How does hypnotherapy work?
It all starts with an iceberg. The surface above the water is the conscious mind. The conscious mind is the active mind that thinks different thoughts. It holds our current and immediate experience and awareness. The hidden part of the iceberg, the unconscious mind, holds our automatic behaviours. Those habitual sets of stimulus-response programmes are derived from our instincts and learned experiences. In a way, the unconscious mind can be described as the code behind a computer program.
Sometimes the thoughts of the conscious mind (e.g.:“I want to be healthier and lose weight”) conflict with the code of the unconscious mind (e.g.: “eating biscuits and chocolates and sweets is the only way I have to treat myself after a long day”). As aforementioned, the unconscious mind always wins. Which is why you always find yourself eating too much chocolate when you feel sad or stressed.
How can you change the codes of the unconscious mind to create a healthier program and change your automatic responses? Actually, how can you even access the unconscious mind? Let alone change it? This is where hypnotherapy comes into play.
Hypnotherapy is like baking a pie: you need the dough and on top of it you add the ingredients.
The dough is what we call the hypnotic state, often defined as an altered state of consciousness. A state in-between full awareness and sleep which, handily, is also a gateway to the unconscious mind! In that state, the hypnotherapist sprinkles individually-tailored hypnotherapeutic suggestions on top of the dough to alter the code of the unconscious mind and, ultimately, change the stimulus-response programme. And BOOM! When you come back to full awareness, you may feel like going for a walk is actually a nicer way to treat yourself!
Of course that is the most optimistic version, and it will happen that way for some lucky people. For others, you will need to repeat the process a few times so that the new behaviour becomes automatic. A little bit like learning a new language: you need to repeat the words in your mind and use them in the right context before it becomes automatic. And that is okay too.