How Will You Hypnotise Me?
To help you to descend into a deep state of relaxation, I will first ask you to make yourself comfortable, either sitting up or lying down, and ask you to close your eyes and take a number of deep and regular breaths, while focussing only on the rhythm of your breathing. As you breathe fresh oxygen into your lungs, I will ask you to imagine breathing in calm, and then tell you to imagine yourself exhaling all the tension you feel in your body, and feel yourself going deeper and deeper into a relaxed state. The more you breathe, and the more you listen to my voice, the more deeply relaxed you will feel.
What Does Hypnosis Feel Like?
When you enter a deep state of relaxation you may feel as if you are floating on a bed of air. You may no longer be aware of your physical body – just of your inner mind. You may see images, or hear sounds, or feel certain feelings. For hypnosis to work effectively, one needs to achieve total mind and body relaxation. Some PTSD sufferers, who have not felt relaxed in years, may think it would be impossible for them to achieve such a relaxed state. But in truth, the body is generally crying out for the chance to let go of all that tension, and I have found ALL PTSD sufferers respond extremely well to clinical hypnotherapy. There are numerous peer-reviewed studies which state that the minds of PTSD sufferers are already trying to dissociate from the body, and the trauma they have suffered, and that is the cause of flashbacks and that feeling of watching oneself from a distance. So, when offered the chance to dissociate completely, the mind seizes it. People who drink to numb, or use illicit substances, are also very susceptible to reaching a healing level of hypnosis. It is a positive and not a negative when it comes to hypnotherapy.
The body’s deeply relaxed state also prompts the release of a natural, self-healing, force. Sometimes people feel as if they have fallen asleep while in hypnosis and are disappointed, as they think hypnosis will not work if they are asleep. But the subconscious mind is always awake, and you may float in and out of a sleepy state as the subconscious decides when to rouse you, and when to let you doze while it does its work. This is why the Beat Retreat protocol can be effectively delivered in group seminars where you do not share any of your issues with anyone, but just listen to the explanations of why PTSD develops, and listen to the hypnotherapy visualisations in the comfort of your own home. This is because your body already knows what is wrong. All it needs is the right method to reach deep relaxation, and then a nudge in the right direction, and then it will show you the cause of everything you have been feeling. Then, if you are participating in a group session rather than a private one and you do feel you need to talk to the therapist, you can just ring the 24/7 crisis line and discuss what you have experienced. The Beat Retreat supports you at every step of this very personal journey.
What Will You Say To Me While I Am In Hypnosis?
Depending on the problem or problems you are keen to eliminate, the session will likely involve a series of guided visualisations, where you will be asked to imagine what you would like to eliminate, or what part of you is causing your problems etc. I may ask you to imagine being in a specific location, or suggest you let your own imagination decide what you will see or feel or hear. I may ask you to repeat key sentences in your head, to overcome troublesome feelings and maximise the power of suggestion. Sometimes your subconscious mind will choose to ignore what I am saying and make you think of something totally different, but that is fine. A hypnotherapist is merely a guide in the process of hypnotherapy: your mind will wander where it wishes, and it knows best how to help you achieve your goals. If you see, or hear or feel something you don’t want to share with anyone else, that is fine. Hypnosis is an intensely personal therapy, and major change can be achieved without you revealing anything of your experiences while in hypnosis to anyone. Even the therapist.
What Happens If I Cannot Be Hypnotised?
Every single human being is capable of achieving a hypnotic state, if they want to, when they want to, because hypnosis is just the process of allowing oneself to become deeply relaxed. All of us experience at least one hypnotic state everyday, as we fall asleep at night. Sometimes we also enter the equivalent of a hypnotic trance when we are doing mindless tasks, such as watching TV, brushing our teeth, showering, or driving a familiar route. We may find we have been thinking about something completely different than what we have been doing. Basically we have given our mind a moment to wander. Hypnosis is about giving your mind time to wander to what is most important.
How Many Sessions Will I Need?
You are likely to need between four and six sessions, sometimes a few more, but that is the average. Those symptoms are coming from a complex web of events and it can take a few sessions for someone to understand the nub of the problem; where it first originated. Identifying that initial event is important for the mind to put everything to rest. One client came out of hypnotherapy with a fantastic analogy of how hypnotherapy works, which he has allowed me to share here: “I saw everything that had happened in my life like a string of fairy lights. Each light represented something sad, upsetting, traumatic, that had happened to me. I followed the lights all the way back to the very first one, and I knew that was where my problems started. So in my imagination I reached out and pulled the plug out, and all the lights went out, and I knew then that my symptoms were gone.”
That initial event is often in childhood, but not always. Sometimes the mind will show you everything except the initial event first, while it waits to see when you are ready to tackle the crux of the issue.
It is up to the client to decide when they feel they have resolved their issues. In my experience there is a point in the treatment process when they ‘just know’. People will say: “I don’t know how I know I am sorted, but I just do.” You may well find that you achieve partial or total relief from your problem or situation in just one session, as impossible as that may sound after years of difficulties, but that relief may not be long lasting. I believe after that first session the body is giving you a glimpse of how you WILL feel, after you have fully investigated the cause(s) of your symptoms.
If you would like to read how others felt during and after hypnotherapy, and how they overcame their symptoms, you can read The PTSD Solution: A Military Approach in our publications centre. You can read it online or download it.
You can also contact me and I would be happy to answer any of your questions.