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What is Hypnosis
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So What Is Hypnosis

Broadly speaking hypnosis is a naturally occurring phenomenon used widely throughout the world by many Doctors, Dentists, Psychologists and Psychotherapists. Often referred to as "Trance" it is simply a mind skill, a way to communicate with the problem solving part of the human mind. If you think of trance as a mystical control state, where the recipient is unconscious, asleep or has had their mind "taken over", you would be absolutely wrong – there is no truth in this whatsoever. When used with psychotherapeutic techniques and suggestion, hypnosis can be a very effective form of treatment in the management of many disorders both physical and psychological.

Although it is difficult to precisely define the nature of hypnosis, it can best be described as state of profound physical and mental relaxation, during which we become inwardly focused, aware of our immediate reality but with a comfortable sense of detachment from it.

Without realizing it you already experience everyday trance states, for example – daydreaming. When we daydream we become inwardly focused, completely involved in some memory or imaginary experience, even to the point of not being aware of someone not talking to us – we become detached from the external world. Another example is having driven a car on a journey which you have covered many times before to find, when you arrive at your destination, that you have no memory of a part or parts of the journey. Actors and actresses are often in trance when they become totally immersed in the role they are playing. Being in love is a most profound trance state – don't we do strange things in the name of love! Reading a book, listening to music, watching television are all trance states where you become so involved with what you are doing that you don't notice how time has slipped by or how deeply you have relaxed.

There are of course many similarities between these familiar trances and formal trance. In formal trance the therapist will assist you to, as it were, "tune in" to this unique ability and help you use it in a far more focused and structured way. With the correct therapeutic approach it is possible to directly influence the unconscious mind, gaining access to part of our vast learning experience, searching for resources that we seldom believe we have and discovering change sometimes in a dramatic way.

What Is Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy involves the use of psychotherapy and other therapeutic techniques in association with hypnosis, in order to create positive change, whether it be to control weight, improve self esteem, manage emotional problems, overcome anxiety, or many other conditions which you will find listed elsewhere.

People try to rely upon the limited capacities of their conscious mind for direction and support, even though the unconscious mind has more resources and a better sense of reality. Consciously we tend to be very critical and will often over analyse when attempting to problem solve. This will then produce unproductive results such as anxiety, worry, confusion and in some cases a loss of belief. We then become locked in a feedback loop of negative thinking, which in turn encourages us to believe we have no longer a sense of control. Then that old habit negative self talk cuts in to remind us how "it won't work for me", or "what's the point it will probably go wrong", or "I'm a failure" and so on. Many people, often through the experience they had while growing up, develop defensive negative attitudes, forever minimising the benefits and maximising the difficulties in situations past, present or future. The continued discussion about the event, (often unchangeable) serves no purpose. A look at attitudes (changeable) would be more appropriate when seeking solutions.

So what the hypnotherapist will attempt to do is; help you achieve the right state of mind in which the unconscious is most likely to respond, encourage a process of having a different understanding of the problem and enabling the unconscious to create those changes which are right for you, and help build a sense of well being and positive resolve. Treatment will vary from person to person as there may well be complex issues to resolve which can take time.

Stage Hypnosis

Stage hypnosis is probably one of the most controversial ways hypnosis is used. If you had been to a stage show you would be forgiven for thinking that the volunteers were "under the power" of the hypnotist – not in control – and that they were being made to look foolish and do ridiculous things. This of course is a total myth. However it would hardly be surprising in the light of this if you decided that you weren't going to allow anyone to hypnotise you, and therefore you would never find out that this is NOT what therapeutic hypnosis is about. The fact that hypnosis is used in this way as entertainment, and that people do enact the fantasies suggested by the hypnotist is not disputed, but the idea that they are controlled or coerced in some way is complete nonsense.

There is a consensus of opinion among professional Hypnotherapists that hypnosis for entertainment trivializes and undervalues its potential as a safe method of treatment for a wide range of problems and disorders. As a point of interest the BIH code of practice banns any member practicing, or supporting anyone using hypnosis in this way.

Some Questions Often Asked

How do I know if I can be hypnotised?

Anybody can experience and enjoy hypnosis unless they are unwilling to do so or are incapable of any degree of concentration whatsoever, (either because they are to young or through mental infirmity) If a person is reading this and are willing to co-operate, it may be assumed that you can experience hypnosis.

Will I lose control?

Contrary to popular opinion the practitioner has no "special powers", nor can they "control" the subject in any way that is foreign to their nature, ethics, or will. Instead, their function is that of a guide within a shared experience.

Could I become trapped in hypnosis?

It is quite impossible to become "trapped" in hypnosis. If circumstances were to interfere with normal termination of trance, it would nevertheless occur quite naturally and safely, with no ill effects to the person.

Will I be asleep or unconscious?

Absolutely not. If trance was a state of sleep or unconsciousness you would not be aware of the therapists' voice, so it would be a pointless exercise and therapy would not be effective.

Will I say things I don't wish to in Hypnosis?

There is often a fear that you will be "commanded" to say or do things you do not wish to. This does not occur in clinical hypnosis. Generally the unconscious mind is very protective and will allow only as much communication in a trance as can be dealt with by the mind. A sensitive and competent therapist would certainly not resort to placing unnecessary pressure on you in this way.

Worried About Choosing The Right Therapist

It can be quite a bewildering task to seek a Hypnotherapist/psychotherapist these days. Non conventional medicine is still not widely available on the NHS – and that means the only alternative is to pay for private treatment, and it can be difficult to know quite where to start. But don't be put off. Firstly contact the BIH and request our free register of qualified therapists. If in the unlikely event that there is not a BIH member in your area, there is a lot you can do to ensure you make the right choice, and find a competent therapist.

Before committing yourself to private treatment, you should first seek conventional medical advice. For instance, if you have had constant nagging pain or some other debilitating ailment for a considerable time, have it checked out – it may be a condition that requires medical treatment.

Many GPs these days are becoming increasingly willing to refer patients to non – conventional practitioners, but there are still a few doctors who scorn the idea. Don't be put off, trust in your judgment – you are the one stuck with the problem.

Do remember also that there are many practitioners out there who operate independently, or who belong to an organisation. Some are extremely competent and some are not.

There are also many organisations which are highly professional, and quite a few who are most definitely not. Don't be afraid to phone around and ask questions, for instance, do they have a written code of practice, and a procedure for dealing with complaints, how long have they been in existence. Do they have a therapist in your area.

The following tips, while by no means fool proof, will at least assist you in your search to find a competent therapist you can rely on and trust.

·          Talk to someone who has had this form of treatment, if you know of anybody. Can they recommend their therapist?

·          Is your Doctor prepared to recommend a suitable therapist in you area?

·          Contact the BIH.

·          There is also of course a Directory, but be careful, anyone can call themselves a Hypnotherapist and set up in private practice.

·          Don't be afraid to ask some questions before you commit yourself. Any genuine therapist, and there are plenty out there, is going to be helpful and supportive, and will not try to push you into making a commitment for treatment. They will not mind answering questions. If they do, move on.


The Following is a list of just some of the things Hypnotherapy can help.


By Mary Lawrance
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