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What is Hypnosis?

If you asked people (including hypnotherapists) to describe hypnosis, you would get variety of answers. For many, their only experience is something seen on stage, film or TV.

Hypnosis is a deliberately induced trance state, leading to a selective, narrowed focus of attention. It is an altered state of consciousness, a very pleasant state of mind between wake and sleep, where mind and body are often very relaxed and where the subject is highly suggestible. It is an effective way of making contact with our inner self (subconscious), which is both a reservoir of untapped potential and knowledge as well as being the source of many of our habits/problems. Einstein reckoned that in the waking state we only use about 10% of our brains, however when hypnotised, we can gain access to the other 90%. During trance you remain aware but may experience a sense of drifting (lightness) and detachment from your surroundings.

Many clients are surprised when I tell them they’ve been in various trance/altered states thousands of times in their lives. These mind states include daydreaming; before sleep (hypnogogic) before wake (hypnopompic); and ‘highway hypnosis’, where you zone out when driving, and go into auto pilot. This is a trance/altered state, but not a hypnotic state.

Dave Elman (the renowned hypnotherapist) described the hypnotic state as: A state of mind in which the critical faculty of the human is bypassed and selective thinking established. His book: ‘Hypnotherapy’ was the first I read on hypnosis. Although it was written in 1964, in my opinion, it remains one of the best books on hypnosis and hypnotherapy ever written.