By Susanna Sweeney, MSc, MBACP, CHT
Most articles on suggestion hypnosis are written for hypnotists to help
them sharpen up on their techniques and add extras to their toolkit.
What I want to do in this article, is this: I want to give you, the prospective hypnosis client, an understanding of what suggestion hypnosis is, what the ideas behind it are, what to expect and how you can get the very best out of it because I believe that education can really help you to get the best from your hypnosis treatment.
So, let's get started!
Suggestion is one of two basic ways of working in hypnosis therapy- the counterpart being regression hypnosis.
on what issue you are attending hypnotherapy for, the two can be used
separately on in conjunction to help you achieve your goal.
Regression hypnosis, in short, facilitates you to visit experiences in the past- often the distant past such as early childhood that set off the problematic issue you are attending hypnosis therapy for and helps you to.
Apart from those exclusions, suggestion hypnosis is safe, and very well contained.
The basic idea behind suggestion hypnosis is this.
In my article: "What is Hypnosis?" I talk about the brain state of hypnosis. Thanks to cutting edge technologies using different types of brain scans, we can now see that the brain- when in hypnosis- does different things to when it’s in a conscious waking state.
Increased suggestibility during hypnosis is one such example. As an adult, when in a conscious waking state, your mind has very strong inbuilt censors in operation that stop change. That’s why quitting smoking or losing weight, or any other change, for that matter, can become so difficult.
For the purposes of suggestion hypnosis, hypnotherapists use this increased suggestibility during hypnosis to feed your subconscious mind suggestions which are designed to help you change the issue you want to change.
Let’s look at this in a little more detail.
Our minds are constructed in such a way that every
culture, every parent, can condition their children according to the
needs of their particular environment. It is for this purpose that young
children’s minds are wide open to suggestion.
Why would this be so? This mechanism makes sense to me in evolutionary terms.
Think about it.
parents living in year round freezing conditions will have to instill
very different behaviors in their children compared to parents living
in sub-Saharan Africa. In order to survive, their kids require a very
different set of skills.
Because children are so easily suggestible, everything the caregivers say will impress itself deeply on their minds. Fear responses in particular are deemed essential to survival, so our minds make sure we take those messages in at a young age and never forget what we should be afraid of, in order to survive.
After the age of seven, the gates to the subconscious start to close.
We can see this in children when, as they are growing up, they stop
believing in magical creatures such as fairies and dragons and suddenly
become much more astute as to what is imagination and what is reality.
To use hypnosis language, they become much less suggestible.
Now, their conscious minds start to take center stage, and the programs that have been established in the subconscious mind run quietly in the background, determining their behavior. They will quickly become unaware these programs exist, and will be unaware of the power they have over them.
The programming will now be locked behind censors that make sure that the programming remains unchanged.
In this way, we become our own worst task masters, and limit our personal development.
So, how DOES one change in adult life?
To change the programming laid down in childhood in a fast an effective way you
are well advised to work in a non-ordinary state of consciousness such
as hypnosis.Hypnosis works well because it allows you to target the subconscious mind directly.
Otherwise, working in your conscious mind and using willpower, you could be struggling for years to achieve the change that you want. And that’s not because you are doing anything wrong. It’s simply a peculiar thing about how our brains work.
Let's look at what this looks like in practice. What techniques can you use to re-educate your subconscious mind?
Reframing is a technique that helps you to evaluate a
situation you feel stuck in from a birds eye perspective while in
When your hypnotist uses reframing, the hope is that you will be able to start seeing new possibilities, or ways around the issue. You may suddenly find yourself seeing possibilities where, previously, it seemed like there were none.
hypnotist will use metaphors and storytelling frequently during
suggestion hypnosis because they are an ideal teaching tool for your
subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind thinks in images rather than
the logical sequences used by the conscious mind.
Metaphors and stories can help your subconscious mind to evaluate a situation or behavior from a different point of view. Metaphors and stories can help convince the subconscious mind to adopt new, desired attitudes, emotions and behaviors.
Using revivification, your hypnotherapist will help you to recognize resources you have used in the past to deal with a similar issue. Your hypnotherapist will guide you to see how these resources can be used to solve the current problem.
Reintegration allows two conflicting
parts or voices within you to talk to one another. The idea is that if
one part of you wants change and another does not, the part that is
resisting can be ‘talked around’ to see that the planned change is
desirable for all of you.
For example, if you want to stop smoking, but there is a small voice within you that is afraid you might gain weight, your hypnotherapist might set up a scenario where the two voices can communicate so that the resisting part can understand that continuing to smoke puts your life at risk the longer you continue, and that it is possible for you to stop smoking without gaining weight.
Hypnotherapists use suggestions within sessions for a variety of purposes:
hypnotherapist will use posthypnotic suggestions to suggest to your
subconscious mind desirable emotional states and new healthy behaviors
which are designed to help you overcome your problem issue.
These posthypnotic suggestions can be anchored to certain triggers.
For example, if you are attending hypnotherapy to stop smoking, your hypnotherapist may suggest to your subconscious mind that after the session, every time you see someone smoking, you will feel a deep feeling of disgust.
This, of course, is designed to keep you away from cigarettes first of all during the critical quitting period, and furthermore for life after that.
What does it feel like when you carry out a posthypnotic suggestion?
If you are not sure if hypnotherapy works at all, you may be interested
in my take on the question: "Does Hypnotherapy Work?" Some of my ideas may
If your question of whether or not suggestion hypnosis works is informed by you believing that you cannot really be hypnotized (as an incredible number of people do), you may also have internalized other hypnosis myths which I recommend you bust before embarking on hypnosis therapy- simply so that you can get the best out of it.
But if you are open to an honest, simple answer, informed by my experience of working as a hypnotherapist as well as being a hypnosis client, then simply read on.
Some factors that
will make a difference are:
You can help yourself here by doing your research to find:
Let me conclude this article by helping you prepare for suggestion hypnosis in the following section.
I hope at the end of this article you have a better idea of what suggestion hypnosis is all about and what you can do to get maximum benefit from it.
Are you going to give suggestion hypnosis a go? Let me know in the comments underneath.
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