How does Hypnosis Work?

To understand how hypnotherapy works we will have to introduce two ideas you may perhaps have heard of, conscious and unconscious. To be conscious is to be aware of something. As far as the mind goes it is the parts we are aware of, our thoughts and feelings as well as the sensations from the world around us. Many people now believe (hypnotherapy is founded upon the idea) that consciousness is but the tip of the mental iceberg and that most of our mental functions are happening beneath the surface of our awareness, in the unconsciousness.

Another analogy that may help is to consider the unconscious as a very powerful computer. Over the years we have learned more skills than we can ever remember, but a part of us never forgets anything. We can see this when we tie our shoelaces we don't have to picture every little move, our unconscious starts its lace tying programme and the task is effortlessly achieved.

All the programmes in the unconscious are learned and most of them make our lives a lot easier, imagine trying to play an instrument if you had to consciously think where to put your finger for the next note or writing a word consciously one letter at a time.

However, not all learned behaviour, particularly that acquired in childhood is appropriate to the adult condition. An example may be that aged three, and now possibly forgotten, a child is terrified as a spider runs across its hand. A strong association is made in the unconscious between spiders and fear and left to its own devices this program: spider — fear, will carry on running for years and create what now seems like, for an adult, a disproportionately fearful response to a small spider.

If people could just change their mind about what they were frightened of they would. None of us likes feeling fearful after all. The problem is that the programme is running in a place we cannot access; the unconscious.

However, when in the hypnotic state the unconscious can be accessed by the hypnotist. And to continue the computer analogy, a qualified and experienced practitioner can change the default settings so that old negative associations are erased and replaced by new - more positive programming. This kind of work can be helpful with phobias, weight loss and smoking.

The unconscious also stores all our memories and the emotions linked to them and these can also cause problems in later life. If as a child, perhaps because of fear of retribution, strong emotions such as anger were not expressed at the time, they may be repressed into the unconscious and there become a corrosive energy that not finding external expression continues to damage and negatively influence the person into adulthood. In all likelihood the person will have no awareness of what initially caused their depression, low self esteem or breakdown.

Because the hypnotic trance permits access to the unconscious, it also allows the hypnotherapist to release this damaging emotion safely and allow the client to let go of any negative influences they were causing. If you could imagine it like a pressure cooker and the pressure is causing pain and distress, then hypnotherapy is a way of releasing the pressure and allowing the individual to function normally.

The first half hour consultation is free; contact me for a friendly talk, without any obligation.