State of Mind
“Look deep into my eyes,” chants a Freudian-looking man with a pocket watch waving back-and-forth in front of a woman’s expressionless face. For many people unfamiliar with hypnosis, this scenario may be the image conjured up in your head. From pop culture to the media, a skewed perspective is not uncommon for many people contemplating hypnosis. Just ask UJ Ramdas, an associate at The Morpheus Clinic in Toronto. A certified practitioner with a background in cognitive science who’s used hypnosis for more than eight years, he still sees clients who come into his office very unsure of what to expect. “It’s one of the very few things people don’t believe in and are scared of at the same time,” he says. Questions like, “Does it work? Is it dangerous? Can you make me do things I don’t want to do?” are all concerns he’s encountered. The reality of hypnosis is that it is can be a very safe and effective treatment for all types of issues including addiction, weight loss, phobias and depression. We delve deeper into what you can expect from hypnotherapy, from how it works to choosing a proper therapist, so you can determine if this treatment is right for you.
Are You a Candidate?Many hypnosis clinics offer clients the opportunity to come in for a free consult. The point of this appointment is to explain what hypnotherapy is (if you’re unsure) and determine whether or not you’re open to suggestibility. During hypnosis you’re in a suggestive state, so establishing whether or not you can get there is important. Ramdas compares the state to that time right before you’re about to go to sleep when you’re body feels heavy and you’re in a faraway place, but if someone called your name you could hear it, and if you really wanted to, you could get up. “It’s nothing unique or fantastic. It’s not a drug experience. It’s quite a regular thing we go in and out of all the time,” he explains. For example, athletes use visualization to ensure they’re getting the proper muscular coordination to achieve their goals, which is essentially the same deep relaxation state as clients are in during hypnosis. And although everyone can go into this state, the reality is not every client walking through the door wants to go there. If you’re not open to being suggested, the hypnotist can’t connect you to your unconscious, making this type of treatment impossible.
How it WorksDifferent than other types of therapy, hypnosis works directly with your unconscious mind. “This state allows the person’s mind to be more pliable,” says Ramdas. “In that malleable state we can influence changes, we can revisit memories in the past and we can communicate directly with the unconscious mind.” Ramdas compares the experience to being a passive observer. “The person hears everything that I’m saying,” he explains. “She is not asleep, not stuck or unconscious. She stands back and watches the action, so to speak.” The idea is that once you reconnect to your unconscious mind, you’re able to make realizations in your waking state. “It’s not explosive or dramatic,” says Ramdas. “It’s usually just, ‘Wow. That thought came out of nowhere and it’s very useful to me. It really makes me understand the way I am.’”
Benefits of HypnosisImagine being able to overcome a phobia or quit smoking in any where from five to eight sessions. The reality of hypnotherapy is that it’s intense and much faster in terms of results than other types of therapy. Ramdas says that when clients come in with a very specific issue that they’re very motivated to deal with, he sees results quite quickly. “When a person is at a point where they’re saying ‘This has got to change,’ that is a beautiful spot because their mind is open enough to try anything and to invest as much of themselves in the change process.” Besides saving money on hours of couch time with a psychiatrist or psychologist, hypnotherapy has the potential to help you reach your goals much faster.
Choosing a HypnotistFinding a hypnotherapist can be tricky, but not if you do your homework first. Find a therapist who belongs to a major organization, such as the Association of Registered Clinical Hypnotherapists. Currently in Canada there are no regulations regarding hypnosis and different provinces also have their own associations and organizations aiming to set standards, so it’s important to check the therapist’s credentials. Once you think you’ve found a suitable therapist, don’t be afraid to do a reference check and ask to speak with past clients. It’s also better to go with a reputable clinic versus an independent person, as clinics often have policies and guidelines designed to protect you. Part of the process of finding a therapist is also how you feel with that person. They could have all the qualifications in the world, but if you don’t click, you won’t get much out of the sessions. And above all, trust your instincts.
Risks Associated with HypnotherapyWhen performed by a trained professional, hypnotherapy is a safe form of treatment. There are however a few rare risks. First it’s important to receive a diagnosis from your doctor regarding what issue needs to be treated, particularly if it’s of a psychological nature, like depression or a phobia. It’s possible that without receiving a proper diagnosis hypnosis could make your issue worse. In rare cases hypnotherapy can create false memories created by the unconscious mind, known as confabulations and people have been known to develop adverse reactions to this. Other rare risks include anxiety, dizziness, headache and nausea.
BY STEPHANIE GRAY / PUBLISHED IN THE BEAUTY ISSUE, SPRING 2012