What is hypnotherapy?

Have you wondered about hypnosis but didn't know how to ask about it?

Been afraid or curious about hypnosis but don't really understand it?

Aren't sure if hypnotherapy is for you?

Well, I've decided to do a blog series about my hypnotherapy work. This is the first blog entry, a basic answer to the question:

What is hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is the therapeutic use of hypnosis. Basically, I use hypnosis to help people with psychological problems. Hypnosis itself has been around for hundreds of years, and much longer if you could all the stuff that existed before the name hypnosis came onto the scene.

Basically, as a therapist, I help people enter, exit, and utilize trance states for psychotherapeutic purposes.

A trance state is an altered state of consciousness where you're focused in a particular way, often at the exclusion of other things. This may sound unusual, but it’s something we all do every day:

Maybe you've been watching a show, playing a game, or reading a book at some point, and been so absorbed that you've lost track of time, or things were happening around you and you didn't notice.

Or maybe you've had the experience of driving or walking somewhere and realize you've arrived and have no recollection of the journey because you've been so involved in your thoughts.

Or maybe you've meditated and it felt like you entered a different world in some way--that things were suddenly different... In all these situations (and in hypnosis), your mind is engaged in a way that it isn't in normal life--this is what an altered state means--and it's focused in a particular way.

Though these experiences are all quite different in nature and in purpose, they're all trance states.

In clinical hypnosis, the purpose, just like in psychotherapy in general, is psychological benefit.

What we are able to do with trance states is pretty impressive: people go into "the zone" and they write books, play music, create beautiful works of art, and come up with life changing solutions to problems.

What can happen in hypnosis can be impressive too. I regularly help people learn how to give their unconscious the message that it's time to relax or go into a different mode. And I regularly work with people to let go of past traumatic experiences or fears. I also help people learn how to connect to their unconscious abilities or knowledge in fascinating ways. Sometimes, the results of these ways utilizing trance states come quite quickly--much more quickly than in talk therapy.

You may have the idea that in hypnosis, someone puts ideas in your head, like, “from now on, when you see a cigarette, you’ll feel nauseous.” This is what’s called a direct suggestion. I’ll talk more about this later in my blog series. For now, you should know, this is only a small part of what hypnosis actually is.

On the other hand, if you've seen hypnosis in movies--for instance, the recent movie Get Out!--you may have an impression that hypnosis is something like mind control. This is a misconception.

Likewise, if you've seen stage hypnosis performances--it's also not like that at all. (stage hypnosis is definitely not therapeutic).

I'll cover more about hypnosis myths in this blog series’ next installment: "What hypnotherapy Isn't."