Frequently Asked Questions
What is Hypnotherapy?
Technically, Hypnotherapy is self-improvement help dealing with personal development issues or job related issues. These areas of self-improvement do not include major medical disorders or psychopathologies. In addition, under the auspices of Doctors or other related licensed professionals, Hypnotherapy can be very beneficial with certain health care issues.
Typically, when embarking on a course of Hypnotherapy, the client will have chosen a professional certified Hypnotherapist who will help them to achieve their goals. Whatever the goal, a Hypnotherapy session always involves a cognitive portion of time, where the client vents and goals are discussed. The final segment of time is always devoted to hypnosis.
During the first session, after learning about the presenting problem, the Hypnotherapist determines the client’s suggestibility. With some “testing” of how the client takes in information, a conversion to hypnosis takes place, and a progressive relaxation follows. While the client is in the state of hypnosis, the Hypnotherapist will suggest positive information, based on the client’s wants and needs, to begin laying the foundation for the achievement of the client’s goals.
Hypnotherapy works as a motivating force for client self-improvement issues or as a partner to the medical community for use in an integrative therapeutic approach for patients.
What is a Hypnotherapist?
From movies and television shows, people often get the idea that when a person is in hypnosis, they are under someones control, or someone else has power over them. In fact, by the person’s desire to be hypnotized, they are allowing the state to take place, and are in total control of their own mind and body. In the clinical setting, a Hypnotherapist helps facilitate the hypnotic state, and provides a safe, controlled, and confidential environment. A professionally trained Hypnotherapist is someone who helps the client to bring about the accomplishment of the client’s goals using hypnosis. By applying hypnosis to modify human behavior and perception, the Hypnotherapist helps people achieve things like, but not limited to, stress relief, stop smoking, lose weight, enhanced sports performance, motivation, and with Doctor referral certain other health issues. There are many applications of hypnosis.
Sometimes, a Hypnotherapist may be involved with helping a person with a medical or psychological problem, but only under the written referral of the appropriate licensed professional. Here, the Hypnotherapist’s work is an adjunct to the treatment of the individual. In an integrated therapeutic approach, Hypnotherapy can be a helpful partner to the medical community.
What is Self-Hypnosis?
While there are many books available on self-hypnosis, it is best learned and practiced under the guidance of someone who is a qualified professional, like a certified Hypnotherapist who can create an individualized and unique formula. Once guided through the process, choosing key words that help describe the state are an integral part of the design for self-hypnosis.
The Law of Repetition and the Law of Association create the platform for self-hypnosis. With frequent practice, simply by allowing the eyes to close while taking three big deep breaths, the necessary relaxation begins to occur. Relaxing the body is another element of this process that allows the conscious mind to rest while the subconscious mind becomes more open and receptive to positive ideas. Along with positive information (suggestions) for the subconscious, the final element necessary for using self-hypnosis as a tool for success is visualization and imagery.
The subconscious mind works on expectation and imagination. Creating visuals or images that promote a concept of the desired goal or very specific pictures, or sensory experience of the desired goal are a part of any hypnotic work. The practice of self-hypnosis allows the individual to be both the director and the receiver of this positive information.
The Law of Repetition:
This law is used frequently in hypnosis. You get better at going into hypnosis, the more frequently you practice it. By repeating a suggestion over and over, a new conditioned response can be achieved.
The Law of Association:
This law, in conjunction with Law of Repetition, is what helps make hypnosis effective. In the repetition of chosen key words that help describe the state for self-hypnosis, these words become associated with the feeling state of hypnosis.
What is Suggestibility?
According to Dr. John Kappas, an outstanding authority in the field of hypnosis, suggestibility is the way in which we receive information. It is formed in childhood. Determining suggestibility is important to the success of hypnotizing the subject.
Dr. Kappas’ Theory of Suggestibility has been revolutionary to the field of hypnosis because it states that everyone, who is of sound mind and body, can be hypnotized. Prior to his theory, it was thought that about 60% of the population could not be hypnotized to the depth necessary to achieve results. The Kappas theory states that some people predominately take in information in a very literal and direct way, while others predominately take in information inferentially, or look for the meaning behind the words. Through his work, Kappas found that words have different meanings to different people. Since hypnosis is created by words, understanding how the words will be received by the client is an important and necessary step. Both for creating the state of hypnosis and having suggestions take effect for the client, understanding suggestibility is paramount for the Hypnotherapist. As a major contributor to the field and to the hundreds of thousands of lives he helped change, Kappas definitely takes on an important role in the history of hypnosis.
How is suggestibility determined?
This is a key factor in successfully hypnotizing the client. Also, for true effectiveness in helping to achieve the client’s goals, knowing and understanding their suggestibility is a must. For the client, it is important, as well, to understand about their own suggestibility so that they can more easily work with themselves using various tools for success. Usually, to determine the suggestibility of the client, the Hypnotherapist will give various “tests” to the client. These “tests” have no right or wrong answers and usually consist of certain physical movements performed by the client or answering a series of “yes” or “no” questions.
What is Hypersuggestibility?
Every moment of every day, we receive little bits of information from the body, the environment, the conscious mind and subconscious mind. When something unusual happens that heightens that information to double and triple proportions, then the conscious mind is receiving more than it can handle. High anxiety may occur. This begins to lead to a “spaced out” experience for the individual because the mind is overwhelmed with information. A kind of conscious trance-like state may take place. The individual is hyper-suggestible at this point and the subconscious mind takes over and works from all its known information. It is also more open and without proper guidance, now receiving all kinds of new information, including too many negatives. Being hyper-suggestible is an uncomfortable state. If a client would arrive at the hypnotherapist’s office in a hyper-suggestible state, the Hypnotherapist would take them deeper into hypnosis, suggest good, positive information, and bring them back out with full clarity, focus, and able to more easily deal logically with their conscious mind.
What is the Conscious Mind?
The conscious mind deals with everyday living. It holds all our reasoning, analytical thinking, decision making processes, logic, and will power. It comes up with ideas and is excellent in making plans. When too much stress is present, the conscious mind can become overloaded. When in the state of hypnosis, a person’s conscious mind is still present and alert.
What is the Subconscious Mind?
The subconscious mind is the source of all known associations – all memory. Without judgment, the subconscious literally accepts all our background messages; genetic, social, religious, life experiences, whether positive or negative. The subconscious works from expectation and imagination and it does not register the difference between fact and fantasy. If the conscious mind does become overloaded, the more primitive area of the subconscious mind becomes triggered for fight or flight. Today, fight/flight is experienced more in the form of anxiety or depression. When a lot of anxiety or stress is being felt by an individual, due to events of the day, without some relief, a hyper-suggestible state may occur.
What Does Hypnosis Feel Like?
Those who are familiar with hypnosis might each speak about it differently. Not everyone has the same physical experience. Often, for those who meditate, a likeness to meditation is expressed. Some mention that while in the state of hypnosis they felt “tingly,” another might say their body felt “heavy,” and still someone else may report they felt as though they were “floating.” There are numerous ways in which people describe their physical sensations during the hypnotic session. Sometimes, a client may not be cognizant of any physical “feeling” at all. When asked what the state was like for them, a client may say, “ I was very comfortable.” After a hypnotic session, nearly everyone states they feel very calm or relaxed. Often clients are surprised with being so aware during hypnosis and their account of the experience usually always includes, “I heard every word you said.” Sometimes, a person may go very deep to a state that is referred to as 3rd stage somnambulism, at which point, surgery without anesthesia can take place.
What are the Stages of Hypnosis?
There are many stages of hypnosis that produce various levels of depth. Here are three of the most important. The hypnoidal stage is a light stage of hypnosis. Eye movements tend to be more up and down at this stage, almost a fluttering movement. The cataleptic stage is a deeper state of hypnosis, where the eye movements tend to be more side to side. The somnambulistic stage is deeper still and the eyes tend to roll up. Sometimes whites of the eyes can be seen just underneath the closed lid of the eye. There are three levels of the somnambulistic stage. The first two levels involve a kind of amnesia, where the client may not consciously remember the exact suggestions, yet the subconscious mind received the information. The third level of the somnambulistic stage is a level that is so deep, 80% amnesia takes place, and major surgery without anesthesia can be performed. While everyone can reach the somnambulistic stage, not everyone can reach the third level depth of this stage.
What is a somnambulist?
This is a person capable of very deep stages of hypnosis due to their suggestibility which is usually 50% literal and 50% inferential. Some may even be able to go through surgery without anesthesia if induced into the hypnotic state to reach a third level stage of somnambulism by the doctor or with a Hypnotherapist who has doctor referral. A true natural somnambulist may have walked or talked in their sleep at some point in their life. Sometimes a person, due to their suggestibility, can have somnambulistic tendencies, which means they can easily go into the hypnotic state.
What are Suggestions?
Designed specifically by the Hypnotherapist when working with the client, these are statements of the positive nature that help the client meet their specific goals. The specific suggestions the client receives are based on the client’s desires, wants, and needs. Suggestions are always framed positively because negatively phrased suggestions have not been found effective in eliminating destructive habits, changing behaviors, or whatever the case may be. Suggestions may be phrased either directly or inferentially, based on the client’s type of suggestibility. For example, a direct suggestion for fear of public speaking might be, “When you stand up and speak in front of others, you’ll find the fear will diminish.” A more inferential suggestion might be, “You’ll calmly express your knowledge, feeling very comfortable, the harder you try to bring up the fear of public speaking, the more it will diminish.”
A suggestion can be accepted immediately by the subconscious mind and be there for life. More often, the Hypnotherapist needs to work with the Law of Repetition to insure that the suggestion has been accepted. This is especially true when dealing with a long term habit.
A post-hypnotic suggestion is simply a suggestion that is given in hypnosis that can affect the behavior of the client at some future point in the client’s waking state. This is particularly used to help create new behavior when the desired intent is to discard an old, destructive habit, such as smoking.
Suggestions are not always readily accepted by the subconscious mind. Even when the Hypnotherapist has determined suggestibility, an abreaction can occur. This abreaction can present itself as a movement of some kind in the hand or foot, a scratch, a frown, a yawn. Repeating the suggestion or saying it in a different way at a later session may be necessary before the subconscious will accept it.
Sometimes, the effect of suggestions does not take place until days, weeks, even months later. Or, the result of the suggestion may not actually occur until the exact situation presents itself. For example, the client may not feel calm when they think about taking the test, but the moment that they are there, prepared to answer test questions, the calm about taking the test is present. This is an example of the Law of Delayed Action.
What is Progressive Relaxation?
This is a secondary induction that is used to relax the body. It is best used after a conversion to hypnosis by a primary induction, whereby suggestibility has already been established. Receptivity to positive suggestions is greater because the body is deeply relaxed while in a still position.
What is the Fight or Flight Mechanism?
This is a primitive trigger mechanism of the mind that alerts the body to an involuntary response. Whenever danger or threat of danger (anxiety) is present, the heart begins to beat more rapidly, the breathing begins to change, the adrenalin pumps, and the human reaction is to move into a protective mode of fending off the threat or escaping it. When we slam the breaks on in our car because the car in front of us has stopped suddenly, our level of anxiety is determined by how close the call is that we experienced. Episodes like that, once over and all are safe, may create a need to pull off to the side of the road and take a break. This flooding of information to the mind, creating an anxiety state, may send a person into a trance, so that the anxiety will not be experienced. If the car hit the car in front of it, a kind of suspended animation could occur for that person experiencing the accident. It might feel as though time stopped or everything was happening in slow motion. The escape from the anxiety is taking place by going into a trance state. This escaping process is a throwback to some primitive area of mind. Doctors, nurses, and ER professionals who have knowledge of hypnotic suggestion can make a big positive difference to an individual who is in trauma due to an emergency.
It is interesting to note, then, that hypnosis and anxiety spring from the same roots as the flooding of information to the mind. Under the professional care of a certified Hypnotherapist, in a safe confidential environment, the escape process of going into hypnosis is controlled by the client’s desire to be there. In the first session, with the state of hypnosis being fully explained to them, myths and misconceptions being debunked, and ultimately, a very comfortable state of relaxation experienced, the Hypnotherapist helps guide the client through a positive process that brings them to clarity of mind.
What is the Absence of Time?
During hypnosis, time distortion takes place. Sometimes a client may feel they have been in the state for a half hour, when in fact it has only been ten minutes. Conversely, a client may feel that only about five minutes has passed, when it has actually been about twenty minutes that they were in the state. Every minute in hypnosis is equal to about fifteen minutes of good quality sleep. It is not advisable to use hypnosis for lack of sleep for more than a couple days in a row.
What is the Difference Between Hypnosis and Meditation?
In meditation, the individual is focusing either on one particular image, word, idea, or the breath. Some meditation work encompasses emptying out the mind of any and all thought. Used in the therapeutic hypnotherapy setting, hypnosis becomes a way to focus, the work is much more specific and directed for a particular use or goal. While the feeling state of meditation and hypnosis is very similar, the outcomes are quite different.