There is no clear definition of hypnosis. Basically, it can be considered a tool whereby we can access that part of our mind where our habits and patterns of behaviour are stored – our subconscious mind. Being ‘in hypnosis’ is a term which describes a state of mind when we are particularly receptive to change.
Clinical hypnosis as a psychotherapeutic tool has indeed come a long way from the work of the eighteenth -century doctor, Franz Mesmer. Whilst modern, carefully researched and proven curative aspects of hypnosis are often overshadowed in the public mind by the dramatic representation of film, stage and in the media, hypnosis is increasingly being recognised professionally as a valuable modality inviting further research and practical application.
In common with most other forms of human knowledge, what to our ancestors appeared about the trance state to be magic, has since been discovered to have both structure and substance.
Hypnosis is not an indefinable art but rather an expertise that can be taught and practised. It is a faculty that can be sourced from within each of us to facilitate inner search, learning and permanent therapeutic change.
With hypnosis, we can change patterns of behaviour, alter perceptions and temporarily contrive to distort reality and time to achieve mental integration and health, all in an appropriate and often speedy manner. You will both surprise and delight yourself as you learn to practice these new-found skills.
Everyone can experience hypnosis. It is not an unnatural state of mind, but rather a state of mind that we all experience in our lives, every single day. In the clinical or entertainment setting, ‘trance’ is induced in a formal way and harnessed to make changes to either the habits or patterns of behaviour of individuals or their current experience.
It is true that some people are ‘better’ at achieving hypnosis than others, but it is a skill. With practice, anyone can achieve a good depth of trance. It has nothing to do with having a weak mind or being easily led. In fact, individuals with a ‘stronger’ mind are often more naturally trance competent. All that is required is that an individual can focus their attention for a time.
Susceptibility tests are very unreliable in producing statistics regarding trance responsiveness, as the very nature of scientific tests require that the same procedure is undertaken for each individual. This is inappropriate when working in hypnosis, as everyone is different and there are many, many different ways of inducing the trance state. One single way will not be appropriate to everyone. A good hypnotherapist will have a range of induction techniques available to them, as well as the ability to adapt those techniques to the individual they are working with.
Milton Erickson MD is considered the father of modern hypnotherapy. His definition of hypnotherapy is:
“A process whereby we help people utilize their own mental associations, memories, and life potentials to achieve their own therapeutic goals.”
(Quoted in Rossi, 1979:1)
With Ericksonian hypnosis, the suggestions you are given tend to be less direct than the more old-fashioned method of hypnosis, which was very authoritative. People don’t like to be told what to do, even in trance! We all know unconsciously what is best for us, and if it can be suggested that we make changes for our own benefit, the effects will be positive and lasting. This is much more realistic than expecting someone to change just because you tell them to.
If you have never experienced hypnosis before, or know nothing much about hypnotherapy, you’ll find some good general information about how it all works over on our practice website: Brisbane Hypnosis Centre