Hailed as a super-quick, painless way to cure your addictions by some, and a dangerous waste of time and money by others…What’s the truth behind hypnotherapy?
Everyone from Adele (stage fright) to Drew Barrymore (smoking) is said to have turned to it, but while proponents swear it’s a safe and effective cure for a range of health and emotional issues, it’s hard not to imagine people being coerced into clucking like a chicken when you think of hypnotherapy.
In 2016, it’s still a treatment rife with stereotypes – and scepticism. While the practice is said to date back centuries, scientists today still can’t agree on how it works – or whether it actually works at all. ‘Clinical hypnotherapy’, as it’s referred to by the NHS, is currently classed as a ‘complementary therapy’, with the health service stance being this: while there’s no strong evidence to support it, many argue it uses the ‘placebo effect’, so it can still be useful in some very specific cases.
Studies show it can improve ailments such as IBS and skin complaints, offer pain relief and even help with some addictions. So can it help you quit smoking, lose weight or overcome your fear of flying, just like that? And what actually happens to you during a session?
“Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation in the body, and heightened awareness within the mind,” explains Susan Hepburn, a Harley Street practitioner with nearly 30 years’ experience. “It involves tapping into your subconscious and reprogramming the mind to change. With the right practitioner, you can find lasting – often permanent – changes.”
According to Susan, a single 60-minute session is usually all that’s required for quitting addictions or curing ailments (although this is something many experts disagree on).
“You don’t need to deliver the message more than once – and results kick in as soon as you leave,” she says. “There are exceptions – weight loss for example, requires about three sessions.”
The practice works by putting you into a deeply relaxed state, which makes you more receptive to your therapist’s suggestions.
“For example, if I was helping a client quit smoking, I’d say, ‘You have no desire to smoke. It ages your skin,'” Susan says. “For weight loss, I’d use phrases like, ‘You want to eat more slowly,’ or ‘You want to chew your food really well’.”
By the end of a session, these ideas are planted deeply in the patient’s mind – without them even being aware. But while results are fast, Susan’s quick to point out that sessions are nothing like those hypnosis shows on TV.
“Most people expect to be put to sleep or to forget what happened afterwards – but actually, the opposite is true. You’re fully aware the whole time of what’s happening.”
Instead, patients often report feeling more awake and alert than before they visited. The only stipulation? You’ve got to want it to work, says Susan.
“If you don’t want to be hypnotised, it won’t make a difference – it’s vital you visit with an open mind and a willingness to change.”
It’s not cheap – while costs vary across the country, practitioners charge between £50-120 an hour (a session with London-based Susan costs £295). Either way, these women agree it’s changed their lives for the better…
“It quashed my anxiety and gave me my life back”
..says Beth Toulmin, 21, style adviser, from Portsmouth
“I was sitting in a cafe with a friend 18 months ago when I suddenly felt hot, dizzy and sick. It came out of nowhere – we’d been chatting about normal stuff, like what we were doing that weekend, nothing ‘stressful’. I remember running outside and standing on the street, thinking I was going to throw up or pass out. I had no idea what was happening to me, I was terrified. My friend was great – she comforted me and took me home – but I felt awful. That was the first of many panic attacks, which went on for six months before I sought help. I had a lot on my plate at the time being a student with exams to study for, but I didn’t feel particularly anxious in that moment.
“After my doctor diagnosed me with anxiety I was referred to a counsellor, but because of the three-month waiting list, I decided to try something else. I’d seen a leaflet advertising hypnotherapy, and it looked beneficial, so I booked in to see a therapist. She specialised in treating anxiety disorders and my first session involved a lot of talking – we spoke about how I felt and what I wanted to change. Being ‘under’ felt like a very relaxed state but I was still completely conscious. She counted down from ten to one and my body felt increasingly heavy, but strangely, my mind felt light and I could hear everything. She said she was talking to my ‘subconscious’ and we worked on getting rid of my negative emotions through visualisation exercises.
“Each session took around an hour – but it felt much shorter – and after just one hour, I felt calmer and in control. Every visit left me feeling more confident and less anxious – I’d head home feeling awake and full of energy. On my eighth and last session, my therapist taught me how to perform hypnotherapy on myself – something I still do now. I can’t believe how much hypnotherapy helped me – it gave me my life back.”
“I cut down on midweek boozing”
…says Gabby Wickham, 32, marketing director, from London
“Working for my marketing company means I’m out at networking events five or six times a week, and that always involves alcohol. Or at least it did. But drinking so often meant I rarely had a good night’s sleep – I was tired all the time and felt so unhealthy. While I never had a ‘problem’ and didn’t necessarily want to stop drinking altogether, I was keen to moderate my intake and wasn’t sure I’d get there using willpower alone. A friend had tried hypnotherapy to help her lose weight and it had worked, so I booked to see Susan Hepburn at her Harley Street clinic.
“For the first 40 minutes of my hour-long session, we talked about my goals and my relationship with alcohol. Once the 20-minute ‘hypnosis’ part started, I kept wondering, ‘Is this working?’ I wasn’t convinced I was ‘under’, but Susan assured me it was working. I assumed I’d leave thinking, ‘I still want wine, but I guess I shouldn’t have it’ but instead, I experienced a total shift in mindset. As soon as I left my first session, I felt disinterested in drinking a lot – it was that quick. Recently, I had a long boozy lunch with friends and drank just one glass of Prosecco and two wines over six hours. Before, I’d have polished off a bottle and a half, minimum. Still, there are plenty of stereotypes associated with hypnotherapy. When I suggested my boyfriend try it, he said, ‘No, I might have a trigger word that makes me quack like a duck.’ But for me, it’s changed my lifestyle. I feel so much better for it.”
article via: Netdoctor