What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a completely natural state. Everyone experiences it several times a day. Any time you daydream - when you are doing something and your mind wanders off to another time or place. Or, when you are totally focused - such as watching TV, studying, or driving a car. These are examples of everyday natural hypnosis.
In this natural state the inward focus of the mind increases so that the subconscious mind becomes more receptive and responsive to positive suggestion and ideas. This is the way you can make positive changes.
Hypnosis is not like being asleep or unconscious (a popular misconception) because you are very aware while you are in hypnosis. You are in full control at all times. You can hear the therapist's voice and other sounds, and you can open your eyes and come out of hypnosis at any time. But, when you are so relaxed, you'll probably just want to keep on enjoying the feeling.
Hypnosis is like the relaxed mental state we experience between wakefulness and sleep, indicated by the same brain wave patterns as hypnosis.
As well as occurring naturally many times each day, hypnosis can be brought about intentionally, usually through focusing exercises and relaxation. You can take yourself into hypnosis (self hypnosis) or seek out a professionally qualified hypnotherapist to assist and guide you.
Many clients learn self-hypnosis so that they can take themselves into deep relaxation whenever they choose. It's very easy.
What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is very simply … therapy or suggestions, given to a client who is experiencing the state of hypnosis. Suggestions, in themselves, can have a very therapeutic effect on the mind and body.
Hypnotherapy has been likened to meditation, and while both allow you to achieve similar levels of relaxation, there is a very major difference:
With meditation you are usually attempting to "empty" or clear your mind, letting go of everyday thoughts and worries.
With hypnotherapy, the therapist gives you appropriate, positive suggestions, while using techniques that will assist you to achieve your goals. So instead of emptying your mind, you are powerfully focusing it on positive ideas and goal orientated suggestions.
What are the benefits of hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy has a broad application base. It has been used for many years with medical treatment, and can be used to make many different kinds of changes. Some examples are listed below.
Behavioral changes: motivation, relaxation, confidence, stop smoking, weight loss, stress management, anger management, road rage, etc.
Sport: skills and concentration improvement, getting over blocks or performance fears, etc.
Fears & phobias: flying, public speaking, spiders, heights, elevators, agoraphobia, claustrophobia, etc.
Habits: stop smoking, nail biting, bed wetting, hair pulling, etc.
Health and medical: relaxation, childbirth, healing, dentistry, chronic pain management, hemophilia, burns, emergencies, stress, asthma, psoriasis, phantom limb pain, etc.
To learn more about how hypnotherapy can help you, see our treatments section.
Why use hypnotherapy?
Many people live normal, healthy lives, and yet there may be some aspect(s) they want to change. For example, getting rid of a phobia, reducing anxiety and stress, or removing a habit. Or, they may want to improve their memory, concentration or self-confidence. Clients often say they have tried using will- power, but some changes need to take place at a subconscious level, because this is where our automatic patterns, habits and responses are established.
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind
The brain can be described as a biological computer. When you are awake your conscious mind takes in information through your five senses (the things you see, hear, taste, feel, and smell) and transfers it to the subconscious mind to process and store. Just as you put information into a computer via the keyboard, when saved it gets processed and stored on the hard drive.
Your subconscious mind, in reality, is what drives you. It is the goal seeking part of the mind. Most of your automatic actions and reactions come from your subconscious mind. It also processes the physical information your body receives.
It is responsible for your automatic body functions and habitual behaviour. You don't need to think about how to breathe, or how to drive a car - your subconscious mind does that for you. You automatically look before crossing a road - your subconscious mind takes care of that.
The subconscious mind also stores our memories, manages our emotions, and controls automatic behaviour and responses. The interesting thing is that most people already have the resources they need to make changes in their lives, and to be successful. People are capable of making changes in their lives, it's just that sometimes they seem to have something that blocks them, or holds them back from making those changes.
The subconscious mind is also a learning device. We have been learning new skills, abilities and talents all our lives. But we are also creatures of habit, and sometimes the subconscious switches into an unwanted habit, such as poor sleeping patterns, anxiety or nail biting.
It would be great if we could re-programme our subconscious mind by hitting the delete button and typing in new information, just like we do on the computer.
How many sessions will I need?
As we are all individuals and respond differently to hypnosis it is not possible to give a specific answer. A lot can depend on the changes you want to make. Some changes may take as little as 1-3 sessions; others may take a little longer. The hypnotherapist may be able to give you a better idea after discussing your responses at your first session.
What can I expect when I visit a hypnotherapist?
As with any health professional, a hypnotherapist will begin by getting some background information. Then they will discuss with you what it is you want to achieve, and whether your goal is achievable and realistic. The therapist will discuss any concerns or questions you may have, and explain hypnosis to you and what you can expect to experience during the session.
The hypnotherapist will then guide you into the pleasant, relaxed state of hypnosis, and use any one of a range of hypnotherapeutic and psychotherapeutic techniques to help you let go of old and ineffective behaviour and responses, become more resourceful, and to become the person you want to be.
How aware am I whilst in hypnosis?
When you are in hypnosis you are very aware, and your mind is highly alert and focused on what is being said to you. Because your mind has the ability to "tune out" other sounds, they will not disturb you. You are able to move and talk easily (e.g. scratch your nose, or answer questions) and you can also come out of hypnosis any time you choose. However, as it is such an enjoyable state you can relax and enjoy the experience, focusing on what is being said for your benefit.
Can hypnotherapy be helpful for children?
Yes, very helpful. Children have wonderful imaginations, which can be extremely helpful when making changes with hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy can assist children with many problems, including bed wetting, confidence and self-esteem, motivation, sport, nail biting, eating, reading, study, memory, exams, relaxation, anger, and coping with bullying, etc.
How can I access my subconscious mind to achieve my goals?
By making changes we can improve the quality of our lives. We can let go of unwanted behaviors and habits. The subconscious always has a positive intention, but does not always choose the best way of achieving it. If we can show it a better way then it can change quickly.
Hypnotherapy is useful because, when we are deeply relaxed it is easier to communicate directly with the subconscious, and to help it to look after us in a more appropriate and resourceful way.
What are the origins of hypnosis?
Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness that has been in use for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used altered states of consciousness in their sleep temples, for healing. It is a very ancient healing method. Hippocrates, the father of medicine (460 - 377BC) recognized the power of the subconscious mind. He maintained that our feelings and emotions arise in the brain, and that the brain controls our body.
Many ancient peoples (American Indian, Africa, India, Asia and the East) have long been able to enter into the subconscious state at will.
Famous twentieth century hypnotherapists …
Dr Milton Erickson - a doctor who used hypnotherapy with thousands of clients, often with remarkable effects. He used metaphor or stories to deliver suggestion.
Dave Elman - trained doctors and dentists in the use of hypnosis and hypnotherapy in the United States. Elman developed and taught fast and easy methods for going into hypnosis.
In more recent times, hypnosis has been used by many professionals: doctors, dentists, counsellors, midwives, coaches, psychologists, teachers, police, first emergency responders, osteopaths, natural therapists, as well as hypnotherapists and others in assisting their clients.