Hypnosis – the basic facts

What is hypnosis? 

Hypnosis is a therapy method, which uses the highly focussed, attentive mental state of trance for a positive therapeutic effect. Since people tend to learn better when they are highly attentive and their critical, commenting thinking blends into the background, hypnosis is an effective and efficient therapy method in many different cases. Through hypnosis it is possible to more easily gain access to the sub-conscious. Since the subconscious is often heavily involved in the problematic aspects of any therapy issue, we are able to gain access to aspects of the problem through hypnosis which would otherwise be very hard to access or only after many sessions.

Many people are not aware that trance states are completely normal. The state appears when we have so-called “flow” experiences or when we find ourselves lost in daydreams and it can feel as though we are somewhere else entirely, although the body is of course still located in reality. Everyone who has experienced such things has already had trance experiences. The important difference to the therapeutic use of trance experiences is that in most cases in daily life these experiences just come up unintentionally and spontaneously so that the person in trance does not influence it deliberately in any way. In hypnotherapy I help my clients to make use of these states in order to work through their issues and reach their goals more easily.

How does hypnosis work?

During hypnosis temporary neurobiological changes take place in the brain. Studies have shown that changes take place in the precuneus and the medial prefrontal cortex. Through the changes in these parts of the brain, the questions in the brain “Does that really applicable to me?” and “Is that true?” are turned down, such that creative thinking is given freer reign. In this way resources and potential solutions can more easily be developed when they may otherwise be outwith the everyday conscious thinking processes.

How do I decide who should hypnotize me?

There are a lot of offers for hypnosis which suggest that within a very short period of time dramatic changes can take place e.g. after one (usually expensive) hypnosis-session becoming a non-smoker or losing 10-15 kg in weight.

Such dramatic improvements after receiving such a small amount of hypnotherapeutic help occur very seldom so it is not responsible practice to make such promises. Moreover hypnosis cannot be used as a universal remedy, which can be used independently of the clinician’s understanding for psychological disorders.

It is therefore wisest to choose a hypnotherapist, who is a psychological psychotherapist or doctor and therefore has clinical training. A good therapist of any therapy school is aware of the possibilities but also of the limitations of the methods chosen.

For which kind of problems can hypnosis be used? 

Hypnotherapy can be used flexibly and in many different ways. Essentially whenever someone’s attitude towards the therapy issue plays a role in it development, hypnosis can be used to develop new points of view. I have been particularly successful using hypnosis in the following areas:

  • Self-esteem problems
  • Depression
  • Burnout
  • Stress
  • Various crises
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Phobias, including agoraphobia and social phobia
  • Fear of flying
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD)
  • Relationship and interactional problems
  • Stopping smoking
  • Sleeping disorders

Frequently asked questions about hypnotherapy

How “far off” am I under hypnosis?

The depth of trance varies from person to person and from session to session. The depth of the hypnotic experience is not decisive for the success of any particular hypnotic intervention. Usually it is possible to remember most of what happens under hypnosis but it can also happen that some parts get forgotten. But this can be helpful so that the subconscious has a chance to digest the session and develop its own solutions.

Can anyone be hypnotized?

Studies suggest that 10 % of individuals are highly hypnotizable, while 80% respond well to hypnosis and 10 % can hardly be hypnotized at all. For this reason it is important to check at the beginning to see how hypnotizable you are.

Is it possible that I don’t wake up any more?

You can end the trance at any point if you wish to do so. Should the trance become so deep that you have difficulty returning to the present, there are techniques I can use to support you in placing your conscious thinking and your everyday functioning back into the foreground.

We can assume that you have already had perfectly natural experiences of trance in your daily life and have exited these trance states. Hypnotherapeutic methods are just one of many ways of entering trance. Have you already had the experience of smelling a fragrance or hearing a piece of music such that daily life just blended into the background and your mind opened up to memories of experiences and emotions such that you felt like you were beamed back to that period? If yes, you have already experienced trance and have certainly managed to come out alone. In my hypnotherapy I do nothing else but help you to reach this kind of state intentionally so that the creative side of you helps you to strengthen you as a whole person.

If you hypnotize me, do you then have complete control over me?

The type of hypnosis that most people are familiar with from entertainment and the media has nothing to do with the type of hypnosis I use in my practice. It is not my goal and I do not have the ability to get you to do things, which you don’t want to do. Your conscious mind is too strong for that. Hypnosis in the context of the media and shows is for entertainment purposes and to impress the audience with demonstrations of the hypnotist’s power. Therapeutic hypnosis fulfills a completely different purpose, which is purely for your benefit.

It is all about you as a client gaining more control over yourself. Under hypnosis the mind is more flexible and clients have easier access to their own resources. This is why it is easier through use of hypnosis to break through the helplessness that problems bring with them so that a sense of competence and self-control can increase.

How long do I need in order to get a permanent result?

Let’s imagine you wanted to build up your physical strength. How often would you have to meet your fitness coach? It’s a difficult question, isn’t it? Many factors play a role and that is also the case for psychotherapy and hypnotherapy such as:

– How far away you currently are from your ultimate goal

– How many different goals you have

– How broad your various goals are

– How deeply ingrained the obstacles to your goals are

– How easy it is for you to develop a trusting relationship with the therapist

– How motivated you are to do exercises, homework and continue to work with ideas developed in the sessions

It’s best to consider goals, priorities, what motivates you and possible methods at the beginning of therapy and to decide in what intervals we can continue to assess the therapy success. In this way we can ensure we are continuing our course in accordance with your changing situation.

Do you offer regression into past lives?

Dealing with past lives is not part of my therapy concept. I do not know whether we have already lived other lives or not. And I am not convinced that it is helpful from a therapeutic point of view to deal with these questions. My aim is to help you achieve more of your potential in this life that you are in just now. If you would like to deal with past lives, I am sure you will be able to find therapists who share this belief system with you and can work with you on this.

Can you help me to achieve fast results with little effort through hypnosis?

If you are interested in hypnosis because you would like to make big changes in your life with as little effort as possible on your part, then you will probably be quite disappointed. There is a very good chance that the use of hypnosis as part of your psychotherapy will make many things easier and that you will therefore need fewer sessions to achieve similar results than you would through other types of psychotherapy. This happens more due to the increase in self-confidence at handling difficult situations rather than by creating effortlessness in dealing with challenges.

What happens in the first session?

In the first session, I would like to get to know you and your issue. So I begin by collecting information related to it. The session also serves the purpose of giving us a sense of how we might work together. For that reason it makes sense to talk about any questions or uncertainties. In the first or second session I can offer you a first experience with hypnosis, if you wish, so that we can assess to what extent hypnosis is effective for you and with which hypnotherapeutic methods we might continue.

Can hypnosis help me find out the truth about my past?

Hypnosis cannot be used in order find out the truth or to force someone to tell the truth. Hypnosis is not an oracle of wisdom. Under hypnosis clients are sufficiently conscious of what is going on in order to control what they are saying so that they keep information they do not wish to reveal to themselves. Furthermore, we know that the memory during and outside hypnosis is imprecise and unreliable. Hypnosis can help a willing client to get more in touch with his deepest seated feelings but feelings are not facts. We can use hypnosis to get closer to the truth about a client’s feelings but not in order to find out the truth about facts.