Hypnotherapy: What's it really all about?

By Roger A. Johnson, C.Ht., Ph.D., B.C.E.T.S.
Uploaded 24.10.2000

Hypnotherapy is simply the use of hypnosis to enable you to take control of feelings, behaviors, habits, and self-image. In the last fifteen years I have seen just about every possible human problem one can imagine. I could not begin to guess how many times I have heard a client, in describing what they want to accomplish in hypnotherapy say, “ You’ve probably never heard of someone with THIS problem.”

It seems most people feel as if they and their problems are unique among human experience. While our experiences make each of us unique, what we feel, how we respond to the world around us, and how we interact with other people is not unique. We all have the same senses. The way we deal with this life is greatly variable, but only within certain parameters. There are boundaries to human experience and behavior. Your feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and problems aren’t as strange or unusual as you might think.

People don’t tell others about their fears, doubts, worries, anxieties, or things they think are strange about themselves. Believe me, whatever your difficulty in life might be, it isn’t as strange or unusual as you think. I have never been shocked by something a client told me. As a matter of fact, I haven’t even been surprised in many years. There are only so many things humans can do.

There certainly have been some clients over the years for which hypnotherapy was not the appropriate form of therapy. These people were referred to other professionals. In most cases the presented problem is far less serious than people think. I believe that in most instances people can solve their own problems, with a little understanding, direction, positive motivation, and effective mental dynamics.

Hypnotherapy, of course, uses the mental tool of hypnosis. Many people have seen too many movies or television shows where a writer needed a magical solution to a plot problem and used that mystical power of hypnosis to solve his problem. Hypnosis is NOT mystical or magical in any way. It IS a very effective mental tool that enables people to take control of things that may have seemed beyond their control in the past. Hypnosis is a completely natural, yet different, state of consciousness from the normal waking state. When a person is in the state of hypnosis he is completely awake and alert. He knows exactly what is happening at all times. You can not be controlled by someone using hypnosis. While under hypnosis, your awareness is actually heightened and carefully focused. You become very receptive to positive suggestions that are acceptable to you, and are able to learn from the artificial experiences perceived in the hypnotic state.

I have been asked, hundreds of times, “ What about those stage shows where they make people do all those ridiculous things?” They don’t MAKE anyone do anything. Think about who goes up on stage and why. You would certainly never see me up there! I don’t like being foolish in public. These people are volunteers. They want to be foolish and playful on stage and not be responsible for their behavior. They are having fun. None of them will ever do anything they don’t want to do under hypnosis. No one ever does. A person under hypnosis is only doing what he wants to do.

A well-trained and experienced therapist can use the artificial experiences perceived under hypnosis to desensitize a client’s fears, improve his self-image, or gain other behavioral or emotional goals. Goal achievement is an area of human behavior where this tool of hypnosis is very helpful. Other areas include overcoming fears, improving sports, performance, stress control and relaxation, elimination of habits, gaining self confidence, sexual dysfunction, and success motivation. Basically, if a feeling or behavior in your life is undesirable to you, in most cases hypnotherapy can be of value.

The real goal in most cases is for the client to learn effective mental dynamics and take control of his life. There are no easy fixes. There is no magic or effortless cure for your problems, but with a little knowledge, a little effort, and personal responsibility you can make your life what you want it to be. The only magic is responsibility and work. It helps a lot to have effective tools and the knowledge with which to use them well. Your life should be what you want it to be. It is your life. Take control and get what you desire out of it.