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I AM NOT SURE I WAS HYPNOTISED

(Originally posted 12/3/2017

The title of this blog post is a phrase I hear all the time. 

As a psychologist, hypnosis is a tool I use to deliver my interventions.  I don’t always use hypnosis, and I do give clients a choice.  There is a massive benefit to hypnosis.- it helps the clients to make profound changes, sometimes in as little as 10 minutes.  

When I first mention the use of hypnosis to clients they will often say to me ‘I don’t think I can be hypnotised’ or ‘well, I went to x and I am not sure I was hypnotised’.  There is a perception that hypnosis (a word derived from the greek ‘hypnos’, meaning ‘to sleep’) means a deep sleep, or even a coma, where the client has no awareness throughout the process.  And maybe in some instances this is almost true (the Esdaile state, also known as a hypnotic coma), yet the majority of hypnotists/hypnotherapists (or whatever they want to call themselves) will not use these levels of depth.  

WHAT WILL I HEAR IN HYPNOSIS?

During hypnosis it is very common to hear every single word the hypnotherapist/hypnotist utters.  It is even more common if it is your first session with them as people tend to have a sense of curiosity.  The more you allow yourself to relax into it and get guided along on the experience, the deeper you will go, and potentially have a stronger sense of amnesia.  

WHAT WILL I FEEL IN HYPNOSIS?

That is an amazing question, and ultimately whatever your experience, it is the right one for you.  Some people do report a sense of heaviness, as though their entire body is made of lead.  It can also feel as though the body has vanished and your head is floating around above your shoulders. 

Others report a sense of lightness.  Sometimes that lightness is suggested, or appears after the problem has been removed or resolved.  

Hypnosis isn’t relaxotherapy, sometimes you may feel relaxed, sometimes you may not.  I can do long relaxing sessions, and it can be a wonderfully indulgent treat, just like a psychological massage.  Often the fast work is more therapeutic.

SO, WHAT IS HYPNOSIS?

I could give standardised definitions:

The Mayo Clinic defines hypnosis as a ‘trance-like state in which you have heightened focus’.

The American Psychological Association state that hypnosis is a powerful and effective technique for dealing with a wide range of issues such as pain, anxieties, and mood.  And for dealing with behavioural issues such as smoking.

Both of these are fairly accurate.  I always explain to my clients that hypnosis is a state of deep focus and is one that you have experienced in the past.  When engrossed in a good book, movie, or box-set on Netflix, you are in an altered state of consciousness where your imagination is extremely powerful.  A great book is the best example, where you are so involved with the characters and story, and can envisage the entire story as though it were a film playing out in your mind.

UNCONSCIOUS/SUBCONSCIOUS MIND?

Does the unconscious or subconscious mind exist?  Who knows.  What I do know is that there is a part of us always listening in an unconscious manner.

That part of you that hears your name mentioned across the room when you’re at a party.  That part of you that wakes when it hears a baby, or puppy, murmur.  

That part of you that continues searching for the name of ‘that song’ when your conscious mind has given up, then throws it into your conscious awareness hours later and you get that ‘ah yes’ moment.

It is this part that we communicate with in hypnosis.  The part of you that has the power to work away in the background making real changes.  I have seen the true power playing out in front of my eyes as I asked the subconscious mind to release any blockages within a client – this resulted in them convulsing as their body released the trapped energies causing negative feelings – these had existed for 30 years!

LOOK INTO MY EYES…. NOW

Hypnosis is not a state of the eyelids – as stated by some of my friends and colleagues who are amazing hypnotists.

I often use ritualistic rapid inductions during hypnosis as I enjoy them, and so do my clients.  There are occasions when some clients aren’t happy to close their eyes and therefore I use open-eye hypnosis.  This is still incredibly effective.  

CAN I BE HYPNOTISED?

Everyone can be hypnotised.  I have proven that to many in the past that have told me that they cannot be at all.  As a hypnotherapist, my job is not actually to hypnotise you.  It is to dehypnotise you.  Your problematic beliefs, issues, anxieties, etc, are all the result of an event or some faulty programming that’s occurred during your life.  Similarly with chronic pain – often there is no pain stimulus, just the pain experience.  With hypnosis we dehypnotise you from all of this faulty, no longer helpful programming, and you come out feeling absolutely amazing.

I say this with confidence as clients in the past have come in looking forlorn and left my clinic laughing.  Feeling lighter, feeling free.  

WHAT CAN HYPNOSIS HELP WITH?

Hypnosis in itself is just the tool used to allow the work to be done.  I use various methods whilst the client is in hypnosis to help you to make changes.  

I will give a brief example of issues that I have dealt with using hypnosis in the past couple of weeks:

  • Trauma
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Health Anxiety
  • Imposter Syndrome
  • Eating Disorders
  • Pain
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Anger
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IBS – ALLOWING IT TO CONTROL YOU?

(Originally posted on 30/4/2017)

Today marks the end of IBS awareness month and in reality I have not seen anything online raising the awareness of IBS.

I help clients internationally, in Guernsey in my clinic, as well as across the world via Skype, to manage their IBS and regain ‘control’ of their life.  IBS can be a debilitating condition that results in people becoming fearful of what may happen should their guts flare up whilst out and about.

IBS impacts around 10-20% of the public, with a higher proportion of females being affected – or at least reporting being affected.  And age of onset is likely to be prior to the age of 50 – it is very unusual that someone experiences their first symptoms of IBS post-50.

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IBS Symptoms can result in a massive life-disruption, with IBS increasing the likelihood of absenteeism from work, missing out on social occasions, and concentration levels (source).

As IBS impacts the lifestyle of the individual significantly it is not uncommon for someone with IBS to experience depression and anxiety.

It is very important to ensure you do have a proper diagnosis prior to seeking support for IBS as whilst there is no specific test for IBS, the symptoms can be mistaken for conditions that need medical intervention.  When clients present to me for IBS I always ensure they have had other conditions ruled out by their GP and preferably a gastric surgeon.

What I find, with many of my clients, is that the IBS symptoms are intertwined with a bundle of other emotions, fears, concerns.  These physiologically exacerbate the IBS symptoms – it becomes a viscous cycle.  Many clients have reported that when they do take a leap of faith and have a holiday, their symptoms disappear!  This demonstrates the power of the mind-gut connection.  When the mind is calm, the body calms too.

The work I do with people with IBS is evolving.  Historically I have used the accepted protocols – the Manchester Protocol and the North Carolina Protocol for IBS.  Both of these have fantastic efficacy rates, and resulted in Hypnosis being deemed an effective treatment for treatment-resistant IBS by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

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DOES HYPNOTHERAPY WORK?

(Originally posted on 13/5/2017)

If you speak to the majority of my clients that have experienced hypnosis within my sessions the answer would be a resounding

YES!”

Hypnotherapy works!

Even clients who have thought during the session that the hypnosis element was a total waste of time, have the following week(s) contacted me to state how many changes they keep noticing.  

The funny thing is, I am bound to say this.  I do back up these statements with the occasional testimonial/review from clients, and now I shall do similarly with a little science.  I’m a scientist and an evidence-based practitioner so it makes perfect sense for me to demonstrate that.

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THE BRITISH PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY

Hypnosis is a valid subject for scientific study and research and a proven therapeutic medium.  

BPS (2001)

The use of the word ‘proven’ is an unusual one as many people debate the notion that anything can be proven – only that it can be demonstrated to be effective at that particular time, and place.

In a balanced review of the literature, the BPS explore hypnosis and discuss what it has shown to be effective in, and what it has not.

What they declare hypnotic interventions are effective for include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Acute pain
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches & Migraines
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other Gastro-intestinal complaints
  • Asthma
  • Warts, and other skin complaints such as eczema, psoriasis, and urticaria.
  • Smoking Cessation

I have been successfully using hypnosis to help people with chronic pain, stress, anxiety, and IBS for the past two years and love seeing the relief in the clients’ faces when they experience relief for the first time in a long time.

The BPS also state that it’s likely that both children and adults can benefit from hypnotherapeutic interventions.  

This is a 2001 article from the BPS and hypnosis has come on leaps and bounds since then.  

THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION

(article: ​http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/hypnosis.aspx)

In this 2011 article the author talks about how stage and tv hypnotists have damaged the reputation of the professional hypnotherapist.  I do think to some extent this is true, and as a psychologist I do find myself defending the method to my clients, explaining what hypnosis is, and what it is not.  

The article discusses how hypnosis can be used to help cancer patients recover post-operatively by experiencing less pain, nausea, fatigue, and discomfort, requiring less analgesia (pain relief).  There was a net financial saving post-operatively compared to those who did not undergo the brief pre-operative hypnotic intervention.

Whilst the evidence for the treatment of pain, anxiety, etc is strong, the article discusses how the evidence for smoking is not quite so strong. I suspect this is due to the nature of the beast – smokers sometimes like smoking.  The smokers I accept into my clinic room prove to me that they are determined to succeed – that they really want to become non-smokers.  I do not see many for stop-smoking work yet when I do they are successful.  

HYPNOSIS CAN RESOLVE ISSUES FASTER

A study (originating from 1970) published in the American Health Magazine in 2006 found that people tend to deem hypnosis as a last resort for changing habits, resolving anxieties, stopping smoking, etc.  Yet the study demonstrated that people experience a 38% recovery after 600 sessions of psychoanalysis (the freudian approach to psychotherapy that often involves 2-3 sessions per week – an expensive luxury).  People tend to experience a 72% recovery following 22 sessions of behaviour therapy.  And people tend to experience a 93% recovery after just 6 sessions of hypnotherapy.  This is quite staggering.  

As a psychologist trained in various behavioural therapies, hypnotherapy, and solution-focused therapies, I tend to bespoke my approach to the client and as the hypnotherapy component can occasionally last just 10-15 minutes, I combine behavioural therapies into sessions and increase efficacy significantly.  Some extremely serious conditions have been resolved in just 2-3 sessions.  There are some people with whom issues take longer to resolve – yet it is not uncommon for 6 sessions to be the most someone would need.

​To back this up, the Washington Post reported on a German Meta-Analysis of 444 studies  concluding a 64% success rate for hypnotherapy with Anxiety, Stress, and Chronic Pain.  

CONCLUSION

Hypnotherapy is an effective therapeutic tool to help people recover from a wide array of issues, including chronic pain, IBS, anxiety, stress, and many other issues.  The key is to choose a good hypnotherapist or therapist – one that you know will help you on the recovery journey.