapist is your guide.

I met a man who had been to see me to stop smoking.

“It’s great I haven’t smoked since”

“I think you had already decided to stop” I said

“Hypnotherapy was a decisive factor” he said.

Well maybe so but I know he was determined top right from the start. You see – hypnotherapy is for quitters.

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