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What is hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is the practice of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes.

Hypnosis is a trance-like state sometimes referred to as an altered state of consciousness. It is a state of heightened suggestibility in which the therapist can use suggestions to influence the client’s unconscious mind while their conscious mind remains relaxed. This therapeutic change cannot be brought about without the total co-operation of the client. It is impossible for the therapists to have someone think, say or do something they don’t want to. Hypnotherapy is not a stage act.

Different experts define the trance state differently, but they almost always refer to:

  • A deep state of relaxation
  • Hyperfocus and concentration
  • Increased suggestibility

How you feel in a hypnotic trance

When you are in a hypnotic trance, you will feel calm, very relaxed and are more open to suggestions. It is a similar experience to being on the cusp of dropping off to sleep. You are not fully awake but neither are you fully asleep. You are aware of your surroundings but are so relaxed you just let any noise or interruptions like traffic passing outside the window, pass your mind by.

Trance is very natural, think about the last time you were engrossed in a good book or film; you were probably in a light trance.

Kinds of hypnotherapy

There are different types of hypnotherapy and different approaches, depending on your problem. They are summarised here but if you would like more details please click here.

This form of hypnotherapy focuses on the here and now, looking at your current situation and how you would like your future to look, as opposed to digging around the memories of your problem. Solution Focused hypnotherapy is client-centred, meaning that you take the lead in your sessions with your hypnotherapist guiding you, and this is the style of hypnotherapy I practice.

Cognitive hypnotherapy incorporates hypnosis to help ‘update’ the subconscious in line with the conscious and its understanding of reality.

Differing from other forms, (Milton) Ericksonian hypnotherapy uses indirect suggestion and storytelling to alter behaviour.

This is an integrative approach, where hypnosis is used alongside another branch of psychotherapy (such as psychodynamic, humanist, gestalt or mindfulness).

Drawing on concepts from analytical psychotherapy, hypnoanalysis looks to identify a ‘cause’ or ‘trigger event’ that has led to the current problem you’re facing. By identifying the root cause, the hypnotherapist helps to reduce negative associations and resolve resulting issues. The process often takes a number of sessions.

Practitioners of this technique believe we all have past lives and use hypnosis to help recover these memories. It is hoped that these memories can reveal why you are struggling with a certain issue in this life and explain who you are now.

Deriving from Neuro-linguistic Programming, Time Line Therapy™ is based on the premise that our memories are stored in a linear pattern (i.e. a timeline). Timeline therapists use different techniques to help you release limiting beliefs and negative emotions linked to past experiences.

Suggestion techniques are employed within most types of hypnotherapy. The premise behind hypnosis is that when we are in a hypnotic state, our subconscious is more open to suggestion. Suggestions are offered by the hypnotherapist during this state to help alter thought patterns.

What hypnotherapy isn’t

It is not what is seen on the television or stage, that’s entertainment. In hypnotherapy, with a qualified hypnotherapist it is impossible to make you dance with a broom, squawk like a duck or even allow the therapist to extract your bank details from you. Neither can the therapist get you to recall a past trauma (without your full co-operation) that you put to bed years ago.

The idea that hypnotists can take over the minds of their clients and control their actions is an entirely media-driven myth. In the trance state, you control all of your actions, you can hear everything around you, and you cannot be forced to do something against your will. You remain in full control.