Ep53: Is Hypnosis Safe & Good For You? with Bill Patterson

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Bill Patterson
Bill Patterson: Clinical Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist

In today’s interview I get to speak with Australia based Clinical Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist, Bill Patterson, about hypnotherapy, what it is, the benefits of clinical hypnosis for stress and anxiety plus help answer some hypnosis myths.

Bill is very passionate about hypnosis and how it can help us facilitate change and live a healthier, more connected life.

In today’s interview we get a chance to talk about how hypnotherapy works, some common misconceptions about hypnosis and the growing medical evidence supporting its efficacy.

If you know someone who is interested in finding out about how hypnosis works and how it can help with a myriad of issues including trauma, stress, depression, anxiety, pain, addiction and performance, this interview is for them.

I enjoyed this interview as I have always had a keen interest in the mind and mental health.

After talking to Bill, I have a much better understanding of why and when to use hypnosis. I am further convinced of the importance of taking the time away from the distractions of our modern society to reconnect with ourselves and the world around us. I feel meditation and hypnosis can help be powerful tools to help us improve our mental health and bad habits.

Special thanks to Bill for joining me on the show. Enjoy the episode!

For more information visit Bill’s website Mind Body Solutions.

Show Notes with Timestamp Links

Highlights of what we talk about during the interview:

Click on one of the timestamp links in the brackets to jump to that point in the interview audio

[00:19] – Introducing, Bill Patterson, a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist, based in Australia, and specialising in stress and anxiety management, phobias and addictions and chronic pain management. Bill is also a member and clinical supervisor at the Australian Hypnotherapist Association.

[01:18] – Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis to help someone make a change and see improvements in various aspects of their life as well as their physical ailments. Bill explains more about hypnotherapy, hypnosis, psychotherapy and mesmerism. He tells us how hypnotherapy evolved and where the term mesmerised comes from. (Hint: It involves Franz Mesmer.)

[03:42] – Stage hypnotists (hypnosis shows) tend to hurt the credibility of the usefulness of hypnosis in serious clinical applications of which there are many. Bill explains how hypnosis sensitises the mind to the power of suggestion. We now have a large body of evidence that has confirmed hypnosis activates areas of the brain that respond to suggestion by using technologies such as fMRI scanners.

[05:45] – There are three areas identified with the trance state: 1. Dissociative, narrowing your attention (generally inwardly), 2. Absorption, intense focus. (author Aldous Huxley had a particular ability to achieve this state and had a number of meetings with Dr Milton Erickson, an American psychiatrist, who used hypnosis), and, 3. Hyper-suggestibility.

[08:28] – Meditation is a more passive practice, but a lot still happens in the brain. Are we susceptible to suggestion? Dr Richard Davidson’s work has showed an increase in activity in the prefrontal cortex from mindfulness and meditation. This is significant as they have shown measurable benefits, in particular for those people suffering from anxiety and depression.

[10:32] – Bill worked with Rheumatologist, Dr Daniel Lewis to develop the 12 Pathways to Wellbeing Guide. Neurofeedback training is also something that has made it easier for Gary to meditate. Would hypnotherapy be similarly useful for people who are struggling to reach a meditative state? Bill explains that it is an ideal way to fast track into a practice of meditation where you can feel confident that you are actually meditating. (Biohackers Lab Tip: Listen to Dr Freddy Starr explain how neurofeedback training works.)

[12:04] – What are some signs that we have reached a meditative or hypnotic state (trance phenomenon)?

[14:00] – A common question with a multitude of answers is whether anyone can be hypnotised? It is a generally recognised fact that most people, with a few exceptions, can be. Most individuals’ ability to be hypnotised lies somewhere on a spectrum; Two thirds of adults can be successfully hypnotised to make a change and almost all children can be.

[15:55] – If you think it is not real you are going to be right. A sceptical, questioning, busy mind can act as a blocker to hypnosis. Bill describes some commonly experienced trance-like, absorbed states such as when we are focused on our devices.

[18:09] – How long does it generally take to hypnotise someone? For a highly susceptible person, it can take as little as 30 sec using rapid induction methods used by stage hypnosis. Bill explains that one of the factors of success is to be motivated.

[21:43] – How does it work with people who aren’t as susceptible to hypnosis? There are some useful techniques that can be applied; the complex semantics technique confuses someone into a state of trance or the patient’s own characteristics can be studied and used. The latter is a method Dr Erickson often used. Bill shares an interesting case study as an example.

[25:26] – The best thing a subject can do is to provide as much information that is relevant to the problem they want to change to the therapist. Bill explains it is not unusual to feel like nothing happened after a session – even when something actually did.

[27:33] – What are the benefits of hypnosis? The common one most of us think of is hypnotherapy helping someone to stop smoking or to deal with pain. However, Bill explains the biggest benefit is for management of stress. Hypnosis is a very effective tool for anxiety and panic disorders because it enables people to quickly release and let go of that stress. Symptoms are noticeably relieved after a session.

[30:42] – With traditional therapy it could be that people struggle to verbalise their problems. With hypnosis, however, there is usually a regression aspect that takes someone back to a distressing event which can be extremely helpful in overcoming the trauma they are carrying with them.

[33:03] – Compassion and ego strengthening are big components when working with trauma. There are ways to work through situations subconsciously without bringing the traumatic events forward. Bill shares an example of a client who had a blockage from childhood trauma affecting her everyday life.

[36:54] – There is a fine line between acknowledging the trauma and re-living it or being re-traumatised. Is this a substantial risk?  Bill explains that the key to managing this risk is to ensure the client is comfortable with the pace they are working at.

[39:55] – Even people who feel fine and aren’t suffering from a particular issue can benefit from hypnosis. It is helpful with stress management, strengthening mental capacities and performance improvement. This can range from public speaking to athletes focusing their mind at sporting events. For example, Jason Day the Australian pro golfer uses this technique.

[42:40] – We discuss differences between the flow state, meditation and hypnosis. There are distinctions between these methods as they are accessing different parts of the brain.

[43:53] – Bill addresses hypnosis myths. Generally, it is not mind control. Also, you cannot get stuck; you are in control and will be able to get out of it.

[47:47] – To follow Bill and find out more find him on his website: Mind Body Solutions.

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