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What is Hypnotherapy: Types, Treatments, Hypnosis, and Preparing for a Session

What is hypnotherapy and how is it connected to subconscious mind? Hypnosis can be a wonderful tool for unlocking your mind's full capabilities. Forget the misconceptions you might have picked up from stage shows or movies – hypnotherapy is not about swinging pocket watches or clucking like a chicken. It's a profound method that taps into the subconscious, helping you overcome barriers, boost confidence, and navigate the complexities of emotional traumas.

What is hypnotherapy

What is hypnotherapy?

Although hypnosis and hypnotherapy are used interchangeably, the two terms are not the same.

According to the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis (BSCH), hypnotherapy is defined as a therapeutic technique that uses hypnosis, a state of focused attention and heightened suggestibility, to create positive changes in thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. In this altered state of consciousness, individuals are more open to therapeutic suggestions, allowing the hypnotherapist to work with the subconscious mind to address various issues, such as overcoming fears, managing stress, and promoting personal development. Hypnotherapy is widely recognised for its effectiveness in supporting individuals on their journey to positive and lasting change.

In simple terms, hypnotherapy is a therapy that combines hypnosis with psychological treatment.

If you want to read more about scientific evidence for hypnotherapy, check out my blog Is Hypnotherapy Legit? Facts You Must Know.

The therapeutic techniques employed during hypnotherapy can vary, addressing issues such as breaking unwanted habits, managing stress, overcoming fears, and promoting self-confidence. The effectiveness of hypnotherapy lies in its ability to explore and reframe thoughts and emotions, ultimately leading to lasting positive changes.

What is Hypnosis?

During a hypnotherapy session, the hypnotherapist guides the client into a relaxed state, often referred to as a trance, where the conscious mind takes a step back, and the subconscious mind becomes more accessible.

Many confuse stage hypnosis with therapy hypnosis. The biggest difference between the two is the intended outcome. Stage hypnosis is for entertainment with no lasting effects for participants, while hypnosis used in therapy is first and foremost aimed at producing a lasting and rapid transformation.

Hypnosis is not a sleep or a state of stupor. As per the above BSCH definition, hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness, not unconsciousness! It is a combination of a calm state with deep focused concentration.

Hypnotherapists use four different hypnotic states or levels of trance: light, medium, deep and waking. You can learn more about them in my blog that demystifies how hypnosis works.

How does hypnotherapy work?

Hypnotherapy works by harnessing the power of your subconscious mind. This unique therapy uses hypnosis to create long lasting mindset shifts, that induce a desired behaviour change. Be it improved confidence, focus and clarity, relaxation for sleep, habit-quitting or indeed any other personal goal. This is incredibly life affirming work, and a discipline I find very personally rewarding.

This is the process that you are most likely to experience if you book your sessions at my Sydney Hypnotherapy practice.

Before you get to enjoy hypnosis, your Sydney hypnotherapist will have a pre-talk with you about what it is that you want from your therapy sessions. I will check your daily habits and routines, identify potential stress factors in your life, listen to your inner story and make sure that your therapy goal is congruent with your values. Only then, I will guide you into a relaxed state of hypnosis and help you to slow down your thoughts and let go of the worries.

Once in a hypnotic trance, the conscious mind takes a back seat, and the subconscious mind becomes more accessible. The subconscious mind is a reservoir of memories, emotions, and beliefs that often influence behaviour on a profound level. The beauty of hypnosis is its ability to temporarily bypass the critical part of your conscious mind. It's like creating a direct pathway to your inner self, where change can take place without encountering resistance.

This stage will differ depending on what it is you are trying to achieve. Sometimes at this stage your hypnotist might use a special metaphor that will helps you induce a desired change in your behaviour or mindset while distracting your consciousness with stories that may seem irrelevant but in fact help to create a powerful shift. Other times you will be actively involved and would not be allowed to fully relax into your imagination. A more active involvement is required when working on healing certain triggers and rewiring unhelpful behaviour patterns.

At the end your therapist will gradually help you to root the changes in and come back into the room fully refreshed and energised. Many clients who experienced hypnosis find it an extremely pleasant experience

Importantly, you have the power to accept or reject any suggestion presented. It's a collaborative effort where your desires and values are respected.

Hypnotherapy is a versatile tool. Whether you're looking to break a habit, manage stress, boost confidence, or overcome fears, the techniques used are tailored to your unique needs.

The ultimate goal is to empower you to make lasting positive changes. By reshaping the beliefs and responses entrenched in your subconscious mind, hypnotherapy paves the way for personal growth, helping you overcome challenges and thrive.

In essence, hypnotherapy is a personalised journey where you take the lead, and positive transformation becomes not just a possibility, but a tangible reality.

Hypnotherapy Treatments

Hypnotherapy covers a wide range of treatments aimed at helping people with various aspects of their lives. Here's a more conversational take on the treatments:

  1. Stress Management:

  • Hypnotherapy can help you manage stress by teaching relaxation techniques and getting to the root of what's causing your stress.

  1. Anxiety and Phobia Relief:

  • Hypnosis can assist in reducing anxiety and overcoming specific phobias by addressing the underlying fears and promoting a more relaxed response.

  1. Weight Management:

  • Hypnotherapy can support weight loss efforts by addressing emotional eating, promoting healthier habits, and fostering a positive body image.

  1. Getting Better Sleep:

  • If you're struggling with sleep, hypnosis can be used to improve the quality of your rest by promoting relaxation and addressing any issues that might be keeping you up.

  1. Boosting Confidence and Self-Esteem:

  • Whether you're tackling public speaking nerves or just want a confidence boost, hypnotherapy can help by changing negative self-talk and fostering a more positive self-image.

  1. Managing Chronic Pain:

  • Dealing with chronic pain? Hypnosis can be used to manage and reduce pain by changing how your mind perceives it.

  1. Facing Your Fears:

  • Hypnotherapy is great for tackling fears and phobias, whether it's a fear of flying, spiders, or anything else that's holding you back.

  1. Improving Concentration and Focus:

  • Hypnosis techniques can enhance concentration and focus by addressing mental blocks, reducing distractions, and promoting a more attentive mindset.

  1. Handling Grief and Loss:

  • If you're going through a tough time with grief and loss, hypnotherapy can provide support by helping you process emotions and find a way to heal.

  1. Enhancing Performance (Sports, Academic, Professional):

  • Athletes, students, and professionals may use hypnotherapy to enhance performance by addressing mental blocks, boosting confidence, and improving focus.

Remember, the effectiveness can vary from person to person, so it's essential to find a qualified hypnotherapist to work with. They'll tailor the sessions to your specific needs, making hypnotherapy a versatile tool for personal growth and positive changes. You can read more about principles of best hypnotherapy practice here.

Can anyone be hypnotised?

Yes, you can, if you want to. That's right, it only works if you want it to work. Remember the famous quote by Henry Ford?

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't—you're right."

Despite what stage hypnotists want you to believe, every hypnosis is self hypnosis. Hypnotherapists are not magicians – so if you are determined that you cannot be hypnotised, then we cannot help you.

A stage hypnotist uses suggestibility testing to choose their volunteers – usually people they choose are the ones who most want to perform. In a therapy session, a professional hypnotherapist may use similar tests to identify the best suggestions and approach to use or avoid during a therapy session for trance induction. However, under hypnosis you will not be able to do anything, which goes against your personal values or beliefs.

You are not asleep either. Trance is a state of heightened awareness in which you are aware of everything that’s happening around you. The hypnotherapist does not take control. We simply make suggestions aligned with your goal for the therapy. While your mind is more receptive to suggestions, if you don’t like or don't want what you hear – your mind will simply reject it. This is why hypnotherapy does not work on someone who was persuaded to try it. It has to be your decision. Hypnotherapy is a collaborative environment where you actively participate in your own healing process.

You can learn more about what to do to make sure you experience hypnosis in my blog Do You Lose Control During Hypnosis?

What is a hypnotic state?

Sometimes my clients tell me after we complete their treatment that at the very beginning, they were unsure whether they experienced hypnotic state the ‘right way’ and how surprised they were to learn that they could experience hypnosis in various ways.

If we look at science, therapeutic hypnosis most commonly uses Alpha (α) and Theta (θ) brain waves. Alpha (α) equals the light trance when you are very relaxed and have passive attention. And Theta (θ) is a medium trance when you are deeply relaxed, inwardly focused.

In this altered state of consciousness, the hypnotherapist can introduce therapeutic suggestions tailored to your specific goals. These suggestions are aimed at influencing the subconscious mind, which plays a crucial role in shaping beliefs, habits, and responses. By bypassing the critical faculty of the conscious mind, hypnotherapy allows you to be more receptive to positive and constructive ideas.

Types of hypnosis and hypnotherapy

There are various types of hypnosis, each with its own approach and applications.

Here are some common types:

  1. Traditional or Classical Hypnosis: This is the stereotypical form of hypnosis often portrayed in media. It involves inducing a trance state, deep relaxation, and providing suggestions to the subconscious mind to bring about positive changes.

  2. Ericksonian Hypnosis: Named after the renowned psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson, this approach is more subtle and flexible. It often involves the use of metaphors, indirect suggestions, and language patterns to communicate with the subconscious mind.

  3. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP): NLP incorporates hypnosis techniques to reprogram patterns of behaviour and thought. It focuses on the relationship between neurological processes, language, and behavioral patterns.

  4. Self-Hypnosis: In self-hypnosis, individuals induce a hypnotic state on their own. It's a valuable skill for personal development, stress management, and achieving specific goals, such as weight loss or smoking cessation.

  5. Hypnotherapy for Regression: This type involves guiding individuals to recall and explore past memories or experiences, sometimes from childhood. It aims to address and resolve issues rooted in earlier life events. RTT by Marisa Peer is the most popular one at the moment.

  6. Analytical Hypnosis: Analytical hypnosis involves exploring and addressing the root causes of emotional or psychological issues. It often delves into uncovering repressed memories or unresolved traumas. Uncovering repressed memories is a controversial subject within hypnotherapy community. While it is used in criminal psychology, this is not the aim or objective of your everyday hypnotherapy.

  7. Cognitive Hypnotherapy: Integrating cognitive-behavioural therapy with hypnosis, this approach aims to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours. It's particularly effective for addressing specific issues like anxiety and phobias.

  8. Hypnotherapy for Pain Management: Hypnosis is employed as a complementary technique to manage and alleviate pain. It involves suggestions to reduce the perception of pain and promote relaxation.

  9. Medical or Clinical Hypnosis: Used in conjunction with medical treatment, medical hypnosis can help individuals manage symptoms, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being. It's often employed in pain management and supporting medical procedures.

  10. Past Life Regression: You are guided into a hypnotic state to explore and recall supposed past lives. The aim is to gain insights into current life challenges, relationships, or unresolved issues by tapping into the memories of alleged previous existences.

These types of hypnosis cater to a diverse range of needs and preferences, showcasing the versatility of hypnotherapy as a tool for personal development and positive change.

Despite what others might have you believe, there’s no superior therapeutic technique or silver-bullet cure. Most hypnotherapists train in a number of different modalities. Based on their experience and intuition they chose best techniques that would work for your therapeutic goal.

Are there any risks associated with hypnosis

It’s important to understand the potential benefits and risks of any therapy, medicine or treatment. Always see your doctor before using any type of complementary therapy.

Hypnosis, when conducted by a trained and qualified professional, is generally considered safe. However, it is a therapy and it might stir up strong feelings or memories. Sometimes, these emotions can catch you off guard and feel pretty intense. A good hypnotherapist should know how to help you navigate through these experiences and offer guidance when things get a bit overwhelming.

While hypnosis is safe for most people, it may not be suitable for individuals with certain psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia or certain personality disorders. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before undergoing hypnosis, especially if you have a pre-existing mental health condition.

You can learn from my other blog about hypnosis origins, side-effects and befits.

Finding a qualified hypnotherapist

Hypnotherapy sessions can vary depending on the hypnotherapist's approach and your specific needs. Here are some common techniques used in hypnotherapy:

1. Visualisation

Visualisation is a powerful technique used in hypnotherapy to create mental images of your desired outcomes. By vividly imagining yourself achieving your goals, you can program your subconscious mind to work towards them. Visualisation helps create a positive and compelling vision of your future, increasing motivation and focus.

2. Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are statements that reflect your desired beliefs or behaviors. By repeating affirmations during a hypnotherapy session, you can reprogram negative self-talk and replace it with positive and empowering messages. Positive affirmations can help boost self-esteem, increase confidence, and create a mindset for success.

3. Regression Therapy

Regression therapy involves accessing past memories or experiences to gain insight and understanding. By revisiting past events, often from childhood, you can uncover the root cause of certain beliefs or behaviors. Regression therapy can help you release emotional attachments to past events and reframe them in a more positive and empowering way.

4. Suggestion Therapy

Suggestion therapy involves providing positive suggestions to the subconscious mind during a trance state. These suggestions can help reprogram negative beliefs and behaviors. For example, if you want to quit smoking, the hypnotherapist may suggest that you find the smell of cigarettes repulsive or that you have a strong aversion to smoking. These suggestions can help shift your subconscious associations and support your desired change.

How to prepare for your hypnotherapy session?

Preparing for a hypnotherapy session involves creating a conducive environment for relaxation and open-mindedness. Here are some practical steps to help you prepare:

  1. Clarify Your Goals:

  • Before the session, have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. Whether it's overcoming a specific fear, managing stress, or improving confidence, articulate your goals so that the hypnotherapist can tailor the session accordingly.

  1. Choose a Qualified Hypnotherapist:

  • Ensure you select a certified and reputable hypnotherapist. Check their credentials, reviews, and experience. A qualified professional will create a safe and supportive environment for your session.

  1. Ask Questions:

  • Don't hesitate to ask your hypnotherapist any questions you may have about the process. Understanding what to expect can help alleviate any concerns and enhance your comfort.

  1. Dress Comfortably:

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing to promote relaxation. You want to feel at ease physically during the session.

  1. Arrive Early:

  • If the session is in person, arrive a bit early to allow yourself time to settle in and get comfortable. If it's a virtual session, ensure you have a quiet, private space.

  1. Communicate Openly:

  • Share any relevant information with your hypnotherapist, such as concerns, preferences, or previous experiences with hypnosis. Open communication helps tailor the session to your needs.

  1. Avoid Heavy Meals and Stimulants:

  • Refrain from consuming heavy meals or stimulants like caffeine before the session. These can affect your ability to relax.

  1. Set an Intention:

  • Take a moment to set a positive intention for the session. Focus on the outcome you desire and approach the experience with an open mind.

  1. Bring a Water Bottle:

  • Have a water bottle on hand. Hydration is essential, and having water nearby can be comforting during and after the session.

  1. Be Well-Rested:

  • Aim to get a good night's sleep before your session. Being well-rested can contribute to a more relaxed and focused state.

Remember, hypnotherapy is a collaborative process, and your active participation is valuable. By taking these steps, you set the stage for a positive and effective hypnotherapy session.

You can learn more about my Sydney hypnotherapy services here and many questions you might have about hypnosis are covered in my FAQ section.

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