Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis in the treatment of the presenting problems of a client. The word hypnosis comes from the Greek word “Hypnos” meaning sleep. Hypnosis is a state of consciousness which resembles sleep.
Hypnosis is an ancient practice. It has been practiced by many of the ancient civilisations and used to be looked upon as “magic”. Dr. Franz Mesmer was the first person to popularise hypnosis in the western world. He used a practice of moving hands to induce the hypnotic trance. This process was known as “mesmerism”. He believed that hypnosis was induced by “animal magnetism”.
Hypnosis was later further developed by the work of various researchers like James Braid, Milton H. Erickson and others. James Braid defined hypnosis as “A state in which the person is abnormally susceptible to impressions made in their senses and very receptive to it. Most of their behaviour is as per the suggestions made during this state even when they are out of it.”
Hypnotic trance is a normal state of consciousness which a person experiences transiently twice in a night-during the initial period while drifting into deep sleep and in the morning while waking up. In the hypnotic trance, the critical filter of the mind which usually restricts the access to the subconscious mind is bypassed and so there is direct access to the subconscious mind.
Most of the problems a person faces in life are due to the presence of incorrect beliefs/perceptions which are stored in their subconscious mind. These beliefs/perceptions control the person’s life. The person may be unaware of these incorrect beliefs/perceptions. Through hypnosis, these incorrect beliefs/perceptions are determined and they are corrected and/or replaced by positive beliefs/perceptions.
A person will enter a hypnotic trance only if he/she is willing to enter the hypnotic trance. The person is in control of whether they will accept the suggestions being given by the therapist or not. If the person does not want to follow the suggestions given by the therapist, then they can refuse to carry out the suggestions. The person can exit the trance at any time they want to. A person in a hypnotic trance is also in control of what information he/she is ready to reveal to the therapist.
Anyone can be hypnotised if they are ready to be hypnotised. A person cannot “get stuck” in a hypnotic trance. If the person does not wake up at the end of the trance when the therapist has completed the session, then he/she will drift into a state of sleep and will automatically wake up after the course of sleep is over.
While a person is in hypnotic trance he/she retains awareness of their surroundings. They can still hear the background sounds like the traffic sounds, the dogs barking, the birds chirping, etc. though these sounds will not disturb them. Hypnotic trance is similar to the state of consciousness experienced during deep meditation.
The below table describes the state of the conscious mind and the subconscious mind during normal waking state, sleep and hypnotic trance.
|Normal awake state||Hypnotic trance||Deep Sleep|
Partially in control
Not in control
The subconscious mind is always awake and in control. This is because it controls the vital functions of the body like digestion, respiration, circulation and other functions.
Hypnotherapy is used for the treatment of a variety of conditions like
- High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
- Past life regression and therapy
- Smoking Cessation
- Career/Relationship/Academic problems
- A variety of other miscellaneous conditions