Hypnotherapy – sometimes called clinical hypnosis – is a mental health treatment that helps a person achieve change through a heightened state of awareness. It is a therapeutic treatment that applies the state of hypnosis towards achieving individual goals as well as psychological and behavioural changes. Hypnosis is a natural, relaxed state of body and mind during which the critical filter of the conscious mind is bypassed, and a person becomes more open and amenable to positive suggestions for change and growth.
The human mind is in a natural state of hypnosis twice everyday: the moments just before and after one wakes up from deep sleep and the moments just before and after one falls asleep. Scientifically, we can also refer to the brain being in alpha state at these times.
A Brief History of Hypnosis
The current form of hypnotherapy dates to the 1700s and Franz Mesmer, a German physician whose name gave birth to the word ‘mesmerise’. It was not until the 1840s that the term ‘hypnosis’ was introduced by a surgeon named James Braid. In the 1950s and 1960s, hypnosis gained popularity because of one practitioner, Milton Erickson – his techniques are still widely used by hypnotherapists today.
The Conscious and Subconscious Mind
Hypnotherapy uses the power of both the conscious and subconscious mind. The conscious mind is the part of the mind that is aware of specific thoughts, experiences, will power as well as logical and critical thinking. The subconscious mind maintains and governs all involuntary biological systems. For example, biological processes such as the respiratory, cardiovascular, and digestive systems run without conscious involvement.
The subconscious mind is also responsible for long-term memory, beliefs, emotions, and habits. Most of the problems in adulthood have their roots in unresolved childhood trauma or negative conditioning, which results in creating a limiting belief system. When a child is growing up, their subconscious mind has more influence than their conscious mind. Most of their conditioning happens during the formative years – up until the age of seven – which can cause certain positive or negative behaviours and habits later in life.
How Does the Therapy Take Place?
The central concept of hypnotherapy is to focus on the power of guided relaxation, intense concentration, and focused attention. When the hypnotherapist helps the person achieve a heightened state of awareness, changes in perception are possible. Hypnotherapy involves a therapist helping to relax the mind and body of the client, as well as increase the client’s focus and concentration to induce a trance-like state. Under hypnosis, the person will experience a powerful sense of calm and relaxation. The trance-like state is important to attain because, in this state, the person is often able to recollect suppressed memories and more open and receptive to suggestion, which helps to create the desired change.
Hypnotherapy may differ greatly from psychotherapies and other treatments used to address mental and medical issues, but like other approaches, it is grounded in sound therapeutic techniques that help create the wanted outcome. Bear in mind that a person cannot be hypnotised against their will – it requires a client’s permission and cooperation. It is important to note that these interventions require a collaborative process between the hypnotherapist and the client to achieve a state of heightened awareness for it to work.
Along with changed perceptions, the trance-like state that accompanies the heightened awareness may:
- increase a person’s response to suggestion. With this, a hypnotherapist can offer a suggestion connected to the person’s goal, and the individual will be more likely to follow the suggestion.
- improve their ability to manage some bodily functions that are ordinarily involuntary, like breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
- enhance self-understanding. During the session, the person may uncover a better understanding of their past and the root causes of issues and unwanted symptoms.
A person’s ability to benefit from hypnotherapy mainly depends on their degree of openness and willingness. While in the hypnotic trance state, a person can work on issues and goals on the subconscious level. Subconscious motivations or aversions for desired outcomes are achieved through guided imagery and positive suggestions given by the therapist. Hypnotherapy can significantly improve their life and overall well-being. It’s also effective in helping with emotional, mental, and physical issues.
It is important to differentiate hypnotherapy from popular conceptions of hypnosis portrayed in mainstream media. Hypnotherapy and clinical hypnosis are therapeutic alternative treatments. It is not stage hypnosis, which is used to entertain people. With hypnotherapy, no one is forced to act in a certain way against their will. Hypnotherapy is not about losing control of one’s freedom and independence. Instead, it is about gaining power and control over issues adversely influencing one’s life.
Additionally, the fear that someone will lose their memory or experience periods of amnesia during and after hypnosis is mostly false. Most people recall everything that happens during a hypnotherapy session, and this recollection is essential for them to reflect and make necessary changes moving forward. A person seeking hypnotherapy for their issues or symptoms should consider clearing any misconceptions or any preconceived notions about this therapeutic modality with a qualified practitioner.
What Should One Expect?
Hypnotherapy sessions generally last between 60 and 90 minutes. The first hypnotherapy appointment usually begins with meeting the the practitioner and learning about the process of hypnosis and its clinical uses. The session will then shift to discussing the client’s reason for seeking hypnosis, their desired outcomes, and treatment goals. Depending on the needs of the person, a typical course of hypnotherapy treatment can be anywhere from one or two sessions to multiple sessions over the course of several weeks or months. These sessions can be done either in person or online.
Many celebrities have come out in the open and talked about how various hypnotherapy techniques have helped them to quit smoking or substance abuse. This has resulted in a major shift towards alternative healing modalities, even though these practices have been around for a long time. Like other forms of treatments, the field of hypnotherapy is continuously evolving. Over time, the practice will undoubtedly make additional strides to meet the needs and achieve the goals of people hoping to minimise their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.