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  • Explaining Hypnosis: How it works

    Each person is a unique individual. Hence, psychotherapy should be formulated to meet the uniqueness of the individual’s needs, rather than tailoring the person to fit the Procrustean bed of a hypothetical theory of human behavior.  ~ Milton H. Erickson.


    I often hear people talk about a hypnotic trance as if they have never experienced it. However, hypnotic trance is scattered throughout our everyday lives

    Let’s start with something simple.

    • Have you ever zoned out when you were watching TV?

    • Do you find yourself daydreaming instead of listening to a boring lecture?

    • Did you experience arriving somewhere familiar and not fully remembering the drive?

    If you can answer yes to any of these then, congratulations, you have experienced hypnosis!

    Indirectly vs Directly

    Therapeutically we use hypnosis to make an adjustment in thinking and belief patterns or to change behavior. 

    Milton Ericson discovered that using indirect suggestions rather than direct suggestions was very useful in helping people reach their goals simply because indirect suggestions help your mind move past all of its reasons to not change.

    What we mean by indirect suggestions is simply using metaphor and storytelling and suggestions rather than direct commands.

    I will say something like you may want to close your eyes or you might feel your body relaxing. Rather than, at the count of three, you will close your eyes and relax

    Erickson discovered that with this indirect method, people are more inclined to enjoy the experience rather than resist it. And don’t worry if you are a person who doesn’t feel comfortable with closing your eyes. Hypnosis works with our eyes wide open as well. Your comfort is what is important, not following a script.

    5 Myth Busters about Hypnosis

    Myth 1: If I can be hypnotized it means my mind is weak.
    Many people think that only weak minds can be hypnotized. 

    Actually, it is the opposite that is true. It takes sustained concentration to maintain a hypnotic state and a level of intelligence that is associated with imagination to keep up with the guided imagery and storytelling used in hypnosis. 

    Some studies suggest that 30% of the population has difficulty achieving a hypnotic state. If you are one of these people, never fear, it also has been observed that when it comes to hypnosis, we get better with practice.

    Myth 2: I will be helpless when I am under hypnosis
    Don’t always believe what you see.

    Thanks to all those sideshow demonstrations, we have seen too many people pretending to eat ice cream or strutting around like a chicken. Then they say afterward that they had no memory or control of the hypnotic state. 

    The truth is that they knew exactly what they were doing. Research concurs with clinical observation. Due to the deep concentration required for hypnosis, the subject keeps complete awareness of the suggestions given and their response to those suggestions.

    Myth 3: I fall asleep under hypnosis
    Hypnosis is deep focus and concentration. 

    It is achieved by redirecting your attention from the external environment and moving your concentration and focus to your internal experience. This often includes closing your eyes and relaxing your muscles. The person may look very relaxed as if he/she is asleep. However, it is guaranteed that the person being hypnotized is very alert and extremely focused. 

    Myth 4: Hypnotherapy is a one session fix
    Don’t we all wish this myth were true? 

    Hypnosis can take between 6-20 sessions depending on how receptive the individual is and how the issue presents itself. Change takes time. Hypnosis is not a “cure in itself”. It is often an addition to other treatments that also aid in thinking and lifestyle changes. Be patient with yourself as you learn to apply new strategies to your old problems.

    Myth 5: I have never experienced hypnosis
    Have you ever taken a walk and let your mind wander? 

    Has your mind ever wondered when you have driven a familiar route home, but you don’t remember driving? Have you ever just worshiped in a church service and felt caught up in the spiritual experience? 


    If you can say yes to any of these then you have experienced hypnosis. Often we find that repetitive activities like walking, running, driving, or singing choruses in the church can take our focus off of our external environment and deepen our internal experience.


    So Now You Know


    Now that we have busted these myths about what hypnosis is and how it works, you can see that 

    1. You HAVE experienced it in some form in your life before

    2. It is safe and you are in control at all times

    3. You are not a weak person. In fact, you are incredibly strong

    4. It will take more than a one-stop shop for it to be effective

    5. You are able to incorporate your faith into this process by inviting Christ into the session and opening your mind to Him 


    If you would like to learn more about using medical hypnosis to help manage your chronic pain, please contact me today and we can see if this is a good fit for you.