I am often asked by those interested in hypnotherapy if I am going to make them “bark like a dog” or “cluck like a chicken.” I suppose thanks is owed to the Carnival or Comedy Club hypnotists for that myth about hypnosis. Fact of the matter is that a hypnotist (one who induces trance and makes suggestions to address behavior) or hypnotherapist (one who induces a trance in order to heal old trauma or physical wounds and change core beliefs) can’t make you do anything when in a trance that you wouldn’t already do if not in a trance. In other words, the person clucking like a chicken would likely do that anyway in front of a group of strangers! That explains perfectly why I have never volunteered to go up on stage at the County Fair when the hypnotist asked for volunteers. I already carry too much internal fear about performing on stage to allow myself to get up there and potentially make a fool of myself!
So why would I, or anyone not wanting to look like a fool, submit to being hypnotized at the hands of a hypnotherapist? Well, one of the most important difference between the staged shows and what happens in a therapy office has to do with safety. When conducting a hypnotherapy session in my office, it is a private affair and I spend time explaining the process so that a client knows what to expect and is well aware that they are in control at all times. They can stop the process at any time and can refuse to comply with any suggestions I am making. I spend time setting up the office to create a relaxing and comfortable environment to ease tension and allow the body and conscious mind to slow down and find peace. Soft music and aroma therapy enhance the sense of safety being picked up by our subconscious senses. At this point, a client is ready for the induction in order to go deeper into relaxation and hypnosis.
Once the environment is made safe, the next critical component to a successful hypnotherapy session is make the internal landscape safe. Love blossoms in the absence of fear, so reducing internal conditions creating fear is critical before moving into an age regression with potentially difficult and scary memories. The biggest source of a client’s motivation to face fear is the desire to change thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in their life for the better. Wanting things to change is why that came to my office in the first place.
To help create inner conditions of safety, the Heart Centered Hypnotherapy process enlists the client resource state using the visualization of a safe place and a wise adult to act as a guide and support when feeling unsafe or fearful. It is said that this part of oneself actually encouraged the decision to come in for therapy knowing there could be a benefit. Another way to think about the Wise Adult is to see it as a reflection of ones highest or authentic self, always acting in a way to connect to the best part of ourselves. A strong Wise Adult allows the conscious, judgmental mind to relax so that memories and emotional messages begin coming forward from the subconscious mind where core beliefs can be understood for the ways they contribute to life habits and patterns.
When fear arises, the conscious mind might try to stop the process and hold hostage of the underlying emotions. That’s okay. That’s been its’ job for a long time and it got really good at not letting you feel those emotions! Bringing on our resources for safety, the clinician encourages the client to drop into his body and identify where feelings reside. The body holds the memory of long suppressed emotions related to the original experience of pain. Once these emotions are expressed and extinguished, the old core beliefs and corresponding ways of behavior related to those old circumstance are revealed. The empowerment in the process allows fear to reside and one’s voice and feelings to be aired creating a powerful corrective experience. Now it is possible to step out of the old story, nurture, soothe, and love the wounded child parts that for the sake of safety had to split off from the authentic self and became the primary identity. The transformative process concludes by restoring the capacity of the heart to walk forward and upright, with a new capacity to connect with openness and love, while affirming and embracing a new view of self that validates their worth and dignity.
If fear stands in the way of you stepping up on the “stage” of hypnotherapy, I invite you to ask that Wise part of yourself if reading this might have made it more possible to give it a try. Drop into your body to see if you can sense what your Authentic Self might be communicating. Most people would locate that part of themselves in the core of the body, around the area of the heart. Check it out. Feel into it. What is it trying to communicate?
I would suggest that the fact that you read this post until the end means the part of you that wants to leap up on stage and dance fearlessly already knows it is ready to do this work!