What does ‘being in trance’ mean? What does it feel like?
The trance state is a natural one which we all experience regularly in our daily lives. Perhaps you have come to with a start after your mind has drifted, while on a train, for instance. Daydreaming is a trance state, in which our bodies become relaxed and our minds are focused away from what is around us in everyday life. When we are daydreaming or absorbed in a book or film, we are in trance. Some believe this process is necessary ‘downtime’ for the brain. Hypnotherapy makes use of our natural ability to go into trance in order to access our unconscious mind at a deep level and make desired changes.
How is the trance state different to a normal relaxed state?
They are very different. When in a normal ‘relaxed alert’ state, we are generally aware of our surroundings and still connected with the here and now. Our brain waves are in the Alpha frequency. A trance state is much deeper and more meditative, with our bodies deeply relaxed and minds focused intently inwards and away from our surroundings. We lost touch temporarily with the here and now. our brains are now in the Theta frequency (markedly slower than Alpha and just above the sleep state, Delta).
Why is the hypnotic trance state so powerful?
When in the trance state, we can direct our minds to focus intently on imagining chosen imagery, thoughts, feeling states or other goals. The brain picks up its cues from the content of our minds, and tailors its instructions to the body accordingly, triggering the release of chemical messages/ hormones at cell level. If the mind is filled with stressed and anxious thoughts (itself a powerful but negative kind of trance state) stress-related chemicals like Adrenalin and Cortisol will be released. If our intense imagining is positive and empowering, feel-good chemicals will be released (Endorphins, Serotonin etc.). Because our minds do not distinguish between e.g. imagining in a trance state lying on our favourite beach and actually being there, in each case the same cascade of hormones will be released via the brain’s instructions. Research has shown (using brain imaging) that in both cases, the same areas of the brain are being activated. However imagining you are lying on that beach while in a relaxed alert state does not work in the same way.
Do people ever get ‘stuck’ in a trance state?
Some people worry that they may not be able to ‘wake up’ at the end of a session or that they could get ‘stuck’ in trance. Perhaps this impression comes from Hypnosis stage shows, but it is not what happens in reality. You will always be able to choose to come back to full waking consciousness whenever you wish to.
What is the Unconscious Mind?
The unconscious or subconscious mind (either term can be used) is the part of our mind beyond our conscious awareness. Its job is to keep us alive and so it regulates our body functions like breathing and the beating of our hearts (via the autonomic nervous system). It is also the seat of our emotions. We have conscious memory but this is not complete. Everything that has ever happened to us is logged in our unconscious memory. If the unconscious mind believes a memory might distress us and threaten our survival, it will seek to bury it to protect us. Most of our thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions are generated below the conscious level. In fact, to a great extent, our lives are steered from the unconscious mind. When accessed directly, as with Hypnotherapy, the conscious mind which acts as a gatekeeper and commentator is bypassed, and lasting changes can be made directly at the deep level of the unconscious mind.
What is the Conscious Mind?
The conscious mind operates in a state of waking awareness and is responsible for thinking, speaking, logic and reasoning as well as physical actions. Day to day evaluations and decisions are taken at the conscious level, where we are aware of input from our five physical senses and our physical environment. We would have real problems getting through life without our conscious mind and its practical skills. Our conscious memory is limited in how much it can retain, and tends to keep a working memory of relevant items and those it is comfortable remembering. Importantly, the conscious mind acts as gate-keeper and ‘reality checker’, accepting or rejecting actions, suggestions, beliefs or ideas. While we need this critical function to get through each day, it can get in the way when we are trying to address repressed emotions, feelings or memories held in the unconscious mind. The use of the hypnotic trance state allows the critical faculty to be suspended so the unconscious mind can be addressed directly.
Is Hypnotherapy like Hypnosis stage shows?
No, it is very different. Hypnotherapy is a therapy, using our ability to go into trance to our greater good. Hypnosis stage shows are a form of entertainment with everyone there to enjoy themselves.
Is Hypnotherapy safe?
Yes it is very safe because you are in control of the process all of the time. If you felt uncomfortable, you could come out of trance at any time.
Does having Hypnotherapy mean I have to give up control of my mind?
No. Hypnotherapy is not to be confused with brainwashing.
There is no way a Hypnotherapist can control your mind. Hypnotherapy works by consent, creating the conditions for you to be guided to go into self-hypnosis and work with your own mind. You cannot be compelled to do anything under hypnosis that you would not be prepared to do when fully awake, and you retain the power to reject any suggestion you do not wish to accept.
Can anyone be hypnotised?
Anyone who wishes to, and feels relaxed with the Hypnotherapist they have chosen to work with can enter into a trance state. It is not possible to hypnotise someone against their will – the conscious mind acting as gate-keeper would simply not allow it to happen.
Is it true that not remembering anything about the session means it worked better?
This is another myth that probably comes from Hypnosis stage shows. In fact some people remember everything while others may remember less. The important thing is that it is the unconscious mind which is the real audience for Hypnotherapy, not the conscious mind, so if the conscious mind wanders or even goes to sleep for periods during the session, the unconscious mind continues to listen.
Does a deeper trance mean better Hypnotherapy?
It used to be thought that a deeper trance led to a more powerful therapeutic effect. That is now no longer thought to be true, and even a ‘light’ trance can allow profound changes to take place.
What is Regression?
Regression simply means encouraging the unconscious mind (where all past experience is recorded) to take you safely back to the original trigger point of an issue which is causing problems in your life today, and allow you to do some work to resolve and clear it. If your unconscious mind has buried the memory for your protection, regression allows you gain safe conscious access to it. Most of my Hypnotherapy work uses regression to work with triggers in the past, as our difficulties with issues and problems in life today often originate in the past. Regression is extremely effective at creating change which lasts.
Does Regression mean past lives?
Most often, the trigger point for an issue lies in an earlier part of this life. Occasionally, a client’s unconscious may take us to what seems to be a different life. Whether or not this is a true past life is usually impossible to prove. My mind is open. But whether it is or is not does not matter, because it will be a significant representation of a key event or situation. I would work with it in exactly the same way.
How long is a Hypnotherapy session? How many would I need?
I generally work with a smaller number of longer sessions. These typically last 2 – 2.5 hours for Regression under Hypnosis, or c. 1.5 hours for other Hypnotherapy work. Typically we might plan to schedule 3 – 4 sessions with some weeks between each one, and then review progress.
What is the cost of a Hypnotherapy session?
Regression under Hypnosis (2 – 2.5 hours): £110 and other Hypnotherapy work (c 1.5 hours): £90
How can I tell whether a Hypnotherapist is properly qualified?
There are many registers listing Hypnotherapists, which can be confusing. You should look for the membership organisation by which a therapist has been certified – most have websites, and you can always contact them to check. I am a certified member of the APHP/ Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy. There is a register initiated by the government called the CNHC/ Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council which only lists therapists judged to hold the appropriate qualifications. Their list can be searched online. I am registered with the CNHC as both Hypnotherapist and Spiritual Healer.
How can I be sure sessions with you are completely confidential?
I am bound by the terms on confidentiality laid down by my accrediting organisations (Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council). This is the foundation of trust in building a good therapeutic relationship.
You are also a Spiritual Healer. Does that mean you combine Healing with Hypnotherapy?
I do not combine Hypnotherapy and Spiritual Healing in the same session. My practice is split between the two, with some clients coming only for one or the other. However an increasing number find they like to use a combination of approaches.
What about cancellations?
If a session is missed or cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice, the full fee may be liable.
What if I am not sure whether Hypnotherapy is for me?
For anyone who wants to find out more, I am happy to answer any questions at no cost. A conversation also allows me to establish whether I feel what I offer could be of help.