Hypnosis has been fascinating people for centuries. Surprisingly, researchers and therapists have not yet been able to fully agree on a comprehensive and universally accepted definition of hypnosis. I hope the information on hypnosis that I have put here for you will be useful.
I decided not to put any pictures on this page of happy dolphins, sunsets or swinging watches as you find on many sites about hypnosis. In my opinion is a natural human ability, that can be used to reach therapeutic goals. It is not connected to any new-age, religious or paranormal ideas and beliefs.
It is helpful to differentiate between "being in hypnosis" as a mere experience and a therapeutic hypnotic process that can be created during the hypnotic experience.
Hypnosis in itself can be seen as a process where the mind achieves:
1) Focused attention
2) Disattention to external stimuli (e.g. ignoring backround noises without getting distracted)
3) Absorption in some activity, image, thought or feeling
Do you remember the last time you were daydreaming, watching a really good movie or reading an intriguing book and time seemed to just fly by? Do you remember the last time you were so focused on your work or so deeply engaged in conversation with a friend that you did not notice the sound of other people in the room chatting or the music playing in the background? In all those instances you made use of your mind's ability to focus on and to get absorbed in one aspect of your environment while disregarding others. Hypnosis uses these natural abilities of the mind to focus and get absorbed.
In hypnosis guided by a therapist you make the voluntary decision to pay attention to and focus on the words of the therapist and the images and experiences the therapist invites you to have to deepen your level of focus and absorption. In self-hypnosis you make the voluntary decision to guide yourself through images and experiences that help you to enhance focus and absorption. In both instances - and this is important to note - you are in control to make the decision to enter hypnosis by paying attention to either the therapist or to the steps of your self-hypnosis technique. In both instances you could choose not to pay attention so that you will not enter hypnosis. In both instances you could choose to stop paying attention and immediately end your hypnotic experience.
When you got absorbed in a good book or film you may have noticed how the story seemed more vivid, more emotionally enganging and in way more "real". When you got deeply absorbed in work or in a conversation you may have noticed how your ideas and thoughts flowed more easily and freely. Maybe you like sports and notice how you sometimes achieve a state that athletes call "being in the zone" when the mind is so focused that the athletic abilities flow easily and naturally without exhaustion or forced effort.
These valuable properties of hypnosis described above can be successfully utilised to achieve therapeutic goals by combining the state of hypnosis with inividually tailored suggestions, guided imagery and other therapeutic approaches. While hypnosis can be combined with a variety of psychological therapies a combination with cognitive behaviour therapy has been especially successful in my and other therapists' experience. In hypnosis new ideas and perspectives can be explored and accepted more easily leading to deeper insights and an increased ability to overcome problems as well as to give up unhelpful behaviour in exchange for new and more helpful behaviour. The absorption in helpful imagery allows to connect to and focus on internal resources and access comfortable body states. Utilising a hypnotically enhanced relaxation response body dysregulations such as hypertension or irritable bowel syndrome can be specifically targeted. Hypnosis has been successfully applied both in acute and chronic pain. Furthermore, the ability to access deep relaxation in hypnosis makes it an ideal tool for stress-management and also process to explore past or current traumas in a safe and healing way.