Hypnotherapy is the name for applying therapeutic techniques while in a state of deep relaxation, or “hypnosis”. Hypnotherapy allows you to access the deeper wisdom of your subconscious mind, and to resolve emotional issues at their cores — through time travel to your past and reframing “negative” events into neutral or positive learning experiences, relief can be quickly brought to a lifetime of suffering. And that’s just the beginning of what hypnotherapy can do for you… but there’s too much to cover in one summary paragraph!
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a natural state of relaxation we enter into every day — while we’re reading, watching TV, falling asleep, waking up, and daydreaming. It is a state of highly focused attention. Being in hypnosis is incredibly relaxing and usually brings a sense of peace and well-being.
Is hypnosis similar to meditation?
The state of hypnosis is essentially the same state of mind individuals strive for during meditation. What is the difference? In meditation, one generally seeks to clear the mind of all thoughts while in the clear and focused state; whereas in hypnosis, one is generally there to use the power of that state for a specific therapeutic purpose.
What does hypnosis do?
Hypnosis reduces or eliminates the activity of the conscious mind and allows the powers of the subconscious mind to come to the surface.
What is the conscious mind?
The conscious mind is the analytical part of the mind — it is the part of us that judges, analyzes, scrutinizes and filters the information and experiences we encounter. Our conscious mind is where we experience our running “stream of consciousness”, our self-talk, our fears, our doubts, and our sense of limitations. The conscious mind is rooted in what we generally think of as “reality” and generally only believes things to be possible when they make logical sense in the context of our past experiences. When the conscious mind is relaxed, and its functions subside, anything is possible. This is what happens when we dream at night — the most fantastical dreams of flying or other seemingly impossible feats and circumstances seem completely feasible and we believe them to be real. This is because the dreams are occurring completely in the subconscious.
What is the subconscious mind?
The subconscious mind does not judge or filter experiences. It believes what it is told and generally holds onto those beliefs permanently. The subconscious is where all our memories are stored, where our emotions are generated, and where our imagination lies. As children, we generally don’t have very developed conscious filters before the age of 10, explaining why children believe much of what they are told. Children don’t yet have enough life experience by which to judge or filter new information as being correct or reasonable. This is why so many of our emotional challenges as adults lie in events or circumstances from our childhood. Parents who don’t show love to their children or who abuse their children verbally or otherwise can cause deep-rooted beliefs. Common examples include people believing that they are inadequate, undeserving, unloveable, unimportant, unvalued, unappreciated, etc.
So what makes hypnosis so powerful?
Hypnosis opens up the subconscious mind the way it was when we were children – malleable and open to changes in belief. This is extremely powerful since it allows a skilled therapist to literally undo damage that was done through a person’s misinterpretation of earlier life experiences. While regular psychotherapy (talk therapy) allows a client to understand on an intellectual level how an earlier life experience affects their current psychology (and in the process provides some empowerment), hypnotherapy targets the actual experience, reframes how it is perceived, and completely changes the associated emotional context and belief. Working with the subconscious mind directly also allows incredible changes to occur physiologically. There exists a very strong connection between the subconscious mind and our physical body. Science is only beginning to understand the mechanisms of these connections, yet in the meantime we have found that simple hypnotic and visualization methods can improve or eliminate a large range of medical conditions.
How deep will I go?
How deep you will go, depends on a variety of factors:
The strength of your desire or motivation to reach your therapeutic goal. The more you really want to achieve whatever it is you are seeking hypnotherapy for, the more “on board” your whole being will be with engaging in the process.
The level of comfort and trust you have with your hypnotherapist (rapport). Allowing another person to guide you through the hypnosis experience can make some people feel vulnerable, particularly if they have never experienced hypnosis before and don’t know what to expect. Naturally, allowing one’s self to go to deeper levels of relaxation and comfort requires a certain level of trust and confidence in your hypnotherapist. It is important to follow your gut instincts when choosing a hypnotherapist. If you don’t get a good feeling from them, seek someone else. Also, it helps to seek a hypnotherapist that describes a life and healing philosophy that matches your own. A hypnotherapist with a value set close to your own will act synergistically to accelerate the change you are seeking.
Your previous experience with hypnosis or meditation. The ability to go into hypnosis, like meditation or any other activity in our lives, improves with practice. Individuals who experience multiple sessions of hypnosis usually experience successively deeper hypnotic states. Each session is training for the mind, and as someone has reaches a certain depth in their first session, the feeling of that state is often noted in the mind as a reference point from which they can go deeper during the next session. For individuals with some apprehension of the process, this increase in depth is also likely caused by increasing levels of trust in the hypnotherapist, and a realization of how incredibly enjoying the hypnotic state feels.
Preconceived ideas about hypnosis. If you have any negative, preconceived ideas about hypnosis that you have not had resolved with your hypnotherapist in your pre-session talk (pre-talk), you may not be completely open to the experience. This resistance can cause mental distraction from the focus required to both experience deeper levels of hypnosis, and achieve your therapeutic goals. Your hypnotherapist should ask you in the pre-talk whether you have any previous experience with hypnosis, and if you have any concerns they can put to ease. If you are not asked about any previous experience concerns, make sure to ask about what you can expect during the session — it will positively impact your results.
Your natural susceptibility. Individuals have a wide range of natural susceptibility. Some people go into a very deep hypnotic state during their very first experience, while others may take several sessions before getting to that point. The reasons for this variation in individuals likely depends on a number of factors, some of which incorporate some of the factors described above – personality (how trusting you are in general), ability to relax, stress level, and right brain-left brain dominance (highly creative and imaginative people often engage in the process more easily) are some of the commonly accepted factors.
Do I need to go into deep hypnosis to achieve my goals?
Usually not. Most of the work can be done in a light state of hypnosis, where the client is actively participating in the process, and emerges fully aware of what transpired. However, deep trance is beneficial when working with particular topics whose solutions lie outside of our conscious awareness, requiring us to access information stored in the subconscious mind. Such instances where deep trance is beneficial includes the recovery of lost memories, detailed memory recall as when trying to recall the location of a lost object, and finding the subconscious root of a psychosomatic physical ailment.
What does being in hypnosis feel like?
As you go into hypnosis, you will feel a deepening relaxation. A good state of hypnosis is similar to that wonderful feeling of just gaining awareness as you wake up in the morning. Your body is still very much asleep, and your conscious range of awareness is very narrow, but perhaps focused on a dream, an idea, a feeling or an image. Physiologically, going into hypnosis is similar to falling asleep, except with hypnosis, your mind stays aware while your body goes to sleep. During hypnosis, you will likely lose total awareness of your body, as your mind is completely focused on whatever is being discussed at the time. When you do turn attention to your body, you will often feel like it is extremely heavy. Your heart rate has slowed down, your breathing has slowed, and your body temperature will have dropped slightly. At the end of the session, when you emerge from the hypnotic state, you may not be able to move your body for the first few moments. Your mind typically wakes up first, then your body, and you have the desire to stretch out, just as if waking up from a nap. After the session is over, you will typically feel so relaxed that it can feel like you’ve just had a full body massage. Your stress levels will be very low, you will feel very calm, peaceful, and centered.
Will I cluck like a chicken? Bark like a dog?
Many of us have seen a stage hypnosis show, or know someone who took part in such a show. Stage hypnosis utilizes a very deep state of hypnosis that not everyone enters into naturally. Stage hypnosis is an excellent display of the sheer power and malleability of the subconscious mind when the function of the conscious mind is temporarily suspended. These experiences are far removed from clinical hypnosis which is a well recognized and serious therapeutic modality. Everything done in a therapeutic session is done in complete cooperation and agreement with you, the client. Hypnotherapy clients usually feel a sense of awareness throughout their sessions and are able to recall what transpired. Occasionally some individuals in deep hypnosis will experience a natural amnesia and will not remember portions of the session.
What’s a session like?
Clients who visit a hypnotherapist spend most of their session sitting or reclining comfortably, feeling extremely relaxed. They listen to the Hypnotherapist giving suggestions, and perhaps using metaphors which help them achieve the therapeutic results they’ve agreed upon together. A hypnotherapy session often involves a verbal interaction between the client and hypnotherapist as the client is asked a serious of questions about their memories, thoughts and beliefs, and encouraged to access their inner wisdom to develop solutions. The Hypnotherapist guides you to your own power.