CBH is a targeted, short course therapy. This means that it doesn’t drag on for months, and while we talk in some depth about what is going on with you, we do not spend a great deal of time delving into your past. Of course it helps to understand the historical context of a problem, but rather than getting stuck on that, we concentrate on what will make your specific problem manageable in the here and now. The idea is to help you move forward with your life, and most people find that once they start creating new, healthy patterns, they become self-reinforcing, and virtuous cycles replace the vicious ones. Every individual is different, and many people often notice great improvements after a single session. However, to create a meaningful, lasting change, between 4 and 6 sessions are usually required.
How many sessions will I need?
How does the free consultation work?
The idea is for us to have an informal (but still confidential) chat about whether we’d like to work together. You can decide whether I seem like the therapist for you, and I can assess whether I feel I’m in a position to help you. Most of my clients prefer to do this over the phone, but you’re welcome to come and see me in person if you prefer. The maximum time for a consultation is twenty minutes, by which time we’ll know how best to proceed.
How does the process work?
Once you’ve had your free consultation, the first session proper is a more in-depth assessment of your issue. We take some time to really unpack and understand what’s been going with you, and then formulate a plan for how we’re going to tackle the issue together. I’ll also explain a little about how hypnosis works, and your role in the whole process. Depending on the specifics of the situation, there might be some hypnosis involved in this session, but usually it consists of just talking. Many people find it very helpful to really gain a better understanding of what’s been bothering them, and often find spontaneous improvements start occurring off the back of this alone.
So I just have to show up and you’ll make everything better?
I’ll give it my best shot, but I’m afraid it’s not as simple as that. The attitude you bring to the treatment is enormously important. A client/therapist relationship is fundamentally collaborative – we work together to help you make the changes you would like to see in your life. The more positive and motivated you are, the more likely this is to succeed. Unfortunately there is no magic button I can press to solve anyone’s problems, and your role in this process is as vital as mine.
It is also worth noting that our work carries on outside the treatment room, and there may be things you need to do in between sessions, such as keeping a thought/mood/food diary, or listening once a day to self-hypnosis mp3. While we can achieve a lot in our sessions together, the more you can commit to the process, the more you will be able to enjoy the benefits.
Can a hypnotist make me do anything I don’t want to do?
No, absolutely not. It’s more helpful to think of all hypnosis as self-hypnosis. As a hypnotherapist, I am there simply to guide you through the experience by offering suggestions I believe, after consulting with you, will be helpful. Whether or not you choose to accept these suggestions is entirely up to you. You are fully in control of your experience at all times. If anything feels uncomfortable, there is nothing to stop you from getting up and walking away.
How come people in stage hypnosis shows make complete fools of themselves?
In the main, it‘s because they are willing to do so. What we tend not to see in these shows is the careful selection process that goes on, where people are chosen for a combination of their suggestibility and willingness to participate. If both of these factors are high, then the subject will cooperate with the hypnotist.
Interesting fact: people will high levels of suggestibility can be hypnotised into having hallucinations. For example, they could be made to swear blind (pun intended!) that there is no table in the middle of a room, when there quite clearly is. Ask them to walk to the other side of the room, however, and they will always walk around the table.
Can I get stuck in hypnosis?
Again, the answer is absolutely not. The only role the hypnotherapist plays in ‘emerging’ you from the experience is to make everything as smooth as possible. When you’re deeply hypnotised, your attention has been highly focused on other matters, and you’re often very relaxed indeed. It’s therefore nice to have suggestions to ease you back into an alert state. If the fire alarm rang, you would a) hear it, and b) do what everyone else does, which is head briskly but sensibly for the nearest exit.
Surely only weak-willed or stupid people can be hypnotised?
It tends to be quite the opposite, in fact. There is a correlation, although not a hugely strong one, between intelligence and hypnotisability. The same goes for imagination and creativity. The more a person can project themselves into the suggestions, and really focus on and embody the changes that are being suggested, the more successful the therapy is likely to be. This being the case, it makes perfect sense that actors have been shown to be among the best hypnotic subjects out there.
I’m not sure I’m hypnotisable
It’s almost certain that you are, even if you’ve got the acting chops of a shop mannequin. The most important factor is your willingness to be hypnotised, and your open mind. Come equipped with these two things, and you’ll be just fine. Moreover, it has been shown that hypnotic susceptibility is a skill which can be learned. You’ll notice over the course of our sessions, that with a little time, you may be surprised at how quickly you can get into a very deep state of hypnosis all by yourself.
Will I get to experience a hypnotic trance?
Every discipline has its battleground, and the hottest topic of debate in the field of hypnotherapy is whether there is such a thing as hypnotic trance. While that may sound surprising (what, after all, am I doing in business if there’s no such thing?), there is no single brain state shown by scans that corresponds to hypnosis. The idea of hypnotic sleep is a red herring too, because while hypnosis is often paired with deep relaxation, in one study people were hypnotised while riding exercise bikes. This has led many academics to conclude there is no such thing as a hypnotic trance, and that all hypnosis can be explained by ordinary psychological, biological and social factors. There’s no doubt that this helps demystify the whole process, and removes the hypnotist from his pedestal. That said, even if there is no special state, there is no doubt that remarkable things can happen to people with hypnosis, including open heart surgery without any anaesthetic(!).
To conclude, if it’s helpful for you to think of it as a trance, then by all means do. If not, then don’t. As long as you have an open, learning attitude and a motivation to change, then all you need to know is that hypnosis is a very powerful tool that can help you do just that.
Will you be speaking to my unconscious mind?
I’d rather speak to your conscious mind, in all truth. Research shows that an active conscious attitude is most beneficial when it comes to receiving suggestions. The idea of engaging your unconscious mind implies a passive attitude.
Rather than think of an unconscious mind, it is perhaps more helpful to think of habits that are so deeply engrained that they have become automatic behaviours. Sometimes this is helpful – it’s handy to be able to drive a car without thinking about every little action you have to perform in order to do so safely. The problem arises when unhelpful thoughts and behaviours have become so entrenched that we don’t even realising we’re doing them. By moving them into our conscious awareness, we can give them no hiding place, and so begin the process of reconditioning ourselves.
Of course, it’s possible that the hypnotic work we do will speak to your unconscious mind, if such a thing exists. However, the problem with the unconscious mind is that neither you nor I nor anyone else is conscious of it, by very definition, so we can’t say anything about it for certain. It seems to me to make more sense to stick to the things we can demonstrably work on, because there’s usually plenty there to be getting on with!