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I Won't "break" you...or ruin anything!


When I first started learning how to perform clinical hypnotherapy, it never occurred to me that some people might actually be afraid of this technique or at the very least, be wary of what it could do to them, in a negative way.


And to be fair, the majority of clients who make their way to me have often exhausted all the options available to them and as such are just hoping I might be able to provide some help. In our training class, we used to joke that hypnotherapy often finds itself at the bottom of list of what most people consider trying as first line options. This reality often makes for effective sessions and often clients come away pleasantly surprised at the improvements they've been able to gain in only a few sessions.


However, those people who seek out hypnotherapy for ongoing growth and self-improvement reasons, can come to the table with an unspoken worry that through the process, I will somehow "break" them or ruin an otherwise good life they are living.

It took me awhile to identify this concern and to find the best way to encourage and ensure these folks that hypnotherapy and hypnosis is actually about self-empowerment and not that of giving up control or "digging up" unwanted memories.


So what exactly happens in hypnosis and what does a hypnotherapist do?


Understanding the Essence of Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy involves inducing a state of deep relaxation and increased receptivity to suggestions. It's essential to clarify that hypnotherapy is not about controlling or manipulating the mind. Instead, it's a collaborative endeavor between the therapist and the individual, aimed at facilitating positive change and personal development.


Myth 1: Hypnotherapy Will Cause Me to "Break"

This fallacy largely stems from media portrayals that depict hypnosis as a loss of control, with individuals susceptible to the will of the hypnotist. However, scientific evidence contradicts this notion. A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (2008) emphasizes that hypnosis is a voluntary state where individuals maintain their awareness and self-control.

Research Source: Elkins, G. R., Barabasz, A. F., Council, J. R., & Spiegel, D. (2008). Advancing Research and Practice: The Revised APA Division 30 Definition of Hypnosis. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 56(3), 294-306. doi:10.1080/00207140802484400*


Myth 2: Unwanted Memories Will Resurface

The fear of involuntary recollection of unwanted or traumatic memories is a common concern surrounding hypnotherapy. It's crucial to clarify that hypnotherapy is not a truth serum that forces repressed memories to the surface. A comprehensive review article in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis (2015) underscores that the individual is always in control and that memory retrieval is a complex process influenced by various factors.

Research Source: Lynn, S. J., & Laurence, J. R. (2015). Hypnosis, memory, and amnesia. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 57(3), 235-253. doi:10.1080/00029157.2014.966813*


The Role of the Ethical Hypnotherapist

A qualified hypnotherapist plays a pivotal role in ensuring a positive experience. Professional hypnotherapists adhere to ethical guidelines that prioritize the well-being and autonomy of the individual. The American Psychological Association provides guidelines for ethical practice in hypnotherapy, emphasizing informed consent and respect for the individual's goals and values.


Hypnotherapy is not a regulated profession in Canada, but there are accrediting and oversight bodies such as the Association of Registered Clinical Hypnotherapists (ARCH) that require members to follow a standardized curriculum and report a minimum number of supervised practice hours. Along with yearly required continuing professional development credits, such hypnotherapists are well-equipped to support and manage clients in a professional, clinical environment that is safe and effective.

Guidelines Source: American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (including 2010 and 2016 amendments).


Ultimately, like any other healthcare professional, you want to be comfortable and able to build a good rapport with whichever hypnotherapist you choose to work. You should be free to ask any questions and share your concerns as they arise. Effective therapeutic relationships are always built on mutual respect and understanding.


So, if you think you might like to try hypnotherapy but have been nervous or unsure of what might occur, rest assured you are always in control. I am just the GPS on your journey, and you must choose the direction you will ultimately take in our work together.


Whether you are seeking to resolve long-seated traumas, or simply want to tap into peak performance and functioning, hypnotherapy can help you achieve your goals safely and effectively. No "clucking like a chicken" -- I promise! :)


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