by David Kohlhagen LPC, NBCCH
I think that our clients have little understanding of what hypnosis is and what it is not. Even within the profession there is no universal definition. Our understanding of what can be achieved with hypnosis--and indeed even what hypnosis is--is experiencing a growth spurt due to studies in epigenetics, genomics, bioinformatics, activity-dependent gene expression, mind-body communication and healing, and new models like Ernest Rossi's "implicit processing heuristics." Even we professionals can be excused for being more than a little dazzled, giddy, and perhaps even confused by the ever-expanding possibilities of hypnosis.
When clients come to see me for hypnotherapy they seem to expect something magical, mysterious, and even a little dangerous. They know less about hypnosis than we professionals think we do. They also believe some things that just ain't so, for example that hypnosis is remote mind control. They have usually "tried everything else" and have finally "resorted" to hypnosis. The world of the explainable and the familiar (including allopathic medicine) has not solved their problem, so they're still suffering. They are ready to trust their mental well-being to processes they don't understand and that they hope someone else--I--do understand. They expect something powerful and probably incomprehensible to happen. Personally, I like that about hypnosis. It opens up therapeutic possibilities that might not otherwise exist.
Clients are often prepared to believe that during hypnosis a mysterious portal between the mind and body could open up like a time warp and cause something healing--and even miraculous--to happen for them. This can make physical healing work possible.
Force of Habit
Force of Habit is the working title of my ready-to-be-published career-summarizing first book: Force of Habit: Get Well and Stay Well by Clearing Up Your Bad Habits of Mind, Body and Spirit.
When I first started giving public talks I realized that I didn't have any organizing principle from which to explain and account for hypnosis and hypnotherapy as I practice it. I didn't know where to begin. Then it occurred to me to focus on the paramount role of the subconscious mind.
The problems that plague people and motivate them to seek professional help are things they have been unable to change on their own. People feel stuck and confused when they come to a therapist, even though both their problem and its solution lie within their own mind. I conclude that these problems, lounging alongside their solutions, must exist within the subconscious mind because they are not under the control of waking consciousness.
My hypnotherapy training taught me that I can use hypnosis to access and enlist the power of the subconscious mind to correct the psychic imbalance that is causing the client's symptoms. The subconscious--not unlike hypnosis itself--is a mysterious theoretical construct. We hypnotherapists use them in our theories about what we do and why it is effective, but they are elusive, more than a little fuzzy, and open to every kind of interpretation. I feel comfortable with them anyway. They intuitively make sense to me, they seem to make a lot of things possible, and the definitions I use appear to explain the very reliable therapy results.
If I assume that the subconscious mind contains all of our mental and mind processes except the conscious aspect, then the problematic behaviors that people come to therapy to get rid of act exactly the way habits act. They are automatic, they "do themselves," so to speak (technically, we don't do them), they don't take orders from the conscious mind and they are resistant to change. Look the word "habit" up in a good dictionary and you will see what I mean.
If all of the client's symptoms are habits on the part of the subconscious mind, what could be a simpler paradigm than that? And what a robust hypothesis it suggests!
If any given personal problem can be defined as a habit of mind on the part of the subconscious, then virtually any kind of client problem--emotional, mental, physical and spiritual--could be addressed in a similar manner.
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