Another example occurs all the time during driving. That may be more of an explanation for accidents than cellphones. People’s focus simply drifts off due to the monotony of the road. In fact, on the open road this phenomenon has a name–road hypnosis.
Still another example occurs when you read a great book or see a riveting movie. Not only do you forget or not notice your surroundings, but you may become so involved with the characters that you feel emotions related to their lives. Haven’t we all seen–and succumbed to–some “tear-jerkers”? Why do we cry at fiction? — Because we are “in” it; we become part of the story. That is the objective of the author and screenwriter. And we like it too. It’s a way of leaving our reality for a little while; it’s a break. Same thing with hypnosis.
You have just explained self-hypnosis that just sort of “happens.” What about going to a therapist for hypnosis?
A good therapist can help you create these conditions for yourself–provided you do want to experience that state of pleasant relaxation. The willingness is yours, the alternative focus of attention are the ideas the therapists suggests you think about, and the circumstances are the comfort and feeling of safety you have with your therapist.
How does the therapist create a feeling of comfort and safety?
For hypnotherapy as in other therapy, the clinician should also assure you that the ethics of the profession require all communications be absolutely confidential. When there are problems with this, as in the use of insurance companies, the degree of disclosure to these third-party payors must be revealed. Then the decision to use insurance would be up to you.
Of course, there should be no interruptions during hypnosis. Sometimes, noises can’t be helped and the skillful therapist would know how to incorporate these into the trance experience.
Comfort also means you are neither hot nor cold, are sitting comfortably, do not have restrictive clothing, and so on, so that the state of relaxation can be achieved.
Finally, safety means that you should be able to exit the trance at will if something in the situation warrants it in your opinion. The therapist should assure you of this and describe how you can do it before the session gets underway. An intermediate position to take would be not to exit the trance but have a means of communication set up in advance to let the therapist know that something is making you uncomfortable. Therapists often suggest you can raise your first finger, or any number of other signs as “lifelines.”
Why would a person need hypnosis instead of ordinary talk therapy?
In fact, I would submit to you that the reason some people believe they “can’t” go into hypnosis is that they haven’t learned the art of letting go all their self-talk. A skillful therapist can help people learn to relax and let go.
A second reason for hypnosis is that it utilizes our fantastic powers of imagination to literally control our bodily functions. By now, you have probably heard of firewalking, yogis who can change their heartrate and so on. When done skillfully with a trained psychotherapist, you literally can learn to control your body functions. Using hypnosis, people have had childbirth, dental work and surgery without medication–and not felt the pain. People who are in pain may be able to reduce it as well (depending on the degree of intrusion of the pain while attempting to relax). Regarding use of hypnosis for pain-control, it is better to prepare for the painful event ahead of time rather than wait until afterward. It’s the true meaning of “mind over matter.”
Wouldn’t medication be more effective than hypnosis for pain control?
Furthermore, even if the medication does work, the more it slows the system down, the slower the healing process as well. So there is a balance that doctors struggle with every day between pain-control and over-medication. Hypnosis makes sense here too.
What about depression, anxiety, and other psychological problems? Medicine is pretty powerful.
Of course, when you’re down it’s very difficult to think happy thoughts. That is why doctors frequently recommend medication to get the ball rolling. However, without concomitant psychotherapy, two things happen: (1) The body can build a tolerance for the medication. It is as if the brain chemicals for sadness are saying, “This is the real me and I want to come out.” Either a person needs higher and higher doses or the medication just stops working. That’s one reason why the pharmaceutical industry is so busy making newer and newer drugs.
(2) The second thing is that you still have not learned how to think differently. You have not learned coping skills. Thus, you keep taking the medication and feeling badly about yourself. That is, it fosters dependence–the exact opposite of what you need to develop healthy self-confidence and self-esteem. So the act of taking medication in and of itself can be depressing for a depressed or anxious person.
That is why psychotherapy is essential for depressed and anxious people. Psychotherapy literally trains the brain how to think differently under stress and pain. And hypnosis may be a good way to achieve that state of relaxation and creative openness necessary to do it.
What do you mean by creative openness?
It sounds like you’re saying this can help me in business as well?
You have mentioned a skilled hypnotherapist several times. What exactly are the criteria for being one?
Furthermore, the practice of therapy is an art, not a science, and nothing substitutes for years of experience. However, those years should be quality years. That is, the person should be growing and developing as a human being, learning from mistakes, trying new things, and still be excited about the process of therapy.