Hypnotherapy is simply the use of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes. It can be used as a single technique, or also with other therapies such as counselling, or drug therapy (e.g. by a medical doctor).

If the words ‘hypnosis’ or ‘hypnotherapy’ make you think of a bearded man waving a pocket watch in your face and saying “You are getting sleeeeepy’ then perhaps you should start with my other blog post on the myths of hypnosis!

But what is hypnosis?HCA-Registered-Hypnotherapist-Logo

Definitions of hypnosis

There are several definitions of this, and a few of them are below:-

Hypnosis is a state in which a person seems to be asleep but can still see, hear, or respond to things said to them. (COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary)

Hypnosis is an artificially induced state of relaxation and concentration in which deeper parts of the mind become more accessible: used clinically to reduce reaction to pain, to encourage free association, etc (Collins English Dictionary)

Hypnosis is the induction of a state of consciousness in which a person apparently loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction…. (English Oxford Living Dictionary)

Hypnosis is a state of natural deep, relaxation and concentration in which attention is narrowly focused. Hypnosis is a consent state, which means that no-one can be hypnotised against their will. This is very different from what is sometimes portrayed in a hypnosis show, or in TV shows, movies, etc.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy in the UK describe hypnotherapy as 

“ a evidence based therapy, with over 70,000 research references worldwide, but which is often misunderstood by the public. It is important to understand that hypnotherapy is not a magic pill. It requires that the client be committed to change and prepared to make the effort to make that change a reality.”

Can I be hypnotised?

Most people can be hypnotised, as we go in and out of hypnotic states naturally throughout the day when our attention is focused on an idea or object. This focus can be internal (daydreaming, internal dialogue, or concentration) or external (watching TV, at the cinema, concentrating on a task, speaking to someone else, or listening to music).

Nearly everyone can go into a hypnotic trance – like most things in life, some people are better at it than others. It is said that approximately 5 – 10% of people cannot be kittens-2789622_1280hypnotised, but that could simply be that they do not feel comfortable with the hypnotherapist. The figure of 5 – 10% is likely to be much lower. In addition, people under the influence of alcohol or drugs cannot be hypnotised, as they cannot concentrate for long enough on what they are being told.

It may be that ‘waking hypnosis’ is a better way to conduct hypnotherapy for those people who do not respond so well to the ‘trance’ form of hypnotherapy.

What does hypnosis / hypnotherapy feel like?

Most people think that a person in hypnosis looks like they are asleep. This is not necessarily the case, as we can also be hypnotised by exciting events which capture our attention. 

Examples can be a really exciting sports game, an exciting play or show on TV, or the actions of someone else (e.g. if you are on a romantic date with someone you like). In all these cases, you may find that you are not so aware of your surroundings, and that time is distorted (appearing to go faster or slower than normal). These are signs of hypnosis. Fixation of attention and can be used to create hypnosis without an obvious ‘trance’ state.

Of course, if hypnosis is done in order to encourage relaxation, most people feel pleasantly calm, and they may also be concentrating on a scene in their imagination under the direction of the hypnotist. Some people also have tingling in their arms and legs, and they may feel heavy, or perhaps light. Some people think that they have fallen asleep, but most have not. They will usually  come back to full awareness once the hypnotherapist counts up to ‘wake’ them up. 

How does hypnotherapy work?

Hypnotherapy works by speaking directly to the subconscious mind, as in hypnosis the conscious mind becomes less active, and the subconscious mind comes to the foreground. As the subconscious mind is where our habits, beliefs and memories (good and bad) are stored, negative beliefs, phobias, fears and memories can be resolved by speaking directly to this part of the mind. In a sense, the negative thoughts are reprogrammed and replaced with positive thoughts.

The subconscious mind comprises approximately 90% of the brain. It controls habits, and stores memories of long forgotten incidents. It has control over the involuntary muscles, organs, and all of the automatic body functions.

Hypnosis can assist people to use the tremendous power of their subconscious mind and their creative imagination to find new ways of dealing with problems, which can change and improve their patterns of behaviour.

How long does a consultation take?

A full hypnotherapy consultation at Sunset Coast Hypnotherapy generally takes between 55 and 90 minutes, but some hypnotherapists offer longer sessions.

What can be treated with hypnotherapy

As the subconscious mind controls so much of our thoughts and body functions, the list of conditions is long, including psychological and physical disorders. Some of the list is:-

  • pain – chronic or acute (e.g. childbirth, surgery, dentistry, from an accident,  palliative care) (treatment of medical conditions requires medical approval for the use of hypnosis)
  • addictions – e.g. alcohol, drugs
  • habits – e.g. alcohol, smoking, hair pulling, nail biting, skin picking
  • phobias – e.g. spiders, needles, agoraphobia, claustrophobia
  • medical issues – e.g. asthma, enuresis (bed wetting), stuttering, skin conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, pain (treatment of medical conditions requires medical approval for the use of hypnosis)
  • conditions such as stress and anxiety, either general or related to specific situations

I hope you have enjoyed this blog post. If you are wondering if hypnotherapy would be useful for you, or alternatively have already made the decision to seek assistance from a hypnotherapist, I invite you to contact me.

I offer free phone consultations (phone 0403 932311 or email sunsetcoasthyp@gmail.com) to discuss if Sunset Coast Hypnotherapy, Perth can help you achieve your goal. There is no obligation to proceed if you decide it isn’t for you, and I look forward to hearing from you.

© Lisa Billingham, 2018


Please note – this post does not provide medical advice, and is solely for general education. If you have any type of medical condition, please seek advice from a medical professional. Thank you! 

One Comment on “What is this thing called hypnotherapy?

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