What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a relaxed mental state - known as a “trance” - where your mind is focused and your body is deeply relaxed. The feelings you experience are similar to the ones you have when you daydreaming. While in a trance the barriers between your conscious and subconscious mind are relaxed, allowing access to your deep inner resources. Hypnotherapy uses this state to help you to achieve your goals and overcome longstanding problems.
What is a trance?
A trance is a pleasant, relaxed and dream-like state that allows me to make suggestions directly to the unconscious part of your mind. You have been in a trance many times - even without the help of a qualified hypnotherapist. It happens when your mind becomes so deeply focussed on something that you ignore other things happening around you. For example, when you are driving and you can't remember the last few minutes of your journey and forget the last direction sign you saw or you “drifted off” while listening to a boring lecture or a poor sales presentation.
We often experience trance when we find ourselves deeply absorbed in a book or TV programme or when we daydream and someone has to speak to us loudly to redirect our attention.
These are all natural trance states. Using hypnosis I induce this pleasant, relaxed state quite deliberately to help you focus on your problems and, more importantly, the solutions to them.
What is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy has two component parts – hypnosis and therapy.
The hypnosis part is not a treatment in itself but an efficient way to access the unconscious part of our mind which controls our deeper thoughts and actions. Therapy is a form of treatment in which unwanted forms of behaviour – phobias, addictions, bad habits, unpleasant memories – can be dealt with and treated through verbal communication and suggestions to help you.
During a course of hypnotherapy we will meet to discuss whatever problem concerns you. I will ask you to tell me as much as you can about what that problem is and I will use the information you provide to help me find out how best to treat you.
Because hypnotherapy isn’t something that I do to you but something that we embark on together we will then agree on a course of action. As well as me giving you suggestions under hypnosis I may also ask you to do some “homework” during your course – perhaps keeping a diary of how your behaviour has changed or having a go at some “self-hypnosis” using techniques that I will teach you.
The major part of the treatment will consist of me putting you into a trance – that’s the hypnosis bit.
During the time you are in a trance you will not be asleep but awake and able to hear everything that I suggest to you. I won’t be asking you to do anything that you don’t want to do – rob a bank on my behalf, for example – but even if I did your conscious mind still remains in control of your thought process and you can disregard improper suggestions or even “wake yourself” out of your trance whenever you want to.
At the end of the session you will feel pleasantly relaxed but alert and active and ready to act on the unconscious suggestions made to you during the therapy session.
How much do you charge?
The good news is that it costs absolutely nothing to find out if hypnotherapy is appropriate for you. I am always happy to talk on the phone, and every potential client is entitled to half-an-hour’s free face-to-face consultation before deciding on whether or not they would benefit from hypnotherapy.
Depending on the help you need most treatments will last between three and six sessions - sometimes more if your condition is a complex one. I currently charge £70 for the initial ninety minute consultation and £60 for subsequent one-hour consultations and £120 for a stop-smoking session which is normally about two hours in duration. (Please note that from January 1st 2014 I will be charging £75 for the first appointment and £60 for any subsequent appointments. This is the first increase in fees for five years. Smoking cessation fees increase to £130.) In common with other professionals I make a full charge for any appointment that is cancelled with less than 24 hours notice.
How long is each hypnotherapy session?
Usually around an hour. Quit Smoking sessions last up to two hours. Urgent problems – for example, tackling a fear of flying before you leave on holiday the next day – can be done in one long session charged on a pro-rata basis.
Do you give a guarantee?
No responsible therapist would ever guarantee that they could “cure” you. Your GP or a hospital consultant would not make such a pledge and neither will I. All forms of therapy, work differently on different people and while some approaches might work others could fail.
What I do guarantee is that I will bring all my knowledge, experience and skills to help your reach an acceptable resolution to your problem.
Can you stop me smoking?
No reputable hypnotherapist will guarantee that you will give up. However, compared to other methods hypnosis is known to be better than using will-power, nicotine patches or self-help.
Of more than seventy-one thousand smokers questioned in a major survey, those who tried hypnotherapy to quit smoking enjoyed a thirty per cent success rate. Only patients advised to quit smoking after a heart attack were more successful.
For the average smoker the cost of hypnotherapy is less than one month’s worth of tobacco balanced against the long term harm to your pocket and your health. The risk of smoking includes heart disease, lung, throat, bladder and stomach cancers, circulatory and breathing problems, impotence and infertility.
For ethical reasons I’m not allowed to publish my own success rates but if I did there are a lot of reasons why they might not tell you everything about how you can stop smoking using hypnotherapy. First of all, people usually only come to a hypnotherapist as a last resort – so they’ve tried pretty much everything else. That means some people are almost certain to fail – because nicotine is a tough nut to crack.
But I do know that if you are absolutely determined to give up smoking then I will do my very best to help you.
Can anyone be hypnotised?
No-one can be hypnotised against their will – but since anyone coming for hypnotherapy has a genuine desire to be helped, going into trance isn’t usually a problem. There are lots of different ways of inducing hypnosis and almost all of them involve you doing very little more than closing your eyes and simply relaxing.
How safe is hypnosis?
Hypnotherapy is a very safe form of treatment, with no side-effects other than beneficial ones. You can’t become stuck in a hypnotic trance. Left to your own devices you would simply wake after a time just as you would if you nodded off and enjoyed an afternoon snooze. Nor can you be ordered to do anything against your will, despite what you might have seen in some Hollywood films.
However, it does make sense to check that your therapist is a safe person to be with. I am not only qualified to practice hypnotherapy but I am also properly insured against any mishap while you are in my care. As a member of the National Council for Hypnotherapy I have to abide by a strict set of rules governing my conduct and, if any complaint against me was upheld, would be subject to their disciplinary procedures.
Can I bring someone with me?
Because of the confidential nature of therapy clients usually prefer to see me alone. However, I would respect the wishes of anyone who needed a chaperone for religious or cultural reasons. A parent or guardian must be present with children aged 16 or under, with people with learning difficulties and people with certain mental health problems.
Do I need to be referred to you by my doctor, dentist or a psychologist?
Although some referrals may come from medical specialists most clients seek help directly. However, it is important that any condition such as an allergy, pain, IBS or a skin complaint is properly diagnosed by a doctor first. Sometimes it may be necessary to speak to your doctor or psychologist before proceeding with treatment but I would only do this with your consent.
Do you use drugs during hypnosis?
Absolutely not! I would even encourage you to avoid caffeine (in tea, coffee and cola) or alcohol before therapy as this can interfere with hypnosis. If you are taking drugs of any kind, either recreational or on prescription, then it is important I am told. Any such information is treated in the strictest confidence.
What should I wear?
I suggest you wear whatever you feel most comfortable in. Some clients prefer to kick off their shoes or remove their glasses before treatment. Because your eyes are also likely to be closed for long periods under hypnosis you may prefer to remove contact lenses before treatment starts.
How will I feel afterwards?
Very relaxed! Some clients enjoy hypnosis so much they don’t want to come out of the trance. But you will certainly be awake and alert enough to drive away and tackle whatever else the day has in store for you. Sometimes people do report that they feel a little thirsty and occasionally a little emotional if the therapy has dealt with deeply personal issues.
Will I need to do anything between sessions?
I might ask you to keep a diary to help me get a better understanding of your condition – for example, a record of what you ate, drank or smoked during the past week. I may also provide you with a self-hypnosis script to practice or a CD to listen to.
Will you tell anyone what we discuss in therapy?
Everything said during the therapy sessions, and the information you provide, is treated in the strictest confidence. The notes I take are for my records only and not shared with or passed to anyone else. However, in exceptional circumstances law or coroners’ courts may order copies of my records. By law I have to keep them for six years after which time they are destroyed. I may discuss your case, anonymously, with a fellow hypnotherapist if I want to make sure I am offering you the best help I can. And, if I felt there was a real danger of you harming yourself or others, I would have to raise those concerns with the appropriate authorities.
Are there any people or problems you don't work with?
If I feel that the problem you ask for help with is one that I am not qualified or experienced enough to deal with then I will do my best to suggest other therapists who might be able to help or who offer specialised therapy.
I cannot help children under the age of 5 or clients who suffer severe mental problems that mean they pose a risk to themselves or others. I would also decline to treat anyone who was forced to come to hypnosis by someone else or who appeared threatening or offered violence in any form.
Still got a question? Call or email me or, better still, make an appointment to meet for a free consultation to help you decide if hypnotherapy is right for you.