Happy No Smoking Day everyone. If there are any smokers out there in the Horsham, Crawley, Guildford, West Sussex or Surrey area, you know what to do…

On ITV’s Daybreak program this morning, Dr. Hilary Jones was busy promoting No Smoking Day for all it was worth. He mentioned some of the usual quitting aids – patches, inhalators, gum etc. He mentioned CBT (CBT for smoking? That would be a bit expensive, wouldn’t it?). He mentioned hypnotherapy – as well he might, for hypnotherapy’s track record in this area is pretty impressive.

But as soon as he mentioned the word “hypnotherapy” – well, he just had to say it didn’t he: “Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, not round the eyes but in the eyes…” Thank you Little Britain! Thanks a lot Matt Lucas! What have I ever done to you? When those sketches were first broadcast I, like most other hypnotherapists, had to go through a couple of months of purgatory. “Look into my eyes” etc. Yes, very funny. But after a couple of weeks the humour does wear off a bit…

But afterwards I couldn’t help wondering how many prospective clients make the same association – hypnotherapy and “look into my eyes”. And I wondered how many were put off by it. Surely some are. Many years ago I was arranging a small loan in a bank. The person dealing with me had done all the usual training in how to handle customers and the General Public. Lots of straight eye contact. Until I told her what I did for a living. No more eye contact after that!

So – lets lay a few myths to rest.

A hypnotherapist does not look people in the eye and by some magic power take over their minds. I don’t know of any hypnotherapist who uses induction methods involving eye contact.

Induction by eye contact works by holding a person’s gaze. If the eyes are kept still they start to tire. If the hypnotist is reeling off suggestions about the eyes getting tired and heavy then the subject will accept the suggestions as true and may even think that the hypnotist is causing the heaviness of the eyes. Eye closure may be achieved in that way. Or with more suggestible people eye closure is not even necessary. If the gaze is held, the attention can be controlled.

All very powerful and impressive. But here in the real world things aren’t quite so simple. I have experimented with eye contact techniques – but only with willing colleagues, never with clients. I found that two things would typically happen – either one or both of us would get the giggles, thus making further serious work impossible, or I would start going into hypnosis myself.

Eye contact is incredibly powerful – but, in my opinion, almost impossible to employ usefully in a therapeutic context. Eye contact can be threatening or intrusive. Karate is my sport. You are supposed to look your opponent straight in the eye. Unless I know the person quite well I find that very hard to do. I look at their nose or their mouth, rarely straight in the eye. And it is not because I feel that they are threatening me or I them. It just somehow seems intrusive – almost rude.

So – let’s forget all about eye contact and send Mr. Lucas on his merry way! And never let it get in the way of giving up smoking!

Give up smoking now. Contact me today.

Horsham Hypnotherapy: serving clients from Horsham, Crawley, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Guildford, Redhill and all parts of West Sussex, East Sussex  and Surrey. Contact us today.

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