What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis, which is sometimes referred to as trance or altered state of consciousness, is a state of awareness that is focused and receptive to suggestion. Being natural in quality, it is a state of awareness that almost everyone has experienced. For instance, have you ever driven past your exit on the interstate because you were daydreaming or become so entranced in a book (or the TV) that you were unaware of someone entering the room? If so, you have experienced an altered state of awareness similar to hypnosis.
Clinical hypnosis or hypnotherapy is the therapeutic use of hypnosis to facilitate desired emotional and/or behavioral change.
How does it work?
To better understand how hypnosis works it is helpful to examine the components and functions of the mind. The conscious mind, or primary awareness, is where the analytical processing takes place. The subconscious mind, or secondary awareness, is home to feelings, beliefs, imagination and expectations and does not use conscious logic to process information. Hypnosis occurs when the critical factor of the conscious mind is relaxed or bypassed allowing consciously unfiltered suggestions to enter the subconscious mind. Since the subconscious mind is estimated to be 88% to 99% of total mind, its support is essential for any lasting change to occur. When used by a trained professional, hypnosis can be a valuable tool to foster desired change by removing blockages and mobilizing inner resources.
What does hypnosis feel like?
Although hypnosis is an experience unique to each individual, there are some commonalities. Hypnosis is not sleep. You may become deeply relaxed in a way that physically resembles sleep but your mind will remain aware and alert. You will be aware of what the therapist says and does even in very deep hypnotic trance. In most cases you can expect to experience a deep state of relaxation both physically and mentally. Some may experience a lightness of body as if they are floating while others might experience heaviness. Some people feel warm while others feel tingling throughout their bodies. Some experience the therapist's voice as if it is coming from far away but everyone experiences hypnosis as pleasurable.
Will I lose control?
The therapist has no control over the client other than what is given to the therapist by the client. A client can not be made to say or do something against his/her will and any suggestion that is contrary to a client's morals or ethics will be rejected. For almost everyone, a suggestion works only if it's something you want and believe in. Hypnosis makes it easy for the client to absorb a suggestion, but it does not force the acceptance of that suggestion.
Can I get stuck in hypnosis?
Although a client's automatic responses may be slowed during hypnosis, awareness is still present. If a client senses a need or desire to end the session before being directed to by the therapist, simply opening the eyes with intent to terminate will suffice.
Can anyone be hypnotized?
Certain qualities of mind are common to all humanity and the natural ability to enter trance is innate. For some though this ability to be hypnotized may become blocked for various reasons. For example, the client may fear losing control, be concerned about impending change, or not trust the therapist. When the fear is resolved and rapport established resistant clients usually become excellent subjects.
What can hypnosis be used for?
Hypnosis in a clinical setting can be used to assist clients achieve personal change in numerous ways. The following is an extensive but not a comprehensive list of the most common utilizations of hypnosis:
Smoking Cessation Weight Loss Fears & Phobias
Abuse Stress Trauma Release
Unwanted Habits Anxiety Alcoholism
Depression Bruxism Nail Biting
Motivation Enuresis Pain Management
Compulsions Insomnia Age Regression Therapy
Natural Child Birth Athletic Performance Self Esteem & Confidence
Complementary Medical Hypnosis for Cancer Diabetes and other Chronic Illnesses
What does a hypnotherapy session involve?
A hypnotherapy session typically consists of a pre-hypnosis consultation, a hypnotic induction and lastly the therapeutic suggestions and reframing techniques.
The first pre-hypnosis consultation is longer than in subsequent sessions and serves to provide information that the therapist needs to effectively guide the session, educate the client on the process, dispel any client misconceptions and establish rapport. The consultation is a significant portion of the initial session which, including the induction and hypnosis, is usually 2 hours in length. Subsequent sessions generally have shorter pre-hypnosis consultation and inductions and can be expected to be approximately 1 hour in length.
A hypnotic induction is the process that establishes hypnosis. Hypnotic inductions are almost as numerous and varied as the hypnotherapists that use them and have evolved dramatically over the last two decades. Longer more maternal inductions are usually the norm for first time clients but become shorter and more direct as clients become familiar with hypnosis.
The hypnosis portion of the session will vary depending purpose, desired outcome and technique used by the therapist. Some suggestions are direct communications while others may be indirect or take the form of metaphors. In many cases reframing techniques are used in conjunction with suggestions. Regardless of type of suggestion or technique, the aim of this portion of the session is always to empower the client by releasing internal resources.
How many sessions are required?
For most of the more common concerns such as smoking, two sessions are typical but other more profound changes usually require more.