What is Hypnotherapy?

By Shirree Chenery

The term “hypnosis” comes from the Greek word hypnos, meaning “sleep”, but it is in fact very different than the sleep we experience at night.  During therapeutic hypnosis you are generally in a deep state of relaxation – yet you are awake.  It is as if your body is asleep, but your mind is very focused and aware.  Hypnosis is a state of mind that makes us more disassociated, more focussed and more suggestible.

A person in hypnosis is unusually responsive to an idea or image, but this does not mean that a hypnotist has any sort of control of the person’s mind and free will. A suitably qualified hypnotherapist can in fact help people to use hypnosis to align the subconscious part of their mind with their conscious desires, aspirations and goals. By doing so they can affect their own bodily functions and psychological responses.

How does hypnosis work?

All through our lives we are forming thought patterns and associations relating to the different experiences we encounter.  These thought patterns and associations are lodged in our subconscious minds, and when similar experiences happen, they are recalled, acted on and as a result reinforced, making them more prominent in the subconscious mind. In some cases these thought patterns and associations become irrelevant or are unhealthy and cause problems in our lives.  This can make it difficult for us to live our lives in the way that we want and deserve to. With hypnotherapy, we can learn to take control of our lives and adjust the unhelpful thought patterns and associations that are holding us back so that they no longer cause us problems.  New, more positive thought patterns and associations can be lodged in the subconscious mind which over-ride the old, irrelevant and unhealthy ones.

When you are in hypnosis your attention becomes more focused.  Just as when you are relaxed, when you are in hypnosis your blood pressure and heart rate lowers and your brain wave activity slows down.  During therapeutic hypnosis you feel physically relaxed, yet fully conscious and aware. During hypnosis, the conscious part of your mind takes a back-step and the subconscious part of you mind comes to the forefront and becomes more focused.  This allows this part of the mind to be accessed easily and efficiently, which means positive suggestions can enter freely and without resistance. It is important to point out however, that for the suggestions to be accepted by the subconscious mind, they have to be acceptable to the conscious mind first – which means that you will only accept suggestions that you consciously agree with.

Hypnotherapy can assist you with anything affected by thinking or stress including but not limited to:



Emotional problems

Phobias and fears

Lack of confidence

Low self esteem


Pain control/management (surgery, childbirth, illness, dentistry)

Sleeping problems

Unwanted habits (bed wetting, nail biting, hair pulling, etc)

Weight control/Eating disorders

Sexual problems

Relationship problems

Study and recall


Improving sports performance

Rehabilitation for injury/illness

Any stress related problems



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