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What Is Hypnotherapy?

Gavin Blackman

To understand hypnotherapy, we first need to understand what hypnosis is, as hypnotherapists use hypnosis to help their clients.

When you are in hypnosis you’re asleep aren’t you?

Actually no. The main common myth surrounding hypnosis is that when you’re in hypnosis you go to sleep; however, in fact you are conscious when you are in hypnosis as hypnosis is actually a state of focussed  attention. 

Ok but the hypnotherapist will have control over me 

You remain in control. When a person is in hypnosis, they are in control and they do only the things they want to do; the hypnotherapist is merely the facilitator. When you are in hypnosis, you will be aware of what is going on around you. You will be able to hear the hypnotherapist and be aware of your body. 

All hypnotic experiences are subjective so people experience hypnosis at different levels ie from a light state all the way through to a deep state. People will naturally find the right level that suits them. 

Here’s an example.  I’m sure you’ve experienced going on a train journey and suddenly you realise you are a couple of stops further along the route than you thought you were. That is a form of hypnosis. So hypnosis is something people naturally go in and out of every day, without realising it.

Ok so how does hypnotherapy actually work?

So now we have a clearer idea of what hypnosis is (and is not), let’s turn our attention to what actually is hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that, via hypnosis, uses the power of suggestion to encourage positive change for a client. A hypnotherapist will use relaxation techniques, via hypnosis, to help the client reach a state where the conscious part of their mind is relaxed and the subconscious part is more open to suggestion.

Via hypnosis, the hypnotherapist will then use suggestion techniques (where the hypnotherapist “talks” to their client’s subconscious), to help encourage the change the client is looking for.

So what happens in a hypnotherapy session

The way hypnotherapy works in practice is that in a counselling environment, the hypnotherapist would first discuss what the client is wanting to achieve via hypnotherapy ie what is the outcome they want. There is a broad spectrum of issues that a hypnotherapist can help with. For example, this could be wanting to lose weight, stop smoking through to managing the symptoms of some physical discomfort through to managing the client’s general wellbeing.  

Once the outcome is agreed, the hypnotherapist will perform a suggestibility exercise with the client to ascertain how susceptible the client is to hypnosis as that will inform the hypnotherapist as to what method they will use to put the client into a hypnotic state.

Ok but what happens next?

Once the client is in the hypnotic state, hypnotherapy works by the hypnotherapist giving the clients suggestions around how they might feel and/or act to enable them to achieve or start to achieve the outcome they agreed with the hypnotherapist at the start of the session. The suggestion may be active during the session and/or once the session has ended and the client has left – this is known as a “post-hypnotic suggestion.

At the end of the session, the hypnotherapist will use an awakening technique to bring the client out of the hypnotic state and ensure they are 100% fully refreshed and alert.

People also find hypnotherapy can help them over different periods of time. Some people may need just one or two sessions to have dealt with their issue; for others it may take a few more sessions. Again the hypnotherapist will collaborate and work at the pace that suits you.

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