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"what Is Hypnosis?" Case

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ESSAY TITLE-"What is Hypnosis?" Describe the psychological and Physical aspects of hypnosis and discuss the role of relaxation in hypnotherapy.


In this essay I plan to show my understanding of what I think Hypnotherapy is and what I have learnt so far by briefly discussing the history and early days of hypnotherapy, the benefits and also the ways in which the human body and mind are affected by it.

A Brief History.

Hypnosis is not a new therapy. There is evidence to suggest the Egyptians were using hypnotherapy in their sleep temples over 4000 years ago. Here they analysed dreams of subjects who had been placed into a trance using chanting and prayers. Other notable historical 'Hypnotists' include Mesmer, the 18c physician who used hypnosis to heal patients with 'animal magnetism'. This was, he claimed a mystical force coming from a magnetic rock called 'Loadstone'. His power of suggestion and reputation was such that he could place people into instant trances, which again enhanced his notoriety.

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state in human beings and we may drift in and out of light trance states during a 24hr period, we may become so intent on something that we become unaware of our surroundings and background activity, such as being engrossed in a book on a busy, noisy tube train.

Hypnosis is a method of inducing an altered state of mind and speaking to the subconscious part of the brain. This facilitates the ability to be able to change how people behave, react and feel about a given subject, by altering limiting beliefs.

A person willingly entering into a state of hypnosis will go through a process of deep relaxation and into trance which will enable them to become more receptive and thus enable specific suggestions and ideas introduced by the therapist to profoundly alter their behaviour. From stopping smoking and weight loss to enhancing creativity and promoting greater self-confidence , this can change the way they feel about different aspects of their life, fears, phobias, negative thoughts and habits as well as also being used to help physical symptoms of disease, pain relief and addictions.


Your subconscious mind does most of your thinking for you and decides a lot of what we do. Whilst you are awake your conscious mind evaluates lots of new information and relays it to your subconscious mind. However when we sleep the subconscious mind takes over and during hypnotic trance we are able to float somewhere in between these states so that the conscious mind takes a back seat and although we are still aware and in control, our subconscious is the focus.

The subconscious mind is much freer than the conscious mind and we are often less inhibited and more creative when the sub conscious mind is in control. The conscious mind tends to be the Adult to the subconscious minds Free Child.

Many people have the misguided belief that a person can be hypnotised against their will and 'made 'to perform acts that they would never agree to if using their conscious mind, however it is always the client that is in control and not the therapist. Unless a person willingly gives themselves up to being hypnotised, it is not possible to take them into trance against their will. Any behaviours' that a person may display whilst in trance will be within their own personal values or beliefs and if asked to do something unacceptable to them then the mind will simply reject it. (

Indeed in order for hypnotherapy to be beneficial the client must have the desire to change themselves, if they are seeking help because someone else wants them to change e.g. A person giving up smoking because they are being nagged by a friend or partner, then success is not likely. 9#5) in my opinion Self-motivation and a willingness to change is the key to a successful outcome.


Psychological and Physical effects of Hypnotherapy.

The effects on the mind and body can be varied and each person's experience will differ from another's. Some people will report that they don't feel any different from how they did prior to treatment whilst others may report feeling radically different. It is possible however that despite the different perceived reactions to treatment they may both have a beneficial experience so there is no 'right' way a subject should feel after treatment.

From a physical point of view hypnotherapy has an effect on many parts of the body and whilst in a state of trance and feeling relaxed, happy and calm your brain releases an abundance of endorphins into your blood stream. These pleasure hormones get transported to every cell in your body. This will result in the client coming out of trance feeling refreshed and significantly better than when they began.

Other physical effects are:

Muscles throughout the body relax and become less tense, this is an important part of the relaxation process and often focus will be on relaxing each individual muscle area whilst being guided into trance, releasing tension and letting go.

Breathing will slow down and becomes deeper- this can be encouraged by asking the client to focus on slowing down their breathing by taking some long deep breaths in and slowly exhaling. After a few repetitions this becomes natural and is done without thought.

The digestive system will work more efficiently- often clients with IBS will find this a beneficial outcome of hypnosis.

The heart rate will slow down- as stress affects the heart rate. Negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, fear and sadness, will be reduced when the client is in a more relaxed state. Blood pressure is then reduced and can have an ongoing beneficial effect when the client is brought out of trance.

During the process of relaxation and induction there is a significant impact on brain wave function and this is what is vital in allowing the subject to become susceptible to suggestion and the benefits of hypnotic trance,

The Human brain has 4 main brain wave states and use of Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique (PMR) will enable the client to achieve



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