Christine Woolfenden, author of Stop Existing, Start Living: Help Yourself Take Control of Your Life Through Hypnotherapy, has been a clinical hypnotherapist for the last 11 years. Today she tells us a little bit about her specialism to celebrate the release of her book.
SCIENCE:1. The human mind is utterly amazing; it’s what keeps our bodies working, comfortable and safe. It has two parts, the conscious and the unconscious, each playing very different roles. The conscious mind comes to the fore when something unusual happens and we need to work out what to do next. The unconscious mind does pretty much everything else.
2. Amongst many other things, the unconscious mind generates the vast majority of our everyday behaviour. Over time we form templates of response to specific situations. Because of this, we can do many seemingly mundane things without even thinking about it - almost as though we were living our lives on autopilot. Our behaviour can become so automatic that we can’t easily recall or account for what we’ve done or why we’ve done it: Where did I put my keys?
3. Some of these habitual responses are beneficial to us, some not. But, whether useful or otherwise, once these templates have formed, they are difficult to consciously change. Why? First, because the conscious mind is easily fatigued; second, because the conscious mind protects what’s in the unconscious mind via a filter system. The filter system acts as a gatekeeper, rejecting new information that challenges the unconscious mind’s pre-formed templates.
4. So, to change unhelpful automatic responses, we need to gain direct access to the unconscious mind by switching off this filter system.
5. And this is where clinical hypnotherapy comes in.
6. Clinical hypnotherapy is a safe and effective form of treatment for so many psychological and physical conditions. It applies hypnosis to help people overcome specific psychological and physical issues that are negatively impacting their lives.
7. ‘Hypnosis’ refers to the ‘trance state’, a calm, pleasant feeling, similar to daydreaming, in which the conscious part of the mind is relaxed, the filter system bypassed, and awareness of the unconscious mind heightened. The trance is a naturally occurring state that we all experience every day of our lives – we just don’t label it as such; for example, ‘highway hypnosis’. Whilst driving, have you ever suddenly ‘come to’ with no conscious memory of having successfully navigated the last few miles?
8. Perhaps the most popular media depiction of hypnosis centres on an all-powerful, sinister hypnotist placing a weak-willed victim into a sleep-like state to gain complete control over them for their own amusement or wicked ends. But this description of the hypnotist bears no relation to the clinical hypnotherapist. Any clinical hypnotherapist worth their salt will have undertaken a recognised training programme, abide by an established code of practice, and belong to an accredited hypnotherapy body.
9. It is often thought that hypnosis can make people do things that they don’t want to do. This is not so. It’s not possible through hypnosis to make anyone do anything that they don’t want to do. Importantly, in this calm state, people remain aware of what’s happening to them, and retain free will and self-control at all times.
10. It’s also sometimes believed that only those who are ‘very suggestible’ or weak can be hypnotised. Again, this is not the case. Almost everybody can be hypnotised if they want to be, apart perhaps, from those who are unable to focus their attention for prolonged periods of time, such as the very young or very old, or those who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Christine Woolfenden, author of Stop Existing, Start Living: Help Yourself Take Control of Your Life Through Hypnotherapy, has been a clinical hypnotherapist for the last 11 years. She is the founder and director of Echelon Associates Clinical Hypnotherapy Practice.
Christine Woolfenden DCH DHP MBPsS, reg CNHC GHR SQHP
Published 2017, Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd