California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Individual and Couples Counseling and Brief Hypnotic Psychotherapy
2755 Cottage Way, Suite 5, Sacramento, CA 95825 (916) 203-5310
THE "H-WORD" DE-MYSTIFIED
If you have ever seen stage hypnosis, I want to tell you that's not how it works in counseling. So don't worry about quacking like a duck or surrendering control to someone. In the counseling office the goal is therapeutic, not entertainment.
Hypnosis is not magic and not a mystery. And hypnosis by itself is not therapy. It is a way of communicating with the "back of the mind" or the subconscious, or whatever term you prefer. That's where our unused power resides. The message we communicate is the therapy, and that we work out in our conversation ahead of time.
Milton Erickson MD, is credited with developing the form of hypnosis now universally used in counseling around the world. He referred to it as "naturalistic" hypnosis because it's an extension of the little ordinary mental absorptions that we all do many times a day. This means that when our minds are occupied, or even not, we all spontaneously jump "off topic" for a few seconds as we are reminded of something we did, something we heard or saw or said, or an event we anticipate. This is how an active mind works as it follows those memory "links."
Office hypnosis just ritualizes this normal tendency we have so we can hook up those mental links to some new ideas, words, phrases or memories. The truth is that everyone has many more "inner resources," or whatever term fits, than we presently use. The idea is to tap into a little bit more of those resources, and that makes change easier.
"Words create our reality." We conceptualize our world and minute-to-minute life with the words we think to ourselves and say to other people. When we change the words and phrases we habitually think and speak, it changes our perception of reality. We are helped to remember the goals we have decided upon for ourselves, and remember what we need to do to meet them.
The simplest form of clinical hypnosis follows the pattern of physical and mental relaxation to clear away distractions and allow concentration on the message, suggestions to guide the mind to make links to new thoughts and ideas, some questions for the deeper part of the mind, and re-alerting when it's done. It feels like a comfortable rest while you listen to some words you know you need to hear. You hear and understand it all and you will remember it afterwards.
In some respects, this simple form of hypnosis is similar to guided imagery or positive thinking, but what sets it far above these are the questions to the deep mind, the gathering of information about what to do next. The process creates a communication loop to guide our resources in the direction we want to go, to invite the deep mind to let us know what it "needs," (that it may be trying to achieve with problem thoughts, feelings, or behavior), and then, on the basis of this information, modifying our suggestions so we can make a "friend" of our subconscious. We can't subdue or overpower our subconscious, it's much too strong. Better to get all parts of our mind working together.
Beyond this simple and direct hypnosis, there is a world of advanced applications that can deal with the deepest, most difficult issues, bypass resistance ("I want to, but I can't..."), help eliminate fears, phobias, change habits, and--a big one--help people find peace of mind.
Check the Links for further info on hypnosis.