Female Hypnotherapy Patient

What is Integrative Hypnotherapy?

What is the hypnotic trance state?

The term "hypnosis" comes from the Greek word hypnos, meaning "sleep." Hypnotherapists use techniques that bring about deep relaxation (but not actually sleep!) referred to as the 'hypnotic state' or 'trance'. Researchers continue to debate whether hypnosis is actually an 'altered state of consciousness' or simply a different kind of thought processing.

Trance is a natural and everyday situation and it could be argued that people are always in a trance of some sort. When someone watches a movie or plays computer games and gets very absorbed in what’s happening they go into trance, and may be very responsive to what’s happening on the screen. Even anger is a trance state! Recent research shows that a hypnotic trance is an accessing of the REM state, when the mind updates patterns of behaviour and can be thought of as the optimal learning state. 

A person in a deep trance state is unusually responsive to an idea or image, but this does not mean that a hypnotist can control the person's mind and free will. On the contrary, hypnosis can actually teach people how to master their own states of awareness. By doing so, they can affect their own physical and psychological responses.

What is the difference between the conscious and subconscious minds?

conscious & subconscious mind

It is useful to think of the human mind as consisting of two parts or layers. Think of the outer layer as our conscious mind which deals with our daily decision-making processes and as being intelligent, realistic, logical and proactive. The conscious mind uses rational thought to problem-solve and act, but is only able to deal with a very few things at any one time and is easily overloaded. When capacity is reached any additional information is stored away in the filing system of the subconscious mind.

By far the larger component of our mind is the subconscious (or unconscious) which is concerned with our emotions, imagination and memories as well as our autonomic nervous system which controls the functioning of our internal organs. The interlinking of these functions mean that the mind affects the body and vice versa.

For instance, your mental feeling of embarrassment can cause the physical process of blushing (where extra  blood is diverted to the skin of your face and elsewhere). When a threat is perceived, your body reacts in a complex way which raises the blood sugar and metabolism to prepare the body for intense activity (the 'flight or fight' response). Similarly, long term stress is associated (via the sympathetic nervous system and immune systems) with inflammatory processes, especially in the digestive system. The body also affects the mind: the most well known example being intoxication with alcohol or mind-altering drugs which change mood, thought and behaviour.

When something happens to you, you learn a particular behaviour in response to what happened. Each time something similar happens, your physical and emotional reactions attached to the

memory are repeated. In some cases these reactions are unhealthy and repetition reinforces the suggestion, causing you disabilities, ailments or undesirable habits.

So how does hypnotherapy work for me?

Hypnotherapy is the means by which you can reprogramme your old or unwanted behaviour patterns, or create new, more positive ones. In the hypnotic state, you accept beneficial suggestions that allow you to change your attitude so that you can do the things you want to do - or not do the things you don't want to do. For example, you may wish to improve your confidence, self-esteem or your performance at work or playing sport. Or you you may wish to banish the smoking habit or conquer a fear of heights or spiders. Whatever you want to achieve, hypnotherapy can help.

Who can be hypnotised?

The answer to this question is “virtually everyone”, although some are more readily hypnotisable than others, and that it will also depend upon one’s willingness to be hypnotised at the time. This willingness will itself depend upon a number of factors, not least of which will be the strength of the person’s particular motivation and their trust and confidence in the therapist concerned. Maybe a third of recipients are likely to be susceptible to being put instantly into hypnosis (which is why the stage hypnotist will select only some of the audience to participate in the show) - the rest may take a little longer to progressively relax into the trance state.

During hypnosis, your body relaxes and thoughts become more focused. Like other relaxation techniques, hypnosis lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and changes certain types of brain wave activity. In this relaxed state, you will feel at ease physically yet fully awake mentally and may be highly responsive to suggestion. Your conscious mind becomes less alert and your subconscious mind becomes more focused.

What happens in my hypnotherapy session?

relax with hypnosis

We will discuss your particular requirements and reasons for enquiring about hypnotherapy over the phone before booking the first appointment – please note there is absolutely no obligation to proceed further if you are not entirely happy about the way forward. During our initial chat I will ask for some basic information which will allow me to prepare for the first treatment session and make the best use of the time. 

During your first visit, I will take a more detailed case history and the background to the condition you would like to address. I will explain to you what hypnosis is and how it works. At this point we can agree the aims and desired outcomes of the hypnotherapy, including an estimate of the number of sessions that may be required. Some issues may be resolved in just one or two sessions, whilst others will require more.

What happens then will depend upon the client’s particular circumstances and requirements. During the first session, you may be directed through relaxation techniques, using a series of mental images and suggestions intended to change behaviours and relieve symptoms. For example, people who have anxiety issues may be given suggestions to increase relaxation, confidence and positive thinking.

We use integrative hypnotherapy - a safe, relaxing client-centred approach which also draws upon counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) - to bring about subconscious change to our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Where there are psychological causes inhibiting suggestion therapy, these may be uncovered using analytical hypnotherapy techniques. For example, regression may be used to guide you to remember the event that led to the first reaction, separate the memory from the learned behaviour, and replace unhealthy behaviours with new, healthier ones. You may also be taught the basics of self-hypnosis and offered a CD or mp3 download to use at home so you can reinforce what you learn during the session.

How many sessions will I need?

Sessions vary in length but may typically last about an hour to an hour and a half, with the first session being somewhat longer. The number of sessions required does, of course, depend upon the individual client and the type of issue being treated. Some issues, such as cessation of a moderate smoking habit, can often be dealt with in a single session. We will monitor and evaluate your progress over time.

Hypnotherapy can be extraordinarily effective but it is not magic.  However, if you are motivated to make the required changes and engage with the process, then all your (realistic) goals are achievable. I recommend that you contact me for an informal chat during which we can discuss your needs in more detail.

Are there any risks with hypnotherapy?

Although there are many areas in which hypnotherapy may bring relief, there are instances in which it may be contra-indicated.  These could include some types of depressive illness, epilepsy, psychosis (e.g. schizophrenia) and some breathing problems. In a small number of cases, therefore, you may be advised to seek the advice of your doctor before starting a course of hypnotherapy.

hypnotism is safe

People are sometimes concerned that they will “lose control” in hypnosis.  However, regardless of how deeply you may go in hypnosis and however passive you may appear to be, you actually remain in full control of the situation.  You are fully able to talk if you wish to (or not, as the case may be) and you can stand up and leave the room at any time.  Neither can you be made to do anything against your usual ethical or moral judgment or religious belief.  It is likely that the notion of a loss of control stems from most people’s misconception of stage hypnosis, where participants are apparently made to perform all manner of (usually foolish) acts.  However, participation in a stage act is an entirely voluntary process and every volunteer is completely aware of exactly what they are letting themselves in for!

What can hypnotherapy help with?

Hypnotherapy is well known as being successful as an aid to stopping smoking, losing weight and dealing with fears and phobias. The list (below) of issues that can benefit from hypnotherapy is far from exhaustive, so if you are unsure whether treatment using hypnosis can help you please contact