Understand Hypnosis, Hypnotherapy, and Hypnoanalysis
What is Hypnosis?
Clinical hypnosis is performed by a therapist, with a Masters degree or higher, who is bound by her professional ethical standards and it is very different from portrayals of hypnosis in popular media.
Hypnosis is a natural state that we all enter at times. One’s attention is focused in one area, blocking out other stimulation. It is similar to day dreaming or being so completely engrossed in a TV show, that you do not pay attention to people talking in the same room. Another example, just before falling asleep every night, we pass through a phase that is very similar to hypnosis, called the alpha state. In this state we are able to give ourselves suggestions. Hypnosis is a state of consciousness. It can be measured using an EEG, an instrument that reads brain wave activity.
What Does Clinical Hypnosis Feel Like?
People sometimes expect hypnosis to feel differently, even though it is a normal state. Hypnosis is a state in which the mind is highly absorbed or concentrated and most people simply realize how relaxed they had been afterwards. We have all been in this state many times before. Sometimes it seems so normal to a person that he or she may deny being in hypnosis. One can hear sounds around them and sometimes their mind may wander. Each person’s experience is different and will vary from time to time. Most people feel very relaxed and comfortable and so, have little desire to move, though this is totally possible and they are free to do so. Hypnosis is a state of relaxed, concentrated attention and it is certainly not sleep.
Questions about hypnosis, myths and misunderstandings
There are many myths about hypnosis that arose from its history and from media and stage portrayals. Most of these myths are not true, yet beliefs about them persist.
Will I lose control while in hypnosis?
People achieve their own state of hypnosis by cooperating with the suggestions to relax and concentrate. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis as one enters that state voluntarily, with full awareness, and it is an enjoyable experience. The hypnotherapist is like an instructor who guides the client and people can always decide what they will or won’t do when they are in hypnosis. When one is in hypnosis a person is more willing to accept suggestions, particularly if they are relevant and are designed to help meet his/her goal.
Can the hypnotherapist control my mind?
No one can control another person’s mind when they are in the state of hypnosis. In hypnosis, people can decide if they want to accept a suggestion and will not accept any idea or suggestion that is against their morals, religion, or values.
Is it safe?
Hypnosis is a therapeutic, safe modality of psychotherapy. Occasionally while in hypnosis someone may experience a headache, but more often people experience pain relief. Some people may feel fatigued after hypnosis, but this is often only because they realize how tired they are. On occasion, people may experience traumatic memories when in hypnosis. We know from the history of hypnosis that this led to the discovery of hypnosis as a powerful therapeutic too. In qualified hands, this can lead to profound healing.
Hypnosis should be conducted only by a qualified doctor or mental health professional. In most states, including Illinois and Wisconsin, there are no guidelines nor licensing required in order to conduct hypnosis. It is easy for the lay person to take hypnosis courses, even just one, and advertise treatment. Anyone seeking help through hypnosis should inquire about the person’s credentials. Ensure that she or he has a master’s or doctorate degree and is licensed social worker, counselor, dentist, doctor, or psychologist and has taken additional training in clinical hypnosis or hypnotherapy.
Can I be hypnotized?
People enter and leave the state of hypnosis regularly. Most of the time we call it drifting toward sleep, concentrating, or daydreaming. Inability to enter hypnosis does not exist, though there can be temporary unwillingness. If one is willing to cooperate and learn to let go, a state of hypnosis can be achieved.