Hey there! My name is Jenna and I am a master’s level therapist at Works Counseling Center. One of my specialties is clinical hypnosis which I use in sessions with clients. I find that when I introduce clinical hypnosis there is often some confusion about what it actually means. There’s a lot of variety in the portrayal of hypnosis in pop culture so it makes sense that people don’t have a clear understanding of what it actually is. Just reading the title of this post you probably had an image of someone on a stage being hypnotized to squawk like a chicken or bark like a dog. I’m here to tell you that clinical hypnosis is nothing of the sort.
Clinical hypnosis could not be more different than the kind you see on TV or on a stage somewhere. There won’t be a watch swung in front of your face and no one will snap their fingers in your face. You will have full control over your body and mind the whole time. Your therapist cannot make you do anything you don’t want to do and you always have the option to ignore my suggestions. You will be aware of your surroundings and will be able to stop or pause the session at any time.
So what is clinical hypnosis if I’ve said it’s unlike anything you’ve heard or seen before in the movies? Clinical hypnosis is learning how to use the mind, specifically your imagination and imagery, to reduce unpleasant experiences such as pain or anxiety, increase feelings of calm, raise self-esteem and confidence and so much more. During your first session, you and your
therapist will work together to figure out your goals for your hypnosis journey. Then your therapist will tailor the suggestions used in hypnosis to help you reach your goals.
What does a typical session look like?
During a typical session, there is not much required of you the client other than to listen to your therapist’s voice and be open to the experience.
Your therapist will begin by using a relaxation technique such as a mindful breathing exercise to help you settle in and clear your mind. Then to begin the hypnosis component your therapist will guide you through a mindful body scan exercise to deepen your relaxation. The next thing you will hear is your therapist counting from one to ten while continuing to suggest relaxation. This might sound like: “Four. Perhaps you are starting to notice… sensations… of comfort and ease… sensations of letting go.” Next, you will be guided to imagine a safe and comfortable place you like to go to in your mind.
After that, your therapist will begin using the suggestions to work on your goals set in the first session. An example of a suggestion for someone with chronic pain might be “You can imagine that you are applying something to the area that you would like to feel more comfortable it can be anything you like, warmth, coolness, a color, or a powerful medicine…”
Re-alerting and Debriefing
After the suggestions, your therapist will begin re-alerting you by counting backward from ten to one. Once you are feeling alert your therapist will discuss your experience with you to get an understanding of what worked and what didn’t to make changes for next time.