Within the mental and physical wellbeing industry, many terms are often used freely without anyone really having any in-depth knowledge as to what these phrases mean. Misusing a word can lend to a variety of myths surrounding the concept and is ultimately harmful to something from which people might have benefited. One such term is “hypnotherapy”, which has been a helpful tool to thousands of psychotherapists across the world.
Unfortunately, this useful technique is often confused with “hypnosis”, and while they may be similar, they have very little in common. When looking at hypnosis versus hypnotherapy, we need to define the function of each term before passing judgement on whether or not it works.
Being hypnotised is certainly not as frightening as the movies make it sound; you will likely never get to the point of relinquishing so much control that someone gets you to bark like a dog, for example.
Hypnosis is simply a method of guiding someone to the point where they are so relaxed that they fall into a trance-like state. If the word “trance” seems scary, consider that many people enter such an altered state multiple times a day. Most people have felt what it is like to go on “autopilot” while driving, sitting on a bus, watching television, or listening to music. It is clear to see the difference when you think of being hypnotised as directly accessing this natural, everyday trance-state on command.
Hypnotising someone is just a method of getting the mind and body to calm down, whereas hypnotherapy harnesses the relaxed brain’s hyper focus enough to zone in on specific emotions, feelings, and experiences. By drowning out distractions, a psychotherapist can guide a patient to visualise and identify areas that require attention. Differentiating between hypnosis versus hypnotherapy helps patients to ensure they are seeing a trained psychotherapist, and not someone merely looking to make money.
A hypnotist is anyone (from an on-stage magician to a yoga instructor) who is able to hypnotise someone into a state of meditation, whether or not it is helpful. A Hypnotherapist is a professional who utilises the technique for the purpose of assisting during challenges, such as addictions, low self-esteem, and healing from trauma.
If you are seeking a professional counselling psychologist trained in hypnotherapy techniques, then Marteleze van Graan may be able to help. With her master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Pretoria, Marteleze has dedicated her life to assisting people who would benefit from the many services she provides.