Hypnotic states occur naturally for most people as part of everyday life. For example, you will probably already have experienced light trance states when daydreaming or totally focussed on a book or movie to the point that time just flies by.
Hypnosis has been used therapeutically since the 1800s as we know that many people find it easier to change unhelpful thought processes and behaviours with the assistance of hypnosis.
Hypnosis is not a treatment in its own right, but it can be very useful alongside other psychological approaches and is one of many techniques which can form part of a treatment programme.
So “Hypnotherapy” is the use of Clinical Hypnosis in conjunction with a psychotherapeutic approach to help the process of change.
How can Hypnotherapy be helpful?
Thus as a psychologist adopting a cognitive-behavioural approach to psychotherapy I may use hypnosis to help a client recreate a vivid experience of a feared situation, e.g. driving on a motorway, in the safe environment of the therapy room, as part of the process of helping the client overcome this fear.
However, I wouldn’t suggest using hypnosis to help a client retrieve a ‘past life memory’ as this would be inconsistent with my views about psychotherapy. In this context it’s very important to ensure that any prospective therapist’s approach is consistent with your own beliefs and expectations.
Hypnosis can be very helpful in the treatment of anxiety, stress, phobias, habit disorders, and related issues. However, it may not be useful in all cases or for all clients. The decision to use hypnosis as part of the overall treatment is something that is discussed on an individual basis.
How does Hypnosis work?
The process of hypnosis is straightforward and the client remains in full control throughout. It usually begins with the therapist guiding the client into a trance state by helping him or her focus their attention on something nearby, perhaps her hand and the sensations that she is experiencing in it. As the client’s attention becomes more focussed and they enter a deeper trance state the therapist will work with the client to make the changes they desire.
Common Myths about Hypnosis
There are numerous myths about hypnosis perhaps the most common being that people will lose control and do whatever the hypnotist wants, another being that the person will become so deeply hypnotised that they will not come out of hypnosis. Unsurprisingly (the term myths gives it away), most of these myths have no basis in fact.
It is true that some people respond more readily to hypnotic suggestion and can easily achieve deep levels of trance that allows them to experience hypnotic phenomena such as analgesia (very helpful for childbirth). It is also true that a small minority of people are unable to achieve even a light trance state within the therapy room, clearly for this client group hypnosis is likely to be unhelpful. Most of us are somewhere in the middle and can achieve a ‘deep enough’ level of trance for hypnosis to be of use. As with most things our ability to enter a trance state improves with practice and if we decide that hypnosis is helpful for you I will generally teach you how to use of self-hypnosis so that you can develop your hypnotic skills and use this helpful technique as and when needed.
You may find the following sites to be helpful in understanding more about Clinical Hypnosis