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What is hypnosis?

At its simplest hypnosis is: ‘ideas evoking responses’. As such, it happens as part of many communications.

It is often described as a means of accessing the unconscious (or subconscious) without the conscious mind interfering in the process. This is the art of hypnosis: to assist the conscious to allow suggestions to be accepted at a deep level (the unconscious mind) where they can bring benefits for the changes we desire.

The word ‘hypnos’ from Greek means sleep, and it was once thought that hypnosis was akin to sleep, but this is not necessary for profound changes to be achieved and ‘sleep’ is a misunderstanding of the hypnotic trance which can arise from the process of hypnosis. So, in other words, hypnosis is a process which leads to a hypnotic trance.

How we experience hypnosis is different for each individual, the experience is unique to each of us. Often people describe it as a state of heightened concentration and focused awareness.

In this state, we can bring about changes which will be beneficial to our health and emotional welfare.

The process of hypnosis is usually carried out by a trained hypnotherapist or hypnotist, but we can learn to achieve this for ourselves.

The difference between a hypnotherapist and a hypnotist varies by country. in some countries, a hypnotherapist must be a licensed medical professional, but in many countries, this is not necessary. Where the term hypnotherapist is reserved for medical professionals (e.g. many states in the USA), then the term hypnotist is used. In the UK, both terms are used interchangeably.

What are the benefits of hypnosis or hypnotherapy?

Depending on the skill and experience of the hypnotherapist, profound changes can be achieved in line with a client’s wishes.

In many ways, the list is endless, but here are some typical examples:

Changes in behaviour

Changes in mindset

Changes in habits, e.g. smoking cessation

Resolving anxiety

Resolving stress

Resolving panic attacks

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)



Functional disorders (bodily symptoms and conditions such as headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or backaches which may have a significant psychological component)

Improving sleep quality 

Enhancing productivity and creativity 

Breaking bad habits or cravings.

Myths about Hypnosis

Misconceptions surrounding hypnosis can arise because of the use of hypnosis in stage shows. Clinical applications of hypnotherapy are different and are aimed solely at achieving the desired changes not providing entertainment or a spectacle for others.

When hypnotised, you will not reveal any secrets or intimate information unless you have given permission.

The hypnotherapist is trained to ensure safe practice, but you can always check on their experience and level of expertise. Simply ask them.

  • You cannot be made to cluck like a chicken or sing like a canary (unless you choose to) 
  • You can end a session at any time by simply deciding to come out of the hypnotic trance.
  • It is impossible to get stuck in hypnosis. 
  • You are not ‘put under’. Hypnosis is a process of collaboration between the hypnotherapist and the client aimed solely at the benefits the client wishes to achieve.
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