Control vs Suggestion in Hypnotherapy
One of the greatest misconceptions about hypnosis is that we surrender our will when being hypnotized. Though a devious hypnotist who subjects his victims to mind-control while devilishly twirling greased mustaches and plotting the ill-timed fate of the world may make for good cinema, there is more Hollywood glitz and glamour than truth behind this premise. If it were really true, then political and corporate leaders around the world would have hypnotists at esteemed positions within their structural hierarchy, or those leaders would be hypnotists themselves. The ability to truly impose your will onto another would be quite powerful, indeed.
Engaging in hypnotherapy is a relationship, first and foremost. As in any healthy relationship, participation and cooperation rule the day over force and subjection. And therapeutic relationships are delicate and intricate with plenty of ethical implications. Hypnosis, in the hands of a trained professional, embraces suggestion and eschews control. The goal in therapy is to aid the client in finding their better self through introspection and self-discovery. Clients must make the hard choices and do the work in therapy. To accomplish this, they must be willing participants in the process. A therapist uses learned skills, not the least of which is hypnosis, to make this process as smooth and meaningful as possible.
Therapists understand the poignant truth in the idiom “you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.” In other words, a hypnotherapist can open the door of opportunity but cannot compel a client to walk through it. And that is okay, because the only way to engage a client in hypnosis is through free will and acceptance. And this brings us to the importance of suggestion. In order to do the deep work involved in hypnotherapy, we must tap into the uncharted depths of the unconscious mind. The conscious mind is more rational, and quite honestly, it is quite conceited because it believes it can think through any problem. In actuality, it often interferes with the processes of the unconscious. The initial push-back of the critical mind can interfere with attempts to access the resources of the unconscious mind. Engaging in trance lowers this initial resistance and allows greater access without distraction. The singular focus of thought which comes with trance, enables the hypnotherapist to plant suggestions to facilitate change in therapy. In order for these suggestions to be most effective, they still must be something that the client truly wants. If they are not, then they will feel artificial and will not guide them through that door of opportunity . . . the client must want to go through that door, not just feel that the therapist really, really wants it for the client. The client is always free to accept or reject suggestions. Suggestion and motivation work hand-in-hand as tools to open up opportunity. This also means breaking through bad trances which limit growth and keep us stuck in a perpetually repetitive rut like a damaged groove in a broken record.
As seen on Trauma-Focused Hypnotherapy