Hypnosis is a wonderful – there’s no other word – natural talent of the human mind which is extremely useful in psychotherapy and healing. Basically, it is a combination of imagination and relaxation. It helps tremendously with re-programming unhelpful patterns of thought and feeling and with healing the hidden causes that problems sometimes have.
When you read a novel, go to a movie or tell a story to a child, you are entering the world of the imagination. It can be extremely powerful. A scary film can have a visercal effect, and make someone curl up and hide their head under a friends’s arm. A funny film brightens your whole week.
Even a children’s story can be life-changing – to this day I am super-extra-careful with my gloves, so strong was the effect of “The kittens who lost their mittens” when I was little!
Therapeutic hypnosis draws on that power of the imagination to change your life. Our imagination, not our logic, runs our life. If you imagine bad things, how bad life is, how hopeless, that’s what the mind will create. If you imagine good things (realistic and aligned with your values), that’s what you will move towards.
While relaxing and fascinating, hypnosis is not in itself therapeutic. Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis in therapy. Hypnotherapists are flexible in their approach, and may use many of the methods on this page, empowered by hypnosis. When they use Freudian free association to discover hidden sources of conflict, that is strictly what is termed hypnoanalysis. More generally, hypnoanalysis applies to any kind of technique exploring the deep subconscious for hidden things, including inner child healing and past life recall. In an easy, relaxed state of dreamy imagination, it is possible to entirely bypass the conscious mind and its prejudices and discover key conflicts inaccessible by other means.
A unique advantage – hypnosis pushes the reset button of the mind
Many issues can be dealt with in many ways, with and without hypnotherapy. However hypnosis leads the field with a certain class of situations where people are stuck in a repetitive habit loop of thinking and acting. “I mustn’t have another cream cake …” – but you do. “I should stop drinking now … ” – but you don’t. These mental tape loops can be completely out of control for the conscious mind. It doesn’t matter how much you tell yourself not to, you do it anyway. In these situations hypnosis can be quick and efficient in pushing the reset button of the mind. It’s like the Ctrl-Alt-Delete on an IBM PC computer.
Some hypnotherapists however give the impression that all aspects of all issues can be dealt with like this. That’s not true, though hypnosis is often excellent at some stage of the therapy process for very many issues.
Other advantages of hypnosis a stand-alone therapy
Able to work directly with the unconscious mind; routinely surprises clients by finding hidden conflicts and resources which other therapies can’t. Based on what works rather than academic theory; a rich treasury of practical psychology built up over more than a century and a half. Quick and powerful with all sorts of common problems. Able to easily incorporate the best in other therapies, and through hypnosis, make them even better. Enthusiastic and passionate about life and its possibilities. A good balance between inner process and outer action.
Disadvantages of hypnosis as stand-alone therapy
In a way, over-pragmatic – while passionate about life (a huge plus), no overall coherent vision. Sometimes over-sells: some hypnosis marketing gives people the impression that it enables major change without effort, pain, or confronting the real issues. This has a little truth, but not much: with all forms of psychotherapy, some change happens “automagically” ie with little action by the you. But for any but the simplest issues, what you get out of therapy is directly proportional to what you put in. While bypassing the everyday mind is powerful and useful, purely hypnosis-based ignores the everyday mind and the treasures that conscious understanding brings to a situation.