What Is Hypnotherapy?
Have you ever got in the car to set off somewhere, but realise you have taken the turning for work? Or perhaps you have left the house but then cannot remember if you locked the back door, and on returning the back door had been locked!
Maybe whilst gardening, or washing the car, or doing something creative – something that requires some of your focus, but not all of it, a solution to a long standing problem pops up or you suddenly have a great idea!
All these instances are when the brain is in a much more relaxed state – a trance state. The brain produces electrical activity which can be measured in the form of brain waves. The more active the brain is the higher is the frequency. As we start to relax the frequency drops, until it is at its lowest when we are asleep. As we go about our lives the frequency varies depending on our activity.
When we first wake up the frequency is low and will gradually increase as we become more awake and fully conscious to function normally. Through the day we drift through different levels of consciousness depending on our activity and environment. This is reflected in the brain wave frequency.
So on the train to work, we may become relaxed and even drowsy, to become more alert when we reach our destination, increasing further on arriving at work, with the anticipation of what lies ahead. If we have a stressful meeting with the boss, the brain waves may well peak, and only start to reduce when we go for a coffee with a colleague. And so the day goes on. Relaxation techniques and meditation also reduce the brain wave frequency.
Hypnosis is relaxing the brain, putting it into a trance state, under controlled conditions either by a therapist or self-induced. So hypnosis is a natural phenomenon. It reduces the activity of the left side of the brain, the side associated with the conscious mind, thinking and logic, and increases the activity of the right side of the brain, which is associated with creativity and the subconscious.
In this state the brain becomes more focused and sensitive to suggestion and this is when the therapeutic work is done. Guided imagery and metaphor are used, and because the conscious side of the brain is less active it does not question and the positive suggestions are taken up by the subconscious.
So by accessing the subconscious mind, thought patterns which are unhelpful to us may be changed to more positive ones. Throughout the whole process, you are always in control, and may come out of the state at any time and the subconscious mind will never take on board anything that you feel uncomfortable about.
The techniques used during hypnotherapy
Guided Imagery: this is when a scene is described such as sitting in a garden or on the edge of a lake. The aim is to help relaxation and focus the mind. Depending on what is being treated, this guided imagery may take the form of a “film”. For example if the problem is being afraid of driving then the script would guide you through driving the car with it all going well. If you are an athlete, it may be visualising yourself winning the race.
Metaphor and Suggestion: the English language is full of metaphors – a word or phrase being applied to an object or action to imply a resemblance. Examples are: he is like a bull in a china shop. Fairy tales are also metaphorical stories. By using metaphor in either short sentences, setting a scene or a short story, the subconscious is more likely to accept the change. Positive suggestions are also made to replace negative beliefs.
Hypno-analysis: every symptom has a cause. By using a combination of techniques under the hypnotic state we are able to uncover the incident, or the emotions that accompanied the incident, deep in the subconscious. Once we have this knowledge we can then alter the perception of the memory.
Regression: this is a technique used to go back through your life, often as far as childhood, to access memories that have been buried. This may be done through a variety of metaphors and guided imagery.