What is ...?


Lynda Hudson

Hypnotherapy refers to the clinical use of hypnosis to alleviate a variety of problems which may be physical, psychological or emotional in origin. Clinical hypnosis itself is a far cry from what the public commonly sees in stage hypnosis; it is an altered state of consciousness where the conscious attention is narrowed and turned inward. It is generally perceived as a very pleasantly relaxed state rather similar to the one experienced just prior to drifting off to sleep, neither asleep nor completely alert. In fact, however, individual responses differ greatly and some people report a heightened sense of awareness rather than a drowsy, relaxed experience. Depths of trance vary greatly, from the lightest of dreamy states to very deep sleep-like states of self absorption.

People often arrive at a hypnotherapist's consulting room when their conscious effort of will has failed to solve their problem. By accessing a different level of consciousness in trance, patients are helped to view the issue from a new perspective and tap into their internal resources enabling them to make the desired changes in their life. The type of treatment given will depend on many things including the type of problem being addressed, the personality of the patient and the school of thought the hypnotist embraces regarding the efficacy of direct or indirect suggestion. Patients will usually be given ego-strengthening suggestions, in addition to other specific therapy, which will help them feel in control and better able to cope with the problem. Self-hypnosis will be taught where appropriate and self-reliance rather than long term dependence on the therapist is encouraged.

Generally speaking, hypnotherapy is thought of as one of the brief, solution-focused therapies. Many conditions respond positively after only one session, and typically fewer than half a dozen sessions are required. The reasons why people seek the help of hypnotherapy are many and various: management of pain and emotional stress, to lose weight, breaking unwanted habits (smoking, bedwetting, nail biting, for example), fears, phobias and physical conditions such as migraine, IBS and eczema. These are just a very few of the better-known conditions which commonly respond well to hypnosis. Perhaps less widely known is the link with education. The use of self-hypnosis is a way to enhance our natural ability to learn since it can help stimulate effective stress-free learning states (sometimes known as flow states), develop the imagination, increase concentration and aid memory storage and retrieval of information. A further benefit in the formal learning situation is that both children and adults can be helped to overcome examination nerves so that they are able to set down what they know in a calm and focused state of mind and so perform to the best of their ability.

For more information see the hypnotherapy directory