what is hypnosis


What is hypnosis? First of all, let’s see what it isn’t. Hypnosis is not some woo woo weird sort of trick or stage show, although as you probably know, it can be used for entertainment. Keep in mind though that the people who volunteer for those shows want to be silly and the centre of attention and the entertainer is very careful to exclude anyone who is not likely to follow their instructions to the letter!

You cannot be made to do things you don’t want to do against your will or values.

What Hypnosis is, is a natural or induced state of relaxation and concentration. It could be said to be a learning state too. In the hypnotic state the deeper parts of the mind (i.e. the unconscious or sub conscious mind) become more accessible and open to suggestion. Young children are very open this way and this is why they absorb everything so quickly and easily, and unfortunately many unhelpful and damaging beliefs can be set at this age. They really are like a sponge.

In terms or The Richards Trauma Process…Hypnosis is simply the vehicle for change.

It is not the therapy per se…it is what happens while you are in hypnosis that is important and along with imagination and creativity,  TRTP uses information, techniques and strategies from a number of different therapies to achieve results.

You may not realise it but you are often in a hypnotic state.

For example, when you are watching TV or absorbed in a book and you don’t notice much of what is going on around you, you are in a hypnotic state. Advertising people makes great use of the hypnotic state, telling us how much we want something they are selling whilst we stare mindlessly at the telly! Why DO you suddenly feel like ice cream?? You like ice cream right? It is not against your values to eat ice cream so … yummo…off you go.

Used therapeutically, hypnosis (hypnotherapy) has many uses such as pain reduction, quitting smoking, changing unhelpful beliefs, instilling useful beliefs that help performance and self esteem; and reducing anxiety, depression and trauma related symptoms.

Hypnosis also uses your imagination.

When watching a movie you are ‘unconsciously’ imagining yourself in the movie, and you are reacting to it as though it is real, feeling emotions such as amusement, empathy or fear. Ever found yourself sitting on the edge of your seat? Why? Because your unconscious mind thinks it is real, even though you know it is not!

The Lemon Test – the power of imagination

Imagine for a moment that you have a fresh lemon in your hand. Feel it…Smell it…

Now, imagine yourself taking a big juicy bite out of it … really imagine lifting it to your mouth, opening your mouth and sinking your teeth into it.

Notice your reactions. I’ll bet you screwed your face up and saliva filled your mouth. That is the power of imagination; your body thinks it is real. That is why hypnosis works.

How does hypnosis work in therapy?

The salient point for therapy is that currently you have certain beliefs; however that belief may not actually be true; OR it is only true if you believe it is true. Pain is a great example. If you believe you will have pain during childbirth for example then you will, but if you can hypnotise your unconscious mind into believing you will NOT have pain then you won’t… (As in the lemon – you can tell your mind something is true and it will be – as far as your body is concerned). The same is true with personal beliefs.

Many of our clients have beliefs like these:

  • I am not safe
  • The world is dangerous
  • I can’t win
  • I’m no good
  • I deserve to be treated like crap
  • People are bad.

When these beliefs are present life tends to play out that way; they are real because you believe them and certainly they feel real and the results you get, such as depression, are real BUT…it doesn’t have to be that way…and when you change them in hypnosis then your experience of life changes, because then your new beliefs are real..

But I DON”T believe I’m no good!

This is where it gets a little confusing, until you understand!

Conscious mind vs Unconscious mind (some people call it the Sub–conscious)

The conscious mind is the logical, rational part of the mind. We use it to make voluntary decisions and we are aware or conscious of doing so; we do things with intention. For example: you may consider going to the library. Will you or won’t you? Eventually you DECIDE and then you take other conscious actions to get there, such as getting dressed, getting on the bus etc. Consciously it is logical that of course you are worthy….but

The unconscious mind is exactly that…unconscious. We are not aware of decisions or actions controlled by this part of us, nor the beliefs that underlie them. The unconscious mind is responsible for all of your involuntary actions. Your breathing rate and heart beats are controlled by your unconscious mind. If you forget to breathe you will do it anyway. Your heart beats whether you tell it to or not. A classic example of the unconscious mind at work in daily life is when you are driving your car home after work or shopping. How often have you driven and at some point realised that you have almost arrived and yet you are not aware of driving past certain landmarks? You just did it.

The unconscious mind also controls your emotions beliefs and memories.

This is why you can feel an emotion without really wanting to. It’s why you can allow someone to treat you badly. You may be left wondering why you somehow allowed or accepted that … even though consciously you believe and say you are worthy. The trouble is that unconsciously you do not believe that. This is why affirmations are not all that helpful. It is like arguing with your unconscious…am/not…am/not…etc! Affirmations are conscious and they will just conflict with your inner beliefs and guess what???

The unconscious mind is the stronger of the two.

It has to be, because one of its main roles is to keep you alive and safe. Therefore it makes sense that if you have, as a child for instance, ‘learned’ that it is not safe to speak up (lest you get a smack on the head!) then you will feel anxious and fearful when you attempt to go against that belief and speak up as an adult, EVEN IF YOU KNOW (consciously) THAT IT MAKES NO SENSE and that you should feel safe to speak up!

What would stop hypnosis from working on me?

There are a few reasons – here are the 3 main ones:

  • You don’t believe it will work
  • You don’t trust or feel comfortable with your therapist
  • You really don’t want it to work!

This last one is especially important. If a person has conflicting interests, for example; they are sick and they want to get better BUT they are currently getting a lot of love and attention due to their illness. Can you see how there may be a conflict here? They fear they will need to give up the love and attention and they may not want to do that for fear they won’t get it anywhere else. In addition, their carer/s may want them to stay dependent upon them! If the ill person gets well it could be bye bye carer. It’s a decision. What would YOU do?

Another example is a person who has been through a disaster of some sort, e.g. a war veteran. These people have a strong bond with their co-sufferers. To be well can feel as though they are abandoning their mates or family members. Imagine – you will get well but they probably won’t (even though they could). Again, what would you do? It’s a tough one!

NOTE: It’s important to realise that hypnosis may not be appropriate for everyone. If you are suffering from a mental illness, or have doubts, please contact us to discuss your situation.

I hope this information is useful to you. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have further questions.

You can learn more details about the amazing, cutting edge ‘Richards Trauma Process’ (TRTP) here


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