What is hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a long-established and medically approved therapy

Hypnosis has been used effectively as a therapy since the 1840s, when it was developed by the Scotsman, James Braid.  Since then, thousands of experimental and clinical research studies have been carried out, demonstrating the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in treating a range of conditions.

Hypnotherapy has been recognised as an effective treatment by the foremost medical organisations in this country and abroad, including the British Medical Association (BMA), the British Psychological Society, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association.  Hypnotherapy is an approved treatment by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Hypnotherapy works by using naturally-occuring psychological and physiological states.

Some people compare being in hypnosis to day-dreaming or being so absorbed in a book or a film that you lose track of time.  Other people say it’s like just before you go to sleep or just after you wake up – a pleasant and deeply relaxed state.

Hypnosis allows you to switch off all the normal distractions in your mind – the external information your brain is taking in from the senses, and your mind chatter, as you critically analyse that information.  In this state, you’re able to focus all your attention on the positive suggestions for change being made to you.

In hypnosis, you’re more receptive and responsive, so that the unconscious processes driving your habits of thinking and behaviour can be influenced more easily.  Whether you want to overcome a fear or anxiety, stop an unwanted habit, deal better with stress or help a stress-related health problem, it means that you can make the changes you want more quickly and easily.

Hypnotherapy also works by powerful mental rehearsal.

In hypnosis, you practise the changes you want to make in your imagination and this starts setting up a new, positive habit.  Habits become unconscious because neurons in your brain have learned to fire together in a particular pattern.  This can be extremely useful in every day behaviour, such as being able to walk, without thinking about it, or learning a new skill, such as being able to drive a car.  However, it can also lead to negative thinking patterns and bad habits, which cause problems.

The good news is that, just as you’ve learned a negative habit of thinking, feeling or behaving for whatever reason, you can learn a new positive habit in hypnosis to replace it.  It then becomes much easier to transfer the new habit into real life.

Learn more in the FAQs section.

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Do you go to sleep in hypnosis?

No, hypnosis does not involve sleep or unconsciousness. Sometimes, it might feel as if you have gone to sleep, but brainwave patterns show that the hypnotic state is different to sleep. You will usually be fully aware of everything that happens and hear everything that is said to you. Some aspects of hypnotherapy might involve you mentally rehearsing thinking, feeling and behaving more positively in different situations and using your imagination in other ways while you are in hypnosis. It is most effective when you are actively engaged in the process, so you need to be aware of what is said to you.

Is hypnosis a kind of mind control?

No, you remain in control at all times. As one famous hypnotherapist said: ‘All hypnosis is self-hypnosis’. The hypnotherapist’s role is to guide you into hypnosis and you will only respond to the ideas, thoughts and suggestions made to you, which you choose to respond to. I will always discuss with you in advance what I am going to say to you in hypnosis.

Can I be made to quack like a duck or cluck like a chicken in hypnosis?

No, unless you want to quack like a duck or cluck like a chicken in hypnosis. Unfortunately, this question comes from the distorted and inaccurate view of hypnosis, which stage hypnosis has often given people. Clinical hypnosis used in therapy is different to stage hypnosis. When practised by a professionally trained hypnotherapist, hypnosis will help you to overcome problems and issues and to think, feel and behave in the ways you want to.

Will I reveal secrets in hypnosis?

I rarely ask clients to speak to me while they are in hypnosis. It tends to disturb the hypnotic state. When I do ask clients to speak to me while they are in hypnosis, it will be to answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions or to give me a number to rate how comfortable and relaxed they are feeling. So no, you won’t reveal any secrets while in hypnosis in sessions with me.

Is hypnosis safe?

Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation, similar to meditation or daydreaming. It is very safe for the vast majority of people. The exception is that hypnosis is not suitable for anyone suffering from a severe psychiatric disorder, such as a psychosis.

Can you get stuck in hypnosis?

There have never been any reports of anyone getting stuck in hypnosis. Just as it’s easy to come out of a state of deep relaxation, meditation or daydreaming, it’s easy to come out of hypnosis. The phone ringing, someone calling your name, or other noises will bring you out of hypnosis.

Is hypnotherapy a quick fix?

Yes and no. Hypnotherapy is in no way a miracle cure and to be effective, you need to participate actively in the treatment and be motivated to make the changes that will help you. However, compared to some other therapies, it is quick, and you may only need 4 to 6 sessions (on average) depending on your issue. The only thing that is dealt with in one session is stopping smoking.

Can anyone be hypnotised?

If you’re able to daydream and relax a little, you will find hypnosis easy. Anyone can do it and you can learn how to become better at it with some training and practice.

What can hypnotherapy be used for?

Hypnotherapy can treat a wide range of problems successfully and is also used to enhance positive performance, such as helping sports professionals to improve physical and mental performance. 

The main things that hypnotherapy can help include:

  • fears and phobias
  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • stress and stress-related conditions, such as insomnia, tension headaches, psoriasis and other skin problems
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • pain management, including pain in childbirth
  • stopping smoking
  • weight loss
  • overcoming habits, such as nail biting
  • lack of confidence or self-esteem
  • improving business performance, such as sales and public speaking
  • enhancing creativity
  • improving sports performance

What happens in a hypnotherapy session?

Please look at my blog post to find out more: What happens in a hypnotherapy session?

Do you have any other questions about hypnosis or hypnotherapy?

For more information about hypnotherapy, contact Anne Williams here.

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