What Is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a natural state of highly-focused concentration. The media often makes hypnosis seem frightening or even somehow magical, but it’s actually a lot like meditation. In fact, we all have experiences of hypnosis throughout each day. An example of light hypnosis is being so absorbed in an engaging movie or book that you aren’t aware of your surroundings.
When you are hypnotized, you are fully conscious and in control—you’re just experiencing an altered state of consciousness. Hypnosis allows you to access more of your brain’s natural ability to help you enhance your life.
Hypnotherapy can help you effectively address anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, as well as unwanted habits. When you focus on the therapist’s words, other distractions typically fall away; you may feel more relaxed and become more open to helpful suggestions for your personal growth. By quieting your conscious mind and tapping into deep awareness, you can transform negative beliefs into positive, and make healthy changes in your self-perception and behavior. Many people find hypnosis relaxing, though relaxation is not necessary to benefit from hypnosis.
Does Hypnosis Really Work?
Hypnosis has strong scientific backing. Here’s a brief explanation of how hypnosis works on a neurological level.
There are four primary brainwave patterns that we naturally experience every day: beta, alpha, theta, and delta.
Delta waves are the brainwaves of sleep. Most of your waking hours—such as those spent problem-solving or reading this paragraph—are spent in the beta state. The brain is aroused and actively involved in mental activity.
When you’re focused intently on one subject—for example, when you’re engaged in reading a good book, focused on a creative project, or in light hypnosis—your brainwaves typically slow. You enter the alpha state, in which you may feel deeply relaxed.
Through meditation and hypnosis you likely enter the theta state, in which brain waves are even slower and signal a deeper state of hypnotic or meditative experience.
Although you might not feel like you are problem-solving, your ability to learn and concentrate is heightened. You have greater access to your ability to use imagination and visualization to help you make changes. This means you can discover solutions you may not have come to in the beta state.
You’re Always in Control During Hypnosis
Because hypnosis is simply a more focused concentration that allows you to enter alpha and theta brain waves, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The hypnotherapist’s words guide you into hypnosis, much like the recorded voice on a GPS device assists you in navigating the streets or trail to reach your destination.
In hypnosis you are not asleep or unconscious. You’re awake, aware, and in control during the entire hypnosis session. You maintain all your will, values, and beliefs.
How Does Hypnosis Work?
Hypnosis brings you to a state of focused concentration, allowing you to enter alpha or theta waves.
In either state, you can tap into a heightened ability to concentrate, visualize, and imagine. You become better able to understand and resolve life challenges.
In waking life, it’s very common to do things that we don’t actually wish to do. Instead of pursuing our true goals, we become distracted and reactive. This is understandable. Life is full of distractions and stimuli, and attempts to change the conscious mind hardly scratch the surface. Hypnosis allows access to your unconscious mind, making it possible to accept powerful and positive suggestions that are compatible with your desired change.
You can clearly recognize unhelpful patterns and break them at the root. For example, you can eliminate destructive habits, enhance sports performance, improve self-image, or heal old emotional wounds. You’re also able to change your perception, leading to greater self-compassion and empowerment.
What You’ll Experience in Hypnotherapy
In preparation, we’ll discuss your goals and expectations for the session. I’ll offer a variety of ways I might guide you into the hypnotic state, so I can tailor the experience to your unique preferences. I’ll give you more information about hypnosis and what you might experience while in hypnosis.
I’ll gather detailed information about the change you want to make. I’ll ask how you’d like to be thinking, feeling, and acting, when you achieve that change. For example, if you want improved self-confidence, you might want to be feeling competent, confident, and assured and thinking, “I’ve got this,” while you socialize at a party.
Hypnosis typically has two phases.
First, there’s induction. In this phase, an easy and gentle form of relaxation or guided imagery helps you become more focused and enter the hypnotic state.
Then, I’ll guide you into the application phase. You’ll receive suggestions to help you make the positive and healing changes you desire. For example, if you’re troubled with anxiety, while in the hypnotic state, you’ll mentally experience helpful ways of handling anxious situations. I’ll offer suggestions to create powerful new thoughts that support you in managing and mastering anxiety. So, while you’re socializing at that party, you can not only think, “I’ve got this,” but really, truly believe it.
You might be wondering…
Is hypnosis brainwashing?
No. Hypnosis is entirely different. Brainwashing typically involves the withholding of basic life needs, such as food, water, and sleep, along with social isolation and coercive methods to change your beliefs.
Hypnosis is a respectful method to access more of your brain’s own natural ability to help you achieve your goals. Hypnosis maintains your dignity and values. Studies have verified that a person experiencing hypnosis will not follow a suggestion unless it is aligned with the desired goal and values of that person.
Will I remember what happened while I was in hypnosis?
You will remember the experience to the same extent that you would if you weren’t in hypnosis.
Can you make me remember something that happened in the past, such as whether I was abused?
Hypnosis can help access memory. It’s very important that the hypnotherapist has experience in using hypnosis to recover memories. I don’t use hypnosis treatment to help people discover a possible history of abuse, because I don’t have experience in that specialty area.
Can I use hypnosis for weight loss? What about for quitting smoking?
Hypnosis can be a powerful tool in changing habits, such as overeating or emotional eating, and in smoking cessation. Hypnosis is not magic. It’s one method that can assist you in developing healthy habits and letting go of those habits you’re committed to changing.
What training is required to be a hypnotherapist?
“Hypnotherapist” is a generic term. Some states have requirements that must be met to use that title; Utah does not. However, Utah Law limits the use of hypnosis by individuals who are not state-licensed mental health, medical, or dental professionals. They cannot treat conditions defined in diagnostic manuals, and they cannot practice mental health therapy.
As a licensed mental health professional, I can use hypnotherapy to help you find healing from mental health symptoms, such as excessive worry, deep sadness, and problematic alcohol use. Hypnosis treatment is one of many effective tools in my therapeutic tool box.
If you’re interested in learning more about my practice in Park City, UT, please call (435) 901-3218, or contact me to schedule an appointment. I am happy to discuss any questions you have about how hypnotherapy can address your needs.