HYPNOTHERAPY AND ALTERED STATES
Over the last two decades, and especially in
the past ten years, great strides have been made in understanding how the mind responds to suggestions. Many techniques involve
very little change in the level of awareness from that which the client is used to having. There are no tricks, just the use
of an understanding of the brain pathways and the relationship of the conscious to the sub-conscious. All a person needs to
know is within him/herself and, with the assistance of a therapist, this knowledge can be accessed. This is what is meant
by "all hypnosis is self-hypnosis".
Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy in which the therapist uses hypnosis to assist
the client in eliciting certain changes in his/her behavior. According to the British Medical Association definition, hypnosis
is "a transitory state of altered attention in the subject, a state that can be brought about by another person and in which
varied phenomena can appear spontaneously or in response to oral or other stimuli. These phenomena include a change in consciousness
and memory, an increased susceptibility to suggestion and the appearance in the subject of responses and ideas which are unfamiliar
to him in his habitual frame of mind."
Although records show that hypnosis has been used for over 3000 years, modern
Hypnotherapy was founded by Franz Mesmer. Mesmer named his ability to "magnetize" people Masmerism. However, it was physician
Dr. James Braid who in the 1840's decided to disprove Mesmer's theory as only a nervous sleep and coined the term "Hypnotism"
- from the Greek word "sleep". It was his own testing, however, that proved to him that there is a suggestible state in which
one is more receptive than usual.
More recent studies show the change in awareness is actually towards a greater level
of awareness reaching deeper into the conscious/subconscious/superconscious continuum. In addition, certain biological reactions
- i.e. bio-feedback - take place as the therapist induces the desired level of altered state.
Most of us can recall
driving a car and suddenly realizing that we don't know where we are. Perhaps while sitting in front of the television struggling
to stay awake and finish our favorite show, our heads nod, and thoughts, memories and events in our mind's eye slip away irretrievably
as we rouse ourselves to be alert again. These events are experiences of self-hypnosis, an altered state of consciousness.
Though expressed very differently, each requires functioning on a level outside of the "main" level of awareness.
hypnotherapy, this suggestibility is accessed in a way that opens the client to receive specific suggestions for the purpose
of change and self-improvement, healing and growth. Resolving problems in a way that allows quantum leaps into a more satisfying
Many of life's "problems" are based in the individual's beliefs and perceptions. The stress felt from the job,
family responsibilities, etc., is seen as stress because of beliefs which affect how the situation is perceived and therefore
reacted to. If a belief is not working for ones good, it is time to change it to one that is. The baggage carried through
life can truly weigh one down. Anxieties, addictions, phobias, strong emotional responses of anger, fear, depression, all
can be a result of this load. Once the desired changes are identified, the therapist, using a direct approach, makes the agreed-upon
suggestions to the client to instill new beliefs and perceptions into the mind thus replacing the old ones.
have worked with clients using Hypnotherapy to change habits, eliminate various kinds of symptoms, enhance skills, etc., they
have discovered that there are situations in which there is a need to uncover the source of the problem before suggesting
a change in behavior. The mind can reach beyond the ordinary level of awareness into realms unexplained by the five basic
senses. Once in the hypnotic state, the client retrieves information, memories and insights that allow releasing and healing
of the problem.
It is the awakening of these non-ordinary levels of consciousness that has resulted in the development
of Regression Therapy, Spirit Releasement and Dream Analysis. These modalities use hypnosis as do other modalities such as
bio-feedback, meditation, visualization, progressive relaxation, and mind control. To quote Irene Hickman, DO, "Perhaps the
correct way of viewing the process of hypnosis is to think of ourselves as being subject to suggestion at all times. Hypnosis
merely moves us along the suggestibility scale toward a greater and greater responsiveness to suggestion, and a closer and
closer contact with deeper parts of our own mind, the minds of others and also universal mind."
In addition to this
means of change being available now, the fact is that each of us is in the midst of our own greatest power now, in the present.
For the present is when we can do something about being who we are, not in the past and not tomorrow. This is how we create
our own reality as we live within a reality co-created by ourselves and our environment.