Portrayals of hypnosis in films and other media have not always served our practice well. This article aims to set the record straight on some common misconceptions regarding hypnosis and hypnotherapy.
Can a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist control my mind?
No. Your subconscious mind is more open to suggestion in hypnosis, but it will not accept any suggestions that do not sit comfortably with you when you are fully awake. While your therapist’s careful use of language may help you suspend doubts and anxieties around your innate belief system; your brain will simply reject those suggestions, as it does when not in hypnosis. This can be a mixed blessing, as simply suggesting that you don’t like chocolate, or that you really like spiders, will be similarly rejected. This is where a Solution Focused approach can prove invaluable because you can explore beliefs, with your therapist, that will be more readily accepted by your subconscious. When you see a stage hypnotist’s ‘victim’ acting in bizarre ways, don’t forgot that they have volunteered for the experience knowing what these shows are like, and will not feel embarrassed by the thought of playing the fool for other people’s entertainment!
Can anyone be hypnotised?
Yes – if you engage with the process. Solution Focused Hypnotherapists do not use any ‘tricks’ to achieve trance, but rather use gentle, soothing language to bring clients to a deeply relaxed state of focus. If you have been living in a state of heightened anxiety for some time you may find it a little difficult to ‘switch off’ initially, but your therapist is used to this, and, as you become used to the process, you will find it easier. Of course, you may decide to ‘test’ your therapist by setting your mind against going into a trance, in which case they will not be able to force you (See Can a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist control my mind? above), however, that would not be a valuable use of your time or money, compared to the benefits you may experience by engaging with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy!
Can I get ‘stuck’ in hypnosis?
No. There have been many fictional depictions of ‘victims’ being pre-programmed to react to ‘trigger words’ by those with evil intent, but they are just that – fictions. Your therapist may use techniques to help you react in more positive ways when not in hypnosis, but again your brain will only react to them if they sit with your desired outcomes, otherwise it will reject them.
If you are disturbed within hypnosis or need to come back to consciousness, that will happen automatically. The parts of your brain concerned with rational thought and survival kick in naturally, as they do when waking from sleep or a deep daydream. You will be restored to full awareness immediately, and any residual ‘grogginess’ will disappear within a minute or two.
Will hypnosis solve my problem?
No. YOU will solve your problem, with the aid of hypnosis! The relaxed state of focus you experience in trance helps you visualise your best hopes for the future and contemplate how to make them a reality, based on the talking part of your therapy. This approach is more empowering than trying to impose different behaviours with suggestion because you will be fully engaged in creating your own solutions. While it is important to stress that Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is not a ‘magic bullet’, in so much as it will not miraculously impose improvements on your life, it can offer more enduring, profound changes by engaging your own deepest mental processes in improving your wellbeing.
Will I see immediate benefits from Solution Focused Hypnotherapy?
You may. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can prove a quicker alternative to the more usual problem-focused therapies because you can immediately start to envisage your preferred future and work towards your goals in manageable steps. It’s important to mention, however, that, like most things in life, you get out what you put in, and, as mentioned above, it cannot solve all your problems while you remain a passive bystander, waiting to be ‘cured’! Also, if your current challenges have been an issue for some time, it may take a little longer – though you may be surprised at how quickly you start feeling better.
Is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy an alternative therapy?
Not really – the approach is based on neuroscience. Hypnotherapy has been approved by the British Medical Association since 1892, and there is growing evidence linking it with improved outcomes for many issues including:
- Panic attacks
- Lack of confidence
- Weight loss
- Unhelpful habits
- Chronic pain
- Smoking/vaping cessation
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy also incorporates a goal-focused evidence-based therapeutic approach. This promotes positive psychology by visualising solutions rather than focusing on problems.
Hypnotherapy is not yet available on the NHS, Hypnotherapy - NHS (www.nhs.uk), which categorises it as a complementary therapy, and there is not yet enough standardised evidence (randomised, controlled trials) for its specific recommendation by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence). However, this is down to lack of appropriate research rather than misgivings, and NICE does not recommend against it.
It is important to note that hypnotherapy is not regulated in the UK, and anyone can set themselves up as a practitioner. By choosing an AfSFH member as your therapist, you can relax in the knowledge that they are fully trained in the theory and practice of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, and are subject to the Association’s stringent Code of Conduct.