Hypnosis is the most misunderstood subject I have ever come across in my life. Nearly everything you hear people say about hypnosis is either wrong, or a misunderstanding!
The word itself is wrong! Hypnos was the Greek god of Sleep, and there is no sleep in hypnosis, it is a waking state. The word "sleep" is often used in Stage Hypnosis, but what most people do not realise is that the people in a hypnosis show are never asleep. Stage Hypnotists cannot work with a person who is actually asleep. Hypnotherapists can, but it would take hours, so we never do. We work with people in trance, and trance is a waking state.
On the stage, the word "sleep" functions in two ways: as a misdirection to the audience, to create the impression that the people on the stage are in some strange state of mind that is unknown to the audience (which is not true), and also as a signal to the person "being hypnotised" that they should act as if they are asleep until further notice. Obviously, you can only do this with people who don't mind joining in and playing their part. This requirement has led to another popular misunderstanding: that some people can't be hypnotised! Rubbish! Some people choose not to cooperate, and there is nothing the Stage Hypnotist can do about that.
The truth is, trance is a normal state we drift in and out of all the time. It is a focused state of mind in which we're not really bothering with the world around us, even though we know it's there. Daydreaming is a trance state, as is playing a computer game. You can be in trance with your eyes open, or with them closed.
A psychotherapist once said to me, rather bad-temperedly: "I just don't see how you can claim to solve a client's problem in one session! Sometimes we work with a client for ten years!" Well, I just burst out laughing. I mean, if you've not fixed them in the first year, what are the next nine years about? I didn't tell her, but I knew the reason: she was talking to the wrong part of the client's mind. So are doctors, sometimes. And counsellors, people doing CBT, life coaches. They are talking to the conscious mind, and if that doesn't solve the problem, it is simply because the change needs to be made by the Subconscious, which does not listen to ordinary conversations.
Trance is a state of mind in which the Subconscious mind is paying close attention to what is going on around you, which it normally does not do. So it opens up a channel of communication with the client's Subconscious mind. That's all. Which brings us to misunderstanding number three: the idea that a person in a trance will obey instructions.
Stage Hypnotism has created this misunderstanding because the audience do not realise that the "hypnotised" person has already accepted their role in this performance and has their own reasons for cooperating. They don't mind doing any of this stuff on the stage, in fact they're probably enjoying the attention. So for the Stage Hypnotist and the Hypnotherapist too, getting the attention of the Subconscious mind is child's play. It is what you say to the Subconscious mind - that's where the expertise is required! The skill set for creating a great show, and the skill set required for solving people's personal problems are very different, obviously.
So now you know: the Stage Hypnotist can only work with people who want to be in a Stage Hypnosis show - or at least don't mind - and the hypnotherapist can only bring about change in a person who wants to change, or at least has no serious objection to changing. But here's the rub: it is not a conscious decision in either case, but a Subconscious one. In other words, other people can be surprised by a person's behaviour in a Stage Hypnosis show, and so can the person themselves. And the Hypnotherapist does not know in advance what the response of the client will be to the therapy session. And neither does the client - but it's usually a happy surprise.
Why not give it a go? It's easy, you spend a couple of hours in a comfy chair, and your problem is very likely to have gone by the end of it! Just call 0161 474 8120 office hours, or call/text 07748 838 644 any time, any day and ask for Chris.
Chris Holmes is Director of Central Hypnotherapy and has been helping the people of Stockport, Cheshire, Manchester and Tameside UK get rid of all sorts of troubles, big and small, since August 2000.