I thought I’d write a few FAQ’s and responses on clinical hypnosis, because it’s something that most people don’t have experience with, and it’s important for people to know how I use it.
What is clinical hypnosis? Clinical hypnosis is hypnosis that is used in therapy. It’s that simple. Like everything used in therapy, it’s supposed to help. It’s important that hypnosis be used ethically and appropriately, so as to help.
I’ve seen hypnosis performances before. How can that kind of thing help in therapy? Well, it pretty much can’t. Stage hypnosis is quite different from clinical hypnosis, and it’s easy to get some mistaken impressions from it (in my view). One example: hypnosis is not about a loss of control. People don’t do things they really don’t want to do in hypnosis. The people who are quacking like a duck volunteered because they were willing to try something and they don’t mind quacking!
So if I’m really in control, what’s so different about hypnosis? Well, in hypnosis you go into a trance. That sounds eerie, but it’s not. Most of us go in and out of trance quite a few times a day. When you are driving somewhere and you get there without a scratch on the car but can’t remember most of the trip, that’s because you were in a trance. A trance is simply a state where your attention is very highly focused on some things and ignoring other things (even if another part of your mind is working on those other things!). It happens all the time. In clinical hypnosis, we work with you to focus on some aspects of your internal or subconscious experience, in order to make them more vivid or more accessible.
So how do you use hypnosis? I don’t want you poking around in my unconscious mind! I use a form of hypnosis called Ericksonian hypnosis. We don’t use hypnosis to look at traumatic experiences or even negative ones. I use it to help people focus more intensely on their resources. Resources can be positive memories or beliefs, positive expectations, your capacities for growth or change, etc. The goal is for you to have more control and increased ability to help yourself. I don’t use hypnosis to “poke around.” If we go after negative “stuff” in therapy, we go after it differently.
How can hypnosis help? Hypnosis can be used to address many things like anxiety, lack of confidence, desired lifestyle changes, even physical pain. As humans, we have immense resources. It’s just a matter of getting in touch with them and using them.
I still don’t know if I want to use hypnosis in therapy. Can I still work with you? Yes. I don’t use anything in therapy that you don’t want me to use. Therapy is about helping you, and you are the one who has the final say regarding our work. There are many effective ways to work in therapy, and we’ll use those you are comfortable with.