Hypnotherapy: A Conversation with David Ellis
Meeting with David this week, I have one topic in mind that I am wholly curious about; hypnotherapy.
For those who have not been subject to this practice, the process is an unknown quantity. Which leaves everything to the imagination!
David disassembles this unknown and explains the process and benefits of this powerful mind tool.
So what is hypnotherapy?
“Hypnotherapy is a trance like state where you are basically in the alpha state of relaxation; the twilight zone.” Explains David. “As we move along in the day our brainwaves are operating in Beta. So this conversation is in beta, but when we begin to move into the trance state we move into alpha. If we then go into deep sleep we move into theta and further into a coma like state we move into delta.
If you can think about the many times that you have driven your car and you wonder how you got home as you don’t remember anything about the actual drive.
Who do you think is driving the car? Your subconscious mind is driving the car because it remembers how to do it way, way better than your conscious mind. Your subconscious mind just takes over, it looks after you, it minds you and it drives the car.
So hypnotherapy is a trance like state where the mind goes into a place of complete and utter relaxation.”
Who uses hypnotherapy?
“The people that come to me for hypnosis come for different reasons. Some people want to do life regression, which is to go back to a previous life. Others want to get rid of their phobias. Some people want to get rid of their addictions and some people have self-esteem issues. I say SOME people have self-esteem issues, in reality everyone has. Only some people accept that they have and others don’t.” David reveals.
“Hypnosis can also be used for surgery. A famous doctor, Dr Jack Gibson lived in Naas in a place called St David’s Castle. Dr Gibson performed open surgery using hypnosis. He didn’t use anaesthetic. He was amazing,” David smiles. “The man was simply amazing. He would put you into a hypnotic state, do the surgery and bring you out of it. He was a fabulous man.”
Can everyone be hypnotised?
Secondly, only 72% of the population can be hypnotised.” David states. “28% of the population cannot be hypnotised. It seems that they are not susceptible to the suggestion. Why they are not, I don’t know.
So when you have a hypnotherapist who guarantees their client 100% success that is actually incorrect. It will only work on 72% of the population. If you factor into that number that it will then only work if they want it to. Then you take away another few percent as a lot of people will only go to hypnosis because they have to or their parents want them to or their family wants them to. It doesn’t work for them no matter if they go through all the motions.
Just because it cannot work; it doesn’t mean that you can’t go into the trance state and be hypnotised, it just means that the subconscious won’t accept the suggestion. You’re gone but you are not going anywhere if you know what I mean.”
How do you hypnotise somebody?
“Hypnotherapy is suggestive.” David explains. “Sometimes I use a pendulum, sometimes I use a pen. Basically I just get my client to focus on the object for a while and in doing that I am telling them their eye lids are getting heavy. I tell them they are getting very, very tired and the more that I speak and the more that they listen, the more that their eyes are getting more and more tired and their eye lids are becoming so heavy that they just need to close. Eventually you see their eyelids just closing as they are just so tired; just because I told them they are.
Hypnosis is all about suggestion so if somebody is sitting with me and trying to stay awake then it is obvious that they just don’t want to be hypnotised. So I would be saying don’t waste both mine and your time by coming to hypnosis. In general though, you don’t have that. In general people want to be hypnotised because they want their problem to be resolved and when you tell them that their eyes are getting heavy and they are getting tired, then they generally are.”
How does the Hypnotherapy process work?
“You come in to the consultation and fill out a form. We then identify why you are here. With this a lot of people would present with a fear, maybe of wasps but, actually, that’s not why they are here at all. The wasp issue might just be the catalyst for them looking for help for something else.
A script is written for everybody which is unique to the person. This can be story based, dependent upon what you find the client responds to on initial consultation. Alternatively you might find that the more directive style affirmations will work better for the client. You work all this out in the initial consultation. In adults I find that story telling is not as effective as affirmations.
If we identify that a client does have a fear of wasps then I would like to explore why they have a fear of wasps before preparing a script in order to do hypnosis. Others maybe would go straight to hypnosis and then prepare a general script based on the fear of wasps or allow you to forget that you were ever afraid of wasps.
In hypnosis it is possible to wipe out blocks of memory. I just don’t think that is ethical and I don’t think it serves the client. It is better to get some grounding of the reason behind why you might be afraid. When we find out the root cause we can write a script to compensate for that.” States David.
“If, for example we find that at five years old you fell into a nest of wasps, we can go back to that point and alleviate the issue around that and the pain and suffering that you experienced as a result. We won’t take it away but we would change it so that it is not traumatising you every time you see a wasp.
You can explore where the issue occurred through hypnosis but the conscious mind is not stupid and the subconscious mind remembers everything so, for me, I would rather explore where the issue occurred through talking and therapy. Failing finding out that way we can THEN go retrospective with hypnosis. Go back through the years until we get to the point where you go ‘that’s it’. “
The client has to be susceptible for you to plant the trigger type that we want to achieve. This could be to give up cigarettes. The hypnosis is not going to work if the client doesn’t really want to give up the cigarettes. So we should step back and ask why the client went on them in the first place.
Before you ever do hypnosis you should look at the core basics of why you felt the need to smoke. I f we don’t look at these core basics then all we are doing is sticking on a plaster to the problem which inevitably is going to fall off later on.
When clients come to me I don’t just do hypnosis, for me there’s no point.
I could make lots of money if I marketed myself as an expert in giving up cigarettes, I would be out the door with clients and, if I was only money orientated, I would have a 50/50 success rate and think that’s great.
However I am not money orientated , I am client orientated and don’t do hypnosis for smoking cessation because most people who smoke don’t actually want to quit and really they need to look at the core reason of why they do what they do before we can repair it.
Who is in control during hypnosis?
“For me I find personally that clients come to me and when they are leaving they tell me that they have told me way more than they wanted to tell me.” David relates. “Now what that is I don’t know but it happens all the time; whether it’s through hypnosis or not.
I find that, with clients who really want help, they are very eager to engage in telling their story in order to get the help that they need. The people who don’t particularly want help, who want to remain victim are more scared of what you might uncover. The victim mentality is a difficult phenomenon which we really should discuss, at length, at another time.
Bear in mind that, to me, it doesn’t matter what I uncover; it’s not my life, it’s their life and I am not going to judge. You also have to remember that in the journey back through hypnosis you are only going to tell me what you want to tell me. I am not going to ‘discover’ anything, only what you WANT to tell me and your fear actually is that you want to tell me. Your fear will always be that you want to share a piece of information, not that I will find it out.
As a therapist, I don’t have a judgement, I don’t care what you did; I just want you to get better now. If you tell me that you did some awful things in your past, it doesn’t matter to me and it shouldn’t matter to anybody. As long as now you are not doing the same thing.
Do You Loose Control Under Hypnosis
A lot of people fear loss of control but, remember, in hypnosis, you are still in control. You will only do what you want to do; if you want to dance with a sweeping brush you will dance with a sweeping brush. If you don’t want to do it, you won’t do it. The control is there; we had the control initially in our conscious state and then we also have it in our subconscious state if we don’t want to go there.
The interesting thing is with hypnosis is that the client can’t lie as the subconscious does not know anything but the truth; so it’s either you do or you don’t. You can choose to divulge or not but, if you do divulge, it’s the truth and that’s the great thing about it. If your mind says you don’t want to divulge but you really deep down do, there’s a whole dichotomy going on and it’s between the mind and the heart space. Your head says no but your heart wants to let it go whatever it might be and consciously you may not know what that is.
Hypnosis can sometimes be very good for releasing stuff. We carry around old programs that we learned when we were kids that we carry around with us and we have them as beliefs. They’re true because mammy said so. I’m ugly because mammy told me every single day of my life that I was ugly so therefore I must be. Then as we grow older we go ‘no I’m not’ but, in the heart, we still feel it. Through hypnosis you might be able to let that go and just know that actually it’s an old program. An old outdated way of thinking and now I can see that I am beautiful. I can look in the mirror and see the beauty that I am. Therefore my self-esteem and self-worth rises.
People do strange things to gain release. Take for example that I may have a very dark secret that I have carried with me all my life. I go to hypnosis for a fear of heights but really I am not there for my fear of heights. I am really there because the deep dark secret is eating me up and if I don’t tell someone about it, it is going to kill me. But I can’t tell anybody and I don’t know how.
I go to hypnosis and the hypnotist takes me on a journey backwards and whilst there I reveal my deep dark secret. I feel great now because I have actually shared my burden. The hypnotist shouldn’t care and as a client I feel great as I have released this burden that I have been carrying around with me all my life. On the other side, if I don’t want to share that secret, then I won’t. It doesn’t matter how much I am hypnotised.”
How do you expect to feel after you have been hypnotised?
“Physically you are on top of the world. You feel completely and utterly vibrant, strong and bright and happy and alive.
You don’t feel tired and if you do feel tired then something in the process of what you have done, as a hypnotist, has gone wrong. The clients are supposed to feel absolutely exhilarated by the time they are done. “
Another interesting aspect of hypnosis is that of regression. Find out more about David’s insight into regression hypnosis in this revealing conversation here.