Home Columnists Andrew McDonald: What is Hypnotherapy? Or perhaps, what isn’t it?

Andrew McDonald: What is Hypnotherapy? Or perhaps, what isn’t it?

If there is a question hypnotherapists are most frequently asked, “is it true you can control people” has to be it.

Stage hypnosis has a lot to answer for. The image of people wandering around squawking like chickens when they hear a particular sound, all the time completely under the spell of the hypnotist has long been a source of entertainment.

Sadly, or fortunately, I’m not sure which, hypnotherapists (or certainly the vast majority of us) can’t do any of that.

To be honest, personally, I’m not convinced that there isn’t more of the staged than the hypnosis in such shows. Perhaps the performance is real, maybe it isn’t. I’m reserving judgement.

So what can hypnotherapists do? The first thing to understand is that hypnosis is absolutely natural. In fact, you experience it several times a day. Everybody does.

When you’re reading, do you ever lose yourself in the text forgetting where you are and not noticing time going by?

Is cleaning your teeth an activity you give your full attention or do you do it on autopilot?

If you’re driving, do you ever miss your turn-off?

All three of those involve hypnosis. In a nutshell, this is simply the sub-conscious mind taking over.

It is 30,000 times more powerful than the conscious part of the brain and is where all those actions you do on autopilot reside. In other words, where your habits and routine behaviours are to be found.

A good example would be the difference between riding a bike once you have learnt and become proficient against when you start.

At the beginning, you have to consciously ride your bicycle. For most people, this is a big struggle. Once you know how to do it, your subconscious does it automatically, without thinking, and it all becomes much easier.

Hypnotherapy simply involves the therapist relaxing you to a state where it is much easier to communicate with your subconscious.

By doing this, suggestions which you express before hypnosis can be moved into this part of the brain where they become habits and routine behaviours.

Once there, it is much easier for them to become part of what you do without having to make a conscious effort.

Whether you want to stop worrying, eat more healthily, feel relief from anxiety or depression, exercise regularly, lose weight, quit smoking, start thinking more positively or accomplish a wide range of other lifestyle improvements, hypnotherapy makes all of this easily achievable.

After all, what is now your natural behaviour is far easier than what used to be a conscious action.

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