When I first decided to get certified in hypnotherapy, people were all over it. I can't tell you how many of my friends called first dibs on being practice patients. Now that I have gotten started, however, it's interesting to see how people react when they are in the actual situation. Like acupuncture, hypnosis is an area which suffers from tons of misconceptions. If you ask around, not many people have been legitimately hypnotized...and those who have usually went to stage shows. On top of this, most people are victims of media brainwashing. Ask an average, uninformed person about hypnosis, and they will generally mention pendulums, magicians, and mind-control. These perceptions are the fallout of years of movies, books, and television shows about the topic.
Here are a few of the most commonly held beliefs about hypnotherapy:
- Hypnosis is a form of mind control. This is completely untrue. The hypnotized person is the one in control during a session. When positive suggestions are implanted during the session, the client has the ability to accept or reject anything that they want to.
- You can get "stuck" in hypnosis, and be unable to leave the hypnotic state. Again, this is based on lack of information and old Twilight Zone episodes. Hypnosis is task-based; if a long enough period of time passes between suggestions, the client will come out of hypnosis on his own. Either that, or he will fall into a natural sleep, wake up, and at that point the hypnosis is broken. Either way, it is not possible to stay hypnotized after the session, any more than it is possible to stay dreaming after waking up.
- You won't remember anything after you wake up. False. You remember everything when you are in a hypnotic state. In fact, your memory is probably sharper than normal when you are under hypnosis. You are aware of everything going on around you, at all times, and when the session ends you know everything that happened during that span of time.
- You can use hypnosis in criminal cases. Actually, evidence obtained by hypnosis is not admissible in a court of law. Why? Because you are fully capable of lying during a session. As I've said, YOU are always in control during a session, which means that you have the ability to make up stories if you wish. So, there is no need to worry about giving up all your deep, dark secrets.
So, if all of these misconceptions are put to rest, what are we left with? If we don't lose our memories, or our awareness, what does this state feel like? Generally, it feels like hearing someone talk as we are drifting off to sleep. You know that point where you are on the verge of sleep, but still awake? You almost feel like your body is floating off the bed, and you are as relaxed as you can get...but you can hear everything going on around you. This is what a session feels like. Once you are in this state, your subconscious mind is open to absorb suggestions that will eventually become habit-but only if you want them to. As I've said, you have the power here, and can reject any suggestion that you want to.