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Hypnotherapy What is it and How it Can Help

David A Taylor

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The Difference Between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is the clinical term used to describe treatment with a trained professional hypnotherapist. This is typically used to treat a specific problem such as shyness, smoking cessation, or weight loss. Hypnotherapy is usually done in a practice office with deliberate planning and treatment. Often hypnosis is done in conjunction with other treatments to solve a person's problem.

Hypnosis is the looser term for the same thing; however, it usually involves non-scientific treatment. This can include self-hypnosis at home, and hypnosis for entertainment purposes. The image of hypnosis has been abused for entertainment purposes for a long time, which has damaged the reputation of a reliable and helpful tool. Once the stigma of hypnosis has gone away, the true benefit will come into view.

Hypnosis: What Is It?

People tend to either fully believe in hypnosis - or they do not. Rightfully, before you can claim to not believe in hypnosis, you need to fully understand what it is, and what it is not.

There is a lot of misinformation out there on the topic of hypnosis. People think that they have to give up all control of themselves when being hypnotised. That is not true. You retain complete control of yourself.

Hypnosis is a normal, natural state of mind that is achieved by many in everyday activities. For example, remember the last time you were engaged in a good book? That relaxed, focused mind-body connection is similar to hypnosis. Add a trained, professional guide that offers suggestions, and you have a snapshot of a hypnosis session.

When you are hypnotised, your mind is still in control. You remain in the hypnotised state because you want to be there. The power of your mind is being used in hypnotherapy, facilitated by the guide. A seasoned professional can lead the trance a specific way, which is helpful when trying to pinpoint a specific problem.

Think of hypnosis as a type of meditation - only with a guide. Because of the training and experience of the hypnotherapist, often the results are better than self-induced hypnosis.

For hypnosis to work, the subject needs to be open to the idea. Remember, you are not handing over control of your mind, only believing in the effectiveness of hypnosis, which helps the mind-body connection.

Common Hypnosis Myths Dispelled

The entertainment shows in theatres and on television that show “regular" people in a so-called hypnotic trance clucking like a chicken is really just a show. These people are not hypnotised. There is so much misinformation out there about hypnosis that it is time to set the record straight and dispel some of the many common myths about this valuable treatment.

Myth #1: You lose complete control of your mind and body.
Not true. You will not lose control over what you do and say, as the fictionalized people on TV do. Hypnosis is simply a more focused and heightened state of consciousness. You are actually more attuned to your surroundings. You WILL NOT lose control over your personality and your WILL maintain your integrity.

Myth #2: Your therapist will control you like a puppet.
False. Hypnosis is complete voluntary. The hypnotherapist simply uses the power of positive suggestion as the vehicle for change. To cause change, the hypnotherapist uses suggestion to influence the subconscious mind.

Myth #3: You will forget everything that happens under hypnosis.
A majority of people that go under hypnosis remember everything that is said and done during the session. In rare cases, people who are susceptible to deep hypnotic states will experience some level of lack of memory, however this is rare.

Myth #4: You can be sent into a hypnotic trance against your will.
This couldn't be farther from the truth. For hypnosis to work at all, you need to be a willing participant in allowing it to work.

How to Use Hypnosis to Your Advantage

If your life is not what you would like it to be, perhaps hypnosis can help. It is especially helpful if you are doing things that you do not want to do (so the subconscious is ruling over the conscious mind). For example, issues such as smoking and eating disorders.

Self-hypnosis can be used as a tool when attempting to improve yourself. Its main function is to help you be more patient while working on your self-improvement efforts. In order for self-hypnosis to work, you must first identify the real source of the problem. Once this is identified, you will need to truly believe that hypnosis can, and will, work for you.

In order to make lasting positive change in your life, you need to identify the root of the problem. Once the source has been found, you can fix it. For example, if your problem is overeating, it is highly likely that the root of the problem actually has little to do with food itself, rather it is something emotional. Therefore, the goal of hypnosis should be to find the emotional issue that is causing you to eat. Once found, you can address it head on. Hypnosis will not work if you are trying to fix symptoms instead of the real reason for the problem.

Perhaps your issues involves “passive dysfunction. " Passive dysfunction is like a mental block, and is when the subconscious gets in the way of change. Using hypnosis to uncover the real reason for the problem will help you, and your hypnotherapist, to create suggestions that will eradicate the issue.
In discovering your subconscious, ask yourself probing questions that involve the who, what, when, where, and why.

Here are a few sample questions:

  1. Who is associated with the problem?
  2. Is there a location trigger that could be associated with the source of the problem?
  3. When did the problem first start in your life?
  4. What, in particular, sparks the behavior?
  5. Why this behavior?

The answers to these questions can provide valuable insight into your dysfunction, and will be helpful when working on your problem using hypnosis.

What Exactly IS Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is difficult to define. People go in and out of a hypnotic-type consciousness everyday. Hypnosis compares to daydreaming in that you are still completely a part of your surroundings, however, your mind wanders.
In hypnosis, the hypnotist gives suggestions to guide a person through a mind journey. By guiding you through the subconscious, the guide can give powerful suggestions that will help you successfully make changes to your negative self-destructive behaviors, while substituting them for positive ones.

There are five states that need to be present before you can be hypnotised.

They are:

  1. Concentration
  2. Relaxation
  3. Motivation
  4. Suggestion
  5. Imagination

Hypnosis works because it affects your subconscious mind, which is unable to reason. Since it cannot reason, it accepts and acts upon the conscious mind's suggestions. Before the conscious mind can be used as a tool in change, the five states above need to be in place.

According to researchers, the conscious mind takes up only 10% of the human brain. Conscious mind activities are everything you do that interacts with the environment around you. The remaining 90% of your brain is the subconscious mind. This part handles the body's functions- such as breathing, blinking, muscular and skeletal interactions, and even cellular activity.

The subconscious is also where we get creativity and intuition, as well as emotion and rational/irrational behaviour The subconscious mind often has influence over the conscious mind. One of the bad parts of the subconscious mind is that it sometimes draws illogical rationalizations that lead to dysfunctional negative behaviours
One of the most important points about the subconscious mind is that it is possible to reprogram it.

Commonly known as the gate between the conscious and subconscious mind, the “Critical Factor" has the power to take in or reject suggestions. When the Critical Factor sees change as threatening, it rejects the suggestion in an effort to protect.

This is why any suggestions that do not coincide with what is programmed in the subconscious are rejected. The Critical Factor has to be bypassed in order for change to take place. This means that you will go past emotion, memories, and habits. Once this is done, real change will occur.

Psychodynamic Theory & Philosophy

The theory of psychodynamics focuses on people and their relationship with their surroundings and the rest of the environment. It is believed that a majority of your world can be influenced by your mind.

The brain takes cues and suggestions as subliminal communication, and when using scientifically proven concepts change can occur rather quickly. The change is often quite effective and long-lasting. Overall, the psychodynamic theory of hypnosis tells us that when offered suggestions; the subconscious mind can make positive change.

The Science Behind Hypnosis

There is more to hypnosis than just self-induced hypnotic tapes or the receiving of suggestions from a hypnotist. While these are both valid parts of hypnosis, there is more science behind the practice.
Brain waves are influential in the effectiveness of hypnosis. The brain has several states.

They are:

  • Beta: Waking state
  • Alpha: Focused concentration*
  • Theta: Deep meditation*
  • Delta: Dream state

When the brain is at the alpha or theta state, hypnosis is effective. The mind is influenced during the delta and theta states. In this situation, the voice is a powerful tool; hence the hypnotherapist is invaluable here.
The subconscious mind can be seen as the connection between the nervous system and the conscious mind. This is why hypnosis is often used to unblock a memory.

How it Works

How does hypnotherapy work? A hypnotherapist will offer suggestions that the subconscious mind will accept. Once these suggestions are accepted and implemented, the mind begins making different choices. For example, for a patient that is trying to shed pounds, the hypnotist might suggest that food is not as appealing or tasty. As your mind accepts the suggestions given when hypnotised, you will find that next time you are presented with a food that is not good for you, your subconscious mind will tell you it is unappealing.

Uses for Hypnosis

Weight Loss

In addition to eating right and exercising regularly, hypnosis is a powerful tool you can use in achieving your weight loss goals. For many people, their intentions are good, but they often lack the motivation needed to be successful when getting started.

Here is how hypnosis can help:

  1. You will experience slow weight loss which is most healthy, and longest lasting
  2. You will learn healthy eating to keep weight off permanently
  3. You will find new habits that you will enjoy, thanks to hypnosis, like exercise and healthy foods
  4. You will have more positive self image as a thin person which will help you lose weight
  5. You will remove the stress associated with losing weight, causing you to eat less
  6. Your view of the weight loss process will change from negative to positive
  7. Your increased confidence will help you become a new person

Why do people have weight problems? For various reasons, however, the most common reason is stress. Most people are multi-tasking and trying to balance family and work. The time crunch, coupled with the fact the many people eat comfort foods when stressed, means obesity and weight gain.

Hypnosis can help. Studies show that cortisol is a major player in the body's response to stress. Stress signals hormones to stimulate the adrenal glands, which also activates pleasure seeking behaviours To many, eating comfort foods - those that are high carb, high fat, high sugar, and high in empty calories - is a pleasure seeking activity.

Hypnosis relaxes the stress drive, causing the brain to not crave comfort foods and overeating. Hypnosis is also used as a proactive tool to avoid overeating in the first place.

Hypnosis will help you achieve your weight loss goals by:

  1. Helping you get, and stay, motivated
  2. Change your food cravings from bad-for-you to healthy choices
  3. Face cravings by “thinking thin. "
  4. Ensuring that the subconscious doesn't get in the way of your weight loss efforts
  5. Helps you recognize the difference between true hunger and emotional eating.

Use Hypnosis to Bring Yourself Better Health

Hypnosis helps you listen to your body by listening to suggestions given to you while you are in a state of deep relaxation. When you are deeply relaxed - as in hypnosis - your immune system is at its optimum. Hypnosis also helps you sleep better. Sleep is essential for body rejuvenation and self-healing. When your brain and body are able to reach a deep state of sleep, your immune system improves, and your health issues can begin to become less severe. Think of hypnosis as a break from feeling sick.

Hypnosis is often used for headaches. Migraines and tension headache sufferers use hypnosis to relax and reduce blood pressure. With this, the blood vessels are not as constrained and the headaches diminish. Hypnosis helps headaches because it relaxes you, stress hormones are reduced, and concentration and memory are improved. Hypnosis is used for other common health concerns. Teeth grinding can be eliminated through hypnosis. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is also relieved through hypnosis.

Eating Disorders

Bulimia and Anorexia are both deadly eating disorders that are treatable if the individual wants to be treated. Both diseases involve a distorted body image when someone who is not overweight - and is many times dramatically underweight - thinks they are “fat. " These behavioural diseases are difficult to treat.

Behavioural treatments and medication are common for these two disorders, and hypnosis can help the mind change from thinking like a bulimic or anorexic, to a person that has a healthy body image and relationship with food.

Hypnosis can be used to reprogram the way a person thinks. A professional can use positive suggestions to change a bulimics or anorexics thought process in regards to eating and related behaviours Hypnosis is also used to find the root cause for the problem. Many times, eating disorders are caused by a person's attempt to regain control in their life.


Do you have trouble saying “no?" Do you avoid confrontation at all costs; even if that means you have to compromise yourself to keep the peace? Hypnosis can help people learn when it is appropriate to say no, and when you should add something new to your plate. You will learn to be confident, and turn a stress situation into a calming one, while still not agreeing to everything.


With anxiety comes the primal “fight or flight" reaction, rapid heart rate, tenseness, and nausea. Hypnosis can be used to reprogram the brain into knowing how to properly handle stressful situations. It can also be used to develop more confidence, relaxation techniques, and coping skills for anxiety-inducing scenarios.

Hypnosis is also used in helping treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), after a traumatic event. Or perhaps there is anxiety over any number of phobias - hypnosis can help with that too.

Smoking Cessation and Discontinuing Tobacco Use

Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things a smoker can do. However, it is of absolute importance for good health and longevity. Hypnosis helps deal with the crankiness, weight gain concern, and helps you stop smoking once and for all.

Hypnotherapy can stimulate your motivation in the subconscious mind. This can be used to discontinue use of chewing tobacco, cigarettes or cigars. A trained professional can help you through the power of suggestion to lose interest in tobacco all together.

Pain Relief

Hypnosis provides welcome relief for people suffering with chronic pain. Pain relief is considered one of the most popular uses of hypnosis. No matter if the pain is caused from an accident, Multiple Sclerosis or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, hypnosis will help your brain perceive the pain differently. One of the main benefits of using this type of treatment is that you can avoid the many negative side effects of prescription pain killers, such as addiction.

Other Uses for Hypnosis

Hypnosis is an excellent therapy for many other personal issues. It can help students keep focused and motivated to calmly approach learning in the best way possible. Hypnosis is also great for attitude adjustments so that you have a better, more positive outlook on life. When advancing your career, hypnosis can help with your written and verbal skills, concentration, professional behavior, tenacity, presentation, and decision-making abilities.

Hypnosis can help athletes get motivated for better performance. It can help you feel more relaxed and perform better when speaking in public. And lastly, hypnosis is a wonderful way to tackle tough habits, like nail biting.

Who is a Candidate for Hypnosis?

The answer is almost everyone! Hypnosis can be used to help people through troublesome difficult times in life. Thanks to the versatility of hypnosis, it is now being looked at more seriously by the medical world.

To be a candidate for hypnosis, you will be able to:

  1. Be motivated
  2. Relax
  3. Concentrate
  4. Use your creative imagination
  5. Hear and respond to suggestions

The Mystery Unveiled: What Does it Feel Like?

Are you reluctant to try hypnosis for fear that you will lose control of yourself, and the hypnotherapist will get you to say or do things that you normally wouldn't do? Not to worry - that is only done for entertainment purposes, not in real, professional hypnotherapist offices.

Being hypnotised is like daydreaming. You will be very aware of what is being said and done around you; however you will be very relaxed and focused. Usually, when going through hypnosis you will be lying down on a comfortable couch and relaxing. You will probably fee light, weightless, and calm.

You may not realize that you are hypnotised in the early stages of it, called pre-induction. That is why it is very important to work with a trained professional that understands this early part of hypnosis and can use it as part of the overall treatment.

When you are in a hypnotic state, you can remember things more clearly, and your other abilities are enhanced as well. Your hypnotherapist will guide you to reach your goal.

David is a qualified Hypnotherapist, Stress Consultant and Meridian Psychotherapist, with experience in Natural Philosophy and Life Skills Coaching working in the Preston area of Lancashire, UK. For more information visit:


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