What are 3 Things Hypnosis Cannot Do?
Over the years hypnosis has been mythologised to the point where an average person is likely to be clueless about what it is or what it does. This is because Hollywood, stage hypnotists and TV tend to portray hypnosis as a dark art involving mind control with gold pocket watches. This is why we wanted to write about 3 things hypnosis cannot do as well as discuss that it might be able to help you with if you chose a trained therapist to work with.
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Hypnosis Facts Vs Fiction
In reality, it is always more fun to make something appear more mysterious than it is where entertainment is concerned. Who wants to attend a stage show and watch people with their eyes closed and being relaxed? Well nobody of course. Embellish that stage show however and use dramatic words such as sleep and suggest mind control well of course the whole thing just got a whole lot more interesting.
The fact is that hypnosis on stage vs hypnosis used to help change unhelpful behaviours or habits in the subconscious mind are two very different things. A stage hypnotist is flamboyant and wants the audience to think that they are in complete control of the people who are chosen to participate. A clinical hypnotherapist however is much more akin to a therapist who is helping people to change their own lives through interventions that find the root cause of a problem.
When you perform hypnosis you are not looking to help anyone change their life. In private practice, however, all a hypnotist does is use skills to help the subconscious and conscious mind work in harmony to improve someone’s life. To do this you need to have a client who is willing to be placed into a relaxed state so the healing process can take place and for that to happen they need to trust you.
To find out more about hypnosis and how it works read Trancework by Michael Yapko who is a leading expert in the field.
What Does it Feel Like to Be Hypnotized?
Before I talk about the 3 things hypnosis cannot do it is important to understand what it is in the first place and how it feels. One of the biggest myths about hypnosis is that when you are in it you are either asleep or in some coma-like state where a hypnotist has complete control over you. No wonder people are fearful of using hypnosis when it is made to sound like a traumatic experience. The reality is much more mundane and frankly relatively boring.
When you are in hypnosis you are in a natural state of focused attention. Your mind is completely awake but you are in a relaxed almost meditative state and your body may feel heavy because your muscles have let go of any tension. Whilst you are in this altered state a hypnotist is either able to give you post-hypnotic suggestions to help change the way your subconscious mind thinks or ask you questions whilst you are in this zone to discover what may be going on in the back of your mind.
Hypnosis is a fantastic tool for helping to change bad habits, stop unconscious urges and create positive thoughts. It is also great at helping people to feel calm and reduce stress but there are also many things that hypnosis doesn’t actually do.
The 3 Things Hypnosis Cannot Do Despite the Myths
So what are the 3 things hypnosis cannot do? Well if you are planning to use hypnosis it is worth noting its limitations. Some people still believe that hypnosis can be used like magic and solve everything but the reality is that whilst it can be a powerful tool it is not something that is suitable for all situations and people.
Hypnosis Cannot Cure Every Physical Illness
Sadly hypnosis in many parts of the world is relatively unregulated which means that whilst there are some amazing genuine practitioners there are also a lot of charlatans in the profession purely for the money. These are the people who will take on anyone who rings up for a session even if hypnosis may not be the most suitable therapy for them. We regularly see articles or comments online from individuals making outrageous claims about hypnosis that simply are not true.
The reality is that if you have a physical illness such as cancer, a brain tumour or heart disease then not even the best hypnotist in the world will be able to cure your problem. Hypnosis does not create immediate healing for physical illnesses and it won’t be able to resolve severe medical conditions.
The issue is that when people are faced with a life-changing diagnosis or have been told they may not have long to live they are more likely to clutch at any possible treatment or therapy that they believe may help. This pushes them to use hypnosis even when it isn’t appropriate. A good clinical hypnotherapist will of course refuse to do these sessions.
Now whilst hypnosis isn’t a cure-all for physical illnesses it can help in certain circumstances. An example might be in the case of pain management. We regularly see clients with long term pain issues that have not been helped with conventional pain relief medication. This is usually because there is a psychological element to the pain. Resolve the anxiety or stress linked to the pain and of course the level of pain will also fall.
Similarly, we do see cancer patients but never to “cure” the illness. We can however use hypnosis to help our clients to tolerate their treatment more easily. We can also help to reduce stress and anxiety associated with their illness and even help clients who may have difficulty eating or drinking. Hypnosis is also a well-known treatment to assist with anticipatory nausea brought on by chemotherapy. Whilst none of these interventions directly cure actual cancer they can help the conventional medical treatment be more effective by helping clients tolerate what they are going through.
We treat every phone call individually so we never make a decision on who we can or cannot help until we find out more about their condition and the problems they may be having because of it. A good hypnotist will look at every person on a case by case basis and then give an assessment on what they can and cannot do. Just remember we are not miracle workers or trained medical professionals but therapists who work with changing the way that the subconscious mind reacts in certain situations.
Hypnosis Cannot Be Used on Everyone
TV shows and entertainment always make it look as if anyone can be hypnotized but that isn’t the case. There are some people who just aren’t able to be hypnotized no matter what. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case.
Firstly people with a very low IQ are not as easily hypnotizable as those with higher intelligence levels. There are not enough studies to show the exact reasons why this may be but it is likely to be due to their inability to concentrate and focus for significant periods of time.
Also, some hypnotic techniques involve more complex therapy such as regression work rather than just post-hypnotic suggestion. This requires the person participating to be able to grasp the concept so that their brain can rationalise what has been happening in their conscious mind vs the subconscious mind. If the person having the hypnosis is unable to grasp this then even if hypnosis was possible it may not achieve the desired outcome.
Unwillingness to be Hypnotized
For the most part, hypnosis is something that involves both the hypnotist and the client working together in order to solve a problem. If the client however doesn’t want to focus during the session and is unwilling to participate it is not going to be the most productive of sessions.
In most cases, the unwillingness to be hypnotized tends to be based around fear and a worry by a client that they may have their mind controlled by the hypnotist. Alternatively, they may worry that hypnosis could cause adverse reactions so they will do anything they can to prevent it from occurring. As hypnotists, our job isn’t to force someone to have something that they are afraid of instead we want to help dispel those fears so that our clients relax and then become compliant.
The fact is that hypnosis requires communication for it to work and for the person who is having the session to have a certain degree of compliance. This clearly means that age will have an impact on those that you are able to work with.
A baby can’t be hypnotized because it is physically impossible to communicate with them. Similarly, the communication problems continue until the child is at an age where they are able to discuss their problems with the hypnotist. There is no firm age as to when this will happen but as a general rule, we only tend to work with children over the age of 10. A younger child may be willing to listen or focus but it will depend on their maturity and how fearful they are of working with someone they don’t know.
Severe Mental Illness
Hypnotists, for the most part, are not doctors or behavioural psychology experts instead they are therapists helping the general public to overcome habits and unwanted thoughts and behaviours. Whilst they may deal with many different conditions it is not usually appropriate for them to work with people who have a severe mental illness.
There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly people with a severe mental illness may need specialist help from medical professionals, not generalist therapists. If hypnotherapists interfere with people who are already emotionally fragile then it is possible for them to cause severe problems.
It is also well known that people with a mental illness are more prone to self-harming and suicide therefore only highly trained people should work with them in therapy in case their sessions trigger these tendencies.
With some mental illnesses, it can also be difficult for a person to fully perceive whether what they are seeing is real or imagined. As hypnosis can involve visualisation and hallucinations it makes sense to avoid this if a person is already having a problem being able to understand their conscious mind.
Nobody Can Give You Accurate Hypnosis Success Rates
Finally the last of the 3 things that hypnosis cannot do revolves around how successful your sessions will be. We regularly get asked by potential clients can you give me a success rate for sessions when they call and think about booking. What these people want to hear is that their problem is solved in 95% -100% of cases.
Well, the fact is that nobody should be quoting those numbers because every person we have in our clinics or online has completely different problems, motivations and circumstances. Therefore no two people are exactly alike and will get the same results.
A perfect example of this might be a person who calls to quit smoking. If these people are fed up with smoking, feel motivated and are willing to follow our suggestions to switch off those automatic cravings then there is a high chance that they may quit. Now imagine this same person has been made to ring us by their partner who is fed up with their smoking. They aren’t really invested in the process and can’t be bothered to quit as they still really enjoy smoking. Well, clearly their chances of any sort of success are low. It is impossible therefore to give a success rate number with these variables.
Whether you are looking to lose weight, stop anxiety, feel more confident or stop a bad habit the complexity of your case is going to make a difference. Don’t expect hypnosis to give you absolute certainty before you book because the reality is that isn’t likely. Instead, increase your chances of success by being motivated and ready to try anything and choosing someone to help who has considerable experience and who is knowledgeable about your particular problem.
So What Can Hypnosis Do?
Whilst we may have spent considerable time talking about the 3 things hypnosis cannot do there are also plenty of things that it can help with. Hypnosis is an amazingly powerful tool to help people overcome problems by tapping into the power of the unconscious mind.
In most cases, the reason why our clients have problems is that the unconscious mind is doing something automatically in the background which the conscious mind is unaware of. This subconscious process usually starts in childhood and then keeps on running and producing automatic thoughts or behaviours years later. This may be because of a big traumatic event or due to a series of smaller unpleasant or embarrassing experiences. As we grow older we forget about the original events or do not associate them with our problems today so our minds never update and alter the old thoughts, habits or behaviours.
Hypnosis is a great tool as it can work on updating these old automatic thoughts in two ways. Firstly through the use of positive associations and suggestions under hypnosis to create change. An example of this might be a hypnotist suggesting to someone under hypnosis that flying will now be pleasant and relaxing. For some people, these suggestions are enough to dampen the negative strong emotions and replace them with positive ones.
Self-hypnosis downloads can help you to do some of this work yourself. Just buy one of our audios that addresses your particular problem and start using it to see if it changes your outlook and conscious mind. We have guided meditations and self-hypnosis audios to help with everything from anxiety to weight loss.
Secondly, exploratory hypnosis can be used to find out the reason for the automatic behaviour in the first place. This is done usually by going back through a clients memories to find out the first time a problem may have started. By helping the client to remember what caused their problem therapy can now be aimed at the actual problem instead of guessing.
List of Things Hypnosis Can Help With
There are so many things that hypnosis can help with that it can be difficult to list them all. Remember as we said earlier most hypnosis specialists will have a core of basic problems that they deal with regularly and perhaps some specialisms that are more unusual. Here are some of the main issues you could expect a hypnotherapist to work with.
Anxiety Related Issues
Anxiety problems are one of the biggest areas that people work with because nearly everyone has one. From simple fears and phobias to more complex issues such as panic attacks hypnosis can help calm down the mind to help it think more rationally and feel less fear.
- Fears and Phobias – Flying, Claustrophobia, Spiders, Heights, Emetophobia, Fear of Animals
- Social Anxiety
- Generalised Anxiety
- Panic Disorder
Hypnosis for food problems doesn’t just involve weight loss but a whole host of complex issues including eating disorders.
- Weight Loss Hypnosis
- Binge Eating
- Picky Eating/Selective Eating
- Sugar Cravings
- Emotional Eating
We could all do with a little extra confidence at times but some people suffer from a lack of it more than others. Hypnosis can help to boost confidence and self-esteem when you need it the most.
- Public Speaking
- Low Self-esteem
- Stage Fright
- Job Interviews
- Relationship Confidence
- Confidence at Work
- Driving Confidence
Addictions are never just about the problem itself. Problems such as drinking too much or gambling are about escaping reality or managing stress. Hypnotherapy can help you to find out what might be the underlying problem.
As we discussed earlier hypnosis can help with illness but not always directly. If you have an unusual medical condition talk to your hypnotherapist first to see if they believe they may be able to make a difference.
- Fear of Hospitals
- Worries about Treatment
- Pain-related Issues
- Problems Eating
- Fear of Needles/Injections
- IBS Hypnosis
Childbirth and Fertility
It is well known that reducing stress can assist with fertility making hypnosis the perfect tool to use if you are having problems conceiving. Once you are ready to give birth hypnobirthing is a way of helping you to feel calmer and more relaxed in labour.
- Fertility Hypnosis
We can all experience problems with sleep at times but then our inability to get a good nights rest interferes with our health or stress levels then hypnosis can help to switch the mind off so it can relax.
The calming impact of hypnosis can help to diffuse anger.
Children’s hypnosis can be useful for many common childhood issues. It is not usually suitable for very young children.
- Separation Anxiety
- Problems at School
Hypnosis can help with everything from erectile dysfunction to vaginismus.
Habits can be hard to break but hypnosis can help make it easier to stop them.
- Thumb Sucking
- Nail Biting
- Skin Picking
- Hair Pulling
Love and relationships are a big area for hypnotists.
We all suffer from stress at times but sometimes too much stress causes bigger problems such as insomnia or mental health issues. Hypnosis for stress can help you to find better ways to manage your lifestyle to diffuse the problem.
Hypnosis can help you to prepare for exams as well as assist with memory and concentration.
If you are a procrastinator and want to get motivated then hypnosis can help to spur you into action.
Finally mild to moderate cases of depression may be helped with hypnosis.
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