Clinical Hypnotherapy and Stage Hypnosis

Hypno master base (pos, blue)

A common side effect of being a clinical hypnotherapist is the somewhat fearful looks you get when you tell people, at a party for instance, what you do for a living. Or as Phil Parker puts it,

…I mention hypnotherapy and hypnosis people often immediately imagine scenarios of people acting like a chicken or dancing like Elvis as a result of having seen a stage hypnosis show Hollywood movie

And we all have our response to this reaction. Phil Parker, like most hypnotherapist I meet will distinguish between stage and clinical hypnosis, for example,

… hypnosis and hypnotherapy are not at all like its rogue cousin stage hypnosis. While that dysfunctional relative seems to focus on controlling others, hypnosis and hypnotherapy instead focus on how to help you regain control and choice in your life

Mr Parker’s response is quite right. Hypnotherapy is concerned with regaining control over your life. I have seen time and again the power of hypnosis in opening peoples minds to the choices around them. Nonetheless I believe stage hypnosis and hypnotherapy are more closely related than we might think.

I’m often asked why stage hypnosis is different to clinical hypnotherapy. The answer is simply “the only differences between the two are in presentation, location and aim.”

The truth is all hypnotist uses the same tool e.g. hypnosis -which allows people access to some of the most powerful mental resource we have at our disposal- and the aims of the peoples we do hypnosis with… but with very different effects.

A hypnotist by any other name

A typical stage hypnosis show involves a large group -often 10 to 15 out of an audience of 50 people- brought on stage because they not only volunteered but also because they demonstrated a skill for participating in the hypnotic process.

A typical hypnotherapy session will involve two people -the therapist and customer- brought together by the freedom of choice.

Stage and clinical hypnotists have very different aims. As a clinical hypnotist, my aim is to promote personal growth for my customers. The aim of a stage hypnotist is to entertain and amuse.

It is because of these differences that people get a lot of funny ideas about what hypnosis is really about. For the stage hypnotist -as with a magician- the ides that he/she is an ‘all powerful controller of the mind’ serves them very well in selling tickets for their next show. Rest assured though that no hypnotist can make you do what you don’t want to. If a stage hypnotist could control the minds of other, would they not choose a more lucrative way of using this skill? Could they not be prime minister? Or the worlds greatest sales man? No, stage hypnosis is a magic trick, albeit a very good one. Like all great tricks, it uses the truth -the hypnotic process- but with a little flare and showmanship.

The differences that the difference

The real difference between stage and clinical hypnosis then, lies in the aims of those partaking in the process. A customer of mine may have little wish to entertain -or at least if they do, that not why they’ve come to see me- but see me to change. A volunteer at a stage show on the other hand will, consciously or not, want to walk the boards for the amusement of others. A stage hypnotist will use this urge to their advantage by allowing such people to flourish in front of their audience.

It’s not hypnosis that makes people go up on stage, it’s people’s willingness to get up on stage that makes for a great hypnosis show.

Let it be understood, when stage show participants find themselves stuck to their chair or eat an onion and think it’s apple, they are not pretending that is the power of hypnosis. Hypnosis can change the way you experience world. The point here is that, even with the worlds greatest hypnotist, if you don’t what to cluck like a chicken than you won’t. If however you wish to make a change in your life but find you can’t, then hypnosis can help.

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