Theory and Practice

There is plenty of clinical evidence that hypnosis can be used to make beneficial changes, even though it cannot be fully explained.

The hypnotic trance is a naturally occurring state of equilibrium somewhere between waking and sleeping. Essentially, it is a state in which inner realities can be contacted and information can be moved around the brain more freely. The conscious mind – the part that uses logic and language – in most people seems to operate principally from the left half of the brain, and the unconscious – concerned with emotions, symbols, and synthesis – from the right.

It would seem that by somehow reaching the right half of the brain through words, hypnosis creates a particular level of activity in both halves and allows a particular type of communication between them.

At a typical hypnotherapy session, the therapist starts by creating a relaxed, calm, and safe atmosphere, and briefly outlines to the client – who is generally sitting or reclining comfortably – what he or she may expect to experience. The room is quiet and has subdued lighting. The therapist then endeavors to relax the client further, using such suggestive terms as “drifting slightly,” and “sinking deeper.” Sometimes the therapist describes a relaxing scene for the client to visualize. The client’s eyes feel heavy, and close.

Under hypnosis, the client is aware of everything that goes on but feels completely detached. Nonetheless, the client is perfectly able to speak if he or she wishes, and to terminate the trance summarily if unhappy. When the client is properly in a state of trance, the therapeutic work can begin. At the end of the session, a simple suggestion brings the client out of hypnosis.

Is it Safe?

In the hands of a qualified practitioner, hypnotherapy is completely safe. Modern hypnotherapy does not depend on a deep trance for it to work, and under the guidance of a reputable therapist there is no risk of a woman being taken advantage of, for instance, or a person failing to regain total consciousness. You will always regain total control after a session, and there is absolutely no likelihood of “not coming round.” Selfhypnosis is also safe, and most health conditions will benefit.

However, hypnosis is a powerful tool and although there is no danger of anyone forcing you to do something you do not wish to do, the subconscious will believe anything it is told, so it is possible to reprogram beliefs by the use of suggestion. The therapist must understand clearly what you hope to accomplish, in order to direct you in an appropriate manner. Most modern therapists use very light but efficient trances, which make you suggestible and willing, but do not take you beyond what you subconsciously know is acceptable.

Hypnotism is not effective for people under the influence of drink or drugs, those with psychotic conditions, or children under the age of five.