What hypnosis and hypnotherapy are
Before we have a more direct look at hypnotherapy, it’s important to try and define what hypnosis is.
“a relaxed state of mind that most of us seem to experience at one time or another, often occurring quite spontaneously and typically it can happen while day-dreaming, dropping off to sleep at night, or when simply absorbed in a good book or film. It is simply a very relaxed state, during which time, the critical factor of the mind is often reduced or suspended – although the mind itself and the thought processes therein, can often be found to be very active indeed”.
(This is a definition was found some time ago so we are unable to acknowledge the author – please contact ACCPH to rectify this situation).
Did you realise you can even go into a hypnotic trance when you’re driving! How many times have you driven somewhere, completely safely, and wonder how you got there? You have little conscious recollection of the journey but you have still navigated the route with ease. This is similar to how hypnosis works.
Some important things to note about hypnosis:
- The hypnotist cannot make anyone say, think or do anything they do not wish to.
- The client is in full control all the time – they cannot be controlled.
- If the client really wants something to change in hypnosis it will.
- The client is not asleep – if they were; how would they respond to what was being said to them?
- The client can’t get stuck in hypnosis, or stay asleep forever.
- Everyone is hypnotisable, so long as they allow them self to go with the flow and let it happen.
- People with strong minds who concentrate well are often the easiest to take into hypnosis.
- The client already has the answers they are looking for – they just can’t access them consciously
Hypnosis at work in the unconscious mind
Hypnosis works by recognising the importance of and utilising the unconscious, (or subconscious), mind. The unconscious mind is a vast reservoir of an enormous amount of personal information and emotions. These are something which an individual is highly unlikely to have any form of conscious knowledge. The answer the client is seeking is there waiting to be utilised in this immense ocean of life knowledge.
The unconscious causes the conscious mind to think and react in the way it does to the stimuli of day to day existence. Problems arise when there are conflicting views between these parts of the mind on how they see or feel about situations or memories. This may happen all too easily. For instance, take arachnophobia, (a phobia of spiders) as a quite common example.
By and large, the conscious mind knows that there is no real reason to be afraid of spiders in the UK. However; the unconscious mind has for an irrational reason attached a fear or dread to them. In this scenario the incredibly powerful unconscious fear overrides the conscious knowledge.
What hypnotherapy is…
A brief definition is:
“Hypnotherapy is a wonderful process; using hypnosis as a tool to easily access the unconscious mind and then unlock the incredible capacity it has to create a powerful beneficial and therapeutic change within the client who had a consciously unsolvable problem.”
A more complex definition is given below.
“There are many types of psychological therapy mostly working through the conscious part of the mind. Hypnotherapy aims to address the client’s non-conscious mind which is faster and far better at sorting out problems.
Hypnotherapy usually requires the client to be in a relaxed state of mind and body. The client’s imagination is utilised during a range of therapeutic processes which may include; storytelling, metaphors, NLP, direct and indirect suggestions to elicit change.
An analytical approach may be employed to uncover problems from the client’s past”.
You can look up many versions of what hypnotherapy is but they all basically say the same. Some definitions are written very seriously others are shrouded in psychological terminology that means nothing to most people.
Hypnotherapy aims to achieve the following:
- define clear and relevant problems affecting the client
- identify the obstructions and interferences creating those problems
- develop strategies to eliminate the obstructions and interferences whether they are emotional or physical difficulties. (Some forms of hypnotherapy analyse them first)
- develop and then enhance self-awareness and confidence especially to eradicate unwanted behaviours and other problems such as addictions
- develop and then enhance interpersonal interactions in all situations when the problems are eliminated
- utilise these skills to create better decisions and behaviours in the future by building on previous achievements no matter how small in or out of hypnosis
- allow the ownership of the full range of feelings/emotions and behaviours then take responsibility for them
- allow the client to be committed to and own the positive changes made.
The list goes on…….
What hypnotherapy is not…
- stage hypnosis.
- about being told what to do in a trance
- asleep and under the control of the hypnotherapist
- counselling or psychotherapy but done in a trance
It is because of stage hypnosis that many people do not trust hypnotherapy as it appears that a hypnotist can control someone else and once in their power can make them do anything.
The people who volunteer for a stage hypnosis show are usually exhibitionists, drunk or both and are quite willing to act like an idiot just to get the attention of their mates afterwards.
On the whole the hypnotherapy approach is different from the other methods of helping people. You may ask; “Is hypnotherapy better than the other methods”?
“Yes it is” and “No it is not”. Other systems are designed for particular situations or for types of people, so by default will be better than hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is different in that it is generally regarded as a very speedy form of enabling people to change.
If you had a specific emotional problem relating to abuse the chances are you would visit a counsellor, a psychotherapist or hypnotherapist depending on how you wished to be rid of the problem. You would not be likely to visit a coach to deal with childhood abuse. A coach may be able to help with the practical aspect of your rebuilding your life later but does not have the skills to deal with the emotional trauma.
The foundations of hypnotherapy
These are foundations based on solid facts. Hypnotherapy has been tried, tested and NOT found wanting – it has worked for hundreds of thousands, almost certainly millions of people. The basic premises outlined below are followed by every brilliant hypnotherapist, not because they are taught they should but because they are proven to be highly powerful and exceedingly successful.
Some of the basic premises or principles of rapid styles of hypnotherapy:
Non-advisory: a good hypnotherapist will encourage the client to explore and discover, from their own inner reserves, their own solutions. The hypnotherapist does not supply or advise by giving the right answers. However; they will provide a framework that allows the client to be more susceptible to therapeutic suggestions that enable them to be very successful in quickly achieving their goals.
Non-judgemental: the hypnotherapist does not judge any of the decisions or behaviours of the client. Instead they create a safe and non-critical environment that allows the client to be able to create success in their unconscious mind and bring it to the conscious world to act upon it
Action-driven: hypnotherapy allows change to manifest and drives this change rapidly from the unwanted now state to bring about practical and permanent results. The definition of rapid is somewhat elastic as hypno-analysis may take 8-12
sessions to effect a change but other methods may only take 1-2 sessions.
Results-driven: hypnotherapy is measured by results. The client knows where they are in their life and has clearly defined goals with desired outcomes for the future – the results are clearly felt when these are attained. It does not have to dwell on the past reasons for the problem but many hypnotherapy approaches do.
Flexibility: the hypnotherapist has to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of each client. There may be times when a client makes rapid changes and the next session
they appear to have slowed right down; the hypnotherapist has to accept and move on at the right speed for the client. The use of different hypnotherapy styles is critical in these instances.
Empowering: hypnotherapy enables the client to speedily develop new life enhancing skills. This ability, to be in control fast, is phenomenally empowering.
Mutual respect: the hypnotherapist and client need to develop a relationship based on mutual respect, trust and understanding focusing on fast positive change for the client.
This list is not exhaustive – there are many other principles.
Many of the above may not fit with analytical hypnotherapy and some other styles. The styles or approaches of hypnotherapy are discussed on a different page.
In many ways all very rapid hypnotherapy is almost an emotionally-freeform method of moving people forwards. It is free of the onerous burdens of advice, (direct suggestion), and analysis; digging up the past and reliving the pain by creating
An abreaction is an unpleasant response that can occur during a trance as previously repressed uncomfortable memories. It is most likely to occur during analytical regression. Many hypnotherapists induce an abreaction in their clients as a form of therapy. Other therapists prefer to look at a traumatic experience from a disassociated position.
Be aware that with advice comes responsibility. Suggestions in hypnosis need to be worded very carefully. If it goes wrong the giver is responsible for that failure. The same applies to analysis; incorrect conclusions from analysis are very
unhelpful to the client.
Every person is unique so their solutions are too. People are too complex to be given a standardised solution. It needs to be based on their personality, their drive, and their commitment to success. People are far more driven to succeed when it is their
own property they are using to achieve their own goals.
Can hypnotherapy help me?
Hypnotherapy can help people with many different problems. Please follow this link to the Common Problems page to see the main problems our therapists and coaches aid clients with.
Please be aware that not everything on that list may be worked on by hypnotherapists and that not all possible issues are listed.
Some main approaches to hypnotherapy
When teaching the approaches to hypnotherapy, you should choose a school that follows the National Occupational Standards for Hypnotherapy. Every course should follow these. All ACCPH accredited courses do.
There is also the Core Curriculum set by the UK Congress of Hypnotherapy Organisations (UKCHO), and The Natural and Complementary Healthcare Council (NACH). This is designed to follow the requirements of the PSA and their AVR requirements. These are designed for the NHS and are by no means obligatory.
A school should make it very clear in the literature and on their website which of these they work to.
The Core Curriculum states that the course has to be 450 hour long of which 120 hours must be face to face. ACCPH agrees with this for its Level 4 courses. However; just 60 hours of face-to-face teaching is required for an accredited Level 3 course. (There is a leading school with an Ofqal regulated certificated hypnotherapy qualification that follows this approach).
At ACCPH we also follow this format for our accredited Level 3 courses.
Hypnotherapy course content for therapeutic interventions and techniques should include the following. Students must be taught and able to demonstrate a variety of techniques to cover direct and indirect permissive styles and strategies, which may include but are not limited to:
- direct and indirect suggestion
- neuro-linguistic programming
- self-help (including self-hypnosis and tasking).
Although the underpinning principles of hypnotherapy do not change there are many different approaches that are used within them as can be seen from the selection below.
Amongst them are:
- cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy (CBH)
- Cognitive hypnotherapy
- Analytical & regression hypnotherapy
- Suggestion hypnotherapy
- Solution-focused hypnotherapy
- Ericksonian hypnotherapy – Indirect conversational
- Transpersonal hypnotherapy
- Responsive hypnotherapy
- …and many more.