Jane Ann Covington, BA, CCHT, RBT
There are many misconceptions as to what hypnosis and hypnotherapy really are. A good working definition for me is: Being in hypnosis is being in a heightened state of suggestibility and/or accessibility of information. The purpose of hypnotherapy is to either input helpful suggestions or to access the source of unconscious patterns that reveal the origin and nature of undesirable, self-defeating or unwanted patterns, supporting a fresh mature view and increased opportunity for health and well-being.
A common misperception is that someone will control our mind with hypnosis. The truth is that we are already hypnotized from the beginning of life because we are all programmed by our families, ourselves, society, and culture. As young children we are told and we see many things that aren’t even questioned until we are much older, and sometimes never. This isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s the nature of our mind and learning. Consequently we are vulnerable to our history and our limited perceptions.
Most of us weren’t fortunate enough to be raised by wise role models. We have all been affected in unconscious ways and we tend to treat ourselves and others as we were treated. This being the case, it is common knowledge in the new millennium that our past affects our relationships and our future. However, we are beginning to understand more and more that we are not stuck with those old programs. Self improvement, and hypnotherapy specifically, has gained increasing acceptance. It is evident now that long-term therapy is generally less effective for most people, compared to short-term therapy and especially hypnotherapy.
Generally, hypnotherapy allows a relatively quick uncovering of the core problem(s) and allows for more appropriate and mature development. I’ve often had clients tell me they benefited more from a few sessions of hypnotherapy than they did from years of traditional psychotherapy.
There are many recognized styles of therapeutic hypnosis. These include auto-suggestion, self-hypnosis, authoritarian hypnosis, permissive hypnosis, neuro-linguistic-programming (NLP), holographic re-patterning, holotropic breathwork, rebirthing, Ericksonian, regression, alchemical hypnotherapy, time-line, guided imagery, and more. All of these are forms of hypnosis, including self-talk which is a form of self-hypnosis.
Interestingly enough, I am often asked whether I can hypnotize someone. I suggest the real question is, can I unhypnotize them from their own hypnosis. So, the appropriate purpose of hypnosis and hypnotherapy would never be to control a client’s mind. The job of an effectively trained, qualified certified clinical hypnotherapist is first to clarify what the client wants to realistically achieve, and then goes to work using the most effective method(s) of hypnotherapy and education to facilitate maturation of the individual to a healthier, more mature level of functioning now and for the future.