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  • Sarah Wellband

Hypnotherapy or Remedial Hypnosis - what's the difference?

Most people are familiar with hypnotherapy, even for those who haven't undergone it personally. The process typically involves an initial consultation to outline your goals for the session. Subsequently, you recline on a couch or settle into a comfortable chair, as the hypnotherapist guides you into a hypnotic state through techniques like progressive muscle relaxation or guided visualisation.

Once in this state, the hypnotherapist employs various therapeutic methods tailored to your specific needs. This might involve suggesting behaviour modifications, reframing negative thought patterns, or delving into subconscious motivations. The session concludes with the hypnotherapist gently guiding you out of the trance, returning you to full alertness.

Despite its efficacy and safety, some individuals may feel uneasy about the notion of being "put to sleep." Concerns may arise regarding their actions or words while in a trance, fuelled in part by the sensationalism of stage hypnosis. It's crucial to dispel the myth that hypnotised individuals can be coerced into behaving out of character; those who partake in stage hypnosis are typically extroverted volunteers chosen from the audience.

In contrast, remedial hypnosis incorporates hypnotic techniques without inducing a trance. Similar to hypnotherapy, it commences with a comprehensive discussion to pinpoint desired changes in thinking, feeling, or behaviour, establishing session goals.

Here's where the paths diverge: in remedial hypnosis, the practitioner initiates communication with your subconscious mind using Ideomotor Responses (IMRs). Essentially, this entails prompting the subconscious to respond by lifting a finger or thumb without conscious intervention. Initially, this experience may feel peculiar—most describe it as "weird."  Actually, your subconscious controls many of your everyday movements - you don’t think about putting one foot in front of the other…you just walk. 

A significant advantage of remedial hypnosis lies in its wakefulness; you remain fully conscious and in control throughout the process. Should any queries arise during the session, the practitioner can simply request the subconscious to put the answer into your conscious awareness, facilitating smooth and effective communication. Often, tangible physical responses like a deep sigh or a shift in posture signal the implementation of necessary changes to your pattern of thought or a shift in your core beliefs. 

This is a useful analogy to explain the difference between the two (with grateful thanks to my CONTROL System colleague, Louisa Kiernander);

Picture your mind as a bustling nightclub, where all your thoughts, memories, and emotions are like patrons dancing inside. At the entrance stands a bouncer who controls who gets in—if you're not recognised, you're not getting in!

In traditional hypnotherapy, the bouncer is temporarily distracted and put into a trance, allowing the therapist to sneak into the nightclub. Amidst the dim lights, loud music, and crowded atmosphere, it's challenging to ensure the therapist reaches the right part of the mind effectively.

In remedial hypnosis, however, the confused or unhelpful parts of the mind are politely asked to step out of the nightclub, into the quietness. This allows the hypnotist to communicate directly and without distractions. Once the necessary changes are agreed upon—which they alway are, since these parts ultimately want you to be happy and safe—they happily rejoin the club, now aligned with your new way of thinking and behaving. 

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