Who exactly is in control during a hypnotherapy session?

New clients with no previous experience of hypnotherapy often ask about the issue of control. Very often they’ve seen stage hypnosis which gives the impression of loss of control. Unfortunately there are many misconceptions about hypnotherapy, so in today’s post I’d like to answer the question, “will I lose control?”

With both hypnotherapy and stage hypnosis expectation is key. For example if you go to see a hypnotherapist to stop smoking the expectation that it will work and the belief that you will give up as a result is of paramount importance. Similarly when someone goes to see a stage hypnotist they expect to be entertained and will have some idea – expectation – of the nature of that entertainment.

When you watch a stage hypnotist on TV bear in mind there is a lot that you’re not seeing. The hypnotist will spend time with the audience, assessing and picking out those most suited to taking part in a hypnosis show for entertainment. The hypnotist will therefore be looking for people who are known as “highly hypnotisable”. Anyone who wants to be hypnotised can be – with a few exceptions – all that is required is a willingness to participate and the ability to follow instructions. No one can be hypnotised against their will. A small percentage of people however are known as “highly hypnotisable” for their ability to go into a deep state of trance very quickly and easily. These highly hypnotisable people will often have complete amnesia of the events after emerging from hypnosis. These are the people the stage hypnotist will be looking for. In addition the stage hypnotist will select people who are naturally extrovert and gregarious. Often people will go to see a stage hypnotist not just with the expectation of being entertained in a certain way – but with the expectation of taking part in the show.

Before beginning the stage hypnotist will “set the scene”, mentally preparing participants for what to expect; they will be rewarded for their compliance with initial tasks, paving the way for further compliance later on. So when I’m asked – “but aren’t people being made to do things they don’t want to?” – the answer is a resounding “No!” If a hypnotic subject was asked to jump off a cliff or walk in front of a bus they would NOT do it! But when a participant on stage is asked to cluck like a chicken, etc. they are complying with the hypnotist’s commands in accordance with their own expectations of entertainment, as well as the expectations of the audience. Although it may appear that the hypnotist has control over their subjects – no one can be made to do anything against their will.

It is important to bear in mind that stage hypnotism bears little resemblance to hypnotherapy. Stage hypnotists use hypnosis purely for entertainment….. hypnotherapists use hypnosis for therapeutic purposes, to assist people make positive, powerful and lasting changes in their lives.

Be assured that in hypnotherapy you are in control throughout and you cannot be made to do anything against your will. On the contrary you must want to accept the positive ideas and suggestions given; anything that doesn’t feel right for you will be automatically rejected. Hypnotherapy is a collaborative process – it is not something the therapist “does to you”. The hypnotherapist is the guide – and you must actively engage your imagination to make hypnosis happen for yourself. If you’d like to know more about hypnotherapy and how it can help you to make profound permanent changes in your life, ask away! I look forward to answering your questions and listening to your views.

I’m a hypnotherapist providing a friendly, professional service in Devon, with therapy rooms in Buckfastleigh and Axminster. I offer a free initial consultation, so please feel free to contact me.

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