There are many different definitions of hypnosis. Wikipedia offers this one– “Hypnosis is a state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion.” Stated another way, hypnosis is the naturally occurring state in which a person’s attention is focused inward, while at the same time, they become less aware of their immediate surroundings.
The hypnotic state is relatively easy for a skilled practitioner to achieve with anyone. The “magic” of hypnotherapy occurs in the quality of interaction between the client and the hypnotherapist. A skilled hypnotherapist will use the trance state to help the client make changes at the unconscious level that govern feelings and behaviors that are not serving the client now. The effectiveness of a hypnosis treatment session will be determined by the choices the practitioner makes during the session, combined with the client’s ability to accept the suggestions and to integrate them into their conscious behaviors. The practitioner has a big responsibility in choosing the precise suggestions that they believe will make a difference to the client, and then in delivering those suggestions in a way that they will be accepted.
Let me demonstrate the degree of precision with which the unconscious functions. I was working with a client many years ago, in this case my niece who was staying with us for a few months. She wanted to stop drinking Diet Coke, for all the right reasons. While in trance, I gave her the suggestion (in keeping with her stated goals of living a more healthy life style) that she would no longer like the taste of Diet Coke, and that she would enjoy taking walks in the nearby park. She took her 1st long walk shortly after our session. The following day, she went food shopping with my wife, and returned without Diet Coke. She did buy regular Coke, completely unaware of why she made her new choice. I hypnotized her again, this time giving her the suggestion that she would not like any colored carbonated beverage, as I wanted to allow her the full choice of any juices. Upon returning from her next trip to the supermarket, she came back with Diet Sprite. Once again, in a trance, I gave her the suggestion of not drinking any flavored carbonated beverage. Third time was the charm.
To the point– the practitioner must be highly skilled and very precise in offering the most beneficial suggestions that align with the client’s stated goals. The unconscious mind is completely literal, and so the suggestions must be made in such a way as to prevent anything except the intended change to take place. Here is where the skill and experience of the practitioner are key.
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