Simply put, Hypnotherapy is used to create change in the unconscious mind, instilling new responses, thoughts, attitudes, behaviors and feelings. It involves the use of a psychological state which incorporates a physiological marker that resembles sleep. Although deeply relaxed, the person is not in fact sleeping, but rather alert. Hypnosis is initiated whilst the person is focusing on “something”, allowing the person to go into a relaxed state, producing an altered state of consciousness. This state allows the person easier access to the subconscious mind.
The mind is best understood when seen as an “ice-berg”…. very little shows on the surface, whilst most of it is hidden from view. In other words we are only aware of a small part of our mind…... and this is our conscious mind. The subconscious mind on the other hand consists of memories, perceptions and beliefs that are out of our immediate awareness. So although we are not aware of these memories, perceptions and beliefs, they are constantly surfacing and influencing our ordinary state of mind and responses to events and situations. If we are able to tap into the subconscious mind and change what is there, we will be able to influence our feelings and responses within our “every-day-lives”.
Theoretically, everyone is capable of going into a hypnotic state, simply because everyone is able to go to sleep. Lighter hypnotic trance states are commonly experienced when people "zone out", such as when driving, or listening to music, or daydreaming. Whilst some people naturally, and willingly, drift more easily into these states of awareness, others are much more reserve and controlled when allowing themselves to go into this state. Many people experience a “trance state” when they tap into the divine when praying, or during religious or spiritual ceremonies or even when playing music or being artistic, allowing for a state of non-ordinary awareness.
I am often told by clients that they are not hypnotizable. This is true, if you do not wish to be hypnotized then you won’t be, because you are in charge, having the power to control what happens. At any given time, if a person wishes to open their eyes and come out of the “trance state”, they can. Similarly, if a person wishes to go deeper into trance state they can, by “letting go” and allowing it to happen. Technically, hypnosis is merely a process of allowing yourself to let go of the conscious, rational left brain, allowing the mind to drift and dream into the subconscious right brain.
Hypnotherapy is NOT the same as stage hypnosis where the intention is for entertainment purposes. With hypnotherapy the objective is on healing, and as such the person and the subconscious mind is treated with utter respect. In other words the therapist “will NOT make you cluck like a chicken”. No client will ever be pressured into going where they do not want to go. Permission is always asked for.
The purpose of hypnotherapy is two-fold:
Firstly, the aim is to teach the person self-hypnosis skills that may be used to calm themselves when required and therefore help them to regulate their body and mind, allowing for a safe place within themselves, away from the unpleasant situation they might find themselves in. It therefore allows the person a sense of self-control and self-reliance, thereby providing inner strength from which to explore their thoughts and feelings and from which they are able to face and manage their fears in the world.
Secondly it may be used explore the potential source of specific troubling problems. It can be particularly useful in tracking the root of emotional or physical responses that are triggered by a stimulus in the environment, or by something as simple as a thought. The value lies in identifying inner conflict, for instance, when an aspect of the person wants one thing whilst the other aspect wants something else OR “why do people keep doing things that they don’t want to be doing?
Hypnosis is therefore a means of literally being able to ask the subconscious mind to take the person to the source of the problem and in doing so help the person and the therapist to have a better understanding of the problem. Hypnotherapy therefore often involves having the get the person to go back into their memory banks, in order to see what happened in the past, to identify where the problem arose, thereby releasing stored emotions, and in developing new perspectives and more positive beliefs.