What is hypnotherapy?
- According to the NHS website hypnotherapy is a type of complementary therapy that uses hypnosis. Hypnosis is defined as an altered state of consciousness.
- The LCCH defines hypnosis as an inferred psychophysiological state which is characterised by increasing suggestibility and states that hypnotherapy is a form of therapy in which the use of hypnotism constitutes the core of the treatment.
- The National Hypnotherapy Society says that “hypnotherapy is a skilled verbal communication used during hypnosis, which helps a client’s imagination in such a way as to bring about intended alterations in sensations feelings and thoughts”.
- The Cambridge dictionary describes hypnotherapy as the use of hypnosis to treat emotional problems; it describes hypnosis as a mental state like sleep, in which a person’s thoughts can be easily influenced by someone else.
Hypnotherapy is a tool that can help you make positive changes. It can help you with confidence, self-esteem, public speaking and much much more. Old fashioned beliefs and images of hypnosis were that the hypnotist exerted power over the client, but contrary to this belief hypnosis is not something “done to the client”.
Instead it is about working with the client in a relationship of trust and rapport, to call up his own creative healing and problem-solving power . This state in which the client has moved beyond purely conscious perceptions, thought patterns, and beliefs, and is more in touch with his “inner mind” – is trance. It is a state in which the person can bypass the part of his mind that is bound by waking logic and the limits of the physical world.
But trance is not limited to the hypnotist’s office. It is a natural state in which we’re all familiar. (David L. Calof – “the couple who became each other”)
Hypnosis is a natural state of mind . How many of us have simply drifted away whilst reading a book and become completely involved, unconcerned about time or place?
Sometimes we may have forgotten part of a car journey; or perhaps whilst sitting relaxing your mind may have just wondered off into a daydream. These would all be examples of natural hypnosis.
Another term for hypnosis could be trance; a trance denotes any state of awareness or consciousness other than a normal awaking state of consciousness. Trance states can occur involuntarily such as when doing repetitive acts like driving a car or perhaps when reading a book.
A trance state is an altered state of awareness; one type of altered state of awareness that we are all aware of happens when we are asleep, other states of altered states of awareness can also be induced by meditation, drugs, alcohol and of course hypnosis.
Frequencies and states
But what actually is an altered state of awareness. Our normal waking state has been called the Beta state this refers to a brainwave frequency the Beta frequency is 14-30 Hz and this would be our normal active state. Altered states of awareness like deep sleep for example is classified as a Delta, which is 0.5 -4Hz. Two other states have been classified and these are called Alpha 7-14 Hz and Theta 4-7 Hz. Alpha and Theta would seem to be the states which we would consider someone to be in following hypnotism. In these states we become suggestible and under the guidance of a hypnotherapist positive suggestions for change and wellbeing can be made to an individual, without the critical intervention of the conscious.
The conscious mind is the logical mind; it is the part of the mind responsible for reasoning and logic. It is the part of us that makes voluntary movements. When we are born the conscious mind has not sufficiently developed and it is thought it does not develop until we are about 7 years old. Those years before a child reaches 7 years, are highly formative years, and the subconscious mind is effectively programmed by the caregivers that we have. The conscious mind has been called the Gatekeeper of the mind and it will filter information. If for example a belief is presented to us that do not match our own beliefs then the conscious mind will filter this and not allow it to influence. In some cases this may be useful but it can also be extremely unuseful if for example we have taken on some of our primary caregivers beliefs that prevent us from reaching our full potential.
The subconscious mind is responsible for all the involuntary actions; it maintains breathing and all of the many other involuntary functions going on in the body. It is also responsible for the emotions, which is why sometimes you may feel anxious, afraid etc. without really wanting to experience those emotions. The Subconscious mind also holds all your memories and beliefs.
If you have ever tried to consciously do something but not been able to achieve it, it’s probably because the subconscious mind has another agenda.
Beliefs and values are at the core of human behaviour. To make changes in our lives we need to engage the subconscious; you can try really hard to change behaviour for example like smoking but not succeed. Consciously you may realise that it would be a good idea not to smoke, overeat etc. but when it comes to doing it; it can be really difficult. However if the subconscious mind is engaged in the process then it is more likely that you will succeed.
Hypnotherapy is a therapy that utilises hypnosis to guide a client into a trance like state, neither wide awake, nor sleeping; it is this in between state that the subconscious can be contacted and positive suggestions given for change.