What is Hypnotherapy?

Written by Melissa Gilmore

2 min read

a woman with long hair and a blue shirt looking confused
a woman with long hair and a blue shirt looking confused

"I’ll be honest with you Melissa, I don’t really understand what hypnotherapy is all about."

Actually, it’s common to not understand or know much about hypnotherapy. Whenever I tell others that I am a hypnotherapist, many people look at me like I’ve just grown some horns and they become very quiet. One person even stepped back, as if I was going to dive into their mind and bring up information about that night when they drank too much and acted in a way they’d rather forget! I’m used to scepticism or concern about anything to do with hypnosis. Let’s face it, most of us will associate it with somebody being made to do something embarrassing on stage in front of an audience of strangers. Not many people would want someone controlling them like a puppet, afterall. Thankfully, hypnotherapy is not like that. In fact, it is you who controls the process. What you do, say and process, occurs if/when you want.

I often break down the general hypnotherapy process into these main parts: Talk, Relax/Focus, Therapeutic Suggestions and re-orientation/re-alert

Talk + Hypnosis techniques (for relaxation/focussed attention) + Therapeutic suggestions/guidance (followed by the shorter re-orientation stage) = A desired change in thoughts, feelings and behaviour

It is important to remember that you can decline any part if you’re not ready; or you can accept it and continue with the process. The decision is always yours.

If you’ve never tried hypnotherapy before, you may be wondering what hypnosis feels like. The state of hypnosis is often described as being similar to day-dreaming, although you can choose to go deeper than that.

So, imagine yourself watching a TV programme, at the end of a long day. As you start to drift towards a deeply relaxed state, you close your eyes and the sound of the television starts to fade into the background. Your body is so relaxed that you can focus internally, instead of what’s going on externally. Your mind might drift to thoughts of your day, or what you’re planning to do at the weekend, or maybe a mixture of random thoughts and memories. The use of hypnotherapy and hypnosis techniques can help you achieve this same relaxation of the body, a reduction in the awareness of external stimuli and an increased internal focus - but without the long day preceding it! When you are in this state, your mind is better equipped to imagine, accept and change - guided by yourself (self-hypnosis) or by a hypnosis practitioner.

Here are a few quotes that previous clients have said to me, after returning to full awareness:

- “I feel like I’ve had a good sleep.”

- “I can’t believe that it’s only been 30 minutes, it really seems like I’ve been resting for hours.”

- “The imagery made me feel like I was on holiday.”

- “I’m surprised that I was able to relax. Normally, it’s hard for me to let go.”

- “I can’t wait to do that again!”

This will hopefully allay any fears and misconceptions about hypnotherapy and the use of hypnosis in a therapeutic setting.