What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is best described as a very deep state of relaxation, in other words, a normal, natural, healthy state of mind.
Some will say that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Our bodies experience what are known as ultradian rhythms. These rhythms form the basis of common, everyday trance or hypnotic states, when we may find ourselves daydreaming or just taking a break.
Here are some examples of the hypnotic state:
- Have you ever been in a room full of people, feeling as though you are taking part in the group but feeling detached from it?
- Have you ever had the experience of driving home while being preoccupied by something and suddenly realising that even though you have arrived safely at your destination, you can’t recall driving past familiar landmarks? It’s as if you were on automatic pilot.
- Have you ever been unsure whether not you did something or simply thought about doing it? For example, did you mail that letter or did you just think about mailing it?
- Have you ever been so absorbed in an activity that you were able to block out sounds or make them totally unimportant or not even hear them?
- Have you ever stared into space, thinking of nothing, and been unaware of the passage of time?
- Have you ever had the experience of remembering a past experience with such clarity and vitality that it was almost as if your were reliving it?
- Have you ever been able to shut out your surroundings by concentrating very hard on something else?
- Have you ever had the experience of reading a novel or watching a film and being so absorbed that you forgot about your surroundings, almost living the story?
- Have you ever been lulled into a dreamy state or put to sleep by a lecture or a concert, even though you were not tired?
What is a clinical hypnotherapist?
A Clinical Hypnotherapist is a specialist in hypnosis, who uses the healing state of hypnosis to work with problems or conditions that a client wishes to change.
What is the history of hypnosis?
Hypnosis is not a new modality of treatment. Hypnosis has had a variety of names and has been used for millenia as a means of influencing human behaviour. Therapeutic suggestion and concentration have been practised throughout the history as we have sought to recognise and treat discomfort, disorder and disease. The Celts and Druids practised hypnosis. The Egyptians established “sleep temples” some 4,000 years ago dedicated to therapeutic trance states in which curative suggestions were given. The Bible contains many sections which allude to hypnotic phenomena. Primitive tribes had Shamans who practised ritual, sleep cures and healing suggestions to remove the influences responsible for illness. Undoubtedly, the chants of the earliest medicine men helped many patients to restore their health. Think about the crooning and rocking that a mother uses to help her fitful child into a peaceful state of quiet and sleep.
In modern times, hypnosis is usually dated to Vienna in the 1700s and a young physician named Mesmer. The method Mesmer used became known as Mesmerism. Mesmer guided his patients to use their powerful imaginations. By doing so, Mesmer unwittingly lay the corner stone of many present-day therapies. Today, imagery techniques are used in many health care settings, with cancer patients, and in the areas of sports and business motivation.
In 1855, English surgeon, James Esdaile, used hypnotic skills in India. He operated on three thousand patients, of which three hundred were major procedures. He discovered the mortality rate dropped from 50% to 5%, and that many of his patients recovered more quickly, had increased resistance to infection, and had greater comfort. He presented his findings to the Royal Academy of Physicians in London. His work was denounced as blasphemous because “God intended for people to suffer”.
During the 1st and 2nd World Wars, interest in hypnosis was heightened because hypnosis was found to be very effective in combating war neurosis. The success of hypnosis in dismissing symptoms through a reliving of the events of a traumatic experience created a wave of enthusiasm for hypnotic methods.
It is probably true to say that hypnosis is clouded with more myths and misconceptions than any other form of psychological practice, even though these misconceptions have their roots in long-distant history and have no foundation in fact.
In Australia and elsewhere throughout the world, hypnotherapy is now recognised as a valuable therapeutic methodology.
What happens in hypnosis?
A Clinical Hypnotherapist uses hypnosis to enable the client to achieve a state of mental, physical and emotional relaxation.
When in hypnosis, the conscious mind (that busy, critical, analytical part of the mind) takes a rest. Hypnosis allows people to tap into the storehouse of information that lies in the subconscious (sometimes referred to as the unconscious) mind and make positive changes to thought patterns, habits or the effects of traumatic incidents that are having a negative impact either mentally or physically.
What does hynotherapy feel like?
The feeling when in hypnosis is of being physically and mentally relaxed. It has been likened to the feelings we experience just before waking completely from sleep or just as we drift off to sleep. Some people say it feels like daydreaming. When in hypnosis, people experience a state of complete mental, physical and emotional relaxation. In itself, this is a very healing state. Dr Milton Erickson, a leading American hypnotherapist, described the process of clinical hypnosis as “a free period in which individuality can flourish”.
How does hypnotherapy help?
The ability to reprogram emotional attitudes and reactions is a latent talent within every human being. Hypnosis is the most functional and reasonable way to train life-long attitudes, rather than suffer a lifetime of emotional accidents the conscious mind is unable to change.
Can anyone be hypnotised?
Pretty much – some more easily than others. Like anything else in life, the more people practice self-hypnosis, the more easily they can slip into that wonderful relaxed state. The depth that people reach in hypnosis varies between individuals. It is not necessary to achieve a very deep level of hypnosis to bring about change to habits or conditions that are having a negative impact either mentally or physically.
A common myth about hypnotisability is when a person says, “No one could hypnotise me, and I’m too strong minded”. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. A person goes into hypnosis because they choose to. So strong-minded individuals are really good candidates for hypnosis provided they are committed to wanting it to work for them.
Is hypnosis the same as meditation?
Brain scans of people in a hypnotic state show that brain activation during hypnosis is different from when the brain is in a normal waking state, sleep, or in meditation.
Are abilities enhanced during hypnosis?
Yes, as follows:
- The ability to IMAGINE
- The ability to REMEMBER
- The ability to BE CREATIVE
- The ability to RESPOND POSITIVELY to suggestion
Here are some examples:
The ability to IMAGINE – People in hypnosis respond extremely well to the use of imagery techniques, which have powerful benefits for change. Brain scans taken of people in hypnosis show increased activity during hypnosis, particularly in the motor and sensory area relating to heightened mental imagery. Under hypnosis the powerful benefits of imagery can be used to treat a wide range of conditions.
The ability to REMEMBER – People in hypnosis experienced a heightened sense of recall. For example, in some instances, hypnosis is used by the police to assist witnesses to recall car number plates or describe people at a crime or accident scene. The enhancement of the ability to remember in hypnosis enables the client and therapist to explore the origin or cause of the symptoms that may be causing a client distress and enable them to take an appropriate course of action.
The ability to BE CREATIVE – By having access to increased creativity in hypnosis, people are able to allow themselves to be much more creative in their thinking thus enabling them to more readily explore options and solutions to issues that are troubling them. People can also utilise the benefits of self-hypnosis in all areas of their lives that involve creativity, such as painting, writing, music, etc.
The ability to RESPOND POSITIVELY to suggestion – Working as a team, the client and clinical hypnotherapist agree on what outcomes the client is wishing to achieve. Heightened responsiveness to positive suggestion in hypnosis means that the clinical hypnotherapist can reinforce the changes the client wishes to make. This reinforcing under hypnosis is at the subconscious (or unconscious) level which is much more powerful than making the suggestions to the conscious mind.
Can hypnosis be used as a lie detector?
As far as we know, there is no information in relation to using hypnosis as a lie detector because that is not how hypnosis really works, no matter what Hollywood movies might like you to believe. A person in trance always has control of their actions, which includes the ability to lie if they want to.
Would I be asked to do anything against my will?
This is one of the common misunderstandings associated with hypnosis. This is probably tied in with another misconception that the hypnotherapist has control over the client. This is not the case. People will not do or say anything under hypnosis that they would not do when not in hypnosis. Thanks to TV shows and stage hypnotists, there is a common misconception that you can be hypnotised against your will. It is not true. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis.
Research conducted at the University of NSW by Dr Amanda Barnier and reported in The Sydney Morning Herald on 2 February 1998, states that “Hypnotised people do not act like robots, nor are they powerless pawns of post-hypnotic suggestions planted in their subconscious”.
Am I unconscious when I am hypnotised?
No. In hypnosis, the conscious mind takes a rest. Hypnosis allows you and the hypnotherapist to tap into the storehouse of information that lies in the subconscious (or unconscious mind) and makes positive changes to thought patterns, habits or the effects of traumatic incidents that are having a negative impact either mentally or physically.
What is self-hypnosis?
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The clinical hypnotherapist facilitates the process using a range of techniques, which may differ from client to client. A clinical hypnotherapist can teach you to use self-hypnosis, thereby giving you a life-long skill.
How do I choose a hypnotherapist?
When choosing a hypnotherapist, check that they are a member of a recognised association, such as The Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists.
Is a doctor’s referral necessary?
A referral is usually not necessary. A medical check is advisable before therapy in cases where the problem may have a predominantly physical cause. Often the Hypnotherapist will work with your Doctor as many problems can best be overcome by a joint effort.
In what areas can hypnotherapy be used?
A qualified hypnotherapist is trained to help with a variety of problems, while at the same time maintaining the highest standards, ethics and training as set out by the ASCH.
Hypnotherapy can help with smoking cessation, overeating, nail biting, bed wetting, insomnia, headaches, exam nerves, pain, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, bulimia, depression, mood swings, alcoholism, relationship problems, hostility, anger, resentments, worry, guilt, grief, asthma, blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, warts, compulsions. Hypnotherapy has been used successfully to treat trauma and those suffering from PTSD and Complex PTSD.
Hypnotherapy has been a great help in improving exam performance, study recall, memory, sports focus, public speaking, personal growth, pain control, performance, assertiveness, childbirth, communication, relaxation, counselling confidence, releasing the past, personal empowerment, goal setting.
Hypnosis can be used in the treatment of most disorders, whether mental or otherwise, where the relaxation response promotes the person’s positive mindset. For example, with a physical injury, the person’s mental resources can be enlisted to aid in managing the subsequent discomfort, allow for some rest, and lessen the associated emotional trauma. It must be noted that Hypnotherapy is not a replacement for medical treatment from your doctor.
Will my personality change?
Hypnotherapy will bring out the best in you. The change happens when you leave behind any habits or baggage you no longer need or want. As a result, you become stronger and happier. It will help you to unlock your true potential, and uncover your strong, good qualities, which you may not even be aware of.