What is Hypnotherapy?
The word hypnotherapy comes from two words, hypnosis and therapy. Even in today's modern society there are people who don't understand that hypnosis is a very powerful tool when used in a therapeutic way. One of the most common questions asked is; Is hypnotherapy like psychology?

The answers you will get will depend on how much time is available to explain. The short answer is yes, but this is not a truly correct answer. The short answer simply means that the end results are the same if hypnotherapy is applied for mental health.

The long answer is hypnotherapy is very different from all other therapies. Hypnotherapy is the only method that works directly with the vastly more powerful subconscious mind. All other methods deal with the conscious mind.

The conscious mind is very structured and complex. There are layers of logic and personal choices that must be considered. Because of that the training to deal with the conscious mind is quite lengthy. Virtually every scenario must be addresses and dealt with one at a time in a way that the person can understand and use. This frequently consumes a lot of time and money by taking the problem and working it out logically step by step. The reason the conscious approach takes so long is most if not all problems related to mental health are subconscious based. So dealing with the conscious mind for a subconscious problem is what is occurring hence the long time needed with psychotherapy. This can be compared to trying to explain to someone what to do in your absence. You must trust their feedback to be your eyes in the process so you can guide them. This process of explaining in great detail can take a long time if they have never done that particular task before. An example would be having someone look for a program in your computer. You know what it looks like but they don't have a clue. Once they find it you must explain how to use it.

The subconscious mind in comparison is very simple and works on a conceptual level. Because of that understanding the problem requires an entirely different approach. Instead of telling the subconscious what to do, the method can be as simple as giving the subconscious permission to proceed.

In hypnotherapy identifying the problem is the first real challenge for the hypnotherapist. Keeping in mind the subconscious will be addressed, watching for subtle signs in body language, tones of voice, avoidance or direct approach to the problem are all key to hypnotherapy. One thing the subconscious can not do that is very easy for the conscious mind to do is lie. Because the subconscious can not lie the necessary information is presented accurately.

Body language is one of the most direct ways to communicate with the subconscious. Body language is the unspoken words from the subconscious. With hypnotherapy the therapy actually begins the moment you walk in the door, and not when you are hypnotized. The hypnotherapist is listing to your conscious minds version of the problem through conversation. At the same time the hypnotherapist is comparing body language to the spoken words. Things that don't match are usually caused by deliberate deception or not understanding, both are conscious based. In a way the hypnotherapist becomes somewhat of a lie detector. Such discrepancies often point to the core of the issue.

During the hypnotherapy session the hypnotherapist may give what is know as conversational suggestions prior to actually hypnotizing their client. Conversational suggestions are designed to get their clients subconscious thinking about something and start a process that will later be enforced with hypnotic suggestions administered while in trance. The conversational suggestion often quickly describe a scenario that can easily be adapted like “
my friend had a problem like that and all he did was....
” Once the suggestion is given the client begins to realize that the answers are often very simple. Then in trance the reinforcement suggestion may be “that is easy for you, I know you have done harder things than that.” this sets up the suggestion that they are capable and removes self doubt. Once that happens the client begins to realize that they have just conquered on of their personal barriers. In psychology it would take considerable coaxing to get them to even try. That process could easily take several weeks, while when using hypnotherapy the barrier has already been breeched and already onto the next one.

Once their client is in trance the hypnotherapist is doing much more than just talking. They are intensely reading their clients body language. Simple things like a body shift, moans, sighs, drooling and so on all have a significant meaning. With this the hypnotherapist can see if the hypnotic suggestions are being accepted or rejected. If they are being rejected then adjustments are made.

Before the hypnotherapist wakes their client, post hypnotic suggestions are given. Post hypnotic suggestions are designed to move their client in the direction of the therapy while he or she is waiting for their next appointment. Often the client does not realize that they are responding to post hypnotic suggestions between appointments. Often they just are happy things are changing for them. This method is not available during psychotherapy. Because of that the therapy only exists in the psychologist office.

Once the trance is terminated the hypnotherapist will interview their client as to their experience. Then combining all the input from body language, pre trance discussion, and post trance discussion the hypnotherapist judges the effectiveness of that particular session. People that have never been hypnotized before tend to be a little anxious at first until all the negative myths they heard about hypnosis are proven wrong. Once that happens they become more receptive to hypnotherapy in their second and all future sessions.

Typically the first hypnotherapy session is not as fruitful as others. Often the second hypnotherapy session is where the real focus begins. Seeing what has been resolved and what remains is the bulk of the second session. At that time each remaining issue is dealt with. Once all the issues are resolved often the client feels a great burden has been lifted and is looking forward to conquering their future challenges.

Hypnotherapy is not limited to mental health. The fact is the full range of what hypnotherapy can do has not been established. The fact is hypnotherapy can allow the human mind to find it's fullest potential. Using hypnotherapy to help someone stop smoking is just the tip of the iceberg. The one thing that is required in all forms of hypnotherapy is the desire for change. Hypnosis can not make people do what they don't want to do. People who still smoke after going to a hypnotherapist simply do so because they truly never wanted to quit. Perhaps a spouse or employer put them up to it and they just went through the motions to appease them.

There are some organizations that feel a hypnotherapist must also have a degree in psychology. They have taken what many professionals in the field view as an arrogant position. The fact is there are two entirely different fields and two entirely different approaches. Carpenters and masons can build a house, however the tools and methods are completely different. It is not necessary for the carpenter to understand masonry and vise versa.

The fact is hypnotherapy covers such a broad area, it is wise to ask the hypnotherapist how much work they have done in the area you are asking about. Some hypnotherapists are very holistic, when others are very mainstream with many of their referrals coming from medical doctors, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, counselors and so on. So the view of the organizations that frowns on Hypnotherapists without a degree in psychology is more to protect the unknowing. However the quickest way to know if the Hypnotherapist is qualified is ask questions. If the questions are evasive then look some place else. However do not confuse the general methods of dealing with the subconscious mind as with the more structured methods of dealing with the conscious mind. As every person is different it may be difficult to get an exact answer that fits the question. You should be looking for similar cases and how frequent they are encountered by the hypnotherapist you are questioning. Don't expect detailed information as many privacy laws apply to hypnotherapy.

It is not unheard of for Psychologists, and Psychiatrists to send their patients for hypnotherapy. The fact is the extra kick of hypnotherapy is often needed to get past a barrier that can't be breached with psychology. Hypnotherapists tend to get the worst cases referred to them.

Many psychologists have apprehensions about sending their clients to a hypnotherapist. The reason is not because they don't trust hypnotherapy, however the reason is more financial. Once their patient starts with hypnotherapy they rather quickly disappear from appointment books. Hypnotherapy typically takes about 25% of the time as psychotherapy.

There are several applications of hypnotherapy on other pages of this website. Please take some time to discover what your mind can do for you.

Before you decide on hypnotherapy for mental health, click here to understand how to best select the proper type of mental health professional other than and including a hypnotherapist. Another professional may be better depending on they symptoms and reasons. Simply follow this link to understand some practical and simple guidelines. It could save you time and money.

Want to understand more on how Hypnosis is used? Launch your search from the home page.
Want to know more about Hypnosis? Click here.
Want to know about medical applications of hypnosis? Click here.

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This page updated 11-04-2006


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