How Hypnosis Can 
Affect Changes in Behavior

By Mark Bancroft, MA


Traditional Uses of Hypnosis:


A. Anesthesia: Before the introduction of ether in 1721 hypnosis was widely used to nullify pain during surgical operations. Although hypnosis is safer than the use of chemical agents for pain control during surgery it is no longer used for this purpose. Pain control though hypnosis requires more time to administer and may not be as effective for some patients. Self-hypnosis has proven extremely effective for patients to reduce pre-op anxiety, as well as operations involving local chemical anesthesia.

B. Suggestion-based therapy: Still the most widely practiced form of hypnosis, suggestion based therapy can cause immediate changes in a persons behavior. Post-hypnotic suggestions such as, "you no longer have the desire to eat unhealthy foods" has proven effective in some cases. Because suggestion techniques have been so prevalent many consider hypnosis to be exclusively a suggestion based mode of consciousness. Stage hypnosis is based upon establishing a series of agreeable suggestions with the subject. Once rapport is established the subject feels it takes more effort notto follow the suggestions than to simply do them- quack like a chicken, cause skeletal paralysis which allows the body to be placed horizontally between two chairs, active hallucination, ect., are based upon this premise.

C. Regression therapy: As depicted in film, hypnosis has proven effective in recalling past events. Access to long term memory can be greatly enhanced with the use of hypnosis. Remembering where one placed a certain object; recall of a crime scene; and going back to an initial traumatic event that happened years ago has been widely reported. More contemporary uses of regression therapy focus on having the client go back to the cause of an event which is negatively impacting their life in the present. By having the client re-experience the trauma emotional release may be achieved.

More creative uses of hypnosis:


A. Parts therapy: Parts therapy is based largely from the work of Carl Jung. The process involves working directly with the parts of the psyche at the level of the unconscious. Common parts worked with are the: trickster, saboteur, inner child, inner mate, anima/ animus, judge, and higher-self. Psychological dis-ease is considered to be an expression of one's psyche being out of balance. Parts therapy seeks to integrate the parts together to establish inner harmony.

B. Active visualization: Active visualization involves having the person create a situation in their mind and live out the desired outcome. A subject fearful of public speaking would be guided to visualize in as much detail as possible getting up in front of an audience and giving a dynamic speech free from anxiety, doubt, and tension. This systematic desynthesization has proven extremely effective for dealing with fears and phobias; but does need to be repeated multiple times with as much emotional intensity as possible. Achieving goals, improving sports performance, decision making may also be facilitated with this process.

C. Spiritual exploration: Numerous processes using hypnosis for spiritual explorations have arisen since the mid-70's. Contacting one's higher-self, meeting with spirit guides, balancing the chakras, and channeling wise beings for guidance are but a few of the ways in which hypnosis is used for spiritual purposes. When hypnosis is used with what a subject perceives to be spiritual the affects on behavior can be extraordinary. In these settings hypnosis is endowed with magical qualities which makes the spiritual experience very likely to occur.

D. Past-Life Therapy: This form of therapy uses hypnosis as a tool to guide a person backwards in time to an event or series of events which are initially integrated into the therapeutic setting as being the cause of present-life concerns or unresolved/able problems. While the issue surorunding the validity of past-lives and reincarnation certainly is valid, it is not the focus of the therapy work. Past-life therapy, as a therapeutic tool, appears to find its effetiveness by literally creating the inner "space" for the psyche/ego/conscious mind to begin to form/estbalish dialog with deeply repressed (shadow) aspects of the unconscious mind. The created distance by inwardly "objectifying", yet also beginning to address [key point], the unconscious material makes past-life therapy perhaps one of the most creative, and in some cases most effective, therapeutic approaches available.


Why hypnosis works for therapeutic change:


The reason hypnosis works as a therapeutic tool is that it works in close relation to the unconscious mind. It is generally known that we use between 3-5% of our mind, this represents the conscious mind. The other 95+% is representative of the unconscious mind. Hypnosis is a tool which bypasses the conscious mind and works with the unconscious mind. Long term memory, habit and behavior patterns, the self-image, as well as thoughts, feelings, and emotions are stored in the unconscious. By working with the unconscious mind the cause may be directly addressed, this can result in rapid therapeutic transformation. Most talk-therapies work by eventually effecting the unconscious mind in an indirect manner. This is done by talking "through the conscious mind" to the unconscious. Depending upon the situation either technique may be more favorable.



Hypnotherapy is usually equated with weight loss and stop-smoking programs. Although these are certainly popular areas, hypnotherapy has proven useful in many other life areas:

Academic performance
Career Direction and Success
Chonic Pain
Decision Making
Fears and Doubt
Health and Healing
Memory Recall 
Self-image and Self-esteem
Sports Performance
Stress Release
Surgery and Surgical Anxiety
and much more...


The reason hypnotherapy has proven effective in these areas is because it can effectively deal with most causes in a direct manner. Hypnosis is a subjective tool, which when applied properly, can affect incredible changes in a person's subjective reality.

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Mark Bancroft, MA, CHT
Nevada City, CA

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