People often hope that they can come and be ‘put under’ for an hour while a hypnotist changes them and walk out a different person. This is created by the ‘Stop smoking in an hour’, ‘I can make you slim’ style messages put across by ambitious and egoic ‘hypnotherapists’. It is re-enforced by watching hypnotists on the TV and the stage demonstrating the power of hypnosis to make people believe weird and wonderful things and act in odd ways. Hypnosis does, indeed, have the power to do seemingly magical things – particularly with very suggestible people in front of a crowd willing them to be entertaining. But the stranger the change introduced, the less likely it is to stick. The reality in the world around them wears the suggestion off until the person has come back to normal.
While I understand the attraction of a no-effort quick fix I am concerned that well intentioned but insensitive hypnotherapists reading from a standard script can force further tensions into the client’s unconscious rather than unwinding them. Papering over cracks can provide a superficial fix but if it leaves the deepest tensions unresolved (and now, perhaps, hidden) they are likely to pop up in new and, perhaps, less obvious ways. On a number of occasions I have had needed to pick apart previous ‘healing’ work that has actually obscured the deep structure of someone’s problems.
Rather than trying to slide post-hypnotic suggestions ‘under the radar’ my preferred approach is to use trance in a collaborative way that increases the client’s awareness of how they are creating their problem. As the client’s awareness increases so does their ability to choose new ways of being. This new awareness and empowerment usually means that the symptoms they came with fall away. As, or perhaps even more importantly, it engenders an attitude of curiosity and self-reliance. The next time an issue comes up in life they are not dependent on going back to a hypnotherapist for a ‘top-up’ (topping up with what exactly?); but rather they can bring their own awareness to bare and release the tensions themselves.