The word “hypnosis” comes from the Greek word “hypnos” which means “to sleep”. Shamen and ancient healers have used trance states throughout history as a healing tool. Modern hypnosis as we know it is first recognised in the work of Dr. Franz Mesmer, an 18th century Austrian physician. He worked with magnets and hypnotic techniques.
You may have heard the term “mesmerise” which describes these techniques. The practice fell into disuse because the medical community of the time thought the procedures to be unscientific. It regained popularity in the mid-20th century largely due to the efforts of Dr. Milton Erickson. He was a successful psychiatrist who lends his name to a branch of hypnotherapy -The Ericksonian Model. Also hypnotherapy was validated as a medical procedure in 1958 and is still growing as a respected treatment.
What is it really like?
Hypnosis is not like in the movies. No dark, penetrating eyes, swinging watches, deep, zombie like trances and so on. In fact many people are aware of everything that is said during a session, some don’t remember anything and others only remember feelings. All of that is fine because they are still under hypnosis which is a perfectly natural state of consciousness.
We all slip in and out of trance several times a day when we perform routine functions like driving the car over a well-known route. How many times have you reached a point in a journey and realised you don’t remember the last 10, 20,or 30 minutes? Trance. Watching TV, playing video games and even reading. Again, how many times do you end up reading the same page over and over because you don’t remember what you just read? Trance.
What does hypnosis do?
Hypnotherapy calls up this highly relaxed state when we want it instead of “waking up” from it wondering what had just happened. While in a trance state we are up to 200 times more likely to accept hypnotic suggestions. Just as you can routinely perform functions without being “out of it” so too you may or may not carry on conversations and recall what was said during a hypnosis session. This does not mean that the hypnosis has not worked. You are always in control and can open or close your eyes, speak, move. I am simply here to guide you through the steps and keep you safe. We wouldn’t want you rolling off the couch, would we? You can bring yourself out of hypnosis, or stop yourself from going into hypnosis, simply by willing it.
Even if you fall asleep during the session you will still obtain the full benefit of the hypnotherapy. Recent research has shown that our hearing never sleeps. This probably dates back to our caveman days being alert to predators that hunt in the night. And today, of course, while we sleep we are still aware of babies crying, intruders, sick family members, telephones, knocks at the front door etc. So even if you do happen to fall asleep the message will still get through loud and clear.
It is a scientific process
Hypnosis has been clinically proven to provide medical and therapeutic relief particularly in the areas of pain and anxieties. Research throughout the world has time and again shown the effectiveness of hypnosis as a treatment. For instance studies in Switzerland have shown hypnosis to be effective in pain management. Studies undertaken by the American Lung Association in Ohio and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Centre have found hypnosis to be effective in quitting smoking. South African studies have shown hypnotherapy to be an effective tool to improve self-esteem. Studies in England have shown hypnotherapy can substantially improve the quality of life of terminally ill cancer patients and people living with dementia. Many more studies into hypnotherapy have indicated its usefulness across a broad spectrum of issues.
As a treatment
Hypnotherapy can be used to treat a growing number of conditions and has many advantages over many other treatments. This includes, but not limited to, cost, time and safety advantages when compared to other clinical and pharmaceutical options. People experience hypnosis in vastly different ways. From feeling total detachment and extreme relaxation to feeling guided to achieve an outcome. Or even to feeling that they have remained fully awake and can remember everything that was said. All of these reactions (and many more) are perfectly fine and occur naturally as part of being in a hypnotic state. Healing will take place.