"As I count from 10 to 1, you will grow more relaxed, and more relaxed..." Sylvia was unsure about trying hypnosis, but now that she was in the chair, following the hypnotist's instructions, she could feel her body and mind relaxing. She had selected hypnosis to overcome her fear of dogs, a fear so strong that she could no longer take walks in a park near her home. In the course of five hypnosis sessions, Sylvia remembered a bad childhood experience with a viscous dog, and learned to defuse that memory and the emotions that came with it. By the third treatment, she could walk confidently in the park, and by the end of her five sessions, she was somewhat nervously petting her neighbor's dog and enjoying the warm fur and wagging tail. Sylvia, like many others who have sought out hypnosis as a treatment for fears and anxiety, didn't know much about hypnosis, but she knew it had changed her life.
What is Hypnosis? What's In It For Me?
Hypnosis is an exceptional medical and self-help process in that there is no scientific doubt as to whether or not it exists, yet despite a growing body of research proving its value, it remains controversial. According to the British Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, hypnosis can be described as follows:
"In therapy, hypnosis usually involves the person experiencing a sense of deep relaxation with their attention narrowed down, and focused on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist."
These "suggestions" are concepts, ideas or goals that are suggested by the hypnotist, accepted by the client, and can help individuals to make helpful changes within themselves. Hypnosis has nothing to do with the waving of watches or manipulating the mind of the patient against the patient's wishes.
When someone takes part in hypnosis, s/he remains in control and cannot be forced into doing anything. Typically, it is believed that hypnosis is, in fact, self-hypnosis, and hypnotists are simply there to assist in the experience. Hypnosis isn't, after all, about being controlled and commanded to do things, but is actually about empowering oneself. Hypnosis is not, contrary to the common myth, a state of deep sleep. Instead, it has to do with being induced into a condition that is comparable to a trance; but it is more than just that. When hypnotized, the person reaches a higher level of awareness, where s/he is able to focus completely on the voice of the hypnotist for proper guidance into the area of predetermined concentration. This allows for the suppression of the conscious mind, and the revealing of the subconscious. It also permits the hypnotherapist to make suggestions for concepts, ideas, and adaptations in lifestyle, which will be securely introduced to the patient, without being forced upon him or her.
Hypnotherapy, a form of psychotherapy, is the practice of encouraging a positive development or healing by reprogramming certain behavioral patterns within the mind. This can include overcoming suppressed emotions, phobias, other irrational fears, and negative thoughts.
During the state of hypnosis the client's body is released from conscious control, the pulse rate drops, the breathing slows, and the metabolic rate decreases. Similarly, hormonal and nervous pathways change and slow, minimizing the acuteness of painful sensations as well as the awareness of unpleasant symptoms such as indigestion and nausea.
Many studies have been completed showing the usefulness of hypnosis and hypnotherapy in a wide variety of mental and physical conditions, from stress to smoking to cancer.