Healing by trance state (or an altered state of awareness) is among the oldest phenomena known to man and is found, in one form or another, in virtually every culture throughout the world. It could also be legitimately described as the original psychological therapy and somewhat more contentiously, as the basis for many of the more recent styles of psychological intervention.
Although such altered states have been known for thousands of years, the term ‘hypnosis’ (from the Greek ‘hypnos’, meaning ‘sleep’) was only coined circa 1840 by Dr James Braid, a Scottish physician.
Hypnosis is a state of mind, enhanced by (although not exclusively) mental and physical relaxation, in which our subconscious is able to communicate with our conscious mind. It is widely accepted as a most excellent method by which we may access our inner potential.
Psychological therapy and counselling (sometimes referred to as the ‘talking cure’) is the treatment of emotional and psychological disorders, unwanted habits and undesirable feelings, using psychological techniques alone. The aim of all such therapy is to assist people in finding meaningful alternatives to their present unsatisfactory ways of thinking, feeling or behaving. Therapy also tends to help clients become more accepting both of themselves and others and can be most useful in promoting personal development and unlocking inner potential.
There are many forms of psychological therapy but Hypnotherapy is distinctive in that it addresses the client’s subconscious mind. The Hypnotherapist often (but not exclusively) requires the client to be in a relaxed state, frequently enlists the power of the client’s own imagination and may utilise a wide range of techniques from story telling, metaphor or symbolism (judged to be meaningful to the individual client) to the use of direct suggestions for beneficial change. Analytical techniques may also be employed in an attempt to uncover problems deemed to lie in a client’s past (referred to as the ‘there and then’) or therapy may concentrate more on a client’s current life and presenting problems (referred to as the ‘here and now’).
Unlike many other psychological therapies, Hypnotherapy is generally considered to be a fairly short-term approach in which beneficial change should become apparent within a relatively few sessions.
Virtually everyone can benefit from hypnotherapy and that will depend upon one’s willingness to be hypnotised at the time. This willingness will itself depend upon a number of factors, not least of which will be the strength of the person’s will to change.
Hypnotherapy can be extraordinarily effective but it is not magic. It can be utilised to access a person’s inner potential. However, it is not just potential which Hypnotherapy is well placed to address but also one’s inner resources to effect beneficial change. In this regard, it is the innate healing capacity of our own body that may be stimulated by Hypnotherapy.
Consequently, the list of problems which may be amenable to Hypnotherapy is far too long and varied to catalogue but certainly includes: stress, anxiety, panic, phobias, unwanted habits and addictions (e.g. smoking, overeating, alcoholism), disrupted sleep patterns, lack of confidence and low self-esteem, fear of examinations and public speaking, allergies and skin disorders, migraine and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Additionally, it has proved of value within surgery, where normal anaesthetics have not been practical, in the wider sphere of pain management and in the areas of both sporting and artistic performance enhancement. As an adjunct to other counselling techniques, it can also assist in helping to resolve relationship difficulties and be useful within anger management strategies.
People are sometimes concerned that they will ‘lose control’ in hypnosis. However, general consensus indicates that regardless of how deeply people may go in hypnosis and however passive they may appear to be, they actually remain in full control of the situation. They are fully able to talk if they wish to (or not, as the case may be) and can stand up and leave the room at any time. Neither can a hypnotised person be made to do anything against their usual ethical or moral judgement or religious belief. It is likely that the notion of a loss of control stems from most people’s misconception of stage hypnosis, wherein participants are apparently made to perform all manner of (usually foolish) acts.
A hypnotic trance is an altered and heightened state of consciousness and awareness. It is a state of physical and mental relaxation, a total detachment from day to day life, a disconnection from daily stresses, worries and events. It allows the unconscious mind to be free and more receptive to positive suggestions and information useful to the person’s wellbeing. You are not asleep and you can open your eyes at any point should you wish to do so. Have you ever read a book or watched TV and you were so engrossed in the story that when somebody spoke to you, you didn’t hear them? Have you ever driven on a motorway and forgot part of the journey? Trance is similar to the feeling you get just before you fall asleep or just before you wake up. You are completely aware of everything going on around you. You can hold onto the relaxation or you can come out at any point. It is in your control. When you engage your imagination, you are in an altered state of awareness.
A hypnotic trance to me is like day dreaming. Your body and your conscious mind are fully relaxed and your unconscious mind is wandering off to beautiful places where it can be free to experience wonderful, resourceful feelings. ‘Leave the map and get wonderfully lost’. You just experience beautiful feelings in a state of total relaxation. A hypnotic trance is being in touch with your most powerful inner self. You can go anywhere you like, do anything you like, experience anything you like, feel powerful, positive, driven, totally safe and calm and yet, all along, your body is comfortable and having a break from day to day life and under no pressure from anything and anybody.
Whilst in this state of tranquillity, positive images can be implanted deep in the subconscious which will play an important part in changing your perception of yourself and help recognise yourself as a unique individual with your own talents and capabilities. This will give you confidence to successfully interact with the world in a positive way that is beneficial to you and reach your goals and desires.
Whilst in trance, we can make a connection between past and present in order to understand more about you and your presenting issue and give the appropriate suggestions relating to the therapeutic goals. Some of the things you feel, do and say are not always driven by your conscious thoughts and feelings but by unconscious feelings from your past. By understanding this connection better you can make decisions based on what you want and need now and not based on what the past experiences drove you to do. Achievement in your goals is based on your mind set.
The subconscious is an untapped resource of creativity and the seat of all our emotions therefore directing nearly all behaviour. It is also responsible for maintaining the body in good health and for all the autonomic processes (breathing, blood circulation, tissue repair, controlling blood sugar level). When we look in the mirror it’s not so much what we see but how we see it. It isn’t so much what goes on around us as how we perceive it. By changing the inner image to a good and positive one, you will project into the world a person who is positive, confident and aware of your own attributes, capabilities and capacities.
For each symptom there is a positive intention. Your mind never does anything to harm you. It only does what it believes is good for you. That doesn’t mean to say it’s right but if repeated for long enough, your mind will accept it as good for you; for example, smoking or alcohol. For some people they are related to relaxation or numbing pain. In the long run they achieve quite the opposite but after plenty of repetition, your unconscious mind accepted it as good for you. In order to break the habit, we need to convince your mind that there are better options it can choose from in order to relax. The positive intention of fear is protection, the positive intention for anger is boundary setting and so on.
Your unconscious mind will only accept suggestions that are good for you so please do not confuse it with stage hypnosis. You will not act like a dinosaur unless you can convince your mind that it really is the best thing for you
Waking from a hypnotic trance is like waking after a long, deep sleep or after a power nap; feeling rested and re energised.
You will be able to enter this state of relaxation whenever you wish and give yourself positive and empowering affirmations.
- Diploma in Clinical & Cognitive Hypnotherapy
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- 22 years experience working in mental health