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Does Hypnosis Work? A Glasgow Hypnotherapist Reveals All

BY: Laura Pearson Smith | 16 Dec 2015

Many people seek the services of a hypnotherapist to try to deal with a variety of problems in their lives- from insomnia, to phobias and a lack of confidence. Caroline Brown is a clinical hypnotherapist in central Glasgow who specialises in cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy- hypnosis that focusses on what concerns you and on how you can take action to alter it.

What is hypnosis?

Hypnosis in itself is not a therapy. Instead, it allows the client to feel confident and relaxed (not always relaxed e.g. for sports improvement it would be an alert hypnosis). This state makes it easier to embed ideas which have been developed in the talking stage of the therapy. I usually do half discussion and half hypnosis in a client’s first session, then more hypnosis in their later sessions.

Does hypnosis work on everyone?

It is a matter of being willing, but if you have paid to be hypnotised you are usually willing. If you want to be hypnotised, then you can be. However, people with learning difficulties sometimes find it hard and people who cannot keep still find it hard- if you have a condition that makes you easily distracted, then hypnosis is unlikely to work for you. Also, if you have psychotic voices then hypnosis is a non-starter as you may not know the difference between you own voices and the hypnotist’s suggestions.

What sort of training and qualifications do you need to be a hypnotherapist?

It is an unregulated industry so you don't need any. However, to be sure of good service, it is worth going to one of the reputable directories (some are run as private businesses and if you pay the fee you can be registered) and look for someone who has a diploma. It is also worth checking if they just work evenings and weekends as this might signal they are just a learner or a part-time hobbyist. Also, if they can take a booking with you with very little notice, they might have not yet built up a reputation of success.

Can you describe the format that a session with a client would follow? What would happen from start to finish?

For me, as a cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, the session will begin with a talk about their problems. This can take up to half the session (definitely for the first one). This will be a semi-structured interview/discussion. I am looking for the presenting problems. I wish to know what their goals of therapy are, how they know they have a problem and what they know about the problem. We then discuss a way forward- discussion is part of the therapy too. Following that, there is a hypnotic session of around 30 minutes.

Lots of people still fear that they will lose control of their own minds in a session due to TV show misconceptions. Can you explain why this is not possible?

On the TV, hypnosis is used for a performance. The people on stage are willing to engage for the fun of it. No-one is controlling anyone else's mind. In therapy, the goal is quite different. It is a talking therapy. There is no touching. Rather, the client's imagination is engaged in looking at their problem. The client hears everything and remains completely in control. If they don't like it, they can open their eyes and leave the room. We tend to ask permission to move to different issues in hypnosis, and the client is capable of agreeing. Hypnosis is really a form of empowerment and self-control. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Brainwashing is something different and it usually takes a long time, in an extended immersion situation.

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