Hypnosis has been described as a psychological state in which certain human capacities are heightened while others fade into the background. During hypnosis a person’s critical faculty or logical mind is suspended or diminished, leading to an increase in the probability of the acceptance of therapeutic interventions. (Hawkins 1994, cited in Liossi and Mystakidou 1996) The term hypnosis denotes an interaction between one person, the hypnotist, and another person or people, the subject or subjects. (Heap et al 2001) In this interaction the hypnotist attempts to influence the subject’s perceptions, feelings, thinking and behaviour by asking them to concentrate on ideas and images that may evoke the intended effects. There are numerous theories but no universally accepted mechanism to explain all the phenomena of hypnosis.
Trance is “a waking state of awareness in which a person’s attention is detached from his or her immediate environment and is absorbed by inner experiences such as feelings, cognition and imagery”. (Heap 1996) Suggestion is the purposeful use of the phenomenon of trance and is at the heart of hypnosis. (Zahourek 2001)
Trance or change in the state of mind is akin to intense or focused concentration or attention, a state which may be induced by techniques such as deep relaxation routines, visualisation, imagery, guided imagery, autogenic training, neurolinguistic
programming and meditation, as well as other situations such as music festivals, religious ceremonies and sporting events. (Finlay and Jones 1996, Owens 2002)
In hypnosis the imagination, rather than the intellect, is active. (Taylor 2002) Hypnosis is a valuable tool which involves interaction between body and mind, using the mind to affect therapeutic change, and can be instrumental in engendering coping strategies, helping people to connect with their inner being and activate innate healing forces. (Spiegel and Moore 1997, Owens 2002)
In a consultation, the clinician, by the use of rapport building and communication skills, establishes the needs of the patient and endeavours to remove any doubts, fears and misconceptions they may have about hypnosis. Close empathic rapport is the first stage of the hypnotic process, and is generally followed by induction, following which the patient is guided into a state of deep relaxation. Within this state communication is retained, and specific suggestions geared to that person’s presenting concerns are made. The benefits, and growth of the patient’s autonomy, are reinforced by self hypnosis techniques and by post hypnotic suggestions, through which the patient goes through the hypnotic procedures on their own.
with kind permission from The Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health,
‘National Guidelines for the Use of Complementary Therapies in Supportive and Palliative Care’, The Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health, 2003, London
National Council for Hypnotherapy – a large professional register of independent Hypnotherapists.
The National Register of Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists – a leading, non-profit making, register of qualified hypno-psychotherapists.
The Hypnotherapy Society – the Hypnotherapy Society accredits hypnotherapists and hypnotherapy training throughout the UK.
The Academy of Curative Hypnotherapists – a non-profit making organisation established by Hypnotherapists.
British Society of Clinical Hypnosis – a national professional body aiming to promote and assure high standards in the practice of hypnotherapy.