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Hypnotherapy: Why it is about the thing you think it isn’t actually about

clock macro pocket watch 3023593 - Hypnotherapy: Why it is about the thing you think it isn’t actually about

I’ve been in practise as a hypnotherapist since 2004. Over those years, I’ve lost count of the amount of articles I’ve read on the subject, written by journalists who all seem compelled, somehow, to kick start said article by saying, “You’d be forgiven for thinking that hypnosis is all about swinging pocket watches and pendulums but, it’s isn’t.” And, by doing so, perpetuating the idea that, somehow, hypnotherapy is, or was at some point, all about swinging pocket watches and pendulums. Again, and again, I’ve read the same stereotype being perpetuated, for over thirteen years. Enough, already!

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, “Hang on a minute, but isn’t he starting his article off that way too? The hypocrite!” Well, yes. Yes, I am. But and the point really needs to be made, finally and for the last time, so that it need not ever be mentioned again: Hypnotherapy is not about being hypnotised by a hypnotherapist with either a swinging pocket watch or a pendulum. Except.

Except.

Except, it can be.

I have a pocket watch. A friend bought one for me as a present when I graduated from hypnotherapy college. And I have hypnotised someone with it, once, but only because they asked me to. I’ve also hypnotised someone with a sonic screwdriver. Not a real one mind, but one of those £10.00 plastic replicas. But, that’s only because A: I had one in my possession at the time and B: the person concerned was a Doctor Who fan and was absolutely over the moon when I waggled it in front of him.

The point of swinging pocket watches, or pendulums, or Doctor Who sonic screwdrivers, or anything waved rhythmically, side to side, in front of someone’s eyes, for that matter, is to tire those eyes; to make someone want to close their eyes, preferably with some relief. “Thank god they’ve stopped waving that bloody thing in front of me,” they mentally sigh.

This is known as inducing trance. It is the first stage of hypnosis. Once someone’s eyes have closed, once a trance has been induced, it can be deepened to the appropriate level. Once it has been deepened to the appropriate level, the therapy part can take place.

You can also induce a trance but having someone stare at the palm of your hand, or the back of their hand, or a spot on the wall, or by holding their arm in the air, or by listening to the sound of your voice, or to a specific sound around them and more. All to the same point: inducing trance, getting someone to close their eyes and begin to comfortably relax.

So, to journalists everywhere, I say this: You’ll be forgiven for thinking that hypnotherapy is all about swinging pocket watches and pendulums because it can be. And, now that you know that, you need not ever kick off an article about hypnotherapy that way again. Much to the relief of actual hypnotherapists everywhere.

Now, do not get me started on that old, “look into my eyes, not around the eyes, in the eyes you’re under” malarkey.

Mental Health is Normal

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I think one of the most surprising things about psychotherapy is that, despite the many, many strides in mental health awareness, more than a fair few people are still loathe to admit that they just might have mental health issues. But, guess what? Having a mental health issue is completely normal. Read more

Think of a Therapist as a Mechanic for your Mind

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Some people are a little put off by psychotherapy, and so approach it with caution, while others are too scared to go for therapy at all, even though they know they need it. There’s still a lot of stigma attached to mental health issues, but therapy need not be such a scary thing. As the self-development guru, Wayne Dyer, once famously said, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Read more

Why You Need to Give up Your Demands

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In Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), the form of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) that I advocate, we say that your demands are at the root of your psychological disturbance. But, what is a demand exactly, and how does it disturb you?  Read more

Beating the Stigma of Mental Health

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Sadly, the term mental health carries a hefty negative connotation. One that is difficult to overcome. Many people don’t like mentioning they’ve seen a psychotherapist because they’re worried that people will think there’s something wrong with them. But, does the term need to be so fraught? Read more

Depression: Do You Even Have It?

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You Can Beat the Bullies

Bullying, especially its modern-day variant, cyber bullying, is sadly on the rise. And whilst adults can be vulnerable to it, it’s children and teenagers who are copping it the most. Facebook and Twitter are not the safe havens we’d like them to be and. sadly, incidents of bullying-related suicide rarely seem to be out of the papers. However, the psychological harm caused by bullying is preventable, if you know how. One such in-the-know woman was Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady and wife of the 32nd US President, Franklin D Roosevelt. She famously said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Want to learn how not to give that consent away? Then read on. Read more

Men Need Therapy Too!

Heartthrob actor and Twilight star, Robert Pattinson (or RPatz) has just popped up in the press saying he suffers from anxiety and struggles with his looks (click here). These days, the media focus as much attention on the naked male physique, as they do on the female form. And, so men are suffering from similar psychological problems, only they’re doing less about it. Read more

Depression: It’s not Always as Bad as it Sounds

According to research, up to one in five people in Britain are affected by depression at some point in their lives and the use of anti-depressants has reached an all-time high. The word itself has become frightening, even depressing in itself. However, there are many types of depression, including reactive depression, the treatment of which does not necessarily require medication. Read more

You’re Having a Laugh!

Oscar Wilde once famously wrote that life was far too important to be taken seriously, whilst one of the most often used sayings ever is that laughter is the best medicine. And while the therapy room might be the last place in which you expect to experience laughter, it is as good a place as any for it. Read more