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Posted on 11-30-2016

The 4-1-1 on Hypnosis.

by Suzanne Sears RN, BSN, MS

Are you curious about hypnosis and perhaps would like to try to use hypnosis for an issue that is bothering you or to change a bad habit that is keeping you from being healthy and happy? Are you afraid to try hypnosis because it all sounds so “woo woo”? Do you believe a hypnotist can make you can you go downtown, take off your clothes and cluck like a chicken? Fear not. It’s not just you. Many people are afraid to try hypnosis because there are many myths about hypnosis that are perpetuated by the media, literature and especially movies, simply because it is not very interesting, or compelling, to see a person relaxed and appearing to be asleep while enjoying the process of hypnosis.

In reality, hypnosis is a very natural process that many people experience several times a day without realizing they are actually in a trance state. When you are daydreaming reading, playing a video game, viewing a movie, or watching T-V you are actually in a light trance. This is why the volume on some commercials is increased… they know you are in a trance and want to get your attention.  Many people have had the experience of driving along a familiar route and travel from point A to point B without being aware of it. This is because the subconscious mind is the repository of all habits, memories, dreams, values, imprints etc. Often during the day a person can be operating on “autopilot” because the subconscious mind knows what needs to be done and assumes control. During hypnosis, the subconscious mind is in a heightened state of suggestibility and can be asked to make changes that will make the person’s life healthier and happier.

Some people fear hypnosis because they think they will lose control and be made to do things against their will. However, a person cannot be hypnotized against their will and cannot be made to do things that run counter to their value system. In such cases, the person will just “wake up” and refuse to cooperate. Another myth that circulates about hypnosis is that the person can get “stuck” in hypnosis and not “wake up”. Since hypnosis is not sleep, but a focused state of awareness, if the hypnotist stops speaking, the person will just naturally come out of hypnosis, usually feeling refreshed and relaxed.

Hypnosis can be defined as a mental state of focused awareness during which the subconscious mind is more open and receptive to suggestions. Hypnosis is induced by a procedure known as hypnotic induction, which is a series of instructions and suggestions made to the subconscious mind to address the issue(s) the person wants to change or enhance.

During hypnosis, the hypnotist speaks directly to the person’s subconscious mind, while the conscious mind is otherwise occupied. The person under hypnosis can hear everything that is said, and often remembers everything that went on during the session. Sometimes the person under hypnosis thinks he has not been “under” because he heard everything that was said. Just because the conscious mind hears and remembers the hypnosis session does not mean the person was not in trance. Even if the person does not believe they were hypnotized, the subconscious mind has heard and understood all that was said. If it accepts the suggestions that were made, the person may soon begin to notice changes in behaviors ( e.g portion control for weight loss) and/ or attitudes .The subconscious mind serves as a person’s “protector” and has the job of protecting the person’s emotional, mental and physical well-being throughout life. Often, however, behaviors and perceptions that were originally developed to protect the person are no longer beneficial and in fact, may now be detrimental. Usually, if the subconscious mind is made aware of these problems, it can be convinced to give up the behavior or perception that is not for the person’s “highest good” and positive or beneficial suggestions put in place. For example, a person who is overweight may be unable to reduce their weight for reasons the subconscious mind thinks are protective, and it can usually be convinced to release these reasons to help in weight reduction.

When hypnotism is used for therapeutic reasons, it is called hypnotherapy and has been shown to be effective in a number of areas, such as changing bad habits, stress reduction, overcoming addictions, and relieving fears and anxieties. Hypnosis is very effective to help athletes overcome blocks or barriers to success and is especially useful in helping children with school issues or the many problems they may encounter that keep them from being healthy and happy. Hypnosis is an excellent alternative therapy to help people with anxiety about medical procedures or surgery and is especially useful for pain management. Hypnosis has also been shown to be very effective in helping couples reduce the anxiety and stress surrounding fertility issues thereby, increasing the likelihood of successful procedures or natural conception.

If you are curious and interested in experiencing hypnosis, be sure to research the available hypnotists/hypnotherapists in your area and make sure the person is qualified, certified by a reputable school or program and is experienced and knowledgeable. If you find yourself in a situation where you do not feel comfortable with the hypnotist you have selected, and do not feel the person can help you, it is entirely permissible for you to excuse yourself and find someone you feel more comfortable working with. It is important that you be able to trust the individual prior to starting any type of therapeutic work, whether it is hypnosis or another treatment modality.

Suzanne Sears RN, BSN, MS,


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