Some readers may be unfamiliar with hypnosis and hypnotherapy, and since I recently completed an advanced hypnotherapy certification program, I’m really excited to write about it (again). It’s a topic close to my heart. In this month’s article, some definitions and key points are offered. This information is taken from one of my hypnosis lectures presented in a course I taught for 6 years at Arizona State University. Much of this was taught to me by my talented hypnotherapy instructor, Marilyn Gordon.
Hypnosis is a tool used to induce a non-ordinary state of consciousness (also known as an altered state of consciousness). It involves deep relaxation coupled with concentration. Brain waves, breathing, and heart rate slow down. The body may feel light or heavy. The eyelids may flutter and the eyes may become teary. Hypnotic states vary – one can go into a light trance or a very deep one, but being asleep is not being in hypnosis. The hypnotist may include the use of mental/visual imagery, sound (music, chimes), counting down numbers, touch, or simply their voice.
Hypnosis can be used to explore the deep inner mind, or subconscious, and make changes in one’s life. Usually, one issue becomes the focus for a session, or series of sessions. Some people work with a hypnotist or hypnotherapist to manage pain, enhance performance, support healing post-surgery, quit smoking or drinking, and even to reduce stress, release fears, contact inner peace, connect with deeper purpose and meaning in life, or explore the root of unwanted behaviors. For some, one session may result in noticeable change, while, for others, several sessions are more productive. The state of hypnosis is a tender one, and should be approached with grace and respect.
Some hypnotists and hypnotherapists differ in style. For example, some professionals may be directive in the session, while others have a more spontaneous or non-directive, client-centered approach, serving as a “tour guide” and interacting with whatever material arises at the time. Either way, in hypnosis, you are always in control of your behavior. At no point can a hypnotist make you do something you don’t want to do.
Beyond the helping professions, this tool has been used in medical settings, dentistry, and historically, in criminal investigations. For published articles and more information, go to www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov, www.pubmed.gov, and www.ncjrs.gov, and enter the relevant search terms.
If you are a psychologist, or psychotherapist, certification in hypnotherapy can be especially valuable. For those in the SF Bay Area, I recommend certification through the Center for Hypnotherapy in Oakland, CA. Contacting the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) is also advised. The NGH can provide helpful legal information so all clinicians practice lawfully.
Because hypnotherapy can be valuable for a variety of reasons and to a wide population, including children, I strongly recommend looking into it. You never know what you’ll come across – remember my surprise?