What is hypnosis?
‘Hypnosis describes a range of naturally occurring states of altered awareness which may vary from momentary distractions and ‘absences’, through much enhanced states of relaxation to very deep states of inward focus and awareness’. http://hypno-psychotheraphy.org.uk/
Hypnosis is a completely natural state of awareness – somewhere in-between wakefulness and sleep. It involves a dissociation from the outside world that is so common in everyday life that everyone experiences it at least several times a day. It is the state of mind we reach when we are concentrating on an engrossing activity, such as watching a film, working on the computer, driving a long distance or just simply daydreaming. It is that sensation of distraction where you might become oblivious to anyone around you. Whilst in this state you are perfectly capable of talking, moving and remaining aware and in control. You will find that your experience of hypnosis is completely contrary to its stereotypical portrayal on television, in films, books and on stage. These portrayals have been responsible for the stigma and fear that hypnosis has carried with it for so long but much progress has been made over time to alter this false perception and it has become progressively more evident that hypnosis can play a very important role as a complementary therapy. Hypnosis for therapeutic purposes is a state of profound relaxation that you allow yourself to enter and which you can choose to come out of at any time. You may feel very heavy, relaxed, lethargic or quite light and tingly. It is a wonderful and relaxing experience and a safe and effective way to work towards achieving beneficial change.
The way in which it does this is by working with the subconscious part of the mind. The mind is divided into two areas; the conscious mind and the subconscious mind and the latter consists of ten-elevenths of our total mind. The larger, subconscious part of our mind is very sensitive to suggestion, although we ultimately do have the choice whether to reject or accept a suggestion. The subconscious mind is the creative, intuitive, subjective, irrational and non-critical part of our mind and houses our emotions, thoughts, memories, habits and learning. It strives for our survival and the reduction of our anxiety. In comparison the conscious part of our mind is critical, logical, objective, rational and constantly engaged in internal debate. A hypnotherapist will facilitate a client’s entry into a comfortable and natural state of relaxation using hypnosis and once in this state the conscious mind has the opportunity to rest, allowing the subconscious part of the mind to come to the surface. The subconscious is a very strong force and will usually ‘win’ when in conflict with the conscious mind as it is the seat of imagination. This is the reason why people often do not succeed in attaining permanent change with willpower alone which is a conscious process.
‘Psychotherapy utilises a variety of treatment techniques that aim to help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviour. There are many different types of psychotherapy. Therapists may combine and adapt elements of different approaches. Psychotherapists may use one primary approach, or incorporate different elements depending on their training, the condition being treated, and the needs of the person receiving treatment’. (https://nimh.mih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies/index.shtml)
By using an integrative approach I am able to best match the techniques, approaches and psychotherapeutic models with the issues that the individual client faces at different stages in therapy. Some of the models that I use are Psychodynamic, CBT (Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy), TA (Transactional Analysis), Person-Centred and Gestalt. I would usually explore a client’s present, past and future within therapy. Psychotherapy and counselling is useful in helping someone to look at their situation from different perspectives, whilst keeping their voice central to the direction of therapy and encouraging their own solutions.
A hypno-psychotherapist may therefore use psychotherapeutic techniques within the state of hypnosis to affect change, accessing a client’s inherent resources, and so does not necessarily follow a prescribed script.