WHAT HYPNOTHERAPY IS
And How It Works
What is Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is now a validated evidence-based science, demonstrated on brain imaging, especially thanks to modern techniques of medical imaging. Imaging studies further enabled the hypnotic state to be described as a specific state of consciousness, differentiating it from other states of consciousness. This state of consciousness is primarily characterized by a state of mental permeability or suggestibility, showing an increased ability to produce desirable changes in motivation, habits, lifestyle, health, perception and behavior as well as modifying physical sensation.
Hypnotic or ‘trance-like’ states have been used to treat physical and mental health since ancient times. The Egyptians used ‘dream temples’ while the Greeks used ‘sleep temples’ (otherwise known as ‘hypnos’) to treat ill health. Evidence of hypnosis techniques can be found in the bible dating back to 1500 BC! From there, hypnosis continued to be used and developed. In 1841 the term hypnosis was first used by a Scottish ophthalmologist named James Braid. He started to realise that hypnosis was psychological rather than anything mystical. Since then hypnosis has been researched and developed scientifically. In the present day it is being used to treat a wide variety of health problems.
Hypnosis makes use of the mind body connection, understanding how our thoughts and feelings can influence our physical health, just as our physical health can influence our mental health. Hypnotherapy uses relaxation and visualisation techniques to guide you into a state of deep peacefulness. Similar to mindfulness meditations, the brain lets go of distractions and becomes more focused. When you’re in a hypnotic state, your pulse and respiration rate slows down, and your brain starts to produce more alpha brainwaves. Alpha brainwaves indicate relaxation, positive mood, reduced anxiety and increased creativity.
When you’re in this hypnotic state, you are less inhibited. You’re more likely to be able to access memories and face problems that you might have been avoiding, or address feelings that you may have been bottling up. You’re also more open to suggestion. This 2019 study defines hypnosis as, “a waking state of awareness, (or consciousness), in which a person’s attention is detached from his or her immediate environment and is absorbed by inner experiences such as feelings, cognition and imagery”.
Since hypnosis is a natural occurring state, anyone who is willing can experience hypnosis. Hypnosis is simply a set of instructions that someone can follow. Some people can be more receptive than others. That's why working with an experienced professional is so important to customise the experience for you. My clients have reported that they can quickly and easily experience hypnosis, and they can continue to use their hypnotic skills long after they leave the clinic. But iIf the client doesn’t have an honest desire for change or is fearful of the process, the hypnotic instructions simply won't be effective.
How does Hypnotherapy Work?
A human being has a conscious and sub-conscious mind. Starting from birth, or even before, you start collecting information that is then stored in your subconscious. You could call it your 'hard drive'. This information will define who you are, how you feel, how you react to certain emotions, how much you weigh, what good habits you have and what bad habits you have. This information is protected by a 'firewall' - the conscious mind. The job of the firewall is to compare new information with that already present on the hard drive. Information that doesn’t match won’t be accepted.
This has advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that you won’t accept new information that is obviously incorrect, for example if someone tells you it is safe to cross a 4 lane freeway without looking in both directions. The disadvantage comes when your 'hard drive' sub-conscious is wired with information that is not beneficial to you. For example, consciously you know perfectly well what advantages you would have being a non-smoker, eating less sugar, being more active, or being able to speak fearlessly in public. But as long as your sub-conscious doesn’t agree, it won’t happen. No matter how much will power you may have. As long as your 'firewall' conscious mind blocks this new information, nothing is going to change.
The advantage of hypnosis is that it enables us to send the conscious mind on a short trip and to give new information to the sub-conscious, new information that will enable you to reach your desired goals.
Hypnosis is not sleep, you will keep hearing my voice. Anybody willing can go in hypnosis, as long as you follow my instructions. When I ask you to imagine something, you imagine it, when I ask you to evoke a feeling, do it, don’t think about the how and the why, just let it happen…
If the client doesn’t have an honest desire for change or is fearful of the process, the hypnotic instructions simply won't be effective.
How will you feel during the session? No idea, everybody’s experience of hypnosis is different. When you interview 100 people after a hypnosis session you will get 100 different answers. Some have expanded awareness, they may feel heavy or light, others may regard it as sitting on a chair, eyes closed listening attentively. And that’s ok too, awareness is nice but doesn’t influence the result.
So don’t wonder whether you are in hypnosis, whether you are doing it right. Let me worry about that, I can see when you are in hypnosis and when your 'firewall' has taken the trip.
The most important thing is to follow my lead, concentrate on my voice, let go and enjoy the ride.
Disclaimer: Hypnotherapy results vary from person to person. Hypnotherapy is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Each client should consult their GP for medical advice and for any symptoms that may require medical intervention.