One of the things that people ask me frequently is “If I come to you to reduce my stress will you make me bark like a dog?” The short answer to this question is no. As pretty much any expert will tell you, clinical hypnotherapy is a far cry from the stage hypnosis the most people are familiar with. As a matter of fact, many clinical hypnosis treatments don’t even involve the kind of induction used on stage. Although there are some people who do strictly clinical hypnotherapy, more often hypnosis is used as part of a larger treatment. You use suggestion, hypnosis, strategizing, analysis, and all the other techniques at your disposal to get the best results with the patient.
The clinical hypnotherapy part of it just happens to be the part that people focus on because it is so shrouded in mystery. It is also full of myths and misinformation. A lot of people find hypnosis to be strange or even frightening. I’ve even had people tell me “You’re doing the work of the devil” because they believe, seemingly without any control of their own, subjects of hypnotists drop into a trance where they will do anything they are told.
The reality of this is that hypnosis is much more complicated than that. In some ways it can be viewed as more of a game that people are playing together. The person hypnotizing is able to succeed because he believes what he is doing is possible. The person being hypnotized believes it is possible. Therefore as a result of this belief system, at his suggestion, the subject drops into a trance.
Just like psychology, hypnosis works because people believe in it. People who are hypnotized really believe that they won’t remember what they are told when they wake up, and learn to forget it unconsciously. By the way, this can be really useful. For example, a hypnosis patient might have a phobia that they are trying to overcome. A Phobia occurs because the subject associates something that is fairly harmless with something painful that happened earlier in life. By suggesting that they think about it in a different way, a clinical hypnotherapist can help them overcome the phobia.
For example, if you are scared of walruses because you were frightened by one at the zoo as a young child, a clinical hypnotherapy session might focus around giving you a new association. By the time you’re done, you might have some implanted memory of a walrus stuffed toy that you had as a child and loved a lot. By associating walruses with treasured childhood memories, the clinical hypnotherapy could help you overcome your fear.
Of course, a lot of clinical hypnotherapy is more complicated than that. Sometimes, a clinical therapist works to install completely new patterns of behavior in you. He will help you go through old, dysfunctional habits and pick out new, better ways of living your life. Step-by-step, day by day, he will work with you to come up with a more effective, happier way to run your life.