New clients are often concerned that they won’t be able to ‘go into trance’. Some even say that they have had hypnotherapy before but were unable to ‘go under’ and so believed that the hypnosis did not work.
Similarly, they may say that they have no imagination and are worried that they won’t be able to visualise ‘walking through a forest’ or ‘relaxing in a tranquil garden’.
These concerns are based on a misconception about what is involved in both trance and visualisation. These words can pack a mystical punch, but the truth is, we all go in and out of trance multiple times a day, and we can all visualise.
As a demonstration, I suggest to these clients that they describe their kitchen to me. Immediately I see them turn their attention inwards (often they look up or out of the window), and they very easily describe the size, layout and style of their kitchen.
Now, in order to do this they have had to visualise (imagine / call to mind / recall ) what their kitchen looks like. The chances are they ‘see’ what they would see if they were standing in their kitchen. They are not actually there, of course, they are in the therapy room with me, but they have had to take their attention away from me and into their kitchen.
That’s pretty much what ‘trance’ is. In fact it’s just like day-dreaming. It’s a very powerful state in which the activity of the brain is altered. As Dr David Spiegel, psychiatrist at Stanford University and an expert in the use of hypnosis in a clinical setting, puts it, “In hypnosis, you’re so absorbed that you’re not worrying about anything else.”
In the therapy room we guide people into trance, by getting them nicely comfortable, in a relaxing chair or on a therapy couch, playing some soothing music and then gently encouraging them to imagine (visualise) being somewhere else.
We can then begin the therapeutic change work by using uplifting, motivational language to help them achieve their desired outcome.
In solution focused hypnotherapy we have already established what the client’s preferred future is, through the use of special questioning techniques. Once the client has a clear idea of their next step towards their ultimate goal, then we do the trance work.
Due to the changes that occur in the brain during trance, the process means that it is easier for the client to effect change once they have left the therapy room.
So, trance is ultimately a natural, but powerful, experience. As one of my clients described it, ‘It’s just like having a mind massage.’