Hypnotherapy 101

Are you looking for direct access to your subconscious? Do you want to deepen your own self-understanding and change the habits or tendencies you don’t like about yourself? Are you prone to stuffing your face when you are upset? Do you have a few too many drinks when you are overwhelmed? Do you lash out at the very people who love you most when you’re disappointed in yourself? Hypnotherapy could help you change these self-destructive behaviors.

Contrary to popular belief, being hypnotized does not give anyone else (namely, the person doing the hypnotizing) the power to alter your consciousness. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Hypnotherapy teaches you to master your own states of awareness. In the process of what is essentially a very deep, guided relaxation, you are led to the root causes of your behaviors and habits (i.e., smoking, overeating, abusive relationships), and opened up to the possibility of replacing them with newer, healthier ones.

Here’s how it works:

We Are the Sum Total of Our Experiences
When something happens to us, it sticks — at least in our subconscious. As a result, we learn a particular behavior in response to the occurrence. Then, each time something similar happens (read: we feel rejected or abandoned, we fail at something or get too vulnerable to someone) we repeat the same reaction. Thus, unhealthy habits and behaviors are formed.

The Power to Change
These are exactly the problems hypnotherapy aims to change. In some types of hypnotherapy, a trained therapist will guide you to remember the instigating event (the one that brought on that first reaction). From there, they can help you to separate that memory from the learned behavior, and change the way you react going forward. You’ll start by reframing the problem in question, becoming relaxed, and letting go of your negative thoughts. Then, your therapist will help open your mind to the desired goal with concrete suggestions.

A common example? If quitting smoking is the goal, your therapist will suggest that you now strongly dislike the taste of cigarettes. Then, you will return to your usual state of consciousness/awareness, and with your therapist, reflect on the experience.

Mind-Body Connection
The reason this works is that during hypnosis you become deeply relaxed, your blood pressure and heart rate are lowered, and even your brain-wave activity changes. Basically, you’re physically at ease but mentally focused, which makes you highly responsive to suggestion. Some people are more responsive than others to hypnotherapy. It’s been said that you truly have to want to change for the process to have its full effect.

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