How does hypnosis work?

Wondering how Hypnotherapy works?

People ask me exactly how does hypnosis work?

I think it is best to explain in the simplest terms that our normal thought process is to think a thought with our conscious mind and use our conscious thoughts to learn things that can then be handled automatically by the subconscious.  Learning to drive a car or ride a bike is a good example of a conscious act that eventually becomes an automatic action.   So it is a normal part of learning that we act consciously and our subconscious mind takes over/automates the process.

A mild hypnotic trance is normally experienced by most people every day.  When you start to fall asleep and are somewhere between being wide awake and asleep you are in a hypnotic trance.  Sometimes when you drive somewhere and cannot remember part of the journey or when you drift off into a daydream you are also in trance. Being engrossed in a TV program and being oblivious to your phone or a doorbell ringing can also be due to trance.

So in this respect trance is a perfectly normal occurrence.   What is different about hypnosis is that there is an interaction with the hypnotist which is very similar to role play.   When you visit a hypnotherapist you are already open to the idea of hypnosis.   A skilled hypnotherapist uses techniques to help you relax and deepen the trance.

When a hypnotherapist makes suggestions to you in trance you will still be able to decide if to accept his suggestions and you will stay true to your own values.  It must be emphasised that the hypnotherapist makes suggestions.  Whether or not you accept these suggestions is up to you.   Peoples’ degree of suggestibility varies and many will have seen a stage hypnotist select people from the audience that have a very high degree of suggestibility.

When your conscious mind is subdued it is possible to talk to the subconscious mind directly.  This is why hypnotherapy can be very powerful.  The part of you mind that runs a constant commentary and keeps checking for evidence (The conscious mind)  is quietened.  If a hypnotherapist tells you to relax more and more,  then without the conscious mind questioning you will find it much easier to relax very deeply.   Reaching a very good level of relaxation is often the start of any hypnotherapy.   Since much negativity comes from stress – relaxing and reducing stress can make it easier to visualise more positively.  We are generally more creative when relaxed.

Q    But what about stage hypnotists “Making” someone eat an onion and pretending it is an apple – please explain what is going on there?

A   Firstly these people are still in a hypnotic trance.  They may appear to be awake but they are in fact still in trance and still hypnotised.  Your subconscious mind will protect you from harm and you won’t do anything that is not within your own values,  however when told to do something like imagining an onion is an apple, the subconscious will check to see if this would do you any real harm and also see if you are game for a laugh.  Some people will happily enter into the role play and pretend that the onion is an apple.  Others will not.   In Hypnosis their imagination is greatly enhanced and it is much easier for them to “Imagine” than an onion is an apple.    After all, eating a raw onion won’t really do you any harm.    Stage hypnotists use grand language to make it look like they are totally in control but in reality, the people in the show are willingly playing along with the Hypnotist.   We do not use such an interaction in Hypnotherapy.

In Hypnotherapy, it is possible to get you to change your perspective.  For example, if you have a phobia – you will find it very difficult to think consciously about the thing you fear.  In trance and in a very relaxed state, guided by the Hypnotherapist,  it is much easier to look at the whole cycle of your thought processes and change your perspective.   You may well find that you can now look at the thing you once feared impartially and with the right perspective.

If you have any concerns about what takes place in a hypnotherapy session then you can happily bring someone to sit in on your session or I can record the whole thing.

I use self-hypnosis all the time and I also attend peer group meeting with other hypnotherapists who take it in turns to run a session for the whole group.   I passionately believe that everyone (and I mean literally everyone) can benefit from hypnotherapy.

In Summary, the main ways in which hypnotherapy approaches your problems are: –

  1. Suggestibility – e.g. Suggesting you will see yourself as a non-smoker and creating powerful visualisations
  2. Analysis – Hypnoanalysis – Essentially a conversation whilst you are hypnotised to help you identify the problem and deal with it.
  3. Mindfulness – Helping you become aware of your thoughts without reacting to them
  4. Changing your perspective – e.g. helping you update subconscious lessons learned in childhood with adult perspectives
  5. Desensitising memories and thoughts that are full of emotion – e.g. Phobia removal and PTSD desensitisation.
  6. Visualisation
  7. Metaphors – the subconscious mind understands metaphor – this is the language of the subconscious. which is dominated by Imagination and Emotion.

Hypnotherapy with a competent hypnotherapist can be immensely powerful and life changing.   It can also be a relatively quick process to bring about change.  It can be used in almost any situation and if in doubt you should call me.

There is  great expression relating to Solution Focused practice –  “Water the flowers not the weeds”.

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