What is Hypnotherapy?

Over the following pages, you will briefly learn what hypnosis is, how it can be used as a powerful tool for therapy and dispel some myths along the way.

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Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state of consciousness where the mind becomes focused and receptive to therapeutic suggestions.

Would you be surprised to learn that you have been entering into hypnosis multiple times every day? Believe it or not, we hypnotise ourselves regularly without even thinking about it.

You have hypnotised yourself if you have ever…

  • read a book or watched a TV show to become so engrossed and focused that the world around you seems to disappear.

  • driven or walked to a familiar location on autopilot, only to return to a conscious frame of mind on your arrival.

  • worried about a future event, for example, a presentation at work or a social gathering.

  • thought about something that happened in the past, or a potential future event, which made you feel sad/anxious/embarrassed/(insert other negative feeling here).

Next: Is it Sleep?

Is it sleep?

The term hypnosis derives from the Greek, 'Hypnos', which indeed means sleep, but the requirement for hypnosis is not quite the same. During hypnosis, we enter a state, similar to Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. The REM phase of sleep is when we dream, utilising our senses (sight, touch, smell, taste).

We can enter the REM state when we are awake, using our imaginations to create new instinctive reactions. This could happen during a shock or trauma, such as being involved in a car accident and subsequently becoming fearful of driving or getting into cars. Alternatively, it is possible to access this special state of mind by being deeply relaxed but still focused, aware, and therefore not asleep. It is the latter option which a hypnotherapist will work with their client to achieve.

An important fact to remember: the person who is being hypnotised is always in complete control.

Next: Therapy

Therapy

Hypnosis used in a therapeutic capacity is known as hypnotherapy. In a session of hypnotherapy, a trained therapist will guide you to the comfortable hypnotic trance state with instructions to help your body and mind relax. During the REM phase, the body cannot distinguish the difference between reality and imagination which allows the therapist to provide positive suggestions.

Utilising this technique, hypnotherapists can reframe and reprogram negative thoughts and feelings. It can be successful with many conditions, including anxiety, stress, phobias, confidence and self-esteem.

When you enter hypnosis, you are not only experiencing a great sense of relaxation and tranquillity in the REM state, but you are allowing communication with a powerful part of your mind known as the subconscious.

Scroll down to learn about the conscious and subconscious mind.

The conscious and subconscious mind

So far, we have learnt that a hypnotherapist will take you to a relaxed, altered state of consciousness, similar to REM sleep, and hypnotherapy is the therapy that takes place while in this state. But if you are looking for a solution to an issue, why should you choose hypnotherapy? To answer this question, we need to look at two distinct areas of the mind: the conscious and the subconscious.

The conscious is our logical, thinking, analytical mind. It is at the forefront of our life experience. As you read this passage, you are using your conscious mind to analyse the words and decide if you accept or reject the information.

The subconscious (sometimes known as the unconscious) is essentially everything else in our mind that we are not consciously aware of. It is the powerful autopilot which runs in the background of our lives at all times. It is where our instincts, emotions, memories and feelings to stimuli are stored and retrieved.

Hypnotherapy is the bridge between these two parts of the mind. It is in the hypnotic state that the hypnotherapist communicates with your subconscious mind directly, providing positive suggestions to effectively reprogram instinctive thoughts and feelings.

Let's learn more about the subconscious mind on the next page.

Next: The Bicycle

The bicycle

Do you remember when you learnt to ride a bicycle? There would have been a conscious effort to pedal, steer, balance and be aware of your environment. After much practice (and hopefully not too much falling), did you begin to find that the effort required to ride the bicycle steadily became easier? And did you no longer need to 'think' about all of the aspects of cycling that you originally struggled with?

You can see how the process began by utilising the conscious mind, but after repetition and practice, the skill was stored in the subconscious and became part of the auto pilot.

The same applies to emotions in the subconscious mind. Sometimes no amount of logical, conscious reasoning can help to change a negative pattern. For example, nobody chooses to have a panic attack, they happen instinctively and without conscious control. Hypnotherapy is an effective tool to access and instruct the subconscious to reprogram negative thoughts and feelings whIch are no longer required.

On the next page, we will look at an example showing how negative behaviours are reinforced by unknowingly using self-hypnosis.

Next: Jane's Phobia

Jane's phobia

Jane has booked a holiday abroad. As the date draws near, she begins thinking about the flight, including feelings of acute fear and worry. By simply imagining the future event and triggering these emotions, Jane is unknowingly hypnotising herself. Each time she does this, the template of fear around flying is reinforced.

On the day of the flight, Jane struggles to enter the airport. Although she understands how safe air travel is, logic and common sense cannot improve her feelings. Her family tell her there is nothing to worry about, but these comments have no effect. The flight may be uneventful, but for Jane, it is a traumatic experience.

But where could these intense feelings have originated from, and why? There could be a myriad of reasons, from a genuinely traumatic experience to a minor event that occurred as a child. Whatever the origin, Jane's mind was trying to do one thing: keep her out of danger.

Many of our fears and anxieties in life are the result of self-preservation, our mind's attempt to keep us safe. Sometimes our unconscious programming can be valid, such as knowing not to cross a busy road without checking for oncoming traffic, but other times it is not quite so helpful, like worrying about taking a flight to enjoy a holiday.

Using hypnosis, a therapist will communicate with Jane's subconscious mind to reframe the template/programme stored in her mind, from negative to positive associations.

Next: Is hypnotherapy a cure?

Will hypnotherapy cure my problem?

This introduction to the conscious and subconscious has touched on the fundamental aspects of how we can learn behaviours and the function of hypnotherapy to make changes. Can hypnotherapy be a cure for any unwanted emotions?

Hypnotherapy is a very safe form of therapy with no medical intervention required. It has been proven to reduce levels of anxiety and has been used effectively for hundreds of years. Techniques such as mindfulness and meditation have increased in popularity over the last decade, leading even more people to discover the benefits of hypnotherapy.

However, it would be irresponsible to claim that hypnotherapy is a one-stop cure for all emotional problems. With the right therapist, hypnosis can be a brief form of therapy with rapid improvements compared to some alternative types of talking therapies. Long-term effects are also possible, especially with regular self-hypnosis practice.

For some people, hypnotherapy alone may be all the help needed to overcome an obstacle. For others, medical intervention or another type therapy may be the solution. Results are dependent on the condition, the person and the therapist. If you have any doubts, consult your GP before starting a course of therapy.

Scroll down to learn how hypnosis can be used to explore the mind.

Exploring the mind

The hypnotic, altered state of consciousness used to treat negative emotions is also a gateway to an untapped source of information. This side of hypnosis is an alternative to the 'medical' hypnotherapy discussed in the previous pages.

This exploratory hypnosis taps into a part of the subconscious mind that can mentally send the participant to other places or even worlds. Remember, the hypnotic state is very similar to REM sleep, which is the period of sleep where we do all of our dreaming. A session of this type of therapy could be described as being in a dream-like state where you can consciously observe the environment around you and make decisions. You may be able to see, hear, smell, taste or feel the environment around you.

An example of this type of hypnosis is Past Life Therapy. Through hypnosis, a participant is taken to a previous lifetime to explore and investigate the events in the life. Could it be that we are tapping into a part of the mind that can replay memories of a previous life? Or is it the imagination creating a detailed story to help us in our current lives? Either way, the experience can be powerful and profound with no spiritual beliefs required.

It is important to remember that there is still no risk involved in this type of hypnosis. It is a completely safe form of therapy.

Scroll down for a summary.

Hypnotherapy is not....

Sleep;

A loss of control;

Mind Control;

A mystical art or magic;

Harmful in any way.

Hypnotherapy is....

Relaxing and enjoyable;

A way to communicate with the subconscious mind;

A natural altered state of awaress;

Completely Safe;

A tool for positive change.

Further reading

Thank you for reading this short introduction to hypnotherapy. Please browse the following pages linked below to learn more. If you have a question about hypnotherapy, please send a message to Christopher using the contact form.

What is Hypnotherapy?

Over the following pages, you will briefly learn what hypnosis is, how it can be used as a powerful tool for therapy and dispel some myths along the way.

Swipe down to begin.

Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state of consciousness where the mind becomes focused and receptive to therapeutic suggestions.

Would you be surprised to learn that you have been entering into hypnosis multiple times every day? Believe it or not, we hypnotise ourselves regularly without even thinking about it.

You have hypnotised yourself if you have ever…

  • read a book or watched a TV show to become so engrossed and focused that the world around you seems to disappear.

  • driven or walked to a familiar location on autopilot, only to return to a conscious frame of mind on your arrival.

  • worried about a future event, for example, a presentation at work or a social gathering.

  • thought about something that happened in the past, or a potential future event, which made you feel sad/anxious/embarrassed/(insert other negative feeling here).

Is it sleep?

The term hypnosis derives from the Greek, 'Hypnos', which indeed means sleep, but the requirement for hypnosis is not quite the same. During hypnosis, we enter a state, similar to Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. The REM phase of sleep is when we dream, utilising our senses (sight, touch, smell, taste).

We can enter the REM state when we are awake, using our imaginations to create new instinctive reactions. This could happen during a shock or trauma, such as being involved in a car accident and subsequently becoming fearful of driving or getting into cars. Alternatively, it is possible to access this special state of mind by being deeply relaxed but still focused, aware, and therefore not asleep. It is the latter option which a hypnotherapist will work with their client to achieve.

An important fact to remember: the person who is being hypnotised is always in complete control.

Therapy

Hypnosis used in a therapeutic capacity is known as hypnotherapy. In a session of hypnotherapy, a trained therapist will guide you to the comfortable hypnotic trance state with instructions to help your body and mind relax. During the REM phase, the body cannot distinguish the difference between reality and imagination which allows the therapist to provide positive suggestions.

Utilising this technique, hypnotherapists can reframe and reprogram negative thoughts and feelings. It can be successful with many conditions, including anxiety, stress, phobias, confidence and self-esteem.

When you enter hypnosis, you are not only experiencing a great sense of relaxation and tranquillity in the REM state, but you are allowing communication with a powerful part of your mind known as the subconscious.

The conscious and subconscious mind

So far, we have learnt that a hypnotherapist will take you to a relaxed, altered state of consciousness, similar to REM sleep, and hypnotherapy is the therapy that takes place while in this state. But if you are looking for a solution to an issue, why should you choose hypnotherapy? To answer this question, we need to look at two distinct areas of the mind: the conscious and the subconscious.

The conscious is our logical, thinking, analytical mind. It is at the forefront of our life experience. As you read this passage, you are using your conscious mind to analyse the words and decide if you accept or reject the information.

The subconscious (sometimes known as the unconscious) is essentially everything else in our mind that we are not consciously aware of. It is the powerful autopilot which runs in the background of our lives at all times. It is where our instincts, emotions, memories and feelings to stimuli are stored and retrieved.

Hypnotherapy is the bridge between these two parts of the mind. It is in the hypnotic state that the hypnotherapist communicates with your subconscious mind directly, providing positive suggestions to effectively reprogram instinctive thoughts and feelings.

Let's learn more about the subconscious mind on the next page.

The bicycle

Do you remember when you learnt to ride a bicycle? There would have been a conscious effort to pedal, steer, balance and be aware of your environment. After much practice (and hopefully not too much falling), did you begin to find that the effort required to ride the bicycle steadily became easier? And did you no longer need to 'think' about all of the aspects of cycling that you originally struggled with?

You can see how the process began by utilising the conscious mind, but after repetition and practice, the skill was stored in the subconscious and became part of the auto pilot.

The same applies to emotions in the subconscious mind. Sometimes no amount of logical, conscious reasoning can help to change a negative pattern. For example, nobody chooses to have a panic attack, they happen instinctively and without conscious control. Hypnotherapy is an effective tool to access and instruct the subconscious to reprogram negative thoughts and feelings whIch are no longer required.

On the next page, we will look at an example showing how negative behaviours are reinforced by unknowingly using self-hypnosis.

Jane's phobia

Jane has booked a holiday abroad. As the date draws near, she begins thinking about the flight, including feelings of acute fear and worry. By simply imagining the future event and triggering these emotions, Jane is unknowingly hypnotising herself. Each time she does this, the template of fear around flying is reinforced.

On the day of the flight, Jane struggles to enter the airport. Although she understands how safe air travel is, logic and common sense cannot improve her feelings. Her family tell her there is nothing to worry about, but these comments have no effect. The flight may be uneventful, but for Jane, it is a traumatic experience.

But where could these intense feelings have originated from, and why? There could be a myriad of reasons, from a genuinely traumatic experience to a minor event that occurred as a child. Whatever the origin, Jane's mind was trying to do one thing: keep her out of danger.

Many of our fears and anxieties in life are the result of self-preservation, our mind's attempt to keep us safe. Sometimes our unconscious programming can be valid, such as knowing not to cross a busy road without checking for oncoming traffic, but other times it is not quite so helpful, like worrying about taking a flight to enjoy a holiday.

Using hypnosis, a therapist will communicate with Jane's subconscious mind to reframe the template/programme stored in her mind, from negative to positive associations.

Will hypnotherapy cure my problem?

This introduction to the conscious and subconscious has touched on the fundamental aspects of how we can learn behaviours and the function of hypnotherapy to make changes. Can hypnotherapy be a cure for any unwanted emotions?

Hypnotherapy is a very safe form of therapy with no medical intervention required. It has been proven to reduce levels of anxiety and has been used effectively for hundreds of years. Techniques such as mindfulness and meditation have increased in popularity over the last decade, leading even more people to discover the benefits of hypnotherapy.

However, it would be irresponsible to claim that hypnotherapy is a one-stop cure for all emotional problems. With the right therapist, hypnosis can be a brief form of therapy with rapid improvements compared to some alternative types of talking therapies. Long-term effects are also possible, especially with regular self-hypnosis practice.

For some people, hypnotherapy alone may be all the help needed to overcome an obstacle. For others, medical intervention or another type therapy may be the solution. Results are dependent on the condition, the person and the therapist. If you have any doubts, consult your GP before starting a course of therapy.

Exploring the mind

The hypnotic, altered state of consciousness used to treat negative emotions is also a gateway to an untapped source of information. This side of hypnosis is an alternative to the 'medical' hypnotherapy discussed in the previous pages.

This exploratory hypnosis taps into a part of the subconscious mind that can mentally send the participant to other places or even worlds. Remember, the hypnotic state is very similar to REM sleep, which is the period of sleep where we do all of our dreaming. A session of this type of therapy could be described as being in a dream-like state where you can consciously observe the environment around you and make decisions. You may be able to see, hear, smell, taste or feel the environment around you.

An example of this type of hypnosis is Past Life Therapy. Through hypnosis, a participant is taken to a previous lifetime to explore and investigate the events in the life. Could it be that we are tapping into a part of the mind that can replay memories of a previous life? Or is it the imagination creating a detailed story to help us in our current lives? Either way, the experience can be powerful and profound with no spiritual beliefs required.

It is important to remember that there is still no risk involved in this type of hypnosis. It is a completely safe form of therapy.

Hypnotherapy is not....

Sleep;

A loss of control;

Mind Control;

A mystical art or magic;

Harmful in any way.

Hypnotherapy is....

Relaxing and enjoyable;

A way to communicate with the subconscious mind;

A natural altered state of awaress;

Completely Safe;

A tool for positive change.

Further reading

Thank you for reading this short introduction to hypnotherapy. Please browse the following pages linked below to learn more. If you have a question about hypnotherapy, please send a message to Christopher using the contact form.