A lot of people still think hypnotherapy is like they see on TV, with the hypnotist turning people into chickens. It is not. Hypnotherapy is not mind control and it is not a ‘magic pill’. Unlike that stage hypnosis, hypnotherapy requires that you engage in the process and that you are ready for change, the change that you seek. If you are not ready to change the things about yourself that trouble you, you will most likely be wasting your money.

How do I know if I am ready for change?

OK great question! Firstly you will engage in the process and cooperate with the therapist, rather than switching off, or perhaps pretending to follow the process because it is easier not to confront certain things. If your response is dissociated from the process, or even argumentative or reluctant, you are probably not ready for change. The clinic is not the place to pick a fight. The therapist is there to help you. You need to give in, and follow their lead. Once you can do that, you are ready.

I recently had a client who came in to see me for anger issues. Matt was a young guy who had been in trouble with the law for vandalising property as payback for something that he felt the owner of that property was responsible for. Whether the owner was in the wrong or whether Matt just needed someone to blame, I cannot say. Regardless, Matt was an angry young man.

Matt referred to himself as always having been a brat. When he made the appointment he expressed extreme frustration with life, and with not being able to control his anger. Our conversation was short and abrupt and I got the feeling Matt wasn’t listening to me as I explained the process. During our conversation he revealed that he was ‘cut off’ emotionally and wouldn’t let anyone come too close. He also told me that he was uncomfortable with compliments. He said that he had experienced no trauma in his life, but that he never felt loved as a kid, growing up.

As we discussed these feelings further, he expressed that his parents had poor communication skills and that he never really felt that they considered him as much as his sister, who was older and who was well behaved. Was he acting up to get their attention? Likely so. When I suggested that his ‘brattish’ behaviour was an attention seeking tactic, he agreed that it made sense. It became clear to me that Matt had low self esteem, even though he thought of himself as relatively confident.

Regressing Matt

I decided that one of the first things to do with Matt was a regression, to take Matt back to the first time he ever felt that rejected feeling, so that he could rewrite that part of his life story with more positive feelings. You see, what is accurate in the past is not the point in the context of emotional healing. It is the way we feel that matters to our unconscious minds. If we can feel better about the past, then we will feel better about the present, and the future. We cannot change what happened, for example, if Matt’s parents were in fact neglecting him, but we can change the way Matt’s unconscious mind perceives that he felt during that time.

Where Matt was feeling rejected that first time, I asked him to remember when he felt loved, supported, important, and to carry those experiences with him as he ‘revisited’ that past ‘rejected’ event. But Matt was not ready to let go of the anger he felt towards his parents. He chose not to hold those positive feelings with him as he revisited the past. Instead he used the opportunity to focus blame onto his parents and to express his anger upon them. He did not give in to the process. He was trying to control the process to maintain a sense of injustice. He was not ready for change.

When Matt told me that the regression process just made him angry, I explained again that he really needed to engage with it as if he is that little boy, now, experiencing those good feelings, as he goes through that initial rejection ‘scene’. So I got him to repeat the process to make sure he did it correctly, but I suspect he just switched off. He wasn’t ready for change.

The next few days I received text messages from Matt telling me that he felt worse since the session. He was angry with me. I had only heard this once before from a similarly unwilling client. I replied to explain that the regression would not cause any harm, it simply provided an opportunity for him to rewrite his story in a beneficial way. The trouble is that Matt did not want to do this, and so he was only reminded of his pain as he revisited the past.

During our session I gave Matt some tools that he could use over the next few days and weeks in order to get the most out of our time together. I explained again in detail the steps he needed to take to let things settle, and to release the anger. I reminded him that he was never going to be healed in one session. Hypnotherapy is not brainwashing, and it is not a magic pill. Matt had not employed any of these tools before texting me. Only after his third text message did he download the recording I sent him. I wish Matt all the best, but I suspect that he was hoping for the magic pill when he booked to see me, and that he didn’t consider what I’d told him about needing to engage, and to be ready for change.

If you are ready for change, you will be collaborative in the process. You will not be fighting it, but will give in to it, and allow it to transform your life in the direction that you want it to go in. When you seek hypnotherapy, you are seeking a guide who will essentially help you to heal yourself. We are not magicians and we are not putting on a show. Are you ready for change?