As a certified practitioner of hypnotherapy, I am often asked if I will be able to “put someone under” which speaks to the misconceptions that many people still hold with regard to hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Some people fear the idea that I might have total control over their minds and bodies and approach hypnosis with great trepidation while others actually hope for the opposite, that all they have to do is lie down, close their eyes go to sleep and awaken with all their difficulties, bad habits and neuroses miraculously transformed. The truth is that neither of these perceptions about hypnosis is correct.
The fact is that hypnosis is a natural state that we are all achieving on a daily basis. We are in a hypnotic trance a few seconds both before sleep and before awakening every morning. Many people have experienced what is commonly known as “highway hypnosis”, whereby you get in your car, begin driving to a very familiar location such a home or work and find yourself at your destination with no clear memory of the trip and a sense that time has passed very quickly. Others enter into hypnosis when engaged in an activity that they find all consuming or very pleasurable and suddenly find that once again they have lost all track of time. This state is very common for runners and joggers, artists, high performance athletes and those who regularly engage intensely in activities that require elevated levels of concentration and focus sometimes in combination with a set of repetitive motions.
Everyone can be hypnotized, but only if they want to, which is another important aspect of the hypnotic process. At no time can someone be forced to engage in any activity that they find morally or ethically repugnant. In hypnosis one maintains one’s sense of right and wrong, and the essential self is still very much present. Oftentimes in a show with a stage hypnotist performing and making people do ridiculous things in front of the audience, a selection process has occurred wherein the hypnotist has quietly been assessing the suggestibility and willingness of the volunteers through various levels of exercises until the only people who remain on the stage are those who are highly suggestible, i.e. they enter into hypnosis quickly and easily and are willing participants in the sense that they are neither too shy nor too doubtful or resistant to performing on stage.
So this is why many hypnotists and hypnotherapists will say that all hypnosis is “self-hypnosis” because the simple fact remains that if you do not wish to engage in it, you won’t but if you want it to happen it does. It’s really that simple, and it begs the question why would anyone wish to be hypnotized in the first place if it’s a natural state and if the hypnotist or hypnotherapist is unable to make immediate changes to the psyche?
The answer is quite simple, in the first place, while in hypnosis, we experience pleasure. That’s right; it feels good to be hypnotized. Hypnosis can actually be measured by looking at brain waves and we know that the longer, slower brain waves that we call Alpha or Theta brain waves are associated with the increased production of “feel good” neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in the brain and endorphins in the body. Hypnosis produces sensations in the body associated with calm, relaxation and pleasure. We are in hypnosis when our brain waves are registering in the low Alpha or Theta range thus accessing all of the “feel good” neurotransmitters. By the way, brain wave patterns for normal everyday activity are called Beta and those for sleep are called Delta brain waves. These are scientifically measurable results that have been proven time and again through legitimate scientific means. Also note that each and every person’s experience of hypnosis is different and unique to them and may range from feeling as though they have fallen asleep to noting no perceptible changes in themselves whatsoever, questioning whether hypnosis has been attained to everything in between. The other important aspect to remember is that for most people the help of a trained hypnotist or hypnotherapist is necessary to achieve a deep enough level of hypnosis to feel the positive effects of those neurotransmitters and to begin any kind of meaningful work. That being said, many go on to learn techniques for self-hypnosis without the aid of another person and achieve great results on their own.

Also important to note is that while in hypnosis, we have direct access to the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is rather like the hard drive on a computer; it remembers everything that has even happened in your life, has sorted through and stored all the information necessary for everyday functioning, controls the reflexes and movements of the body and processes information at the rate of four billion bits per second! While in hypnosis we are able to bypass the natural filtration system that exists between the conscious and subconscious mind, sometimes known as the “critical faculty”, and gain direct access to the vast store of memories, emotions, thoughts, ideas and other information in the subconscious mind to help uncover what may be impeding healing, learning, growth or the removal of outmoded ideas, unhealthy habits and the like. This is not a loss of control as many people still believe, hypnosis is actually a process through which greater self-control is achieved by tapping into the natural resources that already exist in the subconscious mind!
We are also much more open to suggestion while in hypnosis, so it makes it easier for positive suggestions for change to be imbedded into the subconscious mind in order to produce better results in conscious living. Quite simply, we learn more, we learn faster and with much greater success because of the direct access to the subconscious mind.
Indeed children from birth up to the age of six or seven are in a natural state of hypnosis pretty much constantly due to the vast amount of learning that occurs during that time in terms of motor skills, language, behaviour, cultural and social norms etc. This process has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with intelligence. Many doubters believe that only the weak minded can be hypnotized when oftentimes it is actually those who are capable of great focus, concentration and attention who find hypnosis an easily achievable condition. Hypnosis can actually be used as a tool to improve focus and concentration where lacking such as in ADD and ADHD.
The important things to remember with regard to hypnosis are; that it is a natural state that we are all capable of achieving on a daily basis, that it feels good and finally that hypnosis can be a safe, valuable tool for achieving greater awareness, learning better self-control and accessing information stored in the subconscious mind otherwise unavailable to the conscious mind for the purposes of healing, growth and positive change.

Author's Bio: 

Alison L. Longley is a Master of Clinical Hypnotherapy, certified practitioner of NLP, PSYCH-K, Heart Resonance energy work and HypnoBirthing prenatal education. She is the owner/operator of Breakthrough Wellness Centre in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada. For more information, please visit her website at: