When hypnotising someone it is about setting apart the reality checking function, otherwise known as the critical faculty. Reality checking is a conscious process after all – checking that what has just been said or just happened fits in with your understanding of reality. When I tell a hypnotised person that they cannot open their eyes so that when they try, they can’t, I know that the reality checking is switched off or distracted. I have hypnosis. After that, with a really good hypnotee, I can say that from now on you will do A instead of Z and they will, but it is very rarely that simple, as once they leave my hypnotic chair, their reality checking works again and the change may not last.
Instead then I need to use that state to get their mind to change the subconscious pattern that makes them do Z and the benefits of stories and metaphor in this stage of the hypnosis are far reaching for permanent change.
Imagination is the language of the subconscious mind, imagination and emotion, and metaphor work engages the imagination in a task that is metaphorically related to the change that actually needs to be made. With the reality checking switched off all disbelief is suspended and the subconscious simply accepts the imaginary task as the real task. It believes that it is actually making the real change and so the desired change happens.
One of my favourite metaphors which will change slightly from client to client is The Village Metaphor which is best suited to social anxiety treatment but often ideal for anyone who comes to me feeling ‘stuck’ in life. It can liberate part of the mind to take risk and achieve new things.
This process is most effective with some direct suggestion thrown in – some simple instructions linking the imaginary activity to the fact that from now on you will do A instead of Z.
After doing metaphor work, I will always check to see that the work has been effective – this does not only prove to me that I have done the right thing and therefore save my client multiple visits for the same issue, it helps satisfy the reality checking function once it is back and trying to make sense of what just happened.
So as you can see the benefits of stories and metaphors in hypnosis are huge. Stories have been used for as long as humanity have been telling them to teach wisdom and survival from one generation to another. Even outside hypnosis, you often enter a form of trance state when reading a story or watching a film and your disbelief is suspended so you are open to suggestion and learning new things. In hypnosis this is just ten times as powerful. Come and see me for some hypnosis in West Sussex to find out how effective it will be for you.