The short answer to this is yes, hypnotherapy is very safe if practiced by a qualified hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapy is a recognised, effective therapeutic modality, and AfSFH Solution Focused Hypnotherapists are fully trained in the latest methods and research. They undertake continuous professional development and subscribe to the Association’s Code of Conduct, Performance and Ethics as part of their membership.
Below we will address three common concerns regarding hypnotherapy:
Can I get ‘stuck’ in hypnosis?
No, you cannot get stuck in hypnosis, despite some depictions on film and TV suggesting otherwise. There’s nothing unnatural or strange about this state of relaxed focus, also known as being in a trance; we slip in and out of it many times each day. Those times when we’re ‘lost’ in a good book or film, or take a familiar journey but don’t remember the actual steps, or all those other occasions when we’re happily ‘miles away’, that’s hypnosis! If anything ‘snaps us out of it’ at those times, we come back to an alert state immediately with no ill-effects except perhaps some momentary grogginess.
Therapeutic hypnosis can be very effective because, in this state, we can motivate our subconscious mind to bring about the improvements we want and need. The effects of a hypnosis session can therefore be a powerful aid to change, but we cannot be stuck in that state or triggered by particular words once the session is over. Your hypnotherapist may offer tools to help you deal with certain situations, but these will be carried out with your full awareness and consent, for example snapping an elastic band on your wrist at times of anxiety or stress to refocus your mind into a more empowered mental state. The ‘snap’ will remind you of the positive associations explored in trance, rather than taking you back into hypnosis.
Can I lose control in hypnosis?
No, you are entirely in control during and after hypnosis. The session begins with talking therapy, where you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your best hopes for the future. Then your therapist will guide you into hypnosis gently, using relaxing body scans and pleasant visual imagery to quieten busy brain patterns and encourage a positive mindset. The therapist will offer helpful suggestions for your subconscious mind to work on, such as how you’ll feel when your current challenges are solved, but if they suggest anything that doesn’t sit well with you, your brain will simply reject it.
Just imagine you are totally absorbed in that good book – perhaps it’s a story of a protagonist who struggles against the odds and succeeds in the quest that drives the narrative. If someone suggests ‘you have similar strengths and coping skills to that character and you can use them to succeed, too’, you might start to notice those similarities, and vividly imagine making that success a happy reality. However, if that same person suggests ‘you have auburn hair like that character,’ when your hair is brown or fair, you’ll most likely snap out of your absorption and protest. You’ll not be in the flow of the book anymore, but you almost certainly won’t believe yourself suddenly to have become a redhead either. It’s the same in and out of hypnosis.
It may appear that the ‘victims’ of stage hypnotists have lost control, as they make fools of themselves for the audience’s amusement. It’s true they’re acting in hypnosis, but it is important to note that they are volunteers, and most likely know what’s in store for them if they go onstage. It’s a self-selecting process, and anyone not comfortable with the idea of behaving outlandishly in public will not offer themselves up in the first place. The stage hypnotist will be looking to avoid having anyone self-conscious as part of their act too, as it won’t make for a good show – they can’t force participants to cluck like chickens, but will instead offer suggestions plausible enough for the extroverted and willing participants to act on.
How can I be sure my hypnotherapist is legitimate?
Choosing an individual who is registered with a professional body such as the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (AfSFH) will ensure you are getting a guaranteed level of service. It’s important to note that hypnotherapy is not currently legally regulated in the UK, and anyone can set themselves up as a hypnotherapist. While they won’t be able to control you or leave you ‘stuck’, they might be unqualified, they might breach confidentiality or professional boundaries, or they might just be ineffective, leaving you at best out of pocket and potentially in a worse place than when you started. Therefore, ensuring your therapist is registered with a professional body like the AfSFH is an important part of getting the support you need. All AfSFH Registered members are fully trained and insured, maintain ongoing professional development, and subscribe to the Association’s Code of Conduct, Performance and Ethics, so you can be confident of working in a safe, professional, and supportive environment. Of course, all practitioners bring their own distinctive personalities to the therapy room, too, so it’s important to find a hypnotherapist with whom you will feel most comfortable on your journey to feeling better. You can find local accredited Solution Focused Hypnotherapists in our AfSFH Directory, so why not contact a few, before settling on the one who suits you best?