What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a highly relaxed state of mind and body, an altered state of consciousness. It is a normal and natural phenomenon that we experience every day. Hypnosis can be described as concentrated and directed daydreaming. A person in hypnosis is always in control, fully aware of his or her surroundings in a detached sort of way. You hear everything that your therapist is saying, and can respond when ask questions. It is a state very similar to just before you fall asleep or just before you are totally awake.

Actually, all hypnosis is really self-hypnosis. The hypnotherapist is only your guide. Anyone who wants to be hypnotized, can be hypnotized. A person in the state of hypnosis cannot be made to say or do anything that is against his/her morality, religious beliefs, upbringing, or beliefs. The mind and body relaxation that is experienced is enjoyable, pleasant, energizing and refreshing. It is said that 20 minutes of hypnosis is like 2 hours of sleep.

While hypnotized, you are highly suggestible to statements, imagery, ideas, feelings, emotions, attitudes and memories that support your stated goals. Remember, you will never accept any suggestion that conflicts with your ethical or religious beliefs, personal preferences, desires, responsibilities or well-being. You are free to come out of hypnosis at any time.

You never give up control of your mind or body in hypnosis. Quite to the contrary. As Dr. David Spiegel, a leading hypnosis expert, professor and associate chair of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine says in the September 27, 2004 issue of Newsweek magazine: “It’s actually a way of enhancing people’s control, of teaching them how to control aspects of their body’s function and sensation that they thought they couldn’t.”

The phenomenon of hypnosis has been known to medical sciences for centuries. Modern medical technology realized the benefits of hypnosis in treating a wide variety of disorders. It was officially endorsed by the American Medical Association in 1958 as an ethical, legitimate and safe therapeutic approach to medical and psychological problems. Today more people recognize that the mind and the body interact. Mind and Body are integrated parts of a whole human being . . . a change in one part affects the other. (see Mind, Body article)

The experience of being in hypnosis also varies from one individual to the next. Some people report feeling a weightiness, or heaviness in their chest, arms, legs, hands, and/or feet that they experience as pleasant and comfortable. Others indicate a feeling of lightness or buoyancy of body and/or spirit, a bit like floating. Some relate having felt a slight tingle in their fingers or toes. Still others speak of drifting in and out of conscious awareness into a sleep-like state. Color and imagery may appear more vivid. Forgotten memories from the past may be recalled. In virtually every case, individuals comment on how relaxed and peaceful they feel, and how a sense of ease and comfort takes over.

Stage Hypnosis vs. Clinical Hypnosis

It is important to understand the difference between stage hypnosis performed in a club or at a party and clinical hypnosis induced in a private office setting.

Stage hypnosis is a form of entertainment that seeks to amuse an audience by directing willing participants (notice willing) to engage in sometimes-silly behavior or stunts under the direction of a stage hypnotist. You will notice that those who participate have eagerly volunteered to be part of the show as a way to ham it up in front of others. Frequently they have been drinking. Unfortunately, stage hypnosis, often seen as humiliating its subjects to a get a laugh, has undermined the credibility and therapeutic benefits of clinical hypnosis.

Clinical Hypnosis is a widely practiced, extensively researched and highly successful form of brief-term therapy for treating a vast array of psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual issues. It is done in the privacy of a safe, comfortable office setting. During each session, the client enters a natural state of focused relaxation and calm. Through directed dialogue and suggestions and techniques, the client learns to move beyond their fears and limitations to achieve their specific goals for lasting self-improvement. It is always important that you ask about the education and training that the therapist has, and it is also important that you trust and feel comfortable with any therapist you choose to work with.