How to Get the Most Out of Your First Hypnosis Session
by Calvin D. Banyan, MA, BCH, CI
What can you do to insure that you get the most from your first hypnosis session? This is a very important question for those seeking hypnosis or hypnotherapy services. An entire book or at least a chapter could be written on this topic. In this discussion, I will narrow it down to two main factors that contribute to getting the most out of your first hypnosis session.
The Hypnotherapist Should Help You to Feel Comfortable About Doing Hypnosis by Telling You All You Need to Know About Hypnosis
The first important factor determining your success is your choice of hypnotherapist or hypnotherapy provider. Provided that you have made a good choice and your hypnotherapist is well trained (i.e., A Certified Hypnotherapist), she will know how to help prepare you for your first session by providing you a sufficient amount of information about hypnosis, hypnotherapy, her experience and credentials, as well as what to expect during the session; basically everything that you need to know to put you at ease.
Receiving this kind of information is an important part of the process. Any experienced hypnotherapist can tell you that proper preparation of clients prior to the hypnosis session improves success, for it helps to reduce concerns about the hypnosis process and sets up an appropriate expectation of what to expect the hypnotic experience to feel like. Fear of being hypnotized will always reduce the probability of success of any hypnosis session. Individuals who have a realistic expectation of what the experience of being hypnotized feels like will be more comfortable and satisfied with the experience, during and after the session.
What You Can Do to Get the Most Out of a Hypnosis Session
The next main factor that will contribute to success in your first hypnosis session is, of course, you—and how you mentally approach the session. Presuming that your hypnotherapist has done her job as discussed above, and you have asked all the questions you feel you need to ask, you should feel comfortable with experiencing hypnosis.
Here is what you need to do: you need to adopt an easy going, accepting attitude for following instructions.
Almost all hypnotic inductions contain some suggestions for relaxation. Even the instant and rapid inductions have some kind of suggestion for relaxation. However, contrary to popular opinion, physical relaxation is not required for hypnosis to occur. It has become my opinion, after conducting thousands of hypnosis sessions as well as supervising and training hypnotherapists who have conducted thousands more, that the physical relaxation is only encouraged (through suggestion) so that a kind of mental relaxation can occur. This mental relaxation is a major part of what helps you to experience the benefits of hypnosis.
This mental relaxation is sometimes called “contention.” This “contention” does not have anything to do with conflict or tension. In fact it is quite the opposite. This “contention” is a mental state in which the person in hypnosis is hanging on the hypnotist’s every word. In the Dave Elman-type inductions, there comes a point where the client is asked to “relax her mind until the numbers fade away.” When the numbers have faded away, as a result of relaxing the mind, we have guided our clients into this highly relaxed state of mind; and as a result, they can become highly suggestible and able to experience virtually every kind of hypnotic phenomena, from catalepsy to hypnotically induced anesthesia.
The hypnotist or hypnotherapist cannot relax your mind. She performs the role of a coach or teacher. The hypnotic induction is a way of helping you to first (generally), relax your body, and then use that relaxation as a model for relaxing your mind and creating the hypnotic state. When you follow the instructions of the hypnotherapist, your conscious mind becomes less critical of the instructions and suggestions given. Once this has been accomplished, your hypnotherapist can help you become successful for whatever you came in to see a hypnotherapist for. Therefore, it is essential that you do not over analyze the instructions. Analysis and mental criticism is the opposite of the mental relaxation you want to create. Just as muscle tension is the opposite of physical relaxation, mental work such as rationalization and analysis is the opposite of mental relaxation.
Now we return to the idea of adopting an easy going, accepting mental attitude. Analysis and criticism is equivalent to mental work. If you are doing mental work, you are not relaxing the mind, and not relaxing the mind will inhibit you from going as deeply into hypnosis as you could otherwise. The deeper you allow yourself to go into hypnosis, the more benefit you will receive from each hypnosis session.
How I Helped to Make My First Hypnosis Session Successful
Let me give you an example. Even though I learned how to do hypnosis many years ago, it was only about 5 years ago when I decided that it would be beneficial for me to have the experience of being hypnotized by someone else. Up to that point, I was always the hypnotist; I had never been the client before. So, I contacted a hypnotherapist that I did know personally (I thought that would put me more at ease), and arranged a session to work on something that was important to me at the time.
As I sat waiting for my meeting with the hypnotherapist, some anxiety (fear) started to set in. I was not afraid of hypnosis. I was not afraid of the hypnotherapist; she came to me highly recommended by someone that I highly trusted. I was afraid that I would mess the whole thing up! I was afraid that I would be too analytical and be too focused on how she was conducting the session to allow the process of mental relaxation to occur. I was concerned that I would not allow contention; that I would not be able to put aside my analytical, rational thinking long enough to experience what I hoped to experience.
It was then that I sat down and had a little talk with myself. It went something like this:
“Okay, do you really want to do this or not? This is going to cost $80.00. Don’t go ahead with this unless you are willing to follow instructions. Only you can get in the way of having some success here. So, what are you going to do? I know you are a trained scientist. I know you are a little stubborn. I know you like to be in charge and in control, but you can’t do that right now, that is not how it works. It is going to cost you $80.00 no matter how it goes.”
Then it happened. I decided that I was going to be the best hypnotic subject that this hypnotist had ever seen! It was just a decision. But it was just the decision that I needed to make.
I had just decided that I was going to give her a chance to do her work. I was going to allow her to be in charge for a little while. I was going to follow her instructions and just adopt an easy going, accepting attitude for whatever she suggested. And, when I wasn’t sure of what to do or of what she was doing, I was going to relax entirely and give her the benefit of the doubt!
Was I doing this for her sake? No. How well I did in the hypnosis session was going to have very little effect on her life (she was going to make $80. 00 regardless). I was there because there was something that I wanted to accomplish, and the only way I was going to be able to accomplish that was to follow her instructions and adopt that easy going, accepting mental attitude.
And, that is just what I did. I had a great hypnosis session, which included a hypnotic age regression to when I was so small I hadn’t even walked yet! It was a profound experience and an important part of my education as a hypnotherapist.
So, what can you do to make the most of your upcoming hypnosis session? Sit down and have a little talk with yourself, and then decide to adopt that easy going, accepting mental attitude and follow all of the instructions of your hypnotherapist without rationalizing or analyzing. Really let your mind relax like your body can relax, and you will have done your part! Then you will get the very most out of your hypnosis session. That is my advice.
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