Hypnotherapy also known as perceptual engineering is a form of psychotherapy used by practitioners to create unconscious change in a form of new responses, thoughts, behaviors or feelings, and attitudes with a subject under hypnosis. It involves guiding the subject into deep relaxation and an altered state of consciousness (also known as trance or hypnosis).
The term “hypnosis” comes from the Greek word hypnos, meaning “sleep”. It is simply a natural state of altered consciousness, or focused attention that every individual commonly experience on a daily basis, for example, daydreaming. During hypnosis, the subject is aware of both the conscious (CM) and sub/unconscious (UM) mind simultaneously. Meaning the subject is consciously aware of what is going on while they are under hypnosis, therefore, diminishing the myths that hypnotist can “do something” to the subject against their will.
This could be further explained using the Iceberg analogy as demonstrated below, illustrates that during our normal state, we are consciously aware of our conscious mind but not aware of the subconscious mind. However, during hypnosis or trance like state, the conscious and subconscious mind are interchangeable, thus we are consciously aware of both the CM and UM.
Milton Erickson (1901 -1980), initiated hypnosis as a form of therapy through the successful application of the therapy in his psychiatric practice. Today, hypnotherapy has been recognized as a valid medical procedure by medical and psychological associations and agencies which include the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the UK National Institute of Health.
Hypnosis is best understood as a technique that provides the subjects the opportunity for intense self-absorption and inner experience. Therefore the role of an hypnotherapist is to be just the facilitator helping the subject to achieve a trance state, which is an experience belonging to the subject derived from the subject’s own accumulated memories and learning. Anything that is being mentioned or done by the therapist serves only as a mean to stimulate and arouse the subject’s past learning, understanding and experiential acquisitions. Experienced hypnotherapists are able to relate the subject’s inner experiences to achieve the subject’s objectives or goals.
As individual, we learn to behave in a particular way in a response to an event that has made an impact, and retained it in the subconscious mind. Each time a similar event were to happen, we tend to response or react in the same way we did as before. This is due to the fact that, when something happen to us, a particular behavior is being learnt and stored in our subconscious until something similar to the event happens, our physical and emotional reactions attached to that memory repeats itself. In some cases, such behaviors that were formed as a defense or coping mechanism could be unhealthy. Hypnotherapy seeks to effect changes in the unconscious mind that stores and controls the habits, behaviors, undesirable urges, and instincts. Therefore the role of the hypnotherapist is to work on the subject’s perceptions, on how it could be altered to aid the subject to attain their goal.
During hypnosis, the body is relaxed while the subconscious mind is focused and highly responsive to suggestion, which is when the therapist directs the treatment. Generally there are two main types of hypnotherapy: Suggestive and Analytical therapy. Suggestive therapy involves the hypnotherapist utilizing the power of suggestions, whether that is direct (e.g. you will stop drinking now) or indirect suggestion (e.g. suggestion is a form of analogies or metaphors) to effect change. Analytical therapy enables the therapist to excavate into the possible root causes of the client’s issue. It aids in finding the relevant event and experience that led to the formation of the issue and then employ other hypnotherapy techniques to help resolve the issue.
Hypnotherapy can be applied to many psychological, emotional and physical disorders and is used in a variety of settings such as emergency rooms, dental offices and outpatient clinics to reduce stress, increase relaxation, as well as ease pain and feelings of anxiety. Although, it is advisable that hypnotherapy treatments be sought following diagnosis and evaluation by a medical professional to prevent the possibility that the treatment may complicate the issue. For example, a person who complains having a headache might seek hypnotherapy thinking it related to a psychological issue, whereas in actual fact it could be associated with some physical medical conditions such as a tumor. Therefore, in cases like these, it is best if the person were to seek a medical practitioner to rule out possible medical conditions that may hinder the treatment process.
Hence, when visiting a hypnotherapist, do make sure that the medial history and the issues for which treatment is sought are discussed. The hypnotherapist would explain to you what hypnosis is and how it works. The client is then induced into relaxation and given the appropriate hypnotherapy treatment meant to change the perceptions, behaviors, and relief symptoms. The hypnotherapist usually teaches their clients the basis of self-hypnosis and equips them with relevant resources that would enable the client to reinforce what was learnt during the session. The session usually last for an hour, and within 4 to 10 sessions, clients indicate of seeing results. Overall the use of hypnotherapy does greatly improve one’s mental, emotional and physical well-being when performed by a well-trained and experienced practitioner.