Clinical Hypnosis practiced by a trustworthy and professionally qualified therapist is completely safe
Hypnotherapy can be supportive in the management of stress, trauma and phobias. During a consultation Anthony will use a combination of different psychological approaches in hypnosis to encourage positive change in many areas of distress.
The term hypnosis comes from Hypnos, the Greek God of sleep and dreams; it was coined by James Braid, a Scottish doctor considered by many to be the ‘Father of Hypnosis’. Braid later realised that the term hypnosis was misleading as sleep is not necessary for a hypnotic state to be achieved. It can be best described as:
‘an altered state of awareness where
a high state of relaxation may be achieved’
There are a number theories that attempt to explain hypnosis that are useful in their own way for describing different aspects, but none fully describe the process or the experience (Yapko 2003).
Hypnotic states are generally accompanied by a pleasant sense of relaxation that individuals allow themselves to enter, in order that appropriate, beneficial suggestions can be given directly to the unconscious part of the mind. Under hypnosis, the conscious, rational part of the brain is temporarily bypassed, allowing the unconscious part, which influences mental and physical functions, to be receptive to therapy.
Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis as a therapy where the hypnotherapist focuses on the individual’s subconscious mind to encourage positive change.
How Does Hypnosis Work?
When we experience something, we remember and learn a particular behavioural response to what happened. When something similar happens, the physical and emotional responses linked to the memory are strengthened as they are repeated. The cycle of developed responses can be damaging and detrimental to health.
Sometimes the causes of behaviour are not known to the conscious mind but through hypnosis they may be found. By identifying the original experience with the associated reaction, new and more beneficial responses can be established.
During hypnosis the body relaxes and the mind becomes more focused. There are physiological changes in the heart rate and blood pressure as they lower together with changes in brain wave activity. In this relaxed state, the mind is alert and may be highly responsive to suggestions to induce the desired changes in thinking, emotions and behavior. Some people are more open to suggestion than others.
These describe the stages through a hypnosis session:
- Discussion and rethinking of the problem
- Relaxation and assimilation (engagement of words, feelings and images)
- Dissociation (letting go of critical and analytical thoughts)
- Response (acceptance of suggestions)
- Returning to normal awareness
- Reflection on the experience.
What happens during a visit?
In your first visit Anthony will ask you about your medical history and the condition you wish to address. Hypnosis and how it works will answer any of your questions. Together you will clarify exactly what you want to achieve and this will allow progress to be measured. Anthony will then take you through relaxation techniques which will provide the basis for subsequent sessions where imagery and suggestions will be given with the intention of changing behaviours and relieving symptoms.
How many sessions will I need?
This will depend on the condition you want to address. Generally people can experience change in 4 – 6 sessions. Together we will measure your progress over time.
Will I lose control and will I fall asleep?
When you experience hypnosis you are in an altered state of awareness that is quite different to our every day way of being. With clinical hypnosis you are always in control as it is a joint collaboration between us. You cannot be made to do anything that causes you concern. The state of hypnosis can only happen if you allow it to happen. In hypnosis you can feel very relaxed and comfortable and it is possible you may fall asleep, but you can be brought back into awareness gently and safely.
Is hypnosis harmful?
Provided you have consulted your doctor if you have a medical condition and there are no issues related to mental health, hypnosis is normally helpful. It is important that hypnotherapy is carried out by a therapist who has undertaken the required training and is a registered member of a professional organisation.
Hypnotherapy in depth
One of the first advocates of hypnotherapy in modern times was the physician John Elliotson (1791 – 1868) an eminent professor of medicine at University College London. He attracted considerable antagonism because of his liberal and radical views on the practice of medicine, for which he was dismissed from his post. He extensively applied the techniques of Mesmerism on his patients and left outstanding records of its therapeutic effectiveness in selected cases, particularly for pain control and surgical operations. The dawn of chemical anaesthetics essentially doomed its use for later generations.
Doctor James Esdaille (1808 – 1859) also became an advocate of Mesmerism after being influenced by Elliotson’s writings. Whilst serving in India (1845 – 1851) he persuaded the British Government to build a hospital in Calcutta where he had the freedom to develop his expertise in Mesmerism. In this period, he used hypnotic anaesthesia in thousands of minor surgical operations. In a diary he recorded that he used Mesmerism in over 300 major surgical interventions (Battino and South 2005).
Hypnotherapy continued to languish in the shadow lands until the First World War. The high numbers of British casualties suffering from what was then termed shell shock and the acute shortage of psychiatrists demanded an abbreviated form of psychotherapy. Hypnotherapy was resuscitated and used for both symptom removal and the restoration of repressed traumatic experiences. The English psychiatrist J.A. Hadfield developed a new approach termed Hypnoanalysis that had its origins in the work of Freud and Breuer. The end of the war ensured its successful use was confined to oblivion, only to be taken up by others and used for dubious public entertainment. However, in America its utilisation was sustained by small groups of doctors, dentists and later scientists, psychologists and psychotherapists who carried out research for its successful application to a wide range of conditions that continue to this day. The outstanding practitioner of this period was the psychiatrist Doctor Milton Erickson (1901 – 1980), whose unsurpassed understanding of the strengths and frailties of the human condition, led to the development of many of the techniques that are utilised in clinical hypnosis today. In the UK moves by a group of like-minded physicians and dentists led to the eventual formation of the Section of Medical and Dental Hypnosis of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1978. Doctor John Harland (1901 – 1977) was instrumental in creating the acceptability of hypnotherapy as a branch of psychosomatic medicine (Waxman 1989).
Battino, R. and South. T.L. Ericksonian Approaches: A Comprehensive Manual (2nd Ed.) Wales: Crown House Publishing Ltd.
Waxman, D. (1998). Hartland’s medical and dental hypnosis. (3rd Ed.) London: Bailliere Tindall.
Yapko, M.D. (2003) Trancework: An introduction to the practice of clinical hypnosis. (3rd Ed.) New York: Brunner-Routledge.