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What is hypnotherapy, what does it do to us, how does it work & can it be harmful?   2011-03-14

Hypnosis is healing by trance and is a totally natural state of mind (or an altered state of awareness) It is one of the oldest phenomena known to man and is found in virtually every culture throughout the world. When under hypnosis you will feel very relaxed, just like that feeling when you are tired, lying in your bed and you are so overcome with comfort that you wish the moment could last forever. Through simple hypnotic, relaxation techniques you can easily attain this state, and it can be a very effective tool. The state of mind referred to may be brought about either by oneself, unaided (self-hypnosis) or with the help of another person.

What is hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is the process by which a trained professional, uses the resultant state of mind to encourage positive therapeutic change. Hypnotherapy is a two way process between the therapist and the client, a professional partnership. A person cannot be hypnotised unless he or she agrees and co-operates. Also whilst hypnotised, nobody can make you do anything you do not want to do. It must be emphasised that what hypnotherapists do is therapeutic and is completely different to stage hypnosis. The aim of all such therapy is to assist people find 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.

What does hypnotherapy involve?

The first stage of a hypnotherapy consultation will generally involve an informal chat and some questions from the therapist to ascertain the nature of the issue and the necessary route to overcome or deal with it. The next stage is hypnosis. Regardless of the techniques employed, perhaps the most important thing is that a client should expect to feel comfortable and at ease with their therapist. You usually are led, by means of the hypnotherapist's gently guiding voice, into a state where your body and mind are relaxed and nearly asleep. To an onlooker it might seem as if you were totally asleep but in fact you will just feel very relaxed. You will remain awake enough to be aware. Also awake will be those parts of your mind on which the therapist is working to induce beneficial changes. If at any time you feel uncomfortable and want to terminate the session, then you will be perfectly capable of doing so. At the end of the session you can ask questions or discuss any experiences you had whilst you were in the hypnotic state.

Who can be hypnotised?

The answer to this is virtually anyone. However, some people are more readily hypnotised than others and this will also depend upon one’s willingness. This willingness will depend upon a number of factors i.e. the strength of the person’s particular need and their trust and confidence in the therapist. Hypnotherapy can be extraordinarily effective, if the time is right and a suitable practitioner can be found with whom the client is willing to work, then all their realistic goals are achievable.

Who may benefit from hypnotherapy?

The answer to this question is anybody can. Unlike many other psychological therapies, hypnotherapy is generally considered to be a fairly short-term approach in which beneficial change, if it is to occur, should become apparent within a few sessions. Given that hypnotherapy can be utilised to effect change. The list of problems which may be open to hypnotherapy includes: stress, anxiety, phobias, unwanted habits and addictions such as smoking, overeating, or alcohol, disrupted sleep patterns, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, fear of examinations and public speaking, allergies and skin disorders, migraine and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In addition, it has been valuable within surgery, where normal anaesthetics have not been practical and in pain management. Although there are many areas in which hypnotherapy may bring relief, there are instances in which it may be contra-indicated. These could include some depressive illness, epilepsy and psychosis e.g. schizophrenia.

Any dangers?

Concern has been expressed about the degree of control that a hypnotist may have over the individual which some say, may have a residual effect. Others point out that some hypnotists may lack the skill of closing the session in an appropriate fashion or that ideas may be implanted in the individual's mind whilst under hypnosis. It could also be that the individual may react negatively to long forgotten memories brought to his consciousness by the hypnosis or that false memories may be conjured up. Furthermore, how beneficial is it for us to delve into our subconscious?

These are all questions for professionals to deal with but whilst it is true that there are pros and cons for everything, if you do decide to go for hypnotherapy, make sure that the therapist is fully qualified and registered with the Hypnotherapy Association UK.