What is Hypnosis?
It’s not like what you see in the movies.
Hypnosis is a natural state of selective, focused attention, and, even though it is 100% natural and normal, it remains one of the most fascinating phenomena of the human mind. Our ability to enter this unique state of consciousness opens the door to countless possibilities for healing, self-exploration and change. Hypnosis, called by different names in different cultures and times, has been recognized for thousands of years and used for many purposes.
When we enter into the absorbed state of hypnosis, we can use our thoughts, talents and experiences in ways not usually available to us. With the help of a trained professional, we can develop innate, individual abilities that enable making desired changes in our thoughts, feelings and behaviors possible. For reasons that are being as we speak being researched by Neuro Scientists, the focused state of hypnosis allows changes to intentionally be made “automatically”, changes that we could not ordinarily consciously make.
Hypnosis has been used in the treatment of pain, depression, anxiety, stress, habit disorders, and many other psychological and medical problems.
In addition to its use in clinical settings, hypnosis is used in research with the goal of learning more about the nature of hypnosis itself, as well as its impact on sensation, perception, learning, memory, and physiology. Researchers also study the value of hypnosis in the treatment of physical and psychological problems.
How can a treatment aimed at your mind affect your body?
The body responds physically to thoughts. For example, when we think a frightening thought, we can experience increased heart rate, shortness of breath, “butterflies” in the stomach, muscular rigidity, sweating, shaking, and so on. Similarly, when we think a pleasurable thought, we can experience reduced heart rate, deeper breathing, relaxation of muscles, and so on. The brain is connected to the body. You feel what you think. It has been said that the physcial body is just a vessel meant to support the brain. If you think og it that way it kind of makes sense that if the brain believes that the body should be healthy it will be. And of course, if the brain believes the body will be unhealthy, it will.
Natural plasticity (ability of change) of the brain…
The brain is a dynamic organ that has a natural ability to adapt and change with time. Even after it has been injured, the brain can change by setting up new connections between neurons that carry the messages within our brains. Plasticity of the brain occurs at every stage of development throughout the life cycle. Plasticity is more likely to occur when there is stimulation of the neural system, meaning that the brain must be active to adapt. Changes do not occur without exposure to a stimulating environment that prompts the brain to work. Hypnosis, when applied by a skilled and experienced Clinical Hypnotherapist, can stimulate and activate the necessary parts of the brain to make rapid changes. Otherwise, these changes do not occur quickly. That is one of the reasons that alternate, traditional methods of recovery can go on for months and sometimes years..
Can anyone be hypnotized?
When directed by a skilled, experienced Clinical Hypnotherapist, yes. By the same token, some people are able to go into trance more quickly and more deeply than others. For most therapeutic goals, light trance is enough to stimulate the necessary parts of the brain and enable almost everyone to benefit from hypnotherapy to some extent.
In a relatively small number of situations, (say, when hypnosis is being used instead of a general anesthetic, e.g., as in labor and childbirth), a deeper level of trance may be needed. For these purposes, it is helpful to determine the trance capability of a given person, before making a decision about the advisability of using hypnosis as an anesthetic.
Can children be hypnotized?
Because children are naturally imaginative, they naturally and easily engage in hypnosis and respond well to hypnotic suggestion for a wide variety of problems, e.g., self- esteem issues, anxiety, behavior problems, habit change, and certain medical issues. I personally don’t work with Preteens however I do know several amazing Hypnotherapists I can make a referral too.
Will I be asleep or unconscious?
The word hypnosis comes from the ancient Greek word ‘hypnos’ meaning sleep, but it is mis-named. Hypnosis is NOT sleep. Sleep and hypnosis may seem similar since we may be relaxed and have our eyes closed (although not necessarily), but there are many differences. One main difference is that we tend to be in a relaxed state, but with heightened awareness! If a person were to fall asleep during a session, they would return to normal consciousness when asked to, or simply awaken after a short nap. They would feel refreshed, relaxed and would have no ill effects at all.
“I don’t think I was hypnotized–I heard every word you said!”
Unless otherwise educated, there are people, after a session of hypnosis, who don’t believe that they were hypnotized at all. This likely comes from misconceptions about just what a ‘trance’ really is. There are differences between the brain waves of people who are asleep and those who are in trance. In practice, people who are hypnotized often talk with the hypnotist, and can both answer and ask questions, hear everything that is said very clearly, and are perfectly well aware.
There is no mysterious feeling to being hypnotized and our minds are not taken over nor controlled. This expectation and perhaps a demand to have some mysterious experience beyond conscious control or awareness can leave leave some people disappointed so it’s important to educate yourself prior to the experience in order to get the most out of the therapy. It should be noted that unconscious change happens wether or not you”felt” hypnotized.
Will I lose control of myself?
No, there is no loss of control. Hypnosis allows clients to be more focused and less distracted and more skillful in using their own mental abilities constructively. In this way, they can achieve more of their goals, and consequently, actually achieve more (not less) control of their personal comfort, health, and well-being. The ‘control’ misconception appears to originate from stage hypnosis which actually involves people doing what they want to be doing in a social agreement to be entertaining.
Can I get stuck or trapped in the hypnotic state?
No. At any time a client can re-alert or choose to ignore suggestions. No one stays hypnotized indefinitely – you will always “come out” of trance within a short time.
Will hypnosis make me remember things accurately?
That depends… Yes and No. Hypnosis can improve our recall of events that we believe happened to us. But hypnosis is not a way to find out the truth (whatever that may be) about events that are in dispute. That is, under hypnosis you may re-experience events, but there is no guarantee that you are remembering them correctly. Hypnosis only assists the subject in recalling perceptions, not truths.
Selecting A Qualified Professional: An Advisory Word to Consumers
It is important to keep in mind that hypnosis is like any other therapeutic too: it is of major benefit to some people with some problems, and it is helpful with many other people. However, it is recommended that when you are selecting a professional to assist you with a particular symptom or goal, you choose a Clinical Hypnotherapist is properly trained, licensed and credentialed.
In Alberta, anyone can claim to be a “hypnotherapist.” There are no competency requirements and no accountability. Your plumber who has read a book on hypnosis can claim to be a “hypnotherapist.” For this reason, we highly recommend that you inquire about the training of any practitioner of hypnosis you intend to consult. Ask about their professional affiliations and background, and be sure you choose a provider who is properly trained, licensed and credentialed..
More tips on choosing a Hypnotherapist: