A proud son of the South Wales Valleys, Stephen Truelove is a mindset coach with 18 years of experience, author of A Journey of Discovery and Self-Learning and developer of the Love LifeLove You process – Breaking Limitations. He has experienced the highest highs and lowest lows of life and now works with people to tackle anxiety, depression, phobias, and other limiting mindsets. In his column, he shares his life story, advice, and goals for the future.
Many otherwise quite rational people would run a mile from this most gentle form of therapy, so it’s worth taking a moment to look at the myths and the facts behind it.
So it’s not a matter of “Look into my eyes and I’ll have you in my power”?
Absolutely not. A whole mythology has built up because the most visible practitioners are the showmen, the music hall turns, the sensation seekers. People remember seeing fellow holidaymakers running around on stage in their underclothes clucking like chickens, or they think of fictional characters like Svengali and worry that they will be brainwashed or worse. People fear losing control, making fools of themselves, but actually hypnotherapy is a way of helping you take back control: if you’re blocked from doing what you want by shyness or anxiety, who is in control – you or the anxiety?
What is the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis is simply an altered state of heightened awareness. Hypnotherapy means healing through hypnosis, whether the condition treated is physical or emotional.
Can anyone go into trance?
If you’ve ever been told to pay attention and stop daydreaming, if you’ve ever had no idea what someone just said because you were miles away, off with the fairies, in a world of your own, then you can go into trance. That’s all it is. And there’s no way you can get “stuck” in trance – you can come out of it whenever you wish. Even if you fall asleep you’ll wake up perfectly normally afterwards.
Can you make me do things I don’t want to do?
No, you’re always in control, you’ll hear and understand everything that’s said and you can never be made to do anything against your own wishes and values. If you’ve turned up because someone else wants to change you but you’re happy as you are, then you won’t change. But if you really want to change an unhelpful pattern of behaviour, then hypnotherapy can probably help.
How does it work?
Some behaviour is hardwired into our genetic code, but much of the behaviour of warm-blooded species such as ours is learned, initially from parents and later from experience. Most early learning is buried deep and generally pretty essential, but some may be no longer relevant or even downright unhelpful. As young children we may misinterpret experiences and lay down wrong instructions for the future, or so much may have changed that the instructions no longer fit the situation.
If you drive with a Satnav that has never been updated, you may find yourself in deep water or facing a brick wall instead of the road to your destination. It’s easy enough to update the Satnav, but how to access programmes laid down when we were very young? That’s where hypnotherapy comes in, taking you into a deeply relaxed state to help you reprogramme your subconscious and become the best possible version of yourself.
So what is the subconscious mind and how do we reach it to reprogramme it?
The conscious mind is logical and analytical while the subconscious is non-logical and non-analytical but knows all about us from way back: people we’ve met, good and bad experiences we’ve had, everything.
Have you ever been in two minds about a decision, had a hunch that things are not as they seem? Something tells you it won’t work, so you’re half-hearted about the whole idea. That’s probably your subconscious trying to warn you, though your conscious mind may try to dismiss the message if you can’t explain it “logically”. Often the gut reaction turns out to be right, but if a wrong instruction has been laid down earlier in life – “All brown-eyed women are treacherous”, or “You’ll never pass an exam” – based on one bad experience or even just one misunderstood experience, you may go through life missing out on happiness and success because you’ve set up your own subconscious limitations.
Remember, the subconscious is always positive, even if it is sometimes positively wrong about things. Trying to re-programme it with “I’m not scared” won’t work because all the subconscious will hear is “scared”. To see what I mean, tell yourself not to think of a blue cat – you’ll start thinking of exactly that. For positive change we need positive images. Tell yourself “I’m feeling really confident” and visualise yourself behaving that way. But it will only work if you really want it to work. If for some long buried reason you’re holding on to your fear we may need to delve a little deeper to find the real block and you may then find a whole lot of things come right.
So we’re back to removing limitations again? How do you actually do it?
Yes, removing limitations is at the heart of all my work. First, we have a chat about what seems to be the issue. It may be something straightforward like fear of flying or it may be a deep sense of failure or guilt that just won’t seem to budge. When you’re ready, you move into a relaxed, dreamy state where we can work on any subconscious blocks that need to be shifted. But only if you want to. If you’re at all unhappy at any point, we can use a different therapy or just stop. If you prefer, the initial chat (for which there is no charge) can be in a neutral place and you are always welcome to bring along a friend or family member.
What kind of conditions can be helped by hypnotherapy?
Anxiety, depression, eating disorders, lack of confidence, post-traumatic stress, sleep problems, stress, weight management, a whole range of things.
What about serious illness or severe pain?
We can make a significant difference by reducing anxiety, frustration and other emotional reactions, particularly with experiences such as childbirth, dental work, etc where fear of pain may play a significant role. Wherever fear or stress is a factor, hypnotherapy can help, even for people with a terminal diagnosis and their families.
Is there anything that can’t be changed?
You can’t reverse a major stroke or alter a person’s basic personality, but anyone can be helped to adapt and become the best possible version of themselves within that situation. You won’t make a professional footballer out of a couch-bound 40-year-old, but you can help him get more exercise, lose a bit of weight and live a healthier life – perhaps even join an amateur football team. But only if he really wants to get off that sofa.
What about Dementia?
We don’t have a patent cure for Alzheimer’s, but we can relieve anxiety and depression associated with dementia. Isolation and unfamiliar surroundings add to distress and confusion. Hypnotherapy can reduce night panics and the need for sedation, thus increasing sociability which in itself can work wonders.
Does hypnotherapy work with children?
Yes, children often make very rapid progress as the problems are less deeply buried. Fear of the dark, the stress of parental death or divorce, lack of confidence, anger, poor concentration, all respond well. We can’t bring divorced parents back together, but we can work to remove the insecurity and even terror a child may feel if their home suddenly falls apart and a beloved parent disappears.
Have you ever been hypnotised? How does it feel?
Many times. Like anyone else, I was quite scared the first time, but it is actually a wonderfully relaxed experience. One of my clients describes “a trance-like state of complete calmness with heightened focus and concentration. Afterwards I feel calm and in control, ready to face weekly challenges.” And another, “This is like cheating: I come into the room, relax in the chair and you talk to me – and when I leave things change and my life gets better.”
What would you say is the most crucial factor in making hypnotherapy work?
You must want to change and you must trust the person helping you. If you can say Yes to both those things you should have a good experience and make excellent progress.
For more information, visit www.lovelifeloveyou.co.uk, call 07790003075, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Techniques Stephen uses include:
Hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Emotional Freedom Techniques, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Emotional Coding, Emmett Technique, Reiki, Matrix Re-Imprinting.
Registered with GHR, CNHC and DBS.