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Article by Narelle Stratford

Hypnosis isn't dangerous is it?

There are many stories about hypnosis being dangerous, turning people into chickens, people not being able to wake up, and unscrupulous hypnotists exploiting their 'vulnerable' patients.  My son always worried that I would make him bark like a chicken!  That's what he said!  However, there are many people who are adamant that it has helped change their lives, so that they succeed in their goals.  Millions of people swear that it has helped them with many issues such as weight loss, quitting smoking and other addictions, confidence, phobias, stress, success, IBS, and many more issues.

Many people are missing out on this powerful yet safe therapeutic tool because they are too afraid to use it. I hope to dispel these fears by answering these common questions about hypnotherapy.

Can I be hypnotized?

Most people can go into a hypnotic trance. The only types of people that cannot be hypnotised are ...

1. Those suffering from psychosis or a thought disorder

2. A person with a low IQ

3. Anyone who does not want to be hypnotised, or is very frightened of being hypnotised.  It is very easy to resist hypnosis if your sub-conscious wants to stay the same as you are now. 

What is a hypnotic trance?

It is a normal and natural state that most of us experience several times a day. It commonly happens when people are driving. Have you ever driven somewhere and not really remembered the journey? It also often occurs when reading a book or watching TV. Sometimes you can be so absorbed in the book or TV programme that you are not consciously aware that someone is talking to you.

Hypnosis is the focussing of the conscious attention into a narrow corridor of awareness. The conscious mind is so intensely focussed that other influences are not being critically analysed. We might still hear them, although we are not always aware of what's being said or happening around us.  Have you ever had someone wave their hand in front of your face and say "Earth to Phillip, come back to earth Phillip" and you realise someone is trying to get your attention!

A good example of this is when you are in a place where there are several conversations going on at once. They may all sound like a mass of background noise. However if someone in one of those conversations mentions your name, you then consciously focus on that conversation. How did you know someone said your name? Your subconscious mind (which is far more powerful than your conscious mind) was listening to EVERY conversation AT THE SAME TIME!

What does hypnosis feel like?

Well, think about those pleasant experiences you had while driving, day-dreaming, settling yourself so that you are almost asleep and feeling all comfy and drifty.  When you are in a trance state you feel more mentally and physically relaxed, just like those pleasant experiences.

It is a very comfortable experience, and you can tell that you are still in control. You can still hear exactly what is going on around you, unless you choose to drift your attention away. You become aware that you can easily stand up, talk, or move whenever you want. A lot of people (me included) when they first experience a hypnotic trance move their fingers or hands in order to test whether they can move at will.

Sometimes a client can be a little difficult to wake up but no one has ever been stuck in trance.  It is more a case that you just "can't be bothered" to wake up as it feels so pleasant and nice. However they soon become bored and wake up with some gentle prompting.

Is hypnosis dangerous?

As I have said, a hypnotic trance is actually a very natural state that almost everyone goes into several times per day.  In 1955 the British Medical Association set up an inquiry which favourably reported hypnosis as a therapeutic tool. It even recommended that it should be taught at medical schools.  Hypnosis was also approved by the Council of Mental Health of the American Medical Association in September of 1958 as a safe practice with no harmful side effects. Since then there has been acceleration in the establishment of hypnosis societies for doctors, dentists, and psychologists. 

Can hypnosis make me do things against my will?

Absolutely not!  You could never be made to do anything against your will or contrary to your value system.  If this was actually possible, would there not be criminals learning the art of hypnotherapy in order to hypnotise their bank managers to opening the vaults and handing over a large sum of cash?! In a trance, you would not unknowingly reveal your deepest secrets.  You can even lie when in a trance, which is one reason why testimony in hypnosis is not permissible evidence in a court of law.  It is only used by police to help with the investigation.

A person will only act upon suggestions that serve them in some way or reinforce an expected behaviour, for anything else their subconscious will just ignore the suggestion. Most people develop these misperceptions from seeing or hearing about a Stage Hypnosis show. However they largely achieve their results from showmanship, selection of the more extroverted people, and peer pressure.

How long will it take before I notice a change from hypnotherapy?

In one session, you can expect to become more relaxed than you are right now. Most people do not relax enough, and some people never seem to relax! Being more relaxed can help most mental and physical problems that you may have. I have often had clients report back to me that people noticed that they seemed more relaxed after just one session.

In the past I have significantly helped problems such as IBS, skin complaints, and addictions, stress and depression, simply by doing relaxation work.

Hypnosis can bridge the gap between your head and your heart, making your goals much more emotionally compelling, and therefore increasing your chances of permanent change. Depending upon the intensity of your session and the number of sessions you have attended, you will notice suggestions for the desired behavioural changes spontaneously popping into your conscious mind almost immediately.  It is recommended that for the best results you attend at least three and preferably four sessions.

Narelle Stratford is a Psychologist and Master Practitioner of NLP, Timeline and Hypnosis and Clinical Hypnotherapist.

24 Oct 2010

Last Update: 26 Sep 2015

Article/Information supplied by Narelle Stratford

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.