There are a few things we need to straighten out before we find out if hypnotherapy is right for you.
First of all, most people have a huge misconception about what hypnotherapy really is. You are familiar with stage hypnotists who go through an audience selecting future chicken cluckers and other people to do silly things under the influence of hypnosis. These hypnotists are trained to choose highly suggestable participants who are the ones who, at a cocktail party, are most likely to put on a lamp shade and do the hula. This is all very amusing but it is only that, entertainment. It is not therapy.
The second myth about hypnosis is from how hypnosis is portrayed in movies and television, where the hypnotist asks the subject to watch a swinging watch or counts to five while saying, “your eyes are becoming very heavy, very heavy,” etc. While that could conceivably work on highly suggestable people like the ones mentioned above, for the average person it is a more involved process to achieve a proper trance state.
There is also the notion that hypnosis is “mind control’ and the person under hypnosis can be manipulated or lose control of their free will. In order to do that you would need to brainwash someone, which can be done with sleep deprivation, constant indoctrination, starvation, reward conditioning, punishment, torture, and of course, quite a lot of time — more time than the hour to ninety minutes that a regular hypnotherapy session lasts (and I hope someone would report you missing within a few days).
Under hypnosis you cannot be made to do anything that is not in your natural moral code. You cannot be made to kick a cat or rob a bank unless it is in your nature to do so in the first place.
As a hypnotherapist for over 24 years I always assure the client that if at any time during the session they feel uneasy and don’t want to continue, they have only to say so and we will stop and discuss the discomfort that is blocking the session. If they need to get up to go the bathroom they may do so and return to the session quite easily. The session is ALL about the client, so their comfort and safety are always my prime concern.
Hypnosis is simply relaxing a person so that they can access their subconscious mind. Think of your conscious mind as an island in the middle of the ocean. Your subconscious mind is the ocean. Hypnosis is the means of going into the depths of the unseen subconscious self, where there may lie sea monsters or mermaids; one never knows until you go scuba diving into the sea of self.
What is the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy? Hypnosis can be used to affect suggestible people to do funny things; you can use it to have the body react to certain suggestions so that cigarettes taste like duck poo, or to regress someone back to a childhood or even past life event.
Hypnotherapy is when you use the means of hypnosis to heal emotional, physical, and spiritual issues. With hypnosis you may go into your subconscious mind but you don’t work with the underlying reason of your distress or disease; you just go “AHA!” then come back to your conscious state. In hypnosis there may be discovery but no recovery. It is always good to bring issues to the light, but to leave them there and not heal them, to me, is more than a disservice, it is an abuse.
Now that you know more about hypnotherapy, will it work for you? If you are able to relax and trust your hypnotherapist, then I would say yes of course. If you are an A type personality who has to be in control at all times, then it may be more challenging for you to develop a rapport with your hypnotherapist and they may need to use more relaxation techniques to get you to the point at which the trance work is effective.
Please note too that hypnotherapy is a way of altering the conscious mind into a state of deep relaxation and in order for that to work, you need to be “unaltered.” Which means it won’t work if you are stoned, drunk, or hyped out on espresso. If you are taking medications such as antidepressants or even mild pain relievers, so long as that is your ongoing regimen, they should not affect the session. It is important that, while you are in a relaxed state or what we call a trance, you are conscious and awake. I sometimes have to gently nudge a client awake because they became so relaxed, and though sleep may be what they need, we still need to proceed with the work of revealing and healing.
One thing that I do know from my years of using hypnotherapy is that it is one of the most expedient and effective healing methods out there. Many women come to me very apprehensive about hypnotherapy and after just a session or two are eager to go under again and explore another fantastic episode of positive change.