Hypnosis is a state of mind enhanced by mental and physical relaxation in which our unconscious is able to communicate with our conscious mind, brought about either by oneself or with the help of a professional.
Similar to daydreaming or the focusing that occurs when we are engrossed in a book or staring at a fire, it holds the key to unleashing our potential, changing our unwanted habits and behaviours and finding solutions to our problems and concerns.
According to the American Psychological Association “hypnosis is a procedure during which a health professional or researcher suggests while treating someone that he or she experience changes in sensations, perceptions, thoughts, or behaviour”.
Our unconscious minds are much larger and more powerful than we sometimes realise. However, the conscious mind (which is where we do our rational thinking) can obstruct access to the unconscious mind. The purpose of hypnosis is to persuade the conscious mind to step aside for a while and so allow access to the unconscious mind. In this very relaxed state, your subconscious mind is more open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new ways of being. And suggestions become very powerful.
Hypnotic states are pleasant and relaxing with individuals entering into them of their own accord so that desired, beneficial suggestions may be given directly to the part of the mind known as the subconscious.
Although some hypnosis is used to make people more alert; most hypnosis includes suggestions for relaxation, calmness and improved well-being. Instructions to imagine or think about pleasant experiences are also commonly included during hypnosis.
People respond to hypnosis in different ways. Some describe hypnosis as a state of focused attention in which they feel very calm and relaxed. Most people describe the experience as pleasant.
Healing by trance state (or an altered state of awareness) is among the oldest phenomena known to man and is found, in one form or another, in virtually every culture throughout the world. It could also be legitimately described as the original psychological therapy and somewhat more contentiously, as the basis for many of the more recent styles of psychological intervention.
Although such altered states have been known for thousands of years, the term ‘hypnosis’ (derived from the Greek word ‘hypnos’, meaning ‘sleep’) was only coined in 1841 by the Scottish physician and surgeon James Braid who discovered and formalised the process. It remains a somewhat less than accurate description of the experience as the hypnotic state is, in most respects, entirely dissimilar to sleep.
Hypnosis has been practiced for many years and can be traced back to documents found in ancient Egyptian temples. Its history, however, is full of contradictions, making it hard to pin down. What we can conclude is that it hasn’t changed much over the millennia, our perspective of it has.
In the 21st century there are still those who see hypnosis as some form of occult power. Those who believe that hypnosis can be used to perform miracles or control minds are, of course, simply sharing the consensus view that prevailed for centuries.
Recorded history is full of tantalising glimpses of rituals and practices that look very much like hypnosis from a modern perspective. These practices tend to be for magical or religious purposes, such as divination or communicating with gods and spirits. It’s important to remember, however, that what we see as occultism was the scientific establishment of its day, with exactly the same purpose as modern science – curing human ills and increasing knowledge.
From a Western point of view, the decisive moment in the history of hypnosis occurred in the 18th Century with the work of Franz Mesmer. This was then followed in the 19th Century by surgeons and physicians like John Elliotson and James Esdaille, who risked their reputation pioneering its use in the medical field. Researchers like James Braid simultaneously began to peel away the obscuring layers of mesmerism, revealing the physical and biological truths at the heart of the phenomenon. Thanks to their persistence and efforts, by the end of the century hypnosis was accepted as a valid clinical technique, studied and applied in the great universities and hospitals of the day.
This trend continued into the 20th Century with work of therapists such as Milton H. Erickson, Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell.
In its modern incarnation, hypnosis is an integrative field of study incorporating the best elements of behavioural psychology, cognitive psychology, EMDR, NLP and the most effective classical theories proposed by Freud, Jung and Adler.
The subconscious mind is the source of many of our problems and self images. Our beliefs, habits and behaviours are stored as information and the subconscious is a tremendous reservoir of our unrecognised strengths and knowledge as well as our mental baggage and negative behaviours.
Hypnosis is a natural and effective technique for unleashing untapped potential, changing unwanted habits and behaviours and finding solutions to problems and concerns.
Because hypnotherapy works by offering ideas for change to the subconscious mind it can be helpful with any behaviour or disorder caused by, or affected in some way by, the state of the mind, including:
- Fears and Phobias
- Stress and Anxiety
- Panic Attacks
- Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Pain Control
- Cancer and Psychoneuroimmunology
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
- Psychosexual Disorders
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Addictions: Smoking, Alcohol, Food, Drugs, etc.
- Habits: Nailbiting, Thumbsucking, Blinking, Sniffing, Hair Chewing, etc.
- Eating Disorders
- Skin Conditions
Hypnosis is also a highly effective tool for self-development, with benefits including:
- Building self confidence and self-esteem
- Encouraging relaxation
- Stress management
- Emotional difficulties
- Relationship problems
- Reduction of anxiety
- Exam preparation
- Life coaching and goalsetting
- Sports or artistic performance enhancement
Trust and confidence are integral to the induction of a hypnotic trance, so the first part of the client/therapist relationship is to establish rapport. This is done by encouraging the client to open up and share any difficulties they may be experiencing and to discuss their concerns. In addition, it provides a clinical record for use in subsequent sessions. Goals for therapy will also be discussed and agreed, and a full explanation of hypnosis provided. Any questions or misconceptions about hypnosis can be dealt with at this point.
Next, comes the hypnotic induction. There are many different ways of achieving trance state. You may be asked to imagine or visualise walking down a country lane, for instance. Or to stare at a fixed point or listen to the sound of your therapist’s voice. To deepen the trance, the therapist may count you down from 10 to 1, or ask you to imagine walking down a flight of stairs. Throughout, you will feel very relaxed while remaining completely aware of your surroundings.
To return to full consciousness, which you can do by yourself at any time, the therapist will simply count upwards from 1 to 10, simultaneously guiding you back into the room.
The length of treatment depends on the problem or symptom presented and the individual’s circumstances. With some people a problem like nail biting can be successfully treated in one session. Other problems, such as panic attacks, can take up to 5 or 6 sessions.
In the course of therapy clients are usually taught self-hypnosis as part of a number of therapeutic homework tasks. Self hypnosis, as well as being empowering, provides the means for individuals to help themselves and strengthens and speeds up work done within sessions.
The first session you undergo usually lasts one and a half hours to two hours, with subsequent sessions being between an hour and an hour and a half.
It is important to remember that nobody can ever be hypnotised against their will and even when hypnotised people still remain in complete control of any suggestions given. The whole object of clinical hypnosis is to take back control that has been lost and which has therefore resulted in the symptom or problem. At all points, power is given, not taken away.
Hypnosis is a safe, relaxing, enjoyable and effective.
Hypnosis isn’t magic, it’s natural, and therefore there is nothing to be scared of. You are never under the power or control of the hypnotist or the hypnotic trance. You will never do anything you do not want to do. You will always be aware of what’s happening to you.
You cannot get stuck in a hypnotic trance anymore than you can get stuck in a daydream. You will either open your eyes on the therapist’s command, wake as if rising from sleep or continue to sleep peacefully, waking later naturally.
Hypnotherapy harnesses and focuses the natural abilities of your mind to help you make positive changes in your life so you can achieve your dreams and goals.
Most people find hypnotherapy very relaxing and very helpful.
N.B: For your own safety, it is suggested that you consult an experienced practitioner before attempting to confront any serious issues on your own.
If you would like any further information about the process outlined above, please contact me with your questions.
Additionally, if you would like to enquire about booking a session with me, please fill in the short form available from the booking enquiry page and email it along with your request. I will endeavour to reply to all enquiries in person at the first opportunity available.
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