Facts You Need To Know About Hypnosis

Facts about hypnosis, how it works, and some of its common uses

Hypnosis is an often misunderstood therapeutic technique. At the mere mention of the word people conjure up images of people clucking like chickens or quacking like ducks on magic show stages. Long associated with the strange and mysterious, sideshows and faith healers, hypnosis has gotten some bad press.

In actuality there is nothing strange or mysterious about hypnosis. Contrary to popular belief, it does not make people lose control, surrender their will, and end up being dominated. Most people have been in hypnotic states thousands of times and didn’t notice because it seemed so natural.

Have you ever found yourself driving down the interstate, lost in thought, and suddenly realize you’ve driven past your exit? Or perhaps you have become so absorbed in a book or movie that you were startled when someone entered the room? Maybe you meditate or pray deeply, reaching a peaceful place within where you feel very relaxed. These are all examples of hypnotic states people naturally may go in and out of many times during the day. Even daydreaming is considered a light trance state. The main difference in these types of trance and hypnosis is that hypnosis directs the trance to achieve some desired outcome, such as relaxation or pain relief.

Since everything you have already learned is stored in your subconscious mind, when you begin to do something, like driving, which is stored there, your conscious mind becomes free to do something else. If needed, though, the conscious mind comes back into play to avoid an accident or slow down for a traffic jam. The subconscious is more active when you’re doing an automatic activity, making it easier to go into a hypnotic state. Your mind might also drift off when you’re taking a shower, mowing the lawn, or taking a walk, because these are very routine activities and don’t require a lot of concentration.

People vary in their ability to access different levels of trance. Some people go into a deep trance quickly while others are able to only after a few sessions of practice. Some stay in the lighter levels of trance but are still able to receive great benefits from hypnosis. It is very common for people to disbelieve they have been hypnotized the first few times it happens. A hypnotic trance is not a completely new feeling, and in fact, may feel quite familiar. Some people expect that they will go completely unconscious and not hear anything the hypnotherapist says, when actually in most cases they hear everything and even participate in the session.

A working definition of hypnosis might include the following statements: Hypnosis is a state of mind in which suggestions are acted upon much more powerfully than is possible during normal waking consciousness. While in hypnosis, one suppresses the power of conscious criticism. One’s focus of attention is narrower, and during the heightened focus and awareness, suggestions appear to go directly into the subconscious mind.

Why does hypnosis seem to help people change when other methods have failed? Because most habits, beliefs, and attitudes are maintained and stored in the unconscious mind and most people are trying to change consciously! Hypnosis is direct unconscious communication. If you think of your conscious mind as the desk clerk at a hotel and your unconscious like the manager in the back office, you may understand that the clerk and the manager may have different ideas about how to run the hotel. When you attempt to change with your conscious resources you are trying to change without the manager’s approval! That’s why often, after a time, you’ll notice yourself back in your old behavior…because you didn’t get the manager on your side.

On top of it all, the manager is an incredible creative genius but has a mind like a three-year old! Logic is not fully developed and emotion has a lot of impact. The unconscious doesn’t update its ideas and concepts as readily as we’d like and sometimes the conclusions it reaches are not in our best interests. If instructed properly, healthier, more productive patterns, ideas, beliefs, attitudes and actions result.

What are some of the common reasons people would seek out a hypnotherapist? The following is a partial list of some of the common concerns people come to hypnosis with. Weight loss, smoking cessation, and stress reduction are very popular reasons, along with phobias, natural childbirth, pain control, self-esteem and motivation, learning, sports performance, fostering creativity, sleep problems, anxiety and panic attacks, surgery, and depression. In regression hypnosis people are able to heal old wounds by making connections and seeing patterns of behavior they haven’t been able to see before.

Many licensed health care professionals take training in hypnosis as an adjunct to their practices. These individuals have the advantage of having backgrounds in health and mental health and adhere to a strict code of ethics. People without medical or mental health training are called lay hypnotists, and they also can be very effective, depending on their backgrounds, training, and experience. It is sometimes easier for people to approach hypnosis with someone they already have a relationship with, such as a counselor or doctor. Organizations such as the National Board of Clinical Hypnotherapists, the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, or the National Guild of Hypnotists have member lists of hypnosis practitioners. Locally you could ask your physicians, family or friends, hospital or mental health center, or consult the yellow pages.

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Posted on May 13, 2010