Chickens, Elvis and other worries ...
(Also known as: is hypnosis mind control?)
- Will I cluck like a chicken?
- Or dance like Elvis?
- I don't like the idea of losing control
Although these images buy into the hypnotic stereotype (that's not my eye, by the way, and I've never yet swung a watch!) these are issues which genuinely worry people.
Quite right too. I'd be worried if I thought I was going to be asked to hand over control of all my thoughts and actions or forced to suspend my judgement in favour of someone else's.
However, hypnotherapy is not ‘mind control’. If it was, all I'd have to do is click my fingers and say 'stop it' and all your problems would magically disappear! Now, that may sound easy, even desirable, but does it sound realistic? Of course not.
Worries about mind control often come from what people have seen or read in fictional accounts of hypnosis, or seen in stage shows. But in fiction moving the plot along is usually more important than accuracy.
On stage, hypnosis may be combined with slight of hand, magic tricks, and misdirection. And, of course, no one volunteers for a hypnosis act if they're not prepared to go along with a few daft suggestions.
But the biggest difference is that the stage hypnotist's suggestions only last while you are in the theatre. No-one goes home still believing they are Elvis. Work done with a hypnotherapist is not a ten minute trick. It should improve and change your life long term and outside the therapy room, which means it involves your agreement and co-operation.
Therapy can sometimes be challenging because you are dealing with important issues and emotions. But a reputable Hypnotherapist will never ask you to do anything that makes you feel silly or ridiculous, or that is against your moral, ethical or religious values.
Hypnosis is a very safe procedure if properly and responsibly used. Like many other things in life (including cars, fire, the Internet and medicinal drugs) if used inappropriately it may cause problems. A few basic safeguards will help you avoid this.
- Do not undergo hypnosis when you are under the influence of alcohol or 'recreational drugs'.
- If you take medication, have any on-going physical or emotional problems, or you have been treated for mental health issues in the past, make sure your Hypnotherapist knows about it. There's more about who can use hypnotherapy here
- Always see a member of a recognised hypnotherapy association, like the General Hypnotherapy Register or the British Institute of Hypnotherapy. You can usually check this as most professional bodies list their practitioner level members on line.
- Hypnotherapy training is only subject to voluntary regulations, so the standard can be patchy. Check what training your therapist had; it should have lasted ten months to a year. Don't see anyone who only trained for a weekend or even a week, or who has only completed a distance learning course. Ask to see certificates.
- Your therapist should undertake supervision and ongoing training (CPD). Ask what they do in this regard.
- Check that your therapist's certificates and insurance documents are up to date and that their membership of any professional body is at Practitioner level.
- Most hypnotherapists are not doctors or psychologists. Make sure your therapist would be willing to refer you on to someone more appropriate if the occasion arises.
- Hypnosis can be an excellent way to reduce pain and
control other long-term symptoms without side effects.
However, as pain is the body's warning system, it is very
important to have the underlying problem properly diagnosed.
You should be asked to obtain your doctor's permission before starting hypnotherapy for pain relief or other medical problems, and you should continue with medication unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
- Make sure your therapist abides by a clearly stated code of ethics, and that there is a complaints procedure you can use if you feel the code has been breached.
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