Knowing how to hypnotise is just the first step- it’s what the therapist does next that makes the difference to the client. Hypnosis is a tool, so to use it wisely and effectively requires a good understanding of how the mind works, how habits and reactions and beliefs are created. Hypnosis makes therapy more powerful in various ways.
Firstly, by empowering the imagination, so the client can vividly imagine herself doing something that she
previously found impossible, and this imaginary experience is stored in the
brain like a real memory, making it easier to do that thing in real life.
Whether we are actually doing something in the present, imagining doing it in
future, or remembering doing it in the past, the same areas of the brain are
active in all three cases. What’s different is the sense of reality or unreality, and that’s where hypnosis helps, by adjusting this sense of reality.
Traumatic memories always feel more real than ordinary memories, or even than present day experience. Anything that reminds us of the bad memory can pull us into it, like being sucked into a whirlpool
where we feel as helpless as a child again. This is such a horrible experience that people start avoiding anything that reminds them of that memory, which severely limits their life. In some cases they’re afraid to sleep in case they dream about it!
Using special therapy techniques a client can be helped to remember a bad memory from childhood, but from an adult perspective where he knows he’s now survived that event. This has to be done very carefully, often just dealing with one piece of the memory at a time, and making sure the client feels fully in control at all times.
I also use Eye Movement therapies to help clients overcome past trauma. These therapies do not require the client to go into trance. Some clients feel more comfortable with these therapies.
Hypnosis can also be used in "Parts Therapy" to identify different “parts” of the personality that are in conflict with each other, and to get them all on the same side. We’ve all experienced this, when we say things like “I want to do such-and-such but my brain won’t let me!” In saying this we’re saying that our mind is split into
two parts, with different goals and priorities.
Generally, even a self-destructive part of us is trying to help or protect us. They’re just doing it in a way that’s no longer appropriate. To overcome self-destructive
behaviour we would need to identify what that behaviour does for you, and then
find a better way to achieve that goal. For instance some women become very
overweight in order to ward off unwanted attention from men. If they can learn to confidently set limits on how men treat them, they will no longer need the protection of the excess weight.