Why is Hypnosis Important?
What is it about hypnosis that makes it important? What’s it really do that straight counseling can’t do just as well? What made you decide to use hypnotherapy in your counseling practice?
I got into the practice as a result of my own journey in healing of serious physical issues and mental stress. My counselor used a form of hypnosis called NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) for some of our work together, and it was most helpful. Because of my own illness, the methods I was open to, and the journey I took to get well, I believe I'm a better therapist.
I call myself a personal guide or counseling hypnotherapist, because I find that hypnotic methods are really helpful at getting at the causes of symptoms, and at changing the basic "programming" that is causing the problems. The counseling, or guidance, helps people to become more aware, and to be more of a participant in their healing process. This combination allows me to have a large “kit-bag.” If one method isn’t doing the job another is there to try.
I don’t ask anyone to agree with this, but I've done talk therapy long enough to realize that, basically it deals with the conscious mind and the expectation that behavior will be changed by enlightening that mind. The hope is that if you talk long enough something will break through. This takes too long, and most of the time, doesn't elicit much except possible new awareness about some issue. Most often, the real change has to happen at the SUB-conscious or unconscious (henceforth in this response known as SC) level of the mind. This is about 95% part of the mind. That's where the basic urges and decisions in life lie. If changes aren’t made at that level, you have little except possible short-term motivation and temporary changes. I have many clients who come to me who have had several years of counseling, without any significant breakthroughs or changes in their situation or symptoms. They “know” a lot, but what they know hasn’t been deep enough to get the real problem resolved. Granted, there are also those who have made great breakthroughs with behavioral and other types of talk-counseling.
There is an interchange between the conscious and SC mind. The conscious mind has a concept of time, is logical, rationalizes, figures out how to do things, etc. A baby has to learn how to eat once it’s born, to walk, to talk, etc. A child even has to have someone show him or her how to brush their teeth. Each of these actions and habits begins as a conscious act and, when done enough, becomes automatic; that is, it is picked up by the SC mind. Your SC carries this on for you so that you don't have to think of every little action you must take to do every little task or process. You’ve already learned to walk and now it is automatic. No longer do you have to think of where to put your feet and how to move your hips and keep your back straight so as not to fall over. However, while out for a walk, if you suddenly come upon a broken-up sidewalk your usual “walking” habit needs some help. So the SC level sends up a signal about how to walk, and you become more conscious of walking until you come to a better sidewalk. The same cross-over happens when you meet someone after some time and their name comes to your mind--you're not always thinking of that person or their name all the time; only when you meet them. So, up comes their name from your memory bank, which also is handled by the SC mind. Habits work the same way. You desire something enough and it enough times and the unconscious self, that subconscious mind picks it up and keeps it going for you, assuming that is what you want for your life.
We would go crazy if we had to carry all of those activities and habits and knowledge in our conscious minds. Everything that has made us aware, or that we have become aware of, every bit of information we need to survive is assumed by our deeper minds. All of the other stuff about you – what your parents and teachers taught you to believe, the experiences you’ve had, your cultural identity, the ethics and morals you've been taught, the automatic functions of your body and a million other things are handled by your SC, or deeper, mind, without you having to think about it all.
Imagination is the bridge between your conscious and SC - In other words, what you imagine, is what you achieve. If you’ve been encouraged to believe that you’re a “dodo” who can't do anything, then that's what you're likely to become. If you've been encouraged throughout your life to "win” and you believe that, then guess what? You'll win in most things you do. Imagine that each of your attitudes and habits are like computer programs. Suppose that you are depressed or anxious, lacking confidence, or have some long-term habit that just doesn’t seem to “want” to change. Your conscious mind wants to change, but no matter how hard you try, change doesn’t happen. That’s because the reason for the “symptom” or habit or attitude lies in the SC self. Since this lies within that deep self, then it requires methods that can reach that “level” or aspect of your mind. You have a particular “program” running in your computer-like mind that needs to be “reprogrammed” so that the particular attitude, habit or symptom can be changed at a deeper level. This is one of the things hypnotic methods can do – reprogram a change, with the client’s willingness. Hypnosis can even release the basic reason for the problem, so that it doesn’t crop up as other symptoms.
I hope that answers your question, at least in part. On my website you’ll find other Q & A's plus articles which tell you much more about how hypnosis works and why it’s so beneficial.