What is hypnosis and what is hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis is a natural state of mind, as natural as sleeping! In fact, the brain waves produced while being in a hypnotic state (theta waves) are the same waves produced during the dreaming sleep (also known as REM sleep), as well as those waves produced during a very deep relaxation state. Therefore: hypnosis is as natural as sleeping and relaxing! In fact, what it is even more interesting is that our brain naturally enters and exits a hypnotic state every day, multiple times a day… and we do not even know it! For example, when we do very simple and automatic tasks (e.g. showering, driving, waiting in line at the supermarket) and our mind naturally wonders, in a daydreaming state… In those moments, we are experiencing hypnosis!
Hypnotherapy is the practice of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes. In hypnotherapy, first the client and the hypnotherapist discuss the treatment goals and then the hypnotherapist uses hypnotic inductions and suggestions to help the clients achieves those goals. The power of hypnotherapy is that we usually do not respond well to “direct” suggestion, while fully conscious. During hypnosis, instead, the conscious, reasoning mind takes a little break, whereas the subconscious, creative and intuitive mind (storage of our “core beliefs”) is more accessible and therapeutic changes are more possible.
Can anyone access a hypnotic state?
Yes. Our brain naturally enters and exits a hypnotic state every day, multiple times a day. (e.g. while doing automatic tasks showering, driving, waiting in line at the supermarket). In terms of brain waves, the brain waves associated to the hypnotic states are the same brain waves associated to deep relaxation and REM sleep. Hypnosis is a very natural, creative, receptive mind state that everyone physiologically experiences every day. During these daily, natural periods of relaxed mind wondering, we usually experience our “Aha” moments.
In hypnotherapy, you are simply “guided” into this empowering state with the help of a hypnotherapist. However, after practicing with your hypnotherapist or maybe with the aid of a recorded tape, you can learn how to hypnotize yourself (self-hypnosis).
Am I in control during hypnosis?
This is a common myth. Yes, clients are always in control and people under hypnosis would never do anything they would normally find against their will or values/beliefs. Also, while in a hypnotic state, people can exit the hypnotic state anytime they want. It is always a personal decision to enter, stay and/or leave a hypnotic state. During the first session, clients will be working with their hypnotherapist on establishing their treatments goals. After that, the hypnotherapist will just be their guide in achieving the goals they have already discussed together. Clients always decide their goals and can adjust them with their hypnotherapist anytime as they proceed with the therapy. Also, anyone cannot enter a hypnotic state without wanting to enter it, exactly as anyone can relax unless willing to relax! In other words, clients are always in charge and control of the all process in hypnotherapy.
What if I fall asleep during hypnosis?
It might happen. In fact, the brain pattern during hypnosis is very similar to the brain pattern present during deep relaxation/meditative states and during REM sleep. Therefore, sometimes it might be completely natural for clients to fall asleep during hypnotherapy! If that happens, you will then awake on your own after a short, very refreshing nap, ready to move on with your day and feeling fully energized! Sometimes you might fall asleep and awake as soon as the hypnotherapist finishes the hypnotic induction.
Is hypnosis recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA)?
Yes, hypnosis is widely used in clinical, medical and research settings and has a specific dedicated division within the American Psychological Association (APA, Division 30 2014).
Will hypnotherapy help me?
Like for anything, you need to be committed and motivated to treatment for hypnotherapy to be effective. If you are committed to change, hypnotherapy might be very beneficial if you are struggling with:
- ADHD and learning issues
- Low self-esteem
- Sleep difficulties
- Succeeding in and increasing athletic performance
- Pain management
- Negative thoughts and habits (e.g. smoking, eating)