Hypnotherapy for Hope and Holidays
By Daniel Fryer M.Sc., MBSCH
As well as being a rational emotive behaviour therapist, I’m also a clinical hypnotherapist. In fact, I was practising the latter before I studied and practised the former. Hypnotherapy has a vast and sometimes surprising array of applications. There’s the obvious stuff, such as weight control and stopping smoking, but it’s also great for pain control, anxiety reduction and more. It can even help build hope and resilience, which are very useful tools given the current climate. And, talking of climate, there’s even a small but growing tradition of people taking ‘hypno-holidays’ – you can take a break anywhere you like without worrying about cancellation fees, your carbon footprint or quarantine on your return. But, how is it able to accomplish these things and, can you go five-star all-inclusive on that vacation?
Very simply put, hypnotherapy is therapy conducted in a state of hypnosis. And there are different therapies for different things, depending on what it is you want to achieve. The important thing is that the therapy is conducted in an altered state of consciousness or a trance-like state. But, that’s not as weird as it sounds as all human beings know how to go into a trancelike state anyway. In fact, we do it umpteen times a day, without realising it.
You can have relaxing trance-like states, such as nodding off to sleep or waking up; daydreaming and zoning out also count. But you can also have focussed trance-like states, such as losing yourself in a really good book, or a movie, or getting your head down at work, to the point where hours whizz by like minutes.
Now, for the purposes of therapy, a very good thing happens to you in these trancelike states, and it happens to your mind. At its most basic, there are two parts to your mind: the conscious and the unconscious. But, it’s not a 50-50 split.
Quite often in psychology, they compare the mind to an iceberg in the ocean (it was actually Freud that came up with the analogy). And, with any iceberg, there’s about 10 percent of it visible above the waterline and about 90 percent of it hidden below the waterline. Your conscious mind is like the 10 percent above. It’s responsible for all your short-term memory stuff. It’s also the logical, rational, and analytical part of the equation. Your unconscious mind, meanwhile, is the 90 percent below, and it’s responsible for absolutely everything else. And I mean everything.
Right now, as you read this article, you are blinking, breathing, regulating your body temperature and running a thousand other autonomic processes without any conscious effort. Your unconscious just takes care of them for you. Isn’t that jolly nice of it?
Your unconscious is also the database of everything you are. Everything you have ever learned and witnessed and seen and felt and done. All your memories are in there, all your beliefs, your skills and your habits. All stored as patterns of information in the unconscious mind.
Now, the two parts of your mind are in constant communication all day long. Except for when you are in a trance. Then, that communication process gets bypassed. Your conscious mind is still there and still aware of everything going on around it, but it can’t access your unconscious mind. Left alone like that, your unconscious becomes very receptive to positive suggestion, especially when those suggestions are tied to a goal you already know you want to achieve (Health. Hope. Happiness. Holidays).
These trance-like states are very relaxing, very comfortable, absolutely safe and with no harmful side effects at all.
This year and all around the world hypnotherapists (myself included) have noted an uptake in enquiries from people who have wanted a little extra support as they’ve dealt with the uncertainties of the pandemic and all the work and home issues that entails. They’ve accessed hypnotherapy as a tool to calm their nerves, boost their confidence, enhance their coping strategies and to overall feel more hopeful about their respective situations. In fact, here in the United Kingdom, in an article for the Metro newspaper, one university lecturer argued that hope plays a more important role than traditional resilience exercises for coping with Coronavirus. 1
Building something to look forward to is a psychological tool in most therapy toolkits. And booking a break or getaway is a very obvious way of giving yourself something positive to focus on. Everything about them, from the excitement of choosing a destination, to researching the locale, to the actual time away is good for your mental health. Which is where the hypno-holiday comes in.
Real vacations have become a bit nerve-wracking of late: Will they happen, or won’t they? Will you be allowed to travel or not? Will you get your money back if you don’t go? Will you be put under quarantine when you come back or not? Several UK hypnotherapists made the local and national news this year by offering ‘mind travel.’ Here, they talk you through and get you to see, sense and imagine the whole holiday experience from beginning to end. And the great thing about this type of vacation is that you can make it as luxurious and exotic as you like, without spending any more than the cost of the hypnotherapy session itself.
The idea of holiday by hypnosis is nothing new, as other therapists have been offering this service for years. Celebrity hypnotherapist Paul McKenna, for instance, was offering to take people on a two-week holiday in just 20 minutes flat as far back as 2015. 2 Sand, sea, sun, and a sunny disposition via the power of positive suggestion. Who wouldn’t want some of that once a week whilst sitting in a comfy chair somewhere?
Meanwhile, I’m off to the Maldives, I’ll be back in half an hour...
Daniel Fryer BA(Hons), MSc, DHyp, PDCBHyp, MBSCH., is a Psychotherapist, Hypnotherapist, Speaker and author of 'The Four Thoughts That F*ck You Up (and how to fix them)' , available from Penguin Random House imprint, Vermillion.