Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis as a medium to introduce therapeutic interventions. In some sense, it is the combination of hypnotism and psychotherapy, which is also known as a talk therapy but one in which the client enters an altered state; referred to as a trance. There are various levels of trance that occur daily at varying levels and are most usually safe. Most usually because daydreaming (aka as absent-mindedness) can pose questions as to one's safety! While these varying trance states are a natural daily occurrence, they are involuntary; we just go into and out of them. Hypnosis-therapy, on the other hand, is different and, in the clinical setting, occurs when a client voluntarily enters a natural but deeper state of trance, one which is akin to that of nighttime sleep. The purpose of this is to elicit structured psychological change and it is in this altered state of mind, that the therapeutic intervention happens. To find out more about hypnosis and hypnotherapy, please click here!
For the most part, there are two essential components necessary for hypnotic-therapy (hypnotherapy) to be effective, they are, expectation and belief. And most often this expectation and belief come from the client themselves. Sometimes, however, preconceived ideas, anxieties or skepticism can interfere with the induction process. If this does happen, my skill, training and professionalism will assist you to overcome these hurdles. There will be no attempt to coerce, merely an open discussion where all of your concerns, etc. will be addressed. Hypnotherapy, as a process, is highly effective, progressive and each successive session builds on the last; a little like life really; "practice, makes perfect."
Once in this altered state of mind, if the therapist left the room, you would eventually come out of the trance state, usually in minutes. This is simply because it is something you do on a daily basis anyway. So, although you may not realize it now; you are most likely very proficient in accessing and using hypnosis. The only difference, in the clinical environment, is that sometimes apprehension, anxiety and doubt can interfere with the client's ability to effectively access this altered state of mind. Again, the experienced hypnotist will recognize this and find subtle but effective ways to assist the client.
Some people may see this as a form of manipulation but it isn't really! After all, why would you go to see a hypnotherapist if you did not want or expect to be hypnotized? In this sense, the hypnotist is merely facilitating your intended purpose in being there? It is also worth noting, that when induced by a professional hypnotherapist, the hypnotic trance can often produce a very profound state of deep relaxation; perhaps deeper than you have ever experienced before? Consequently, it is very common for clients to say "I didn't want to come back!" The way I allow the client to regain their sense of normal awareness is in their own time; naturally!
How we experience the hypnotic trance is state-dependent, meaning whatever state of mind you are in, it can influence the depth, intensity, and duration of any trance experience. Essentially, I see it as reaching that nebulous state that exists in what is termed sleep states and consequently creating a bridge between the world of emotion and cognition!
We are primarily emotional beings and secondly cognitive ones. We have to make conscious sense of our subconscious processes, even though we have no idea what they actually are, and much of life's difficulty comes from our conscious and non-conscious subjective interpretations of life's feelings. One may say "I feel a little apprehensive," another, "I feel terrified." Our linguistic ability to describe feelings accentuates a direct communication (external and internal) between our understanding of words and the inherent implication at the level of emotion. This simply means there is a link between our words and our emotional understanding of them; the same goes for facial expression! Since emotion elicits cognition and cognition elicits emotion, there is an interface between the two. Some scientists believe this to involve a part of the brain called the dorsal striatum (caudate nucleus and the putamen).
So, hypnosis works by stimulating the sensory cortices that are involved in both cognitive and emotional processing, essentially communicating with the brain, via the auditory cortex and stimulating our other senses remotely. Hypnosis occurs when the brain is in specific phases of brainwave activity i.e. theta/REM/NonREM2, 3, which are modulated by PGO waves and a reduction of norepinephrine from the locus coeruleus (the precursor to the stress response), akin to those of nighttime sleep and this facilitates the necessary changes in gene expression, which create an alteration in the way memories are both restored and activated (consolidation and reconsolidation) which eventually adapts the responses to meet the clients demands. This is a very complex biological process but that just adds to how amazing the brain is because our language allows us to reprogramme the way our brain functions. Evidence to support that can be felt when someone says something very pleasant or very unpleasant, either can elicit great changes in the way we feel!
Among other things, the conscious or subconscious release of secret or hidden information may release guilt or shame! And quite naturally, from a conscious perspective, one may not wish to talk about such things, they may be considered private, or skeletons in the closet etc. However, if they are somehow implicated in the issue to which you seek a solution, they are very often better out than in. It is only when these aspects of your issue are open to discussion, that the likelihood of a solution can be found. That said, once trust is established, these things often tend to come up openly in the discussion. Some details surface as memories, which are sometimes known to the client and on other occasions are a complete surprise. But essentially they are the product of a collaborative approach by the therapist to assist the client find the cause of their issue and onward from that; the solution!
When it comes to other matters, e.g. secret information or information irrelevant to the issues at hand, the hypnotherapist has little or no interest in discovering such information. In essence, you are no more likely to divulge anything of a sensitive nature under hypnosis, than you would anywhere else. The comfort you have, however, is knowing that what is said in the room; stays in the room and that's a promise! Although, if you are concerned about what happens during hypnosis, you can ask for the session to be recorded!
The answer is "no and possibly". There have been clandestine uses of hypnosis, e.g. some intelligence organisations have been known to engage in unethical uses. However, in a clinical and professional sense, it is entirely safe and can make some profound changes to people with many life-limiting conditions. Many of these conditions are based on dysfunctional responses to emotional and sensory misperceptions, even though the intent of these emotional responses are positive! E.g. a fear of needles, the subconscious intent of the phobia is to keep you from harm, the downside, though, may be harmful because the content of the syringe may save your life!
In some sense hypnosis occurs in the negative, i.e. in trance states we can develop unwanted behaviours, again citing the fear of needles, this may have developed as a response to observing someone else reacting to a painful injection. It could also be conscious, perhaps as a result of knowing someone contracting an awful disease through using an infected syringe, or even an ordinarily safe routine or procedure like a blood transfusion. In these instances, learning occurs both consciously and subconsciously and is then consolidated into a fear response during our ordinary nighttime sleep. Hypnotic learning, in terms of the solution, occurs at the subconscious level of memory and is therefore out of the reach of our conscious awareness. basically, this is because our conscious states often do more to exacerbate our issues, than they do to fix them! So, to a certain degree, we are sometimes using hypnosis to de-hypnotize the client?
However, to answer your question frankly, the answer is no. That said, anyone who says they can guarantee results may be stretching reality beyond its natural bounds. As it would be with a Doctor, the best I can give you are the odds of probability. The same goes for medications, there are strong odds in favour of most medications being effective but all that can be offered, by way of guarantee, are clinically proven results; statistics of probability. Over the years, empirically speaking, I have found hypnotherapy to offer each client an outstanding prospect of success. However, even when using hypnosis, despite its ability to empower the brain, which in the context of hypnotherapy, is via what we call the subconscious mind, there is still a certain need for cognitive responsibility. This simply means you are a participant in the process. Much of this participation will occur at levels below consciousness, although it often feels like you made a conscious choice or decision it is worth remembering, that all behaviour, thought and words are processed in the brain moments before they become a physical manifestation? Practised often enough, self-hypnosis, combined with cognitive responsibility, leads to pronounced behavioural change.
The change that occurs in hypnosis is caused by the way your brain processes the information it receives, relative to the hypnotic prescription. It occurs in the same way that all brain functionality occurs; i.e. at a cellular level, the place where memories are stored, activated and expressed. There is actually no magic involved in the process. It's merely the case, that when the brain continues to fire on the same experience, over and over (real or imagined), synaptic strength (long term potentiation LTP) is achieved and similarly, this can cause the opposite effect (long term depression) in other areas - long term depression is a process of synaptic weakening and nothing to do with clinical depression!. At the same time, during a potential LTP, there is also less resistance from the postsynaptic neuron and that allows the process, called an action potential, to become automatic and this, over time, creates the LTP, which strengthens the response. In essence, it is like a well-oiled machine and what we term a routine or habit is the natural outcome of this process. However, this process works in both the negative as well as the positive! So, in a positive context, the secret to the effectiveness of hypnosis, is in the way information is delivered to the brain, and this occurs through many sensory modalities, during the conscious fact-finding part of the session and then, through the auditory cortex during the hypnotic part of it and this is what we often refer to as effecting a change through the subconscious mind! But . . . it is the brain's functioning that actually changes!
Finally, some clients work on themselves more than others and often get better outcomes. Some clients do absolutely nothing, other than attending the hypnotic sessions and still get outstanding results; others, usually very few, get absolutely no benefit. That is not necessarily because the hypnosis didn't work but perhaps because elements of their condition were not accessed or did not surface. Much less often, it is just the consequence of a mismatch between client and therapist; nothing other than a fact of life. Like anything in life, some people, be they plumbers, lawyers, accountants or doctors, are better than others, but irrespective of their personal standing; their discipline remains professionally intact!