What is Hypnotherapy?
By Mark Bancroft, MA, CHT
To begin with, hypnotherapy is a broad term used to describe utilizing hypnosis within a therapeutic context. There are many different forms of hypnotherapy; such as, regression therapy, parts therapy, creative visualization techniques, and positive suggestion.
Hypnosis is a state of natural relaxation in which the mind, body, and emotions reach a natural, healing balance. Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis is not a "sleep state", nor is it an unconscious state. Hypnosis is a termused to describe an expanded state of mind characteristic of relaxed, focused attention upon a particular object. Such objects may include resolving a particular life issue, visualizing a desired outcome, accessing the mind/body connection to conduct healing work, or simply clearing the mind of daily thoughts, stresses, and concerns.
Grossly mis-portrayed in movies and stage hypnosis as a bizarre, strange, magical wand of some sort; hypnosis is really nothing more than a tool used to access the potential and power of one's mind. It is an expanded state of awareness; one in which you remain in control at all times, and are consciously aware of everything you are experiencing.
Hypnotherapy is the constructive, ethical, and guided use of this expanded state of awareness for generating positive change, inner healing, and/or personal transformation. It is simply a tool used to work with the other 95% of the mind which, in normal waking consciousness, remains virtually inaccessible. However, it is important to understand that just because one cannot access the unconscious mind in a waking state of consciousness, this does not in any way mean that the person (conscious mind) is not affected by the unconscious in their day-to-day life.
Although the conscious mind represents a mere 3-5% of the mind; the unconscious mind (95%) can literally offer an infinite number of solutions for life issues. The state of consciousness referred to as "hypnosis" is simply the key used to access awareness and generate personal, inner solutions. This is why hypnosis and hypnotherapy have proven effective in so many different life areas; from spiritual development, to sports performance, to healing the body through the power of the mind by consciously accessing the mind/body connection, etc.
Because hypnosis is not well understood (due to its subjective nature cast within an objective cultural mindset/paradigm), it is often labeled as strange, spooky, or bizarre. Resistance to the idea of using hypnosis or self-hypnosis in one's own life is a natural and very common response. The word hypnosis is a 'loaded' word in our society- its connotations and associations are not exactly sublime.
Because of this, other keywords are often used in place of "hypnosis"; such as: creative visualization, psychoimmunology, guided relaxation, guided imagery meditation, etc. Whatever you feel comfortable with calling it is fine. What's important is that it works. In fact, the practice of drawing upon the expanded state of awareness (termed hypnosis, visualization, imagery meditation, etc.) is found hard at work in a wide variety of human endeavors and is practiced by thousands of people each day, including:
- The world's top athletes, business people, and salespeople
- Expectant mothers in childbirth preparation classes
- Gym members participating in guided imagery exercise classes
- The majority of the world's top public speakers
- People in physical therapy and those employing the power of the mind to heal the body.
- Top students at the universities around the world
- Clients in counseling and therapy sessions
- Men and women following spiritual practices (East and West)
- People in prayer and divine contemplation
- Writers in need of creative ideas and/or the need to resolve writer's block
In actuality hypnosis is no stranger than one's own mind.
Perhaps more strange is the generally accepted, conditioned programming of society which implicitly advises people to look outside themselves for qualities which can onlybe experienced within; such as: power, love, beauty, compassion, security, comfort, pride, appreciation, confidence, trust, control, abundance... Logically speaking, it makes more sense to focus upon a desired quality/ideal inwardly to begin with, and then work to align outer circumstances to match the new inner reality in a conscious and purposeful way.
It is ironic that the mind truly is our most intimate reality (if not our only reality). And yet little attention is given to how to use and apply the mind in effective and constructive ways. In simplest terms, hypnotherapy is a proven technique for unlocking the mind's potential in creative, constructive, and purposeful ways.
Mark Bancroft, MA, CHT
Nevada City, CA