Certified Hypnotherapist, Donna Hallworth, LCSW
Last year, I became certified as a Hypnotherapist. I attended classes at the Institute of Hypnotherapy in Edison, New Jersey, taught by Dr. Jaime Feldman. Dr. Feldman teaches a form of Hypnotherapy, called PARTS Therapy, which has been effective in working with people with a wide variety of concerns, issues and conditions. I continued my study of hypnosis and earned a certification for Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy, also through the Institute of Hypnotherapy.
For the past year, I have been working with clients, using hypnosis, to tackle medical concerns, as well as anxiety. The feedback I have received has been exciting, as they have reported desired positive changes!
There are many questions and some myths regarding hypnosis, which have caused some people to mistrust hypnosis, or at least to be skeptical. I believe this is due to the lack of understanding of hypnosis and how it can be used as a valuable tool leading to a healthier lifestyle.
Movies and stage shows frequently involve a swinging pocket watch and have shown hypnotized people as being in some sort of zombie-like state that allows another person to have complete control. These hypnotized people are often instructed to sing, dance or perform some other goofy embarrassing stunt to the amusement of the audience. This form of hypnosis is for entertainment. This is not the form of hypnosis that I would be using!
The hypnosis I am offering is therapeutic and used to help clients with specific issues and/or concerns, such as anxiety, weight control, smoking cessation, pain relief or fear of the dentist.
Below are some frequently asked questions about hypnosis that I am confident will lead you to a clearer understanding of hypnosis and how hypnosis can help you to achieve your goals.
1. What is hypnosis?
For most, hypnosis is a very pleasant feeling of complete physical and mental relaxation.
Hypnosis is widely regarded as a state of heightened suggestibility, brought about by shifting the balance between the conscious and subconscious minds. Typically, the conscious mind is at the forefront and most active while the subconscious mind is always working in the background. During hypnosis, the two switch places, creating a shift in balance, with the subconscious mind becoming more active and accessible and the conscious mind assuming a more passive role.
Most people experience a mild hypnotic-like state throughout their day. You may experience this when you become totally absorbed in reading a highly interesting book or become “lost in thought” as you are driving home from a long day at work. When you are in this state, you are not aware of people speaking to you, or even around you; you do not hear. Your attention is focused on the book or your work project.
Hypnosis is about letting go. Letting go of the details of your day, all of the day’s concerns and worries, and just being in the here and now.
2. Will I lose consciousness during hypnosis?
You will not lose consciousness during hypnosis. You will be aware of the hypnotherapist and will be able to communicate with the hypnotherapist in order to achieve the best outcome of the session.
3. Will I have difficulty awakening?
No, you will be able to come out of the hypnotic state whenever you choose. It is important to use the bathroom and/or get a drink of water before beginning so that you do not interrupt your hypnosis.
4. What is the difference between conscious and subconscious?
The conscious mind is always active and deals with the outside world though sensory experiences. The conscious mind is the logical part of us. It sorts through and analyzes information and draws conclusions which are stored in the subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind is passive (of which we are not actively aware) and serves as the storehouse for our memories and beliefs. The subconscious is also responsible for controlling our automatic functions of the body such as breathing, walking, heart rate, etc.
Imagine having a huge pile of mail that was just delivered to you. As you sort through it, you read the contents of each envelope and discard what is not necessary and file away those pieces you want to keep. That is how the conscious and subconscious minds work: the conscious mind sorts through the “mail” and the subconscious mind “files” what is to be saved and can be accessed in the future when/if needed.
5. What will I feel like when I am hypnotized?
Many people describe feeling extremely relaxed during hypnosis. Some people fear they will fall asleep during hypnosis and it may feel that way; but, your subconscious will hear everything the hypnotherapist is saying.
6. Can I be hypnotized against my will?
No, you will be in control at all times. Any time you want to stop the hypnosis, you will be able to do so. It is recommended that you continue through the entire session with your therapist in order to get the optimal use from the hypnosis.
7. What is a trance?
The word “trance” can have a negative connotation for some. It is the term I use to describe the deep relaxed state that will occur during hypnosis. It is, during this time, when the conscious and subconscious change their roles and allows the suggestions, agreed upon by you and the hypnotherapist, to be spoken to the subconscious. To repeat, you will always be in complete control.
There are different “depths” of hypnosis with some people going into hypnosis deeper than others. However, most people are able to go deeper into hypnosis with practice.
There is no religious connection during hypnosis. If you have a specific faith or belief system, hypnosis will not have any impact on your spirituality. Of course, you are welcome to utilize your spiritual beliefs during the hypnotic process. The hypnotherapist will honor this, at your request.
8. Will the hypnotherapist control me and make me do something I do not want to do or say something I do not want to share with others?
No. First, an ethical, professional hypnotherapist will not suggest for you to do anything immoral or illegal. Remember, you are in control at all times during hypnosis.
You will go as deeply into hypnosis as you want to go, as deeply as you feel safe going. The therapist will serve as a guide and can lead you only where you want to go. You can stop at any time.
9. Can I hypnotize myself?
Yes. With practice, a person can put him/herself into a hypnotic state. This is a valuable skill that allows you to have better control of yourself during times of stress, anxiety or difficulty sleeping, for example.
10. Can hypnosis harm me?
There are always benefits and risks to any type of therapy/treatment. It is possible that you may feel worse before you feel better. You may recall unpleasant memories. It is also possible, as with any treatment, that it may not work, or meet your expectations. It is critical for you to be hypnotized by a person who has been trained and is skilled in the use of hypnosis for medical, dental and/or social and emotional purposes.
11. What can I expect during a hypnosis session?
The initial hypnosis session will involve a “pre-talk” instruction which will provide you with an overview of the session and talk about your expectations and goals. An induction will be used to relax you, so that you can feel safe and comfortable and settle into a hypnotic state. The suggestions and goals that were discussed during the pre-talk will then be introduced in order for the subconscious mind to accept and adopt them. After this, the hypnotherapist will gradually bring you out of the hypnotic state.
During hypnosis, you can access abilities you naturally have been unable to connect with while in your normal analytical state.
12. How many times will I need to be hypnotized to get relief?
The number of hypnosis sessions needed varies from person to person. Some people, who want to stop smoking, for example, will find that one or two sessions are all that will be needed, while other people may need (or feel the need for) more sessions. Weight loss, which is a more gradual process, will take more sessions. It takes time to extinguish old habit patterns. You will be given a recording of your hypnosis session to listen to at home, which will serve as reinforcement for the positive changes discussed during your session.
The number of sessions is individualized and can be discussed with your hypnotherapist.
13. I do not think I can be hypnotized. I tried it before and did not feel any different.
There could be several explanations for that. Most people who report that they were unable to achieve a hypnotic state did not have a clear explanation of the hypnotic process by the therapist prior to the first induction. Other times the person being hypnotized is hesitant to relax and is anxious they may “miss” an important direction from the hypnotherapist. There may be a fear of losing control. As stated above, you are always in control during the session.
I tell each person that I hypnotize to relax and “go” wherever my words take you. Your subconscious will hear, even if you feel you are no longer hearing my spoken words.
14. How can hypnosis help me?
Hypnosis can assist you in working on areas that you find are problematic to you. Examples of this include, but are not limited to: weight loss, smoking cessation or in preparing for a surgery or medical procedure and the following healing/recovery process. Hypnosis has also been effective for those people who want to improve specific skills, such as public speaking or building self-confidence. There are a multitude of areas for which hypnosis can be an effective treatment choice.
15. Can children and adolescents be hypnotized?
The simple answer to this question is yes. Young people may be able to work through areas of concern, such as anxiety, fear of taking tests, or even wanting to perform better at sports or other activities through hypnosis. For children and adolescents, all legal parents/guardians must sign a consent for hypnotherapy. The process will be explained to both the child and guardian(s) so that all can make an informed decision to voluntarily participate.
If you have other questions or would like to discuss how hypnosis would be a helpful treatment option for you, please contact me at Connections Counseling, LLC.
Donna Hallworth, LCSW
856.845.4447 x. 5