n‘Look into my eyes’… perhaps when you think of the concept of ‘hypnotism’ you picture someone on the stage, making someone act in a certain way for entertainment value. But this ‘show’ is in fact a completely different medium to ‘clinical hypnosis’- where a trained professional helps people eradicate unwanted behaviours to achieve lifestyle goals. To help you understand the difference a little more clearly, we take a look at the key differences below.

Stage hypnotism is a temporary fix

Since stage hypnotism is aimed at putting on an entertaining show, the effects on the hypnosis are not designed to be permenant- and for this reason, rather than focusing on lifestyle changes, stage hypnotism is centered around entertaining and even shocking an audience- so think participants suddenly falling asleep on stage or pretending to be chickens! These effects are removed at the end of the show and it does not affect the participant’s life in any other way. In contrast, clinical hypnosis is about a long-term behaviour change- whether that be helping a client achieve weight loss or quit smoking for good. It helps clients reach a lifestyle goal, and suggestions are often provided after the hypnosis to allow progression and change to continue to occur.

The setting is different

‘Stage hypnotism’ is just that- a performance in front of an audience or undertaken at a club or party. This is very different from clinical hypnosis which usually takes place in a professional setting such as a private office. The focus here is on a one-on-one session designed for the therapeutic benefit of the patient, not the entertainment value of a wider audience.

Clinical hypnosis can address mental health issues

Unlike stage hypnotism, many turn to clinical hypnosis to address mental health issues. Often an experienced professional will combine clinical hypnosis with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) to really understand the mental health issue and the intended outcome of the practice. This involves people delving deeper into their issues or intentions and answering difficult questions. What are your fears? What is holding you back? Do you have a negative attitude that is blocking you from attaining your goals? 

So is anything the same?

Both types of hypnosis involve a level of trust from the participant, as the profession needs to be able to access your subconscious. To do this, many of the techniques and approaches used are similar- for example, the state of hypnosis and the way people are ‘inducted’ or actually hypnotized is often the same. People do react differently to hypnosis,  but this is usually due to their own receptivity to hypnotic suggestion, rather than any specific techniques used. The clear difference lies in the reason for hypnosis, the desired outcome as well as the longevity of the process. 

Dr Jeremy Alford is a clinical hypnotherapist & neurofeedback/biofeedback therapist who has graduated from the British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis. If you would like to discuss with him the way clinical hypnosis can help you reach your long-term goals, you can contact him here: https://www.choicesretreats.com/about-us-2/

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