If you have found yourself at a place in your life where you want to level up, be it personal or in your career, you may want to try something new- enter hypnotherapy.
When Stephen Covey first released The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the book became an instant bestseller. Suddenly, people took notice of the dissonance that existed between where their lives were and where they wanted to be, and learned that in order to close that gap, they needed to adjust habits. Entrepreneurs, executives, professional athletes, business owners and creatives alike have all subscribed to the overarching theory of habit. There’s plenty of examples to support the idea that ‘successful’ people use rituals and repetition to stay focused and get ahead. Winston Churchill worked from bed for an hour each morning. Serena Williams ties her shoelaces in a specific way during tournaments. Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day to eliminate ‘creative fog’. Michael Jordan wore his favourite shorts under game shorts for luck. But are these odd quirks simply that, or is there something deeper linking repetitive behaviour to a successful outcome?
In order to get a better understanding of how clinical hypnosis works, let’s go over what it actually is and isn’t. While sitting on a performance hall stage being asked to cluck like a chicken is the first thing that comes to many people’s minds, this is about as far from clinical hypnotherapy as it gets. “Hypnosis is a trance state of deep relaxation and focus where you reprogram your brain with permanent positive change habits you want,” says Cairns Hypnotherapist Cathy Barrow. “While hypnosis may appear to look like a trance, it’s actually a type of meditation under a suggestive state. From this deep state of calm, the client is able to go deeper into the recesses of their mind where almost all of what’s needed to give up or build a new habit lives – the subconscious.
“A lot of people are struggling with their emotions at the moment – world events have shaken every person in different ways. Some people are struggling with business, some with their physical or emotional health, some with their relationships. Some people are displaying anger issues and are struggling with conflict resolution. There’s a lack of control with global situations which can make people uncomfortable and unstable. Using hypnosis is like hitting the restart button on negative thoughts, behaviours and bad habits, replacing them with positive thoughts, behaviours and good habits. Through hypnotherapy, my clients and I are able to tap into what’s really going on underneath and resolve those issues, so they accomplish their goals professionally and personally.”
According to various research studies across Australia and internationally, hypnosis has upwards of an 80% success rate when compared to both behavioural therapy and psychotherapy. By changing habits and thought patterns on a subliminal level, conscious behaviour changes, leading to a more focused and intentional outcome.
So, what is the process of hypnotherapy? “By using relaxation processes, brain wave patterns change and are slowed down, similar to that of dreaming,” says Cathy. “We don’t retraumatise the client, we only move forward with gentle relaxation. At this point, the critical mind is turned off and the subconscious mind is open to accepting new programming. Therapists can use an assortment of guided imagery – filling and letting go of a balloon, turning dials up and down, negative thoughts being washed away with the tide. By using healing words and verbal repetition, emotional responses become visceral. These processes are then taught in workshops outside of the clinic so the client can practice self-hypnosis when required.
“Hypnosis is the vehicle which allows the subconscious mind and the conscious mind to be on the same team,” says Cathy. “Clients have an old story, it’s time to create a new story – repetition, over and over. Hypnosis has to be repetitive and imaginative and focus on behavioural reinforcement in order to promote positive behaviours such as building confidence, increasing motivation, calming anxiety, overcoming phobias, quitting smoking, calming fear of public speaking or losing weight.”
If you’re still deciding the validity of hypnotherapy, know that there are some fairly well known proponents of the practice – Albert Einstein came up with the theory of relativity under self-hypnosis; Mozart composed the opera ‘Cosi fan tutte’ while hypnotised, and Tiger Woods has used hypnosis since he was 13 years old to help keep him focused on the golf course. Will hypnotherapy work for you? The power of the mind is an extraordinary thing we only know a fraction about. One thing’s for certain though – in the famous words of business magnate Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”