Although increasingly recognized as a beneficial therapeutic tool, hypnosis and hypnotherapy are still quite misunderstood. Here are some common misconceptions.
Hypnosis is a form of mind control
Hypnosis is a perfectly natural state, and you experience something like it many times a day. If you’ve ever been absorbed in a book, film or TV program, daydreamed, or driven somewhere and arrived with no conscious memory of the journey, then you’ve been in a trance.
During a trance, the unconscious mind takes over for a while. The conscious mind doesn’t go away – if a police car came up behind you whilst you were driving, you’d know about it! In just the same way, you’ll be aware of everything that goes on in a hypnotherapy session, it’s just that your attention will turn inwards for a while.
Hypnotherapists deliberately induce trance for specific purposes – to get rid of unwanted habits and behaviours, for instance. Hypnosis is a way of giving you more control over your own thoughts, emotions and behaviour.
The hypnotherapist will be able to make me do humiliating things.
Hypnotherapy is not stage hypnosis – which is really showbiz, with all the attendant audience expectations and atmosphere. A hypnotherapy session is a collaborative process, in which therapist and client work together to solve a problem. Physically, you’ll sit or lie somewhere comfortable, probably with your eyes closed (but not necessarily).
I will blurt something out!
People do speak during hypnotic trance, but only in response to direct questions. Unless you’re in the habit of blurting things out whilst driving or daydreaming, then you won’t say anything you don’t want to during a hypnotherapy session!
I will have my memory wiped.
Hypnosis has been explicitly linked to the REM state, more commonly associated with dreaming. We often forget dreams, and amnesia can be a feature of trance. But this is a good thing – it means that new learning have filtered down to the unconscious, where they will do most good, and you won’t be tempted to over-analyze them afterward. You’ll remember everything you need to remember.
I will become “stuck” in hypnosis
This has never, ever happened in the history of humanity. Even if your hypnotherapist went mad and ran out of the room, then the worst that would happen is that you would fall asleep, and wake up in the normal fashion.