Between start-ups, tech wizards, designers, marketeers,… Kris Van Ocken is the odd one out at Brain Embassy. He has been a hypnotherapist for 15 years now. Say what? “Forget about the hocus pocus. Hypnotherapy is all about optimizing the relationship with yourself.”

First things first. Hypnotherapy a type of alternative therapy that uses hypnosis to help individuals achieve their goals or overcome certain issues.

Hypnotherapy is not entertainment, Kris explains. “I don’t get up on a stage, I don’t wear a high hat, I don’t click my fingers. And I definitely don’t make people jump up and down or bark like a dog. I don’t even put you in a state of hypnosis. You do that, all by yourself. I guide you, but in the end every form of hypnosis is self-hypnosis.”

“It is actually a guided daydream. Nothing more, nothing less. When you are walking in the park and you see children having fun in the playground, your thoughts wander back to your own childhood. Or when you walk past a waffle stand in the city, the smell alone can take you back to your grandmother’s kitchen. Suddenly, you remember not just the smell of waffles, but the voice of your grandmother and the color of the tiles in the kitchen. Those memories are part of your subconscious, you just need the right trigger to bring them back.That’s sort of what hypnotherapy does: we are going to open up your subconscious, the hard drive of all the things you have been through in your life.”

Derailed and back on track

Burn-outs, depression, addiction, low self-esteem,… According to Kris, hypnosis is being used to treat different conditions. “The problem I see most often nowadays is hands down anxiety. This is the age of anxiety. Hypnotherapy takes you back to your subconscious, to the origin of those feelings. What makes you anxious? Why are you so susceptible for fear and panic? Hypnosis can help you adopt different, more desired thoughts, feelings or behavior.”

“For me, personally, hypnotherapy is all about optimizing the relationship with yourself. That’s the essence. It is a means to that end. Often times, our relationship with ourselves is derailed. I want to get it back on track. That’s why I named my practice ‘Back On Track’.”

“Hypnotherapy is effective, and it works quickly towards behavioral change. But it’s not a magic potion. It’s part of a process. The best way to help people is to make them self-reliant. Through hypnotherapy I want to empower them to make the right choices, out of love and respect for who they really are. A lot of people suffer from burn-outs, I am convinced that when you have established a loving relationship with yourself, you will be far less likely to bite off more than you can chew in your professional life.”

Forget about the hocus pocus. Hypnotherapy is all about optimizing the relationship with yourself.

Don’t fall asleep

An interview with a hypnotherapist is the perfect occasion to fire off a little FAQ on hypnosis. For example, does everyone achieve a state of hypnosis? “Well, off course only people who are open to the idea of hypnotherapy come to me”, Kris replies. “I guess approximately 20 percent of all people are too skeptical and fail to achieve that state. If you are convinced that hypnotherapy is quackery, you will probably close off your subconscious.”

Is hypnosis dangerous? Is there a chance you can’t get out of your state of hypnosis anymore? “No, you don’t need to worry about that”, Kris assures. “You can always stop the state of hypnosis yourself. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not like you are unconscious. What happens is that your brain activity goes down. The worst thing that can happen is that you fall asleep. (laughs) Relaxing for you, but our session is ruined when you fall asleep.”

Anarchists

What does Kris consider the most important skill for a hypnotherapist? “It’s not the ‘technical’ part: guiding people to a state of hypnosis is not that hard. The most important part of my job is building a relationship with my clients. Creating the trust that people need to open up. I call that the ‘hypnocontract’. But I always watch out that I don’t get too close with my clients. I plan an average of 4 sessions, they should be able to continue the process without me.”

“Hypnotherapists are kind of like the anarchists among the therapists. There’s no officially recognized training, there’s no official degree or title, there’s no official reimbursement. On the one hand, that situation reinforces false bias and preconceptions about hypnotherapy. On the other hand, hypnotherapists have a lot of freedom to follow their own path. I’m a bit of an anarchist myself, I have always embraced chaos. I listen to client feedback and adapt my way of working to their needs. There is not one truth.”

And why here?

“Working at Brain Embassy helps me to keep a fresh mind. I’m not on an island here. I’m not surrounded by other therapists; I talk to interesting people who do completely different things. After an intense hypnotherapy session that’s what I really need.”

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