by Deborah Simmons, PhD, LMFT
I’ve just returned from the new movie, “Trance“, with James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson. The plot: An art auctioneer and some criminal types work with a hypnotherapist to recover a lost painting worth millions. While it was an enjoyable way to spend a chilly afternoon, the movie came up short on how hypnosis was portrayed. This is unfortunate because clinical hypnosis done by a licensed and trained clinician is very helpful with medical procedures, to help to resolve emotional problems, and generally, to figure things out internally. I’ve been doing hypnosis since 1999 and many of my clients have benefited from and enjoyed their time in a hypnotic trance. So let’s review some myths about clinical hypnosis;
- A person in a hypnotic trance is in control of themselves and their own thoughts.
- No one can “inject” ideas into another person’s mind.
- You cannot be made to say or do anything against your will. (If you want to bark like a chicken, you are welcome to do that anytime you wish.)
- Suggestions are offered but it is up to the person in a relaxed state to take them or not.
- You cannot get “stuck” in a hypnotic trance.
- A person who is in a hypnotic trance or altered state of awareness is not asleep.
- There is no swinging watch.
- And, a good reminder for all, it is always gauche and illegal for any therapist to have a sexual relationship with clients. I so wish that movies would stop doing that!
In closing, clinical hypnosis is helpful when offered by a licensed and trained clinician. I use clinical hypnosis all the time with my clients who are undergoing fertility treatment or working on their therapy issues. The bottom line: interesting movie but it ain’t hypnosis!