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Going Under with Hypnotist Colin Christopher
One of the perks of being apart of the StyleCartel team is that we get to interview some of the most interesting people. This time it’s Colin Christopher, renowned Canadian hypnotist. Many people seek their help when medication and certain types of therapy aren’t fixing what they try so hard to concur everyday. Recently I had a session with him focusing on personal issues, I’ve battled for years. This time, as it’s my second time going through hypnosis, was different. There was a certain level of being awake and another level of giving up control for a better you. Anyway, Colin told me how to find a true hypnotist, how to figure out whether you’re a good candidate and how he got started.
How do you know when someone is under?
There are physical responses:
1. Slow measured breathing like someone that is asleep.
2. Limbs becoming very loose and easy to move around – In person I would take your hand and shake it around to see if it is loose and limp or resistant. When hypnotized limbs are loose and limp whereas when conscious, limbs are resistant to external manipulation.
3. Eyes become very blood shot because of the increase in blood circulation.
4. Other specific testing techniques to make someone do something they normally wouldn’t do such as imagining a helium balloon tied to their wrist and then imagining the balloon increasing in size so it physically pulls their arm up. Their arm will raise because their subconscious believes there is a balloon pulling the arm up.
Have there ever been moments when you weren’t able to hypnotize someone? What do you think was the reason why?
Statistically approximately 15% of people are low hypnotizable, 70% are medium hypnotizable, and 15% are highly hypnotizable.
Everyone can be hypnotized, it just depends on their hypnotizability factor, the amount of time you have with the person, environmental factors (such as in a stage show where they feel self conscious in front of people), their beliefs (positive and negative) about hypnosis, whether they trust the hypnotist or not. In a therapeutic setting I have always been able to hypnotize my clients because I can recognize the factors that make it easy or difficult for the client and adjust accordingly. In a stage setting the success of hypnosis varies from 15% to 85% of volunteers getting hypnotized and the rest not because of the factors I described.
What is it about hypnosis that allows you alter people’s everyday routine for the better?
Brain wave states can be changed to aid learning and direct subconscious programming. Hypnosis changes brain wave states to lower delta and theta levels as described below:
There are five brain wave states defined and measured by electroencephalograms (EEGs). Each state is associated with different brain activity.
Delta – 0.5 to 4 Hz (cycles per second) – Associated with sleep and the predominant brain wave activity of babies.
Theta – 4 to 8 Hz – Associated with a light sleep and/or children 2 to 6 years of age.
Alpha – 8 to 12 Hz – Associated with calm consciousness and an awareness of self.
Beta – 12 to 35 Hz – Associated with active focused consciousness, such as thinking, reading, and interpreting.
Gamma – Greater than 35 Hz – Associated with states of peak performance, such as when a pilot is landing a plane.
Delta and Theta states are the brain wave states where people are the most suggestive and programmable. (Lipton, The Biology of Belief, 2005).
People are more suggestible and programmable in these lower brain wave states and these are the states people go into when hypnotized. A hypnotist takes advantage of these lowered states to reprogram people’s thinking to alter people’s everyday routine for the better.
Do people have to have follow up sessions or is once enough?
This varies completely from person to person and is dependent on their hypnotizability factors, the complexity of the problem(s) they want to fix and the skill of the hypnotherapist. For example, most people that see me to quit smoking usually require 1-2 sessions. However, for hypnosis and child birth 6-8 sessions are more common.
Is anyone a good candidate for hypnosis or is it for particular people? Basically what makes a great candidate?
A great candidate is someone that wants to improve themselves. I have seen clients, especially smokers where their spouse and family want them to quit, while they themselves wish to keep smoking. In cases where they don’t want to quit, hypnosis will not work. They can still get hypnotized, but the suggestions will not last because they continually wish to smoke. It’s the same with any other issue someone seeks help for. If the person does not want to do something,hypnosis won’t help them.
We did a phone session. Is this best for everyone?
Typically the best sessions are in person in an office. That being said, the phone can work very well as it did with you, and so can hypnosis recordings like the one on the weight loss hypnosis link I sent you. It depends on the person on what is best for them. If they are in the 15% low hypnotizability range, a phone session will most likely not work, and hypnosis recordings such as the weight loss would have to be listened to repeatedly for an extended period of time and still may not work – For the 15% that are highly hypnotizable a phone session will easily work very well and the recordings will work quickly. For the other 70% that fall in the middle (based on my experience I think you are in this category) a phone session will work with the proper interview like we did and taking a longer period of time for the initial portion (called the induction) where I put you into relaxation.
How did you get started in hypnosis? Was there specific training?
I saw a stage hypnosis show about 16 years ago and was amazed by it. I starting reading books and practicing the techniques on friends to see if hypnosis was real and if it actually worked. It did work and once I saw proof I did research and found the Hypnosis Training Institute of Alberta. This school is an approved hypnosis school by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners. They had one of the most extensive curricula I could find that involved in class practice and training under the supervision of a certified instructor as well as a code of ethics . Four years ago I became an approved instructor and now teach stage hypnosis at the school.
Do you do crowds or conferences? Just expand on where you’ve traveled to, the venue, the reason.
I perform hypnosis shows and speak about the topic of my book “Success Through Manipulation“ throughout North America and some of my clients have included McDonalds, TD Bank, and Princess Cruise Lines.
Do you travel for your practice?
Most of my practice is done at my office, however when I travel for shows, speaking and training, I do see clients in the areas I travel to if time permits.
For people who want to see a hypnotist, how can you tell the real from the phonies?
The best way is to check their credentials. There is no state or federal licensing for hypnotists at this time, but there are a number of professional associations that issue certifications: The American Council of Hypnotist Examiners, the National Guild of Hypnotists, the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association. There are medical doctors, dentists, psychiatrists and psychologists that are clinical hypnotherapists, but there is no such thing as a Dr. of Hypnosis. So if someone is claiming that they are a Dr. verify what kind and what educational institution issued their Doctorate. If they’re claiming to be a Dr. and they’re not legitimately a doctor, then it should be quite obvious to seek someone who is truthful and ethical and not printing a document they found on the internet to create false credibility.
References can sometimes be obtained, however you should bear in mind that therapy sessions are confidential and a therapist is not obligated to share private client information with you. Most people do not want others to know that they are undergoing therapy of any kind. A better indicator of skill is looking to see if the hypnotist writes journal articles about clinical hypnosis or participates in industry conferences. Have they written a book that has good reviews? Have they been interviewed on local television or radio or have any articles in newspapers, blogs or online? Do they specialize in a particular issue or do they claim they can cure everything under the sun? Unless a client really wants to see me, I refer them to other hypnotherapists when I believe another hypnotherapist that specializes in a particular issue can help someone better than I can. Also, take a look at the hypnotist and evaluate their appearance for consistency and congruency. For example, If you want to lose weight and the hypnotist is overweight themselves, maybe they’re not the best choice to help you.
Usually the best indicator is when you speak to them, do you feel that you trust them. If you don’t trust them, listen to your instincts and find a hypnotherapist you do trust. One of the biggest reasons why people don’t get hypnotized is because they don’t trust the hypnotherapist.