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Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis Explained
Hypnotherapy is of proven value in the treatment of a variety of conditions including addictions, especially to nicotine (see stop smoking); phobias; panic attacks; and stress related symptoms such as chronic anxiety, tension headaches and insomnia.
Hypnotherapy can be used to develop self confidence and to improve performance in a variety of spheres of activity ranging from sports, music and drama to presentations and exams. Furthermore, hypnotherapy can be used as a means of relaxation to improve general well being; it can help you control weight loss and it can help in the control of pain and pain relief. Hypnotherapy can also help to control specific medical problems including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Although hypnosis is not strictly a therapy in itself, the hypnotic trance allows the hypnotherapist to gain access to a person's subconscious, or unconscious, mind. It is our subconscious that determines much of the way we behave and react to events.
The conscious mind, that part of the brain that we use in the wakened state to make us aware of our surroundings and respond appropriately, is only relatively small compared with the subconscious part of the mind. The subconscious is rather like the main bulk of an iceberg under the tiny tip (the conscious mind) that floats above the surface of the sea. Our subconscious contains all our past-learnt experiences and memories, all our learnt behaviour patterns and reflexes, as well as those inherent survival reflexes that are already present at birth. In the example of phobias, which means an irrational fear of something, the fear will have been learnt at some stage in a person's life and remain despite his or her intellectual agreement that it does not need to be a problem anymore.
In the hypnotic state, the mind becomes very open to suggestion. This is seen very dramatically in stage demonstrations of hypnotism, where volunteers are put into hypnotic states and will then believe virtually anything that the hypnotist may suggest to them. Thus an onion will look, smell and even taste like an apple if the hypnotist has said it does; or a shoe has become a telephone that is ringing and must be answered and the hypnotised person will believe it, pick up the shoe and talk into it. These suggested ideas have to be removed at the end of the performance. Stage hypnotism could all be faked but in a proper performance it is not, therefore, it is clear that the hypnotic state is very different from the normal waking state. Hypnosis is also clearly not the same as sleep. The term 'hypnosis' is a misnomer because the derivation of the word is from the Greek word 'Hypnos', which means sleep but a hypnotised person is not asleep.
The state of hypnosis is essentially a state of deep relaxation and is thus almost universally found to be pleasant. Hypnotherapy involves the patient entering this state of deep relaxation, during which the mind, particularly the subconscious mind, becomes very open to positive, behaviour-changing suggestions made by the hypnotherapist. In this relaxed state, the person will believe things that he or she would not believe in the waking state. In simple terms, this principle is used in the therapeutic setting to enable a person to believe that, for example, he or she is no longer afraid of flying, or spiders, or eating in public etc. These potentially behaviour-changing suggestions, or messages, are left in the patient's subconscious to work at that level and if they are effective, the patient's behaviour will change. Naturally, it is essential that the changes intended are exactly what the patient wants and this is discussed in detail between the patient and the hypnotherapist before any session of hypnosis takes place.
Often it is useful to use what is called an 'anchor'. This is a conscious action, such as the squeezing together of one thumb and a finger, and counting to 5 or 10, and linking (or anchoring) the action to a subconscious message that is introduced during the hypnotic session. This action can then be used at specific times to control particular symptoms.
The therapy is safe in that it is effectively impossible to insert messages into a person's subconscious that he or she does not want inserted. Such subversion only happens in stories. Hypnotherapy has a wide range of uses and works better, in my experience, on the less deep seated psychological problems. There are also, by general consensus, some conditions where it should not be used, such as psychotic states.
Most people can be hypnotised if they wish to be, and by the same token, I believe that it is impossible to hypnotise a person if they do not want to be hypnotised. Some people can also achieve a hypnotic state more easily than others. The depth of the hypnotic state will also vary and although I feel in general that deeper states tend to be more therapeutically effective, it does not always apply and very good results can be achieved even with shallow states.
Strictly speaking, hypnotherapy does not really exist because the hypnotic state is not in itself the therapy; it is simply a means to an end. The real essence of the therapy is in the content of the messages that are embedded into the person's subconscious during the relaxed state of hypnosis and it is these messages that have the potential to bring about positive change in that person.
For further information about hypnotherapy, or to make an appointment, please email, or telephone 01428 724 333.