The Observer Effect is a known phenomenon that makes people act differently when they are being observed. In this blog post, we look at why knowing this is critical when conducting a hypnotherapy session online.
Have you ever walked past a mirror in a clothes shop and paused to try on a hat or hold up a jumper? Did you notice how your expression changed, too?
Maybe you cocked your head to one side.
Perhaps you breathed in a little.
Maybe there was a ‘pout’ of some kind that fell across your face?
The fact is, we all change a little when we see ourselves. We also change when we know that someone is watching us. It’s all part of something known as The Observer Effect and I’ve found that when conducting a hypnotherapy session for anxiety, a phobia or something else online, it’s important to be aware of it.
The Observer Effect in hypnotherapy
Whenever clients come to see me for a face-to-face hypnotherapy session, The Observer Effect will, of course, come in to play. That’s because the client will be in my presence during the session (check out this blog post for a more detailed explanation of what actually happens during a hypnotherapy session). In short, they know they are being seen.
The Observer Effect can actually be a positive. Knowing you’re being seen by a professional can help to validate what you’re doing in your mind.
But when a client books a session of online hypnotherapy, something else is often unwittingly brought into the equation.
When I meet a client online to give them hypnotherapeutic help for whatever is holding them back, the default setting for most videoconferencing software is for the screen to show two images.
One shows the person that the client is talking to online (me). The other is a smaller picture of themselves.
And it is this second, smaller, image that is the problem.
Why seeing yourself onscreen can change your behaviour
As stated earlier on, we all change a little when we see ourselves. It’s a bit like we are readying ourselves for a performance. And in the case of online hypnotherapy, The Observer Effect can cause you to become distracted from the reason you booked a hypnotherapy session in the first place.
But there is an answer.
And it’s really simple.
Just close down the image you can see of yourself!
Having conducted more than 1,000 hypnotherapy sessions online since the start of the pandemic, I now ask all clients to close down the image of themselves as soon as our session starts.
It means they can still me and I can still see them – but it also means that they remove an important distraction. So they can become more focused and more relaxed. And more open to treatment.
The fact is, many people who are seeking help are already anxious. They are often looking for ways to overcome social anxiety or to become more confident. So seeing themselves onscreen and wondering if they look OK or are coming across well is a distraction they don’t need.
Turning off that image of yourself is the smartest thing to do.
Why we all have multiple conversations at once
When chatting online, having your attention drawn to an image of yourself is just one of many possible distractions. In fact, there’s far more going on when we converse with others than most people realise.
Here are just some of the things that are taking place during a chat (online or face-to-face) between two people:
- Your actual conversation with the other person.
- The conversation with yourself you are having about what you are saying to the other person.
- Your interpretation of what the other person is saying to you.
And for the other person, all of the above is true. That’s six conversations all at once!
During a hypnotherapy session, one of my aims is to minimise all of this mental clutter and chit chat. It’s why visiting a trained hypnotherapist is a lot more effective than trying self-hypnosis. We’re trained to get people in the right headspace for the treatment so that they have the best possible chances of their session being a success.
5 ways to get the most out of a hypnotherapy session:
Whether you’re looking for hypnotherapy in London or Winchester or would prefer an online session, there are things that you as a client can do in advance to make sure you will get the most out of the experience.
The first is to do your research. Look online at several hypnotherapists’ websites and see how they come across. Check out their reviews. Do they seem like a good fit? It is important that you feel you can trust and work with your hypnotherapist from the very start.
Next, see if they offer a free consultation. I feel that this is a critical part of the process, as it is a way for clients to decide how best to proceed. The fact is, not every hypnotherapist is a great match for every client. During the free 15-minute consultation that I offer to all clients, both parties can get a feel for how things are likely to progress.
Come to your hypnotherapy session with an open mind
The third thing to do is to come to your hypnotherapy session (whether in person or online) with an open mind. Because if you’re already telling yourself, “This probably won’t work,” then you’re actually boosting your chances of failure. Belief is a powerful part of the equation.
The fourth thing on my list is to be open and honest. Hypnotherapy is not the same as psychotherapy, so there’s no long and drawn-out ‘getting to the bottom’ of your deepest fears and anxieties over multiple sessions. But, at the same time, your therapist does need to understand what’s bothering you so he/she can help you to overcome it.
Before each session I conduct with a client, I ask them to fill in a short questionnaire so that I am fully prepared.
Finally, my fifth tip is… enjoy it! Most clients find hypnotherapy to be a liberating and positive experience. Once we have chatted during our free consultation, I find that the majority of clients really look forward to the session, and do indeed believe it is the right solution for them.
They believe their session will help them to stop smoking, overcome anxiety, conquer their fear of flying, or whatever else is holding them back.
And if they believe that, then the methods I use during the session have the maximum possible chances of being effective – and achieving long-term results.