How Does Hypnotherapy Work?

Hypnotherapy is not a new therapy and it has been around for thousands of years. However, it gained new popularity during the eighteenth century, thanks to the works of Franz Anton Mesmer and James Braid. Nowadays, most of the medical and scientific community agree that hypnotherapy works and that it can be very effective in treating a number of conditions, including anxiety, addictions, phobias, and weight problems.

It is not known exactly how hypnotherapy works – just like we do not know exactly how the brain works, how memory is stored and retrieved, how dreams are formed, etc… However, its effects have been documented via scientific tests and reported in reputable journals.

It is believed that hypnosis causes a person to enter a trance-like state, in which the conscious – or the analytical – brain relaxes to the point that it is bypassed and the subconscious is then communicated with directly. It is a state when the mind (the subconscious) is very open to suggestions and instructions, and these can be embedded with powerful effects. This state is very similar to the state that highly experienced meditation-practitioners can achieve on their own.

Most hypnotherapists also agree that every individual has different levels of susceptibility to hypnosis and that some people cannot be hypnotised. In addition, most hypnotherapist agree that it is impossible to hypnotise someone against their will, although it is possible to transmit subtle suggestions to someone using covert hypnosis. However, in order for someone to enter a trance-like state, they must be open to hypnosis, and they need to feel comfortable and be trusting towards the hypnotherapist.

Entering a hypnotic state usually involves the person lying down with the eyes closed and relaxing completely. The hypnotherapist will the use techniques to help the person enter a deeper state of relaxation, and this may involve imagery, instructions on breathing, using a soothing voice and repeating certain phrases. Once the person is hypnotized, the hypnotherapist will proceed to communicate with the subconscious to empower it to deal with the issue at hand and to bring about positive changes. After this, the person will then be slowly awakened from the hypnotic state. After the session, the person will remember all parts of the session (i.e. they are not unconscious or asleep) but they will immediately notice a difference (e.g. they will no longer crave cigarettes, they will no longer be afraid of spiders, etc… depending on what the session was about). It is impossible to erase the memory of someone during a session, or to make them do things which go against their moral and ethical judgements. The full cooperation of the individual is required throughout the session for hypnosis to be successful.

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