What is Hypnosis?

In the course of a day we enter hypnotic states many times, for example day dreaming about what we would like to do in the future or re-­experiencing pleasant events from the past. Another example is being absorbed in a book or a film. Hypnotic states occur in the car when you can’t remember travelling from A to B.

When used as a therapy a deeply relaxed state of mind is reached through relaxation techniques. This allows the critical conscious mind to be bypassed and the unconscious mind to be accessed which is where our beliefs, attitudes and behaviours are stored. Suggestions can then be made to the unconscious mind to bring about positive change in the future. Patients often ‘awaken’ and say they did not feel ‘hypnotized’ – this is because the state is already a familiar one.

The mind can be thought of as an iceberg, the tip of which is the conscious mind and the vast underlying part of which is the unconscious mind.

It is important to reassure you that in this deeply relaxed state you cannot say or do anything you don’t want to say or do, so you cannot be controlled and in fact it is a very pleasant, relaxing experience. Patients sometimes, in their minds, associate medical hypnosis with stage hypnosis. This can cause unnecessary anxiety as hypnosis used in a therapeutic way ie hypnotherapy is used as a pathway to only bring about positive change and create a sense of well‐being.

Hypnotherapy can’t be used to turn someone into something they are not, nor can it give someone the ability to do something they couldn’t do before. But what it does do is amplify abilities, focus attention and reduce distractions, clarify and create goals, reduce stress and anxiety which is at the root of many problems.




  1. What about covert hypnosis? Do you still have to agree with it? I’ve read that you can be hypnotized without knowing, how would people do that if you have to allow the person to hypnotize you?

    • Kate Barnes says

      We are in a ‘hypnotic state’ frequently ourselves eg getting lost in a book, driving from A to B without a formal ‘being put under’It is essentially a relaxed state. What I am very aware of is that when I see a patient & we are fully engaged with each other positive suggestions will be taken in to the right part of the brain where our beliefs, habits are stored without formal induction, deepening etc. and there is no doubt this can lead to positive change. I don’t like the term covert hypnosis as it suggests some form of deception! Rapport & trust in the professional is paramount otherwise the patient will choose not to take suggestions on board.

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