Hypnosis is a highly focussed state of attention during which we can perceive and
experience things differently. In our daily life we often experience this highly
focussed and somewhat detached state, for example, when we are day dreaming or absorbed
in a book, or the computer, or watching TV or a film.
But when hypnosis is used in the clinical setting, it can help us to make changes
we want to achieve by building skills and strengthening inner resources to overcome
particular difficulties and problems. So the contemporary understanding of hypnosis
is that it is a natural ability we all have (to a greater or smaller extent as we
are all different) that we can use in a clinical setting to make desired changes.
With the development of knowledge in the field of neuro-science, we now know that
when we are in this highly focussed state of attention, our brains process information
differently although knowledge about what happens in the brain during hypnosis is
still in its infancy.
But what we do know is that when we are focused in this way, we can be especially
responsive to new ideas and possibilities that can help us make desired changes.
That is, when we are in hypnosis, we are more receptive to suggestions.
Most importantly, however, there are studies (see Resources) which show that hypnosis
can be effective in the treatment and management of tinnitus; whilst research into
hypnosis and tinnitus is not extensive, it is encouraging and consistent with feedback
received to date from our tinnitus clients. Hypnosis can help people with tinnitus
become less distressed about the tinnitus and more positive and skilled at managing
it. It can sometimes also help with reducing the experience of the tinnitus.
No, hypnosis is not sleep or being unconscious but generally when used clinically,
people are likely to be very relaxed while in hypnosis.
Does the practitioner have power over clients, and can they be made to do things
they would not normally do?
No, this myth comes from people seeing stage hypnosis, where subjects are often chosen
because of their extreme willingness to go along with the show. In a clinical setting,
the purpose of using hypnosis is to help clients achieve their goals, and the relationship
between the client and practitioner is one of collaboration and care, not control
by the practitioner.
Can everyone be hypnotised?
Most people are capable of experiencing hypnosis and using it for their own positive
purposes. Some people are extremely responsive; some are less responsive, but most
people will benefit from hypnosis with a trained and skilled practitioner.
Is hypnosis simply relaxation?
No, hypnosis is not just relaxation, although often, when in hypnosis, the person
may feel particularly relaxed. However, in hypnosis, the client is mentally active
and processing what is being said to them. Also, it is possible to be in hypnosis
whilst being physically active. For example, runners can have the experience of "zoning
out" whilst running; they are working hard physically, but their minds are highly
focused on something else, such as music. There are other examples in war, or sports,
where people can lose awareness of pain whilst physically active.
Is hypnotherapy the same as hypnosis?
Although some practitioners refer to themselves as hypnotherapists, hypnosis is really
a tool that can be used to deliver or reinforce a particular therapeutic approach.
The research shows that hypnosis enhances the outcomes achieved using cognitive behavioural
therapy and other psychological therapies. Clinicians find that with the addition
of hypnosis, similar or better results are achieved, and in a much shorter time frame.