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health Can hypnotherapy help to overcome irrational fearsor bad habits?

Gareth Wilson speaks to local lady Lisa Nolson who is a qualified Hypnotherapist and Level 4 Psychologist

Hypnotherapy claims to offer an effective solution to many psychological and physical ailments, ranging from anxiety, depression and addiction to more serious physical ailments. Never afraid to explore ‘the unknown’ here at Life Begins, we examine the subject, and enlighten ourselves as to what the process entails.

When we think of hypnosis, perhaps the first thing that springs to mind is being put ‘under’ and made to act like a farm animal at the whim of a stage magician. Lisa begins by explaining there is a profound difference between stage hypnosis and the type of ‘trance’ undertaken in hypnotherapy, “It’s not about clucking like a chicken at all. In therapy we consciously enter a state of deep relaxation and give concious control to the unconscious mind. The purpose is completely different from stage hypnosis. In the company of a good therapist you are looking to become aware of unconscious beliefs and patterns of behaviour resulting from those beliefs and bring these into your conscious awareness.”

Tapping into the unconscious A patient who undergoes hypnotherapy is not unconscious but as Lisa suggests is in a state of heightened awareness – more in touch with the unconscious workings of the mind. To be asleep would in fact be useless. Lisa further explains: “whatever I do as a hypnotherapist, it is still the patient’s subconscious making decisions, ultimately able to accept or reject the ideas being suggested. For example, if I were to suggest something completely inappropriate, a patient’s mind would become aware and rally against this”. She reassures me, “Its nothing to be afraid of. We are in fact hypnotised throughout our lives by television and media for example. It’s part of how we learn and experience things. In hypnotherapy we are consciously tapping into that normally unconcious but receptive state, which is being bombarded by stimuli all of the time.”

It’s an interesting concept. The theory goes that on some level we have been ‘hypnotised’ in the past already; to believe certain things, to feel a certain way about ourselves. Through a series of repeated incidents in our lives, or certain more significant traumas, we learn habits of being. We learn these so many times that they become part of our subconscious functioning - they get lost in the ether of our brain and yet they keep telling us who we

are, what is happening and how to react. This is normally a useful feature, since it would be a practical nightmare if we constantly had to be conscious of every little thing that was happening all the time. However, negative or unfounded beliefs can feedback in a detrimental way.

Challenging negative beliefs “A belief is a thought that people think often,” imparts Lisa, “and sometimes they can be very harmful. Often these are irrational or unfounded.” Such beliefs might be as simple as ‘spiders are scary’, or ‘I am ugly’, or if do ‘x’, then terrible thing ‘y’ will happen. These concepts go unchallenged in the unconscious. In therapy the aim is to be able to positively feed back to this part of the mind, and to give the client the new understanding and resources to tackle unfounded beliefs.”

So what actually happens in a typical hypnotherapy session? Lisa explains: “A typical session can use a combination of approaches. In regressive therapy for instance, a client is able to revisit a significant or traumatic event, and re-interpret the situation through a more mature perspective. An experience can be re-lived, almost in a film like way, with the client able to recognise and exercise control over an otherwise undermining event. Similarly, the process of unpacking debilitating behaviour sees the therapist and client work through a positive visual experience together that engages the more creative, imaginative side of the brain.”

With absolute conviction in her science, Lisa believes there is no limit to the effect of our unconscious thinking on our lives and even the health of our bodies. If you believe the outcome of a situation will be bad for example, then your body will stimulate a stress response accordingly. Perhaps there is some untold, unexplored belief causing the response in the first place. Theoretically, if the mind is as powerful and expansive as Lisa might suggest, perhaps anything is possible?

Nobody takes control in a session. The client is handing over control to their own subconscious. Control is only a conscious construct anyway. How much control do we really have if it’s the subconscious making all the decisions?

14 Life Begins

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