Hypnotherapy may have a wacky reputation, but this alternative practice can work wonders for your wellbeing and provide health benefits too. Certified hypnotherapist in Singapore, GARY OW, explains all.
Hypnotherapy then and now
It was the TV audience clucking around the studio like chickens that did it for Gary Ow. He was fascinated by those late-90s television shows that had stage hypnotists spouting “You are feeling sleepy…”. (And where just mentioning the word “horse” made someone start ‘”neighing”!) Gary became obsessed with learning more about hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy has come a long way from transforming people into animals on stage. Today, it’s better known as a legitimate self-regulated practice – and a complementary or alternative treatment – to benefit a range of physical, psychological and behavioural problems. Issues can include stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, phobias, pain, weight loss and also habits such as smoking or drinking. (For more on how hypnotherapy can help, see here.) Indeed, hypnosis is used as a complementary source of assistance for some cancer patients in Singapore. According to research, around 85% of people will respond to some level of clinical hypnotherapy in their lives.
Twenty years ago, however, it was hard to find information. “I’d go to the old Borders store on Scotts Road every few weeks and buy as many books as I could,” says Gary. “The more I discovered, the more I became interested in how hypnosis therapy could help serious health and emotional issues.”
The reading paid off. Gary spent his days as a young tech creative and his nights studying hypnotherapy – and practicing on his friends and family. Two decades on, and with numerous professional accreditations and years of practice under his belt, Gary is a certified hypnotherapist and confidence coach. He specialises in confidence, stress, anxiety, phobias and habits at HypnoHealing in Singapore’s Buangkok.
What is hypnosis and how can it help?
Hypnotherapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses skilled relaxation techniques, focus and language to place an individual into a deep state of slumber or (the more freaky-sounding) “trance”. Once you reach this state, some key physiological changes occur. You feel more uninhibited, which can help unlock blockages in your brain; you have the ability to perceive things differently; and you’re more likely to embrace new ideas. With these changes in place, your hypnotherapist can help you explore issues more deeply. He or she can also provide solutions that will remain in your unconscious mind, ready to utilise in day-to-day life.
Prior to placing a client into a hypnotic state, Gary spends time understanding their problem. Ensuring the client is comfortable, he starts by using an induction technique to promote relaxation. At the same time, he pays special attention to his tone and language.
“Sometimes an individual becomes hypnotised immediately: other times, it takes a lot longer,” he explains.
Once in a state of slumber, there are several hypnotherapy methods that can be used. They depend entirely on the person and problem, as does the number of sessions needed to make a difference.
“If you suffer from a phobia, I’ll use suggestion therapy to help you see yourself in your phobic situation where you have a positive reaction,” Gary says. “If you have a problem with anger, I’ll use analysis to discover what triggers an outburst and offer more healthy alternative reactions.”
In some cases, sound therapy such as Tibetan Singing Bowls can be used to complement your hypnotherapy practice.
Is hypnotherapy safe and does it really work?
Gary understands that many people are sceptical or scared of hypnotism.
While hypnotherapy isn’t recommended for those with psychosis or certain personality disorders, Gary says most people can be hypnotised. “But for it to work, they have to be open to the process and fully consenting from the onset.”
As for losing it completely, don’t worry. “In a trance, you’re sedated into a safe space – the level in between consciousness and unconsciousness. So, you mightn’t pay attention to your surroundings, but you’ll always be in charge of your actions, behaviours and statements. You can always bring yourself back to awareness,” Gary adds reassuringly.
Most of his clients in Singapore are female, and popular issues include stress, anxiety and fear of public speaking.
Some client requests, however, have been a little more unusual. “One woman asked if I could hypnotise her into being more attractive to the opposite sex. Another wanted to zone out from listening to her mother, which didn’t feel quite right!”
Would the same go for annoying husbands/bosses/in-laws, we wonder…?
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