I’m unsure; does hypnosis work?
Does hypnosis work ? Despite bundles of research, there are many who rightly ask that question. Most of my clients aren’t really sure, many just come with an open mind having heard or read about other success stories.
I’ve never had a client who didn’t believe that hypnosis couldn’t work for them. I guess they wouldn’t come if they had that belief.
Many moons ago, I visited a London Hypnotherapist because I couldn’t stop smoking. I had battled on and off for years, maintaining for a while but constantly slipping up.
Hypnosis changed my life, not only did I stop smoking, but I developed a life long interest in hypnotherapy.
Fast forward through the best training, with some great teachers, time to practice and grow, years of experience, I now help others change their lives in big and small ways. I know first hand that hypnosis works.
Why does Hypnosis work?
We talk about right and left brain which do exist, but actually we have three brains. These brains have evolved over billions of years.
The reptilian brain is the oldest brain, the first one to evolve. It makes basic life decisions. Yes, no, or don’t know. And is constantly asking questions;
- shall I eat it
- fight it
- run away
- or mate it.
The middle brain came next and evolved on top of the reptilian brain. It’s where all our feelings and emotions are processed. This brain deals with questions such as;
- do I love or loath it
- does it make me angry or happy
- does it excite or scare me
The new brain, is the most recent one, it’s involved in planning, analysis, rational thinking, and shares information with the other two brains. This part of the brain deals with the future, and tackles big stuff, such as what shall I do next week, what shall I do in my retirement? It’s the largest and heaviest part of the brain. It cocoons and wraps around the other two brains.
So which one is the boss?
It’s the reptilian brain. For change to take place, we need the boss on board, closely followed by the deputy the middle brain. The boss has enormous responsibility. It keeps us alive by managing internal systems such as heart rate, temperature and hormones. We can’t really consciously control what the boss does. It’s in charge of making critical life decisions and does what it thinks is right.
Our three brains communicate with each other. Much of what goes on is outside our conscious awareness. We have filters in place that limit what we can focus on at one time.
That means there is a shed load of stuff happening that we just don’t think about.
Focus and become aware of your left toe. Now you probably haven’t thought about your left toe for while (unless you hurt it recently!).
If something in your environment became dangerous, your reptilian brain would bring it to your attention quickly. You would move out of danger of a falling object before your conscious brain had even noticed it.
So why does hypnosis work then?
Relaxation which is an important part of any basic hypnosis approach produces an altered state in the mind. Once this state is achieved, channels of communication between the three different brains open. Which means one simple thing can happen. CHANGE
If change happens in the reptilian and the middle brain, the new brain follows; without necessarily understanding what has happened. From a hypnotherapy perspective, I don’t believe it’s important to know exactly what has changed because that can get in the way of change. The proof is the associated change in the behaviour and the difference in feelings. Take something like stopping smoking, the person stops smoking. Simple !
How often does Hypnosis work?
If the right conditions are met, then it works more often than it doesn’t.
If hypnosis doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean that it won’t work, it just means there is more work to do. It’s not a precise science. It’s the client who makes the change, the therapist creates the space for change to happen and facilitates the process.
I should probably add here a bit about expectations.
When I work with clients who have phobias, I know they are phobic because they have extreme reactions. I had a client who couldn’t stay in their house because of their mouse phobia. That’s an extreme reaction. Once our work was done the client moved back home. This said client reported that they still didn’t like mice. As far as I was concerned, our work was done. The client’s intention was to feel more relaxed around mice and move back home. The intention was not to get them to that point that they would be keeping mice as pets.
That would require further work, and extra investment which wasn’t the first intention.
From a psychological point of view, we are driven towards things that give us pleasure, and move away from things that give us pain.
Most people come to therapy, to work on moving away from pain. Wanting to stop smoking, relieve insomnia, lose weight, improve confidence increase self esteem, overcome infertility are all issues that give us pain. And we want to move away from them.
If people could solve their own problems they wouldn’t come to therapy, if they could easily give up their addictions, make themselves feel more confident, or get over any phobias they might have such as public speaking (glossophobia) they would just get on and do it.
Some people do manage to overcome their issues, but many don’t, and suffer unnecessarily for years. Not doing things that they might want to do, such as visiting family or friends overseas, because they have a flying phobia.
Can hypnosis replace anesthesia? Sure it can, read how hypnosis is being taken seriously by a growing number of medical experts.
So does hypnosis work? I will leave you to make up your own mind but I believe it can.