hypnosis definition and frequently asked questions

What Is Hypnosis?

Definitions offered for hypnosis tend to depend heavily on the author’s theoretical perspective. Just look around the internet and you will find many different views about what hypnosis is. The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) defines hypnosis as a state of inner absorption, concentration and focused attention. When our minds are concentrated and focused, we are able to use our minds more powerfully. Because hypnosis allows people to use more of their potential, learning self-hypnosis is the ultimate act of self-control.

Hypnosis has been carved into two separate elements – ‘Trance’ and Suggestion. A hypnotic trance is a very pleasant state of physical and mental relaxation and occurs at the end state of a hypnotic induction. An induction is a set of instructions and suggestions which aids the focus of attention. A person will either enter a trance quickly or at the end of a prolonged induction.

Suggestions are instructions to experience the world in a certain way. While in a trance positive hypnotic suggestions may be given to create desirable changes in our lives. You are guided by the therapist on how to make changes in your experience, perceptions, sensations, emotions, thoughts and behaviour. A good therapist will be committed to helping you make changes that are congruent to your essential values and beliefs.

The therapist firstly assists you into that meditative (hypnotic) state which makes it easier to get there. This mutually induced state of deep relaxation allows the therapist to communicate with the subconscious mind. The skilled therapist offers positive suggestions and therapy (based on therapist and client agreement) to the subconscious mind to bring about the desired changes.

Is Hypnosis Real?

Hypnotic suggestions can alter people’s sensations and perceptions. For example, hypnotic suggestion can be used to generate vivid hallucinations, or alter perceptions. Studies which measure brain activity have shown that hypnosis and hypnotic suggestions alter the way that the brain processes information. People often doubt whether hypnosis is real because it would be very easy to ‘fake’ a hypnotic response, and while this is true, there are also real measurable effects.

Can Anyone Be Hypnotised?

Yes, everybody is hypnotizable to some extent – some more than others. Susceptibility to hypnosis can be measured with a hypnotic susceptibility scale Researchers tend to classify people as ‘highs’, ‘mediums’, or ‘lows’. About 80% of people are in the ‘medium’ band – meaning that they can experience many of the effects of hypnotic suggestion, and are likely to benefit from its clinical use if necessary. Approximately 10% of the population are considered highly hypnotizable – meaning that they can readily experience quite dramatic changes in sensation and perception with hypnosis. Roughly 10% are classified as ‘low’ – meaning that they have not responded strongly to hypnosis, however all that is needed is your willingness. If willing, your therapist will find the most beneficial and appropriate way of facilitating your hypnotic trance.

What Will Be My Experience Of Hypnosis?

Hypnosis probably feels different for everybody. The hypnotic ‘state’ is similar to everyday experiences which people enter spontaneously, such as:

• Being ‘lost in thought’ or day dreaming
• Absorption in sport, reading, listening to music
• Driving for long distances and not recalling the route taken
• Being absorbed in meditation / relaxation procedures.
Typically people feel relaxed. They may have a sensation that their body is very heavy or very light, almost as if they were floating. Mentally, people report feeling very focused or absorbed on their inner world.

Are People Under Hypnosis Asleep?

Hypnosis is not sleep. People under hypnosis are awake and aware. You will not become unconscious and you will be aware of everything at all times. Your will is not weakened in any way. At times in a session, hypnosis can be experienced as a kind of pre-sleep state, a lot like that time just before you fall asleep at night when dream images come into your mind and that time when you might get that little twitchy sensation as you are falling asleep. Hypnotised people quite often experience similar sensations. Therefore, hypnosis is a completely natural state and it is something that we all go through every day of our lives.

Hypnosis, particularly the deeper forms, can appear to be like sleep because the person’s body is typically very still and quiet. There is usually a great deal of mental activity, and measurements of brain activity during hypnosis show a significant level of neurological activity.

We know we can all be hypnotized because if we have gone to sleep at night we have passed through the hypnotic state to get there.

Can I Be Forced to Accept Suggestions or Do Things I Don’t Want To Do?

People often fear they will lose control or surrender their will while they are hypnotized. Being in a hypnotic state is not the same thing as gullibility or weakness. Many people base their assumptions about hypnotism on stage acts. Stage acts help create a myth about hypnosis which discourages people from seeking legitimate hypnotherapy.

In hypnosis your will is not weakened in any way. You are not under the control of the hypnotist. You are in control of yourself and cannot be made to do anything that is against your will. Hypnosis is not something imposed on people, but something they do for themselves. A hypnotist simply serves as a facilitator to guide them.

At Laskey Counselling & Hypnotherapy you are in a relationship of cooperation with the therapist. You have to want to make the change for it to occur. The therapist will guide you into a state of relaxation and give you suggestions that are congruent with your essential values and beliefs. In hypnosis you retain the power over your ability to act upon suggestions, although if you allow yourself to act upon a suggestion you may feel as though the effects are happening by themselves.

Will I Be Forced to Reveal Secrets Under Hypnosis?

You will not reveal information any more or less than if you were not hypnotized. Hypnosis cannot compel people to do things they don’t want to do, and it can’t force them to be truthful either.

Can I Get ‘Stuck’ In Hypnosis?

There is no evidence that anybody can become stuck in hypnosis. The worst that might happen could be that you fall asleep – and wake up dehypnotised.