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Has somebody told you that you have to relax for hypnotherapy to work? Or have you tried it with somebody who didn’t realise that you can’t be too anxious for hypnotherapy to work?<!–more–>
Hypnosis is not about relaxing, although that is a commonly used method to attain a trance state. However, it is a fallacy that you need to be able to relax in order to benefit from hypnotherapy.
There are many ways to get into trance and one of my favourites for people who are afraid of ‘letting go’ or using relaxation is a combination of EFT and NLP where you are always awake and aware.
Having said that, Relaxation is still is a very useful skill to learn for anxiety.
You can relax! (You just don’t have to)
Your thoughts do not go away during hypnotherapy!
It is important to remember that the conscious mind does not go away during hypnotherapy, or in any state where you are not completely asleep. So the thoughts, which are habitual, can and will still come into your mind. It is what you do with them that matters. When the thought comes into your mind during the hypnotherapy relaxation, you simply say to yourself, ok, there is that thought, and go back to listening and relaxing. You may have thoughts of making a cup of tea, or something you should do, or of being ill, or of something that happened in the past – the mind never stops. Mindfulness is useful to learn so that you can watch these thoughts and allow them to just pass through without stopping to entertain them.
During hypnosis, feelings of anxiety prevent you from relaxing completely, but only if you believe that you are not in control. You are! The more you practice being safe and relaxed, without anxiety, the more your unconscious learns that it does not need the anxiety to be safe.
Once you have practised the art of not entertaining the feelings anxiety or the thoughts that come with it, it will go away. So some of the useful messages in the MP3’s may help, or you can just tell yourself ‘every time one of those thoughts comes into my head I will consciously relax my body and notice that I am safe right now’. After a while before the thought even comes into your conscious mind, the unconscious will have you automatically relaxing and noticing you are safe. It is about teaching your brain and the unconscious to change its habits.
Hypnotherapy does not take away your choices or your conscious mind, and does not stop you from thinking all together. However it does put you in a deeper state of mind, where your brainwaves are in a ‘Theta’ state and you are therefore more open to unconscious learning and suggestion. You usually remain aware of what is being said, although your mind may well drift off somewhere as it would in a daydream. You are always in control if you want to be, and are free to accept or reject suggestions. The hypnosis is being done at your request, for a purpose, so it is all in your control.
As I always say “If I ask you to relax your leg, I can’t relax it for you.” There are many hypnotherapists who practice on a more authoritative approach and the client is ‘told’ what to do, and usually does it. The reason I do not work with this type of technique is that I prefer to teach my clients that they can control their own minds and that they should reject suggestions of any kind that they do not feel comfortable with.
To sum up, then, relaxation helps your anxiety, and is beneficial to the hypnotherapy session, but it is not essential for hypnosis to work.