Hypnosis occurs naturally, every day, during our daily activities. We actually spend an estimated 70% of a typical day in some level of hypnotic activity. It is a means of focusing attention or concentrating in a manner that can help a person learn, remember, or solve a problem.
"Trance" that is often described as a part of hypnosis also occurs naturally. It occurs when a person's attention becomes focused and relatively free of distractions, and a person may feel more relaxed because of the reduction of distractions. During hypnosis the focus of attention can sometimes be narrowed to a level which can allow distractions to be ignored or blocked out of conscious thought. Examples of trance are daydreaming, mentally rehearsing for an event, memorizing material for future recall, and in certain forms of meditation.
In psychotherapy, hypnosis can help a person enter a relaxed, comfortable, alternative awareness state for obtaining specific, goal-oriented outcomes. As the therapist, I can provide suggestions designed to help a person achieve, or recall, specific internal processes, e.g., feelings, memories, images and internal self-talk, that can lead to desired outcomes.
Myths and Misconceptions about Hypnosis:
• Hypnosis is not mind control or brainwashing. The therapist uses the communication methods of suggestion that are designed to help a person focus their attention. However, the person actually decides whether to use or accept any suggestion(s).
• During the “trance state,” a person is not immobilized. The person knows exactly where they are and what they are doing throughout the entire hypnosis session. They can adjust their position, scratch, sneeze, or cough without interrupting the hypnosis process. They can open their eyes (if their eyes have been closed) and come out of hypnosis and the trance-state at any time they wish. During hypnosis, they can still hear sounds around them. They will be immediately responsive to an emergency situation, e.g., hearing a fire alarm or any other situation that may need their immediate attention. They can speak as they might need or hold a conversation during their hypnosis session.
• Trance is not the same as sleep. Some people become relaxed enough during trance they may feel as though they have fallen asleep. In a deep trance (relaxed and focused) state, they may actually no longer consciously hear the therapist. This is not a problem because the so-called unconscious part (a normal part of brain activity) of their mind continues to listen to the voice of the therapist while another part of brainwave activity seems to daydream. During trance, the person can still follow instructions and will come back --"awaken"-- when they are asked to do so.
• There is no "right" way to experience being in trance. One person may experience it as a deep, heavy restful feeling, while another may experience it as a light, floating sensation. Some people hear every word spoken by the therapist, while others allow their minds to drift to other thoughts. Some experience vivid imagery, while others do not. Some people remember the suggestions they hear, and some may not. Every person's experience of hypnosis is unique.
• Hypnosis cannot cause anyone to do something against their will or that contradicts their values. A therapist is ethically required to make only those suggestions that support agreed-upon outcomes.
Hypnosis, however, cannot be used for every problem. It may still be necessary for you to do some conscientious planning and research about the types of changes you want to achieve. You must still take action to get results. Hypnosis is not a cure-all; it is a help-aid. Hypnosis can be effective in many cases, but without your willingness and dedication to your desired outcome or goal, it is likely that hypnosis may not have the effect you want.
Hypnosis has many applications in therapeutic settings. Among them are:
• Academic Performance
• Anger Management
• Athletic Performance
• Confidence Building
• Depression (done conjointly with psychotherapy)
• Grief and Loss (done conjointly with psychotherapy)
• Habit Control
• Motivation and Creativity
• Interpersonal Problems (done conjointly with psychotherapy)
• Intimacy Difficulties (usually done conjointly with psychotherapy)
• Life Transitions (usually done conjointly with psychotherapy)
• Motivation and Creativity Enhancement
• Pain Management (with a physician's or dentist's prescription, and done conjointly with psychotherapy)
• Phobias, Fears and Anxiety Treatment (usually done conjointly with psychotherapy)
• Post Trauma Reprocessing and Relief (done conjointly with psychotherapy)
• Preparation for Medical/Dental Procedures including Relaxation and Preparation for Anesthesia (done conjointly with psychotherapy)
• Psychosomatic (health and pain) Complaints (done conjointly with psychotherapy)
• Relaxation and Preparation for Anesthesia During Childbirth
• Sexual Difficulties
• Sleep Disorders and Disturbances
• Stress Management
I have been a researcher in hypnosis for over 30 years. I was one of the first researchers who used brain-mapping technology to observe how hypnosis affects the brain. My experience includes published research, and academic presentations to many professional groups, audiences and researchers.