What is Hypnotherapy?

For this exercise, you will need:

  • 1 fob watch
  • 1 clucking chicken
  • 1 active imagination

For many, hypnosis conjures up images of stage entertainment and the words ‘loss of control’. It should therefore come as no surprise that the public’s perception of hypnosis is flawed and that a general response would be ‘I’ll end up clucking like a chicken’!

The interesting fact about hypnosis is that it will change a person only to the degree they want to be changed. It will enable people to achieve things they want to achieve, so if they want to cluck like a chicken (and possibly would do so anyway after 6 pints or the equivalent) then hypnosis can help them! However, if a person in an hypnotic trance were asked to go and rob a bank, and this wasn’t in character, then they’d simply open their eyes and ask if the hypnotherapist was mad?

Modern advancements in diagnostic aids, such as electroencephalograph (EEG) machines have enabled researchers to record various patterns of electrical activity during sleep. These brainwave traces add further intrigue into the brain’s physical responses to hypnosis, by noting that subjects do not enter the delta wave patterns of deep sleep, instead there is a distinct similarity with brainwave activity of normal consciousness or alpha rhythms – these are characteristic of an awake but relaxed person.

So a hypnotised person is not asleep, they are fully conscious and aware of their surroundings. Able to react if a fire alarm were to go off by possibly being the first out of the door! In a more relaxed state however, they are more able to focus and accept suggestions put to them. Hypnosis is the natural harnessing of focused thought.

We all naturally enter a state of hypnosis every day, for instance an episode of day dreaming; driving the car down a road we know very well and realising we don’t recall the last 5 minutes of the journey; when time becomes distorted, i.e. when playing computer games or watching a gripping film. Possibly as we go through everyday tasks, we don’t have to consciously concentrate when we tie our shoe laces, we can free our mind up from the task in hand to consider whether or not to take the umbrella with us (I’d suggest you do!).

At no point will a person say something they don’t want to when in an hypnotic trance, they maintain full control over what they say and do. Nor can people become ‘stuck’ in trance, if anything they may drift off to sleep simply to wake a few minutes later. There is nothing magical about hypnotherapy; it’s simply a natural trance like state. When working with a clinical Hypnotherapist, they simply guide you into that relaxed state by focusing your mind and allowing you to consider the benefits of change.

What is so powerful about hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy enables a state of creative focus in order to promote change in a currently held belief. By using positive imagery and suggestion, a therapist encourages the client to concentrate on and consider alternative outcomes or emotions to any given event.

  • “What would happen now I don’t smoke”?
  • “How do I feel now I’ve got rid of that phobia”?
  • “Now I’m confident, what else can I do”?

We all have within us a conscious critical facility (CCF). This is the automatic sensor that monitors all new information received. If a contradiction should arise between new and currently held beliefs then the CCF will filter out the new information and won’t allow it to be accepted. Any information not consistent with the opinions already held in our data base will be rejected. The purpose of the CCF is to provide a stable sense of understanding about ourselves and the world in which we live. It aims to keep us safe by not allowing us to do anything which may cause us harm, encouraging us to only believe or act upon tried and tested information.

Hypnosis bypasses this filter system, allowing those new positive ideas and suggestions to take hold without being blocked by any feelings of threat or danger.

When relaxed, the barriers are dropped, new approaches to learning can be considered. In this relaxed state we can access the subconscious – that part of us that drives our responses and causes us to do such things as look both ways before crossing a road, or to scream when we see a spider! By accessing this part of the mind we can calmly look at those responses and decide which are necessary and which are now obsolete, making new informed decisions as to how to react.

The applications for hypnosis are varied. Anytime someone needs help to focus on achieving something different or to change the way they think in order to feel better, more confident and more in control, then hypnosis can help. From fears and phobias to breaking unwanted habits, to general anxiety, hypnosis has been shown to help when applied correctly, with an understanding of how suggestion works and a belief system within the client that will allow it to do so.