What is Hypnotherapy and How does it Work?

What is hypnotherapy and how does it work, is one of the key questions many people ask me before deciding on which therapy process will be the right one for them. There are so many treatments available nowadays and it is often difficult for people to understand what to expect and the science, if any, behind them.

There is of course much debate as to whether hypnosis is a specific state or if it is simply a deep meditative reflective process that enables the individual to focus on subconscious patterns of thoughts and behaviours to promote change. I will leave this debate to the hypno purists, but as far as science is concerned the brain wave patterns during relaxing hypnosis are very similar to those of REM sleep and this may indicate that the subconscious mind is more open during treatment.

There is extensive evidence that your thoughts can influence and control your body, placebo effect being the most obvious of these. Placebo works when a positive (or negative, nocebo) result is gained through belief or expectation rather than chemical or physical intervention. So often I hear people say ‘well that’s just placebo’ but what if you can capture the power of this amazing phenomenon and control it to your advantage to produce cure without medicines? It is not clearly understood how the process works exactly but it appears that the mind and body communicate best through subtle intervention and metaphors rather than simply demanding that you get better. Hypnotherapy tunes into this dialogue and through the treatment and self practice you can begin to understand your own inner communications and therefore make the desired changes.

Hypnotherapy can also provide relief from anxiety and reduce the occurrence of panic attacks through both mental and physical change. It has been widely recognised that hypnosis can produce something known as false memory but when this is used to release you from the effect of strong negative experiences the benefits can be profound. Negative emotions can become trapped inside and remain unprocessed which means that any current experience that touches on that trapped feeling will be experienced at a level which is way too high.  Of course you cannot actually change your past, but you can change the effect it has on your present so by carefully and sensitively looking at the memories that trigger attacks, the trapped emotions and automatic reactions can be understood and released.

Hypnotherapy can allow your body to relax which reduces the levels of stress hormones. You cannot be anxious and relaxed at the same time, so mastering the art of hypnotic relaxation will help you to reduce any anxiety related symptoms such as racing heart, lack of breath, hot flushes etc.

So what can you expect to feel when you are hypnotised? This is a very hard question to answer because it is such an individual experience. I am a hypnotherapist, not a stage hypnotist, therefore I have no desire or need to encourage you to dance like a chicken. Each person has there own level of comfort with the treatment, some people being very relaxed and able to go deeply into a reflective state and some people simply close their eyes and go through the exercise; it really doesn’t matter with regards to the effect of the therapy. You will gain a clearer understanding of your issue, whatever that may be and through the whole treatment process you will be given all the tools to make the necessary changes.

All you need is the desire to change, the belief that it is possible and an open mind for therapy to be successful for you so I encourage you to go for it!

Bunny Besley BSc (Hons) Clinical Hypnosis