As a hypnotist I have worked with various clients caring for difficulties from chronic pain to poor study habits.
Andrea was a few minutes late for our first session as she was standing outside my office building lighting, what she thought would be, her last cigarette. As this habit had developed so had her severe asthma and a tobacco allergy.
Mark, her psychotherapist, with Andrea’s consent, waited in my office with me, as he wanted to observe Andrea’s initial hypnosis session. I knew he was enthusiastic to observe a hypnosis session. In exchange for his observing, he had agreed to teach me from his own educational and professional knowledge any concerns he noted during Andrea’s first session.
After I completed my normal initial visit assessment and spoke with Andrea about her expectations, I positioned my chair next to the chair in which Andrea sat. I asked her to stare at the tiled ceiling focusing on a specific point to block distracting visual stimuli.
We began her induction with a breathing exercise. This allowed her body to initiate relaxation beginning with the muscles in her feet and toes, then allowing tension to flow out of her lower extremities. I slowed my voice as her breathing began to slow. As she continued to stare at the ceiling, her eyes began to gently close after a few more blinks.
At that moment, I looked over at Mark to determine what he thought of the induction. I had wondered even prior to this meeting, would he approve or disapprove of this type of therapy. But I was noticeably amazed when I glanced at him. My experienced psychotherapist who I was looking to for feedback was resting back in his chair with his eyes closed, muscles relaxed, with shallow breathing.
I stopped momentarily considering what to do next. I wondered how Mark, a nonsmoker, would respond to my commands about Andrea’s smoking. When the session ended would he think he did smoke? I decided to bring both of my now new clients, out of their hypnotic trance. Both slowly opened their eyes. I made the decision to give Andrea another appointment, and she left my office announcing she felt less stressed after just spending only forty minutes with me.
“You were in trance!” I stated to Mark as soon as the door closed behind Andrea. He looked confused. “I remember you saying my eyes would close, I mean, her eyes would close. Maybe I was hypnotized.” Mark was definitely entering into an area of an hypnotic trance.
So who can be hypnotized? Many individuals are certain that they cannot. Sometimes there is a belief that being hypnotized could create a label of being weak-willed, clueless or ignorant. Actually, research has found that the ability to be hypnotized is correlated with intelligence, concentration and focus. Hypnosis is not an all-or-nothing occurrence, but instead ongoing. Most people can be hypnotized to some degree-though each to a certain degree.
A hypnotic trance is not therapeutic by itself, but particular suggestions and images directed to clients in a trance can assist in improving wanted behaviors or eliminating unwanted ones. As they being to practice new behaviors, they lay a groundwork for powerful changes in their future. For example, in hypnosis I may talk to my client using imagery of being a nonsmoker and finding themselves breathing easier, having increased energy, enjoying different tastes and smells once more, feeling better about their health, or whatever motivates that person to make a change. That same deep relaxation created through a hypnotic trance is also beneficial as many illnesses, both psychological or physical, are aggravated by anxiety and muscle tension.
Research spanning over more than 50 years has shown that hypnotic techniques are safe and effective. Additionally, a growing number of studies have demonstrated that hypnosis can treat headaches, ease the pain of childbirth, aid in quitting smoking, promote weight control, improve concentration and study habits, relieve minor phobias, and serve as anesthesia and all are without drugs so there are no side effects