Brief Hypnosis Facts for Clients & Healers Bob Dick, PhD, CGP, AC 919-215-4703 www.drbobdick.com Chapel Hill and Raleigh
Hypnosis is a powerful tool for strengthening both adults’ and children’s responsiveness to treatment in most psychological, educational, dental and medical issues – for example: the anxieties (stress, tension, anxiety, phobia, PTSD), the many kinds of depression, unresolved grief, relationships/couple and parenting difficulties; creative problem solving, enhancing and unblocking artistic or athletic expression; learning/study/test performance ; healing physical and mind-body aspects of diseases; habit change/starting or stopping important behaviors [smoking cessation, healthy eating, exercise], substance or activity abuse, and dealing with death.
Clinical hypnosis is often understood as an altered state of consciousness, much like other common everyday altered states, like: “highway hypnosis”, all forms of meditation, deep prayer, day dreaming, concentration, “focus”, or enjoying imaginative fiction in movies or books. Greatly increased focus and concentration automatically alter internal sensory, perceptual, physical, thinking and emotional processes and possibilities, and strongly enhance learning of all kinds, self-exploration and self-regulation. The resulting state of intense awareness and self-control can be called trance. Hypnosis has been approved and supported for many decades by both the American Psychological and the American Psychiatric Associations.
WHAT HYPNOSIS IS NOT It’s also useful to know what hypnosis is NOT. Hypnosis is not a state of unconsciousness, nor a loss of self-control or automatic amnesia. Neither is it something that someone does “to” another person because ALL HYPNOSIS BEGINS with SELF-HYPNOSIS. It really is your own trance, to learn to use in as many creative ways as you can discover.
Hypnosis is not a sleep state, and the brain waves recorded while in trance more closely resembles a waking than a sleeping EEG. An individual in a trance generally knows what is occurring, and will not reveal secrets nor do unethical things People in trance are not weak-minded or gullible, in fact, intelligence and the Learnable skill of concentration are important in the process. There need be no concern about ending a trance, since clients are aware and functional, and will choose the most appropriate time to begin and end their own trances.
Hypnosis is NOT a treatment in itself; it’s a tool to greatly strengthen treatment relationships, acceptance of instructions and positive treatment outcomes. Trance often, but not always, involves deep and active relaxation, quite useful in itself. Therapist-facilitated use of trance offers greatly empowered opportunities for exploration, and for changing thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behavior. In clinical situations, using hypnosis together strengthens the positive rapport relationship between client and therapist. Formal, structured hypnotic techniques give both the clinician and the client the opportunity to realize that something very unusual and constructive is happening. Usually helpful, these exercises and suggestions make it simpler to elicit, discover, and use your own personal trance abilities in order to learn to change yourself.
Attitudes that help develop clinical hypnosis include: the willingness progressively to learn to concentrate (“practice makes progress”); the willingness to expect, even to believe that something beneficial can result; and strong motivation for personal change. These are sometimes referred to as “positive thinking” Important principles include:
1) Understanding that when a person’s attention is repeatedly and regularly deeply concentrated on an issue or “self-talk”, it makes goals much more easily accomplished; 2) Combined with imagination, emotion is a very powerful, intensifying tool for change; 3) Direct (You will…) and indirect (You can…) suggestions can be equally effective; and
4) The clinician’s verbal and nonverbal communications must be individualized and acceptable within the client’s personal world and values.
Once trance has been established, additional suggestions and invitations are offered to encourage deeper absorption in the client’s own inner experience, and to help develop some of the useful phenomena of hypnosis, such as greatly increased receptiveness to possibilities and choices: for example, increasing flexibility and creativity; increasing / enriching options and choices for problem resolution; enhancing self-regulation/body-mind control; and disconnection from pain. Cooperative and creative use of trance continues with support and suggestions appropriate to the client’s changing needs. The clinician’s positive attitude, support and interpretations usually increase the effectiveness of hypnosis, and audio tapes may be recorded during sessions for regular practice at home.
As the client’s internal and interpersonal experiences change, experienced clinicians will notice and use feedback from the client to personalize the experience. Working together over time, client and clinician often recognize natural and spontaneous readiness for trance. This permits conversational trance, bypassing the classical, more structured trance induction techniques like deep breathing, progressive relaxation and visualization.
Hypnosis is not magic and not a cure-all, nor is hypnosis a substitute for good training in mental health, therapeutic technique, or experienced clinical judgment. It is used to get a client’s fullest and most receptive attention, in order to speed and strengthen cost-effective learning and change. Hypnosis is a very useful adjunct in all health professions for both clients/patients & healers to: reduce stress and increase physical & emotional comfort; strengthen the therapeutic relationship and receptiveness to intuition and instruction; maximize individualized learning potential ; and to access internal abilities and resources not usually available in ordinary consciousness. [Extensively edited and expanded by Dr. Bob Dick, PhD, from a Kaye F. Thompson, D.D.S. handout]