Kate Mitchell 

Therapist and

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist 

in Kent and Surrey

 Freedom CBT Hypnotherapy

Kate's Blogs

An ongoing series of informational entries

Stage Hypnotism V Hypnotherapy - what are the differences?

May 19th 2019

When the general public hear the term ‘hypnosis’ they are likely to name famous stage hypnotists, TV personalities and even comedy sketches.

The common myths about stage hypnosis refer to the hypnotist’s ‘powers’ which mean that they can put the volunteers into a ‘trance’, and that the volunteer does not have the power to resist.

In fact, stage hypnosis relies on a range of techniques, from genuine hypnosis and suggestibility to tricks, deception and even technology.

This is unlike modern hypnosis, which emphasises a collaborative relationship between the hypnotist and client in which the client plays a full part, and which is based on modern psychological research.

McGill’s ‘New Encyclopaedia of stage hypnosis’ outlines some techniques which are similar to modern hypnosis, but many more which are false and misleading.

For example, the use of ‘plants’ in the audience, people who are working with the hypnotist. They pretend to be hypnotised in order to encourage similar behaviour in others. Other methods include the use of physiological phenomena disguised as hypnosis. These include applying pressure to the brachial artery to apparently stop a fake volunteer’s pulse, and full body catalepsy, known as the plank, which in fact relies on strategic supports and the bodies’ own core strength. The application of a yellow flame to the arm of a hypnotised subject relies on the speed of moving the flame, which will not have time to singe the skin.

TX Barber pointed out that by selecting their volunteers carefully the hypnotist could take advantage of the fact that approximately 15% of the population are high responders and a further 50% are susceptible to suggestion. By having a large number of volunteers, the hypnotist raised the likelihood of social pressure coming to bear on the volunteers, as well as an increased likelihood of increased numbers of suggestible people. In addition, the type of people who are likely to volunteer are those who are invested in the experience and also may well contain people with extrovert personalities who will help to convince others by their noisy responses. He also noted that social compliance had an impact, with volunteers not wanting to ‘let others down’. And that outright deception – for example many instances of the use of private whispers (asking the subject to ‘play along’) and tricks used in other occasions by fakirs, conmen and illusionists, also played a part.

Do you go into a trance?


It depends on what you mean by a trance. If you think that you go into a deep sleep, having no awareness, and being 'under the control' of the therapist, than no! If you mean will you feel focused and relaxed, alert yet calm, and ready to listen to yourself and the therapist - then yes. 


When I first went to a hypnotherapist myself I spent most of the first session rigid with tension and trying to stay in control at all times. I argued with the therapist in my head, and rejected many of her suggestions. What a waste of the fee! The next time I went I was more relaxed - I knew that I could 'resist' suggestions if I wanted to, and was ready to try to enter into the session. The result was that the hypnotherapy began to work, I began to get better, and my symptoms began to alleviate. 


Hypnotherapy is not magic. It is based on sound scientific evidence. It is used by psychologists, doctors and  dentists because it works. You are always in control and can never be made to remain in a trance or do anything against your well. 


I will shortly be writing a blog about the difference between hypnotherapy and stage hypnotism, which are two very different things. 

I am always happy to talk to you, and can treat you without hypnosis if you prefer - I offer a range of talking therapies without hypnotherapy should you prefer.

If you would like to find out more, please contact me for a free chat.

The importance of self hypnosis - learning how to do it for yourself!

23rd April 2019

The value of self-hypnosis, compared to hetero-hypnosis (lead by a hypnotherapist) has been long debated. It is generally accepted that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Adam Eason (2014) looked extensively at the evidence from hundreds of trials and research articles, and concluded that there is little difference between hetero and self-hypnosis, which research by K Hannigan also supported (2000).


I was initially dubious about this, but my own experience, and that of my clients would seem to indicate that this is true. Initially when I was learning to be a cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist  I needed a long time with much effort from the hypnotherapist to achieve hypnosis, but as time went on, I found I was entering hypnosis quicker and quicker. After just one or two sessions I was able to induce self-hypnosis eventually without using any tapes or recordings, just using the eye roll induction and 5 steps deepener. This is mirrored  by my clients' experiences. They report that the more often they practice in between sessions the quicker they are able to enter hypnosis on their own.


This has obvious benefits for the hypnotherapist and the client. Knowing that it is possible to learn how to self-hypnotise, as a homework, interim activity, following techniques you learn from the hypnotherapist means that the client can improve their sense of self efficacy and also increase their likelihood of successful outcomes to treatment. It is also possible for me to coach clients to improve their self-hypnosis techniques, and also to quicken their response times. It can also demonstrate the client’s commitment to the process.


During our sessions I will give you the skills to practice self hypnosis - my aim is that you should no longer need me after 4-6 sessions at the most, depending on the type of condition you are seeing me about. I will also provide recording for you to listen to at home.


Wedding nerves and first speech panic - three things which can help!

23rd April 2019

The cold sweat. The waking at 3 am with heart pounding. The sinking feeling. The blind panic! It is all a normal part of the build up towards the wedding day, but it can feel completely overwhelming. 

But there is hope.

Try these three things and feel much better and more confident.


1) grounding. When you find your thoughts whirling - take a moment to stop and either sit or lie down somewhere safe. look around you. Notice five things which you can see - and when you notice them, don't get distracted by them, just note the details and allow your eyes to rest on them. Next close your eyes and listen. Find five things you can hear - again, don't analyse, just listen. When you have heard 5 things begin to notice 5 things you can feel - it may be bodily sensations from outside - air temperature, the feeling of cloth on your skin, pressure points on your body in contact with the chair etc, or internal - breathing, stomach gurgling, etc. Don't get caught up in analysing them or worrying about what they mean, just notice and move on. Finally, take a few breaths and notice 5 scents in the air around you. Open your eyes - you should feel a lot more grounded now.


2) Jaw relax - take 30 seconds and totally relax your jaw - as you do so notice how your lips also relax, and your cheeks, your forehead, your eyes - just concentrate on the feeling of relaxation - don't allow other thoughts to distract you, gently return to the feeling of relaxation.


3) Square breathing. Breath work can make some people anxious. If this is your difficulty, then focus on the other activities until you feel ready. If you are ok to do breath work, then take a deep breath in for 4, hold fo 4, breathe out for 4 and breathe normally for 4. repeat 4 times - can you see where the name 'square breathing' came from? 


Hopefully you are feeling a lot calmer now! If you want more strategies, and the useful relaxation recordings I make when you are a client then please contact me today for your free consultation.