What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is simply a state of heightened awareness, sometimes called a trance, that’s achieved through guided relaxation. Another way to define hypnosis is that it is simply a state of relaxed focus. It is a natural state. In fact, each of us enters such a state at least twice a day: once when we are falling asleep, and once when we are waking up. That kind of fuzzy, timeless state between dreaming and awake is a trance state.
Also, day dreaming, driving home from work on auto pilot, getting lost in a good book, and watching TV are all examples of the natural hypnotic trance state. Hypnosis is the name given to the formal application of various methods to place a person into this relaxed state on purpose.
What is important to understand about hypnosis is that since trance is a natural ability of everyone – the only person who can hypnotize you is you. The hypnotherapist serves only as a guide. Therefore, all hypnosis is really self-hypnosis.
Through Las Vegas stage productions, films and TV shows there are many misconceptions and distortions about hypnosis, how it is used, and its effects on people. These beliefs about hypnosis are misleading and used purely to entertain and to help move a fictional story along. I discuss these myths and falsehoods in more detail below.
What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is the clinical use of hypnosis for therapeutic benefits. By using guided therapeutic relaxation, Hypnotherapy utilizes this natural trance state to create change in a person’s life.
Another way to define hypnotherapy is that it is an application of various self-help methods while a person is in the natural state of extraordinary relaxation that helps regulate the nervous system and moves you toward greater health and well-being.
“Hypnosis is a state of narrowed consciousness, and hypnotherapy is using that consciousness toward a goal,” says Dr. Andrea Bradford, an assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who practices hypnotherapy on some of her patients.
Through hypnosis the critical and analytical conscious mind (your inner critic) is relaxed and soften to access the subconscious which is saturate with new, empowering instructions. Old limiting beliefs are replaced with positive information. This leads to removing blocks, which then creates new healthy behaviors that help you reach your goals.
The therapist’s role is to teach you how to access the trance state on your own. Once you’ve learned how to do this, you can start using self-hypnosis on a regular basis to maximize your healing potential.
Hypnotherapy is also used to help you resolve a specific issue, attain a goal and create positive, permanent change – many times when all else has failed.
Hypnotherapy is a serious process of self-improvement.
Can Hypnosis heal the body or eliminate pain?
“The body is designed to heal itself. Although this complicated process does work automatically, it can accelerated and enhanced by hypnotic techniques. By directing the subconscious mind to focus energy on a specific system in the body, more of your natural resources will go there. That means that if, for example, you were burned, your body will naturally begin the healing process which may take a week to complete. If you were to employ hypnosis to quicken this process, you may complete the healing in half the time. At the very least, hypnosis is extremely effective to decrease pain.
“The effectiveness of this technique depends on several factors. There is the client’s susceptibility and willingness to use this approach, the skill of the hypnotherapist, and the severity of the problem. Hypnosis has its limitations, however it is always worth trying to use it because there is no “down-side” to the technique. At worst, it may do no more than make the subject feel a little better from getting attention, but it cannot do any damage itself.
“One of the more profound effects of hypnosis is in using it to minimize or eliminate pain. An important caution is that if you do not know what is causing the pain, hypnosis may effectively remove the pain but, it may also coverup something serious that requires attention. If you know what is causing the pain, then it is safe to apply it to decrease the experience of pain and help with the general recovery.
“The fact is that most pain is “in your head” that means that it is possible to turn off the pain signals in the mind and minimize the sensation of pain. This can be accomplished in many ways using hypnosis. In general, positive suggestions are a good starting point, then these are usually elaborated to facilitate healing and remove discomfort.”
By Dr. John Ryder Ph.D.
From the Psychology Today article “How Hypnosis Can Heal the Body”
CLICK HERE to read the full article
Is there a difference between Hypnotherapists? Isn’t all the same?
The difference comes down to training and education.
Craig practices Integral Hypnotherapy™—the adaptive, client-centered and collaborative approach to healing. Craig completed 500 hours of classroom style training in this comprehensive methodology at the prestigious Hypnotherapy Academy of America, North America’s premier hypnotherapy training institute, taught by leading experts in the field and physicians.
Because Integral Hypnotherapy™ is adaptive and emphasizes collaboration between client and therapist, its healing possibilities as an effective adjunctive therapy are extensive.
Integral Hypnotherapy™ is the ONLY style of hypnotherapy that has been scientifically validated through a National Institutes of Health funded study, which found it to be an effective, and in many cases, “superior” form of therapy. Based on a 4 year, 3-million-dollar NIH funded study treating Overactive Bladder Syndrome (Urgency Urinary Incontinence). Click Here for more details on the research.
It is estimated that only 5% of hypnotherapists have the 500 hours of classroom style certification training in hypnotherapy that Craig does. Unfortunately, the vast majority of hypnotherapists have only 80 to 200 hours of training, many through correspondence courses online, with little or no clinical skills supervision.
How does it feel to be hypnotized?
It feels great! Hypnosis is a natural state of deep relaxation that feels similar to that feeling you get right before you fall asleep at night.
When you awaken, you feel refreshed and revitalized. You just feel as if you are relaxing in a very comfortable space with your eyes closed. You can hear everything my voice, the sounds outside the building, a car going down the street outside, whatever.
Relaxation is a personal experience (some people relax at the beach, others relax when exercising), therefore what each person feels when in a hypnotic trance will be different. As you move out of the “fight or flight stress” response you will feel more relaxed, peaceful and calm.
How do I know if I can be hypnotized?
Anyone who WANTS to be hypnotized CAN be hypnotized. Everyone who has a willingness to undergo this deep, focused, relaxation can utilize hypnotherapy. It is everyone’s natural ability to do so.
If you’ve ever “spaced out” or started daydreaming during a class or in a meeting; if you have every been in “the zone” while working, or playing sports or music; if you’ve focused on one thing exclusively to where everything else faded into the background; or have ever “gotten lost” in a good book or movie then you have been in a natural and self-induced trance state. Your subconscious, like an automatic pilot, took over while your conscious mind focused on something else.
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, which means if you want to do it, you will.
How many hypnotherapy sessions will I need?
On average, most clients need 3 to 6, sometimes 8, sessions to achieve effective and long term results.
How can I maximize my results?
Although hypnosis feels magical at times, it is not magic. It is a powerful tool whose effectiveness increases every time you use it. Although some issues will be resolved in just the course of a session, most will benefit from reinforcement, through the listening of the session tape at home, or the practice of self-hypnosis.
Practice and use of the reinforcement tape is not time consuming, but in most cases is an important element in your success. For the best results, it is important to realize that hypnosis is not something that is done to you, but rather is a natural state of mind that you can learn to use for yourself. The more you use the tools you learn in your sessions, the greater your successes will be.
What if I’m under a doctor’s care or taking medication?
Hypnotherapy is a complementary methodology not an alternative. In other words it’s “as well as”, not “instead of.” Hypnosis can often complement traditional medical care and many doctor’s do prescribe hypnosis for pain control and healing acceleration. If you have any questions about whether or not hypnosis will help or conflict with a present medical condition, ask your doctor.
What’s the difference between self-hypnosis, guided imagery, creative visualization or meditation?
Truthfully, there’s not a tremendous difference at all. All of these processes are simply procedures to relax the body and focus the mind. The state of mind you attain can feel similar for each no matter what you choose to call it.
Is hypnotherapy guaranteed to work?
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are powerful tools that can enable you to rid yourself of unwanted habits and destructive behaviors. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy can also provide strength and be the catalyst that enables you to make positive changes in your life. These facts are well established.
But, for hypnosis and hypnotherapy to be effective you must truly want to change and you must be willing to follow simple instructions. In other words, hypnotherapy is a cooperative effort between you and your hypnotherapist. For this reason, no hypnotherapist can guarantee a specific outcome just as a medical or mental health professional cannot guarantee that his or her patients will get well.
That said, hypnosis and hypnotherapy have an outstanding track record of success for clients who truly want to make changes in their lives and are willing to put in the effort and work with their hypnotherapist. Many times, hypnosis and hypnotherapy produce highly positive results when other types of efforts have failed.
Is hypnotherapy covered by medical insurance?
Generally, hypnotherapy services are not covered by medical insurance because hypnotherapist do not diagnose or treat illnesses, disease, or injuries.
However, some insurance policies do cover hypnosis for health-related issues such as weight loss, stopping smoking, stress reduction, etc. Please check with your insurance company for details. If they cover hypnosis, it is sometimes helpful to have a referral from your doctor.
Hypnotherapy provides individuals with a recognized and effective method of achieving self-improvement and overcoming unwanted habits and behaviors. You should consider hypnotherapy as a wise investment that you make in yourself in order to improve the quality (and very possibly the length) of your own life.
A Hypnotist can take control of my mind
Fact: No one can control your mind, unless you allow him or her to do so. A hypnotherapist gives you suggestions that you want to be given, based on your therapeutic goals and objectives. At no point during hypnosis will you lose control of your mind. If you hear a suggestion that you do not agree with, or do not understand, your subconscious mind will automatically reject it.
If at any time for any reason you want to emerge from the state of hypnosis you will instantly and naturally open your eyes and become fully alert. No one can keep you in hypnosis against your will.
I will be made to perform embarrassing acts, such as bark like a dog or quack like a duck
Fact: This notion is based on stage hypnosis and Hollywood fiction. The truth is that people, who volunteer to be on stage, allow themselves to participate in and respond to suggestions designed around entertainment. By contrast, hypnotherapy is a serious process of self-improvement.
Hypnosis comes from “Black Magic” or is “Supernatural.”
Fact: Hypnosis is a natural state that has been studied and authenticated scientifically. Hypnotherapists are not psychics or palm readers with “special powers.” Hypnotherapy is based on many years of clinical research by famous academics such as Dr. Sigmund Freud, Dr. Carl Jung, Dr. Milton Erickson, Dr. Deirdre Barrett and Dr. John Kappas.
When I am hypnotized, I may not be able to come out of the state
Fact: Hypnosis is very safe and natural state of hyper-awareness. Any time there is an emergency, a person in hypnosis will naturally be able to come out of hypnosis to respond accordingly.
I have never been in Hypnosis before.
Fact: Every person naturally enters a state of hypnosis several times each day. These times are just before falling asleep at night, several times during sleep, and upon awaking every morning. Most people easily enter environmental hypnosis while at the movies, watching TV, driving on the highway, or while reading a good book.
Hypnosis is a Miracle Cure
Fact: While hypnosis is a relatively quick method of making permanent improvements, there is no such thing as a one-time hypnosis based miracle. Each individual makes progress at his or her own pace.
Hypnosis is a great tool to get someone to confess
Fact: Hypnosis is not an alternative to a lie detector tests. Hypnosis cannot force anyone to “tell the truth,” or to confess.
When Hypnotized, I will lose all sense of my surroundings, and will have no memory of being hypnotized
Fact: Hypnosis is not an unconscious state of sleep. In fact, most people report having a heightened sense of awareness, concentration, focus, and hearing. There are a small number individuals who do not have immediate recall of everything that happened while hypnotized.
I cannot be hypnotized because my mind is too strong and or disciplined
Fact: This is an archaic belief that has been proven untrue. People are in and out of a state of hypnosis every day, as noted above, as well as during times of environmental, physical, or emotional “overload.”
Can I “get stuck” in a hypnotic trance?
Fact: No. Because hypnosis is a natural state of mental and physical relaxation you cannot get “stuck” in it any more than you can get “stuck” in sleep. You will naturally come back to your full awareness when you are ready to do so.
Again, hypnosis is a very natural and normal state and cannot be used to hold anyone against his or her will. This is a myth perpetrated by TV and movies which is addressed in more detail below. If a client were to go so deep as to enter a truly unconscious state (a very rare occurrence), they would simply go into natural sleep and awaken when they were rested. It is impossible for anyone to be “left or lost” in hypnosis.
After hypnosis, a person awakens naturally, just as they do after sleep. If the hypnotherapist were to leave before counting them awake, the subject would eventually realize that the session had ended and would awaken on their own. During the session, if there were an emergency, or the subject no longer wished to participate, they could easily awaken themselves at any time and simply stop.
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