Updated: Aug 27
As many other therapists I have also experienced therapy throughout my journey to become a psychotherapist. I tried a variety of kinds of therapy, some of them served me excellently, others, let’s say, not my cup of tea. It is only when I tried hypnotherapy, I realised how different the therapeutic process in hypnosis is. I decided to give it a go because, although my thoughts were rather sceptical, something inside me (curiosity maybe?) was pulling me towards the method. I felt there was no other way, but to try it.
When I describe hypnosis to my friends, I tend to say that it feels, as if there were two streams of consciousness flowing at the same time. You know where you are, whom you are with, what’s the day and time. You know fully what is happening and you somehow know that, if you want or need to, you can stop it at any point. But you don’t. You keep going with it, because of the second parallel process. At the same time when you know all the bearings of your situation, you also experience something extraordinary. Your mind takes you to all sorts of places and times, in a way that initially seems random. And you feel like you can talk about all of it, and all of that narrative is safe.
During one of my hypnosis sessions I found myself, all of the sudden, talking about having a tail in front of me, and how that tail did not allow me to do certain things in life. Although, the picture in my head was obviously metaphorical, I could clearly see myself walking through the world with fox like tail attached to the front of my belly. ‘The tail session’ as I call it now, was all about trying to work out, what can I do to move the tail to the back of my body, so I can navigate my life more freely.
Another time, I was talking about some events from not long ago. Whilst doing so, I realised, that my left hand was shaking and punching my leg, as if it was trying to tell me something. Just like a small child will sometimes try to shake you or punch you, so you pay attention to them, right when you are heavily involved in a conversation with your best friend. ‘Mummy mummy I want an ice-cream!’. I did not control it (or the conscious part of me wasn’t), but it was happening. Soon enough the hand ‘told me off’ for wasting time and instructed me to start talking about things that really matter, rather than replace difficult material with some minor issues. Of course, the hand did not speak, but clearly some part of my mind was using a part of my body to let me know, that I need to start paying attention.
Once, I remembered some events from my life that I have long forgotten. When I remembered them, one part of me knew that a few minutes ago I had not remembered the event, but the other part of me felt, as if I have never forgotten. In this sense the memory was both old and new. That memory was the last piece of jigsaw to understanding something important in my life.
Sometimes people will talk and think about hypnosis as some weird and worrying process, where one can be controlled, injected with orders (like the scene hypnosis where you see people barking, because the hypnotist told them to become a dog), or simply something that is a lie. My experience is that yes, it is somehow weird, but in this weirdness, it is also mesmerising. When used it psychotherapy, hypnosis can be endlessly useful and open some parts of your mind and bring some long forgotten memories to the front. This can help connect the dots leading to the right for you path. Most of my clients come out of hypnosis truly surprised, but also with some valuable information and shifted understanding. Most of them will also say: 'I don't really know how to describe it. I think you just have to experience it.'