Social forums have been buzzing for weeks (at least in hypnosis circles!) in anticipation of the latest ITV hypnosis show - 'You're Back In The Room' - which went out for the first time last Saturday. 

And judging by articles and comments appearing since the show, it's (as I think presenter Phillip Schofield tweeted) very much a marmite show - you either found it hilarious and can't wait for next week or you thought it was lame, unfunny and a poor relation to the Generation Game.

As you can imagine, as a hypnotherapist I made sure I watched it to find out how hypnosis was going to be presented and also because I expect a lot of clients will be asking me about it during the coming weeks.

So what did I think of it?

To be honest, while watching the whole thing, from purely an entertainment point of view, I thought it was pretty poor and unfunny. But hey, that's just my opinion on it as entertainment so is really neither here nor there. 

What is more pertinent though is how hypnosis was portrayed - bearing in mind that for many people, this will form part of how they view the power of hypnosis and its application.

Were they really hypnotised?

Already one of the main concerns clients have when they come to see me is that they don't want to 'cluck like a chicken' or 'sing like Elvis' unwittingly.

And the ITV show takes the main myths and misconceptions that already exist about hypnosis and pretty much runs with them all. There are pictures of swinging watches and there is talk of over-riding the brain and people being not in control. Hypnosis is portrayed as being something 'done to' a person as though they have no real choice in the matter.

It is widely known that the contestants were auditioned beforehand and personally I believe that they were generally just playing along to win cash prizes most of the time (they seemed to forget to follow the suggestions some of the time).

There may have been hypnosis involved, but the most likely determining factor in their actions (at least from the way the programme was edited) was their own expectation that they would go along with what was suggested in order to win cash. This, along with the pressures and expectations of being in a TV set in a programme likely to be viewed by milions and with an audience expecting fun things to happen.

Without wanting to sound too cynical, if you weren't willing to play along you wouldn't have applied to be on the show...and you wouldn't have got through auditions...and if you didn't get on the show you wouldn't have had the opportunity to win some cash.

The Power of Hypnosis 

So the show proliferated many of the myths and misconceptions of hypnosis, things like you will not remember what goes on when you are hypnotised, that you can be made to do silly things against your will and that you have no control when under hypnosis.  

In fact these myths couldn’t be further from the truth – my clients often tell me how good it feels to use hypnosis to take control over their thoughts and feelings so that they can let go of anxiety, panic attacks and many other problems. So if there is any mind control going on it is by my clients themselves so that they can feel better - and they actively participate in the process and the success.

My concern is that, whilst it may put hypnosis in the spotlight and raise a certain awareness of it, I hope that the show will not put anyone off finding out more and seeking the help they need.

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket