There’s a strong media driven picture of how hypnosis works. If you think back to probably 25% of all animated movies, a person is hypnotized, gets the swirly eyes, and is being coaxed to do whatever the voice they’re under is saying. They all look strikingly familiar to this Jungle Book scene, but this media image that’s been fed to us is, like so many others, a hoax.
I sat down with Emily Cahal, CHt, of Salem Hypnosis last week and learned a ton about how hypnosis really works. Unlike what we’ve been shown, hypnosis isn’t about numbing you into doing what the hypnotist says. Rather, it’s almost the opposite. “Hypnosis looks at a developed behavior you have that’s causing you to react automatically to certain events or stressors,” Emily told me. “These reactions happen because of experiences in your past that have formed subconscious habits that in order to change take repetition as well.”
Now, I’d heard of this thing called the subconscious mind, but I’d always been a bit hazy on how my subconscious mind and conscious mind work together (or, in some cases, seemingly against one another). It seems like my conscious mind can very much not want to eat that cupcake, but my hand reaches out as if the cupcakes were barking orders.
“Your subconscious mind takes authority when you can be in an autopilot state, which turns out to be most of what we do. So driving, for instance: at first we were very attentive, but once we got good at it, we don’t necessarily stay focused on every turn we make, every stop light we stop at,” she said. “It’s an efficiency feature of our brain which is good, but we can also pick up some habits that we really don’t like.”
Breaking Habits With Hypnosis
As Emily said, “The subconscious learns through repetition and is triggered by emotions that can start a craving.” Two of the big issues Emily addresses in her work with clients are weight loss/management and the need to quit smoking. Both of these are heavily laden with emotional triggers that she helps clients explore to get back to the root cause.
“I trace the feeling back to its origins, which is different than tracing the memory back to its origin. It’s not just finding out where they were when they tried their first cigarette, but also what music was playing in the background, what smells might have been in the air, and how that cigarette made them feel. Did they feel a sense of independence? Did they feel a sense of pride? Whatever it is, if we get down to that emotional level, we can eliminate the association with that emotion.”
For the most part, the clients she works with to help break a smoking habit have been smokers for a long time and have tried to quit, on average, seven times before finding success. “One couple,” she told me, “came to see me because the wife had been given a prescription but the husband couldn’t take it. He had been a lifelong, pack-a-day smoker and had tried to quit several times before.
“After the first session we made the connection between cigarette smoking and stress, particularly while sitting in traffic. Once we got to that feeling of stress that made him want a cigarette, we could break the association with the emotion,” she said. “Instead of taking care of the wanting a cigarette feeling, we could address the anxious feeling he had.” It’s as if there is a mental light switch that needs to be flicked on, and once the connection is made, there’s no turning back.
Who Is Best At Being Hypnotized?
While I’m hook, line and sinker for the results, my biggest doubt comes from how you can assure the skeptics out there that it’s going to work for them. Hypnosis can work for anyone, but those who are more artistically inclined are much more likely to see behavioral changes faster.
“Some people are more creative and some people are more analytical,” Emily said. “Creative people have a greater openness to hypnosis which allows for a stronger connection to the emotionally driven wants of their subconscious.” To help determine this, Emily uses consultations to see whether it will be beneficial to the person and to make sure they’re on the same page.
“I want to make sure that hypnosis is a modality that will help the person. Otherwise, it’s like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. It won’t work,” she said.
I’d recommend reading some of the material Emily has on her site to help get you acquainted with hypnosis. Her blog is really well written and may help you determine if hypnotherapy would help you with an issue you’re struggling to overcome:
- Working to Decipher the Cause of Depression
- Garbage Hypnosis
- Weight Loss and Medications, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3
- And the 10 part “How It Works” Series, but Part 4 in particular
Online Scheduling For Hypnotherapy
“TimeTap works amazingly for me because when I’m with a client, I can’t answer the phone,” she said. “But on my voicemail I direct people back to my website where they can book appointments right there. Without it, I would miss so many opportunities.”
Another thing online scheduling allows Emily to do is capture people’s attention. “If I can’t access people or people can’t access me, they’ll move on. Having online scheduling is like having a staff member that works 24/7 and makes me accessible even when I’m with other clients.”
According to her, 90% or more of her new clientele comes directly through online appointment scheduling. “It’s most often people’s first avenue of interacting with me. It saves me time and makes sure that I am there for clients when they think about booking with me, not when I have time to return their voicemail. And the automated reminders are a huge help!”
For professionals like Emily, having more time means being able to give more of herself to clients, friends, and family. “The time online scheduling saves me allows me to build connections that helps make important changes in people’s lives. I don’t have to remember to remember things; the software does it for me.”
Emily Cahal at Salem Hypnosis has been a TimeTap user since December 2011.