Updated: Jun 27, 2021
Article written by Sarah Kimmorley
Published in Business Insider Australia, 1 August, 2018
There are a number of ways people try to get ahead at work, from putting in more hours to taking on responsibilities beyond their job description.
But a new method might be gaining popularity: hypnosis.
Practitioners around Australia are increasingly treating businesspeople for self-esteem issues, stress or anxiety, and a variety of other inhibitors that might prevent them from performing their best in the office.
“It’s starting to build up more regularly because it’s now scientifically proven, so people are a lot more open to the idea of hypnosis,” says hypnotist and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner Ashleigh McKeown.
NLP is an alternative approach to psychotherapy and counseling developed in the US in the 1970s.
“Someone will come to me with a problem, and depending on what it is, we can use hypnosis or NLP [to work through it].”
McKeown says hypnosis is good for fixing short-term problems like confidence and self-esteem issues.
A hypnosis session can just 30 minutes, beginners may need longer, and depending on the desired outcome can be complete in just one visit.
“Some people only need one session and they report huge changes in their life. Others opt to have more. Everyone is different.”
SO HOW DOES IT WORK?
“It’s a natural state of trance,” she explains.
“You know when you’re driving around but then you can’t quite remember the last five minutes of driving? That’s a natural state of trance.
“With hypnosis it’s just a guided trance,” she says, adding that through suggestion a person’s perception can be changed or restructured to produce a desired result.
“The guidance is made up of suggestions. You know that self talk: ‘I can’t do this or I’m going to fail’? Those are suggestions that we use are just swapping those out with ‘Yes you, yes you will.
“It’s like when I say don’t think of a blue tree, what do you think of? A blue tree.
“If you think you can’t, then you won’t.”
She adds: “Hypnosis taps into the unconscious mind to unlock learning abilities and confidence, to reduce stress and anxiety, to enhance your performance and assist with other qualities like leadership.
“I use hypnosis to help people gain more confidence in life… nail job interviews, ask for a pay rise, deal with a cranky boss, even overcome their fear of public speaking.”
Business Insider spoke to one of McKeown’s clients, business owner and personal trainer Rhonda Jewell to hear about her experience.
“I have always been a bit of a people pleaser,” Jewell says, adding that when it came to difficult conversations like asking for overdue payments she really struggled.
“I was very much a skeptic before, but she [McKeown] just sort of explained to me how do she does it and talked me through it.
“I’ve only seen her once but I felt like it made a huge difference.
“I still feel like I need to do more to be 100% better but the change I found within myself within that one session is unbelievable.
“In social situations, just being able to express myself a little bit better, rather than agree with what the other person is saying to try to fit in. Now, without even realising it, I can interact with people with differently.”
Jewell said McKeown also gave her suggestions she wasn’t expecting.
“She gave me suggestions, that if I saw a certain colour, red, it would make me really happy.
“For ages after I would have this big stupid grin on my face and feel really happy every time I saw something red. Even just looking at traffic lights it would happen.”
She plans to go back for her next session next month.
“I feel like it will be easier the second time round, and that I’ll get more out of it because I won’t resist it as much.”
HYPNOSIS IS THE NEW MEDITATION
Organisational psychologist and clinical hypnotherapist, Amanda Ferguson says hypnosis is the new meditation.
“Meditation used to be the thing that execs would say gave them a competitive edge, and now it’s hypnosis I am getting called to do a lot more of,” she says.
“I would say that it has to do with increased pressures and demands, and also access to other modalities. Information is so much more available, educating people on all these other ways you can enhance your performance or your life, and people are grasping at extra health benefits and work benefits.”
Ferguson says as more information about it becomes available, the more interested people get.
“It’s not a sort of mystical thing,” she says. “Some people see the performance hypnosis on the Footy Show and they worry they’re going to be made to do something [silly], whereas I’m a clinical hypnotherapist which means it’s a collaborative experience.”
She explains: “I wouldn’t hypnotise someone in the first session unless they have experienced it in the past.
“Instead I give beginners a preparation process and a recording of it and ask them to practice it seven days in a row, so that they take ownership of it.
“Similarly to when you wake up in the morning and you feel that drifty, floaty sensation where both the unconsious and conscious is available, and when you go to sleep at night it’s the same thing.
“It’s just a naturally occurring state that we’re just inducing so that we can do some therapy.”
BUT DOES IT WORK FOR EVERYONE?
“It works for everyone who collaborates,” Ferguson says.
“I have had one client in 26-27 years who couldn’t go into the trance because he couldn’t give over what he thought was control — which it isn’t because you’re doing it twice a day when you wake up and go to sleep.
“It’s just learning how to do it at will.”
Ferguson says she treats close to a hundred clients a year for hypnosis specifically, but the success rate depends on the person and the severity of the issue.
She says hypnosis can also can be faster and more effective than a lot of other modalities for dealing with such issues as anxiety, stress or self-esteem.
“It’s great for someone who doesn’t want to go into therapy, or doesn’t want to do coaching, or doesn’t have time. It’s great for people who have been meditating because its a natural extension of meditation.”
She added: “[It’s] non-confrontational, good for people uncomfortable in talking through their inner issues, can take less time and money if people do homework recordings, once learnt you can use it for anything for the rest of your life either using the recording or having a session or more with a therapist.”
The only situation where she wouldn’t treat someone with hypnosis is if they had a predisposition to epilepsy or psycosis as hypnosis can trigger an episode.
Somewhat a skeptic myself, I ask McKeown what the biggest misconceptions were associated with hypnosis.
Here are three of them:
1. It makes you lose control
“Most people’s biggest concern is that they’ll lose control,” she says.
“The client is always in control. If they don’t want to do something they won’t.
“For some reason, many people seem to think hypnosis is only something you do to quit smoking, but in actuality, hypnosis can be life changing and help you to improve your performance in a range of ways.”
2. It's not a real thing
“Hypnosis is a scientifically verified and effective technique that can promote accelerated human change.”
3. It only works for breaking bad habits “As everyone knows, hypnosis can help with any kind of affliction such as quitting a bad habit,” she says.
“But what people don’t know is that it can also help with enhancing performance, either physical or mental, controlling healthy eating, curing phobias, reducing stress and anxiety and assisting with pain management.
“Hypnosis can help us to take control of our life.”