What is Hypnosis?

What, Exactly, is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a natural state of deep relaxation and heightened awareness that can be reached in a matter of minutes. It has been compared to meditation and to “flow state” in terms of narrowed focus and a shifting sense of the passage of time.

During hypnosis, your attention is so keenly focused that the rest of the world falls away, allowing you to concentrate on making positive changes and progress. It does not feel as if you are ‘under’ as you see in the movies. In fact, it is more like how you might feel while driving a car - you are completely aware and able to step on the brakes if needed, and at the same time, you can be lost in a pleasant daydream.

At all times - you are in control.

How does Hypnosis work?

Hypnosis is very similar to guided meditation. But hypnotherapy is much more than a state of relaxation and tranquility — it’s also a form of therapy that can be used to treat a variety of concerns.Hypnotherapy is useful for treating complaints such as phobias, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, ADHD, trauma, stress, and grief.

Similar to guided meditation, your therapist speaks in a calm, slow voice using pleasant imagery to guide you into a calm state of mind. Once you’ve reached this calm, hypnotic state, your hypnotherapist uses suggestion to guide you away from painful rumination and toward solutions to your problems. This immersed concentration can open the mind to new experiences, suggestibility, and positive transformation.

Brain-imaging studies show higher activity in the prefrontal cortex, parietal networks, and anterior cingulate cortex during hypnosis for suggestible subjects. These areas of the brain account for complex functions like processing emotions, learning, and perception and memory. Additionally, hypnosis has a calming effect on regions of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and other autonomic functions, leading to a state of deep relaxation.

When you are in a relaxed state, the mind is better able to problem-solve and you are more receptive to getting in touch with those parts of you that want to make a change. In other words, you are so aware of how much you want to change when you are in this state, that it makes it easier for you to make that change.

This is not of the therapist's will - but your will. You are the one who wants to change habits, sleep better, or be less depressed or anxious. You may, however, be blocked from finding ways to solve it on your own. The use of hypnosis within the therapy context can be especially beneficial in addressing problems related to stress, trauma, grief, phobias, anxiety, sleep issues, pain management, eating disorders and depression.

Is Hypnosis Effective?

Hypnosis, when combined with other therapeutic approaches, is evidence-based and has its own supporting statistics. Time and again, hypnosis has provided better client outcomes in combination with traditional therapy than can be found with traditional therapy techniques alone.

A 1995 analysis by the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology consisted of eighteen studies that compared therapy used with and without the complement of hypnosis. It was demonstrated that “the addition of hypnosis substantially enhanced treatment outcome” — to the extent that the average hypnosis client showed improvement greater than at least 70% of non-hypnosis clients.

Another study published by the same journal examined the effectiveness of combining hypnosis with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for addressing acute stress disorder, and researchers concluded that hypnosis produced a greater reduction in symptoms than when CBT was used alone.

Do I Have to Do Therapy or Can I Just Do Hypnosis?

Hypnosis can be beneficial for some things on its own (like public speaking or relaxation), but can only be done effectively for anything mental health-related when combined with other therapy modalities, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), or psychodynamic therapy.

This is important for two main reasons:

First, only mental health professionals have adequate training to address mental health concerns (such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc). For instance, all of our therapists have doctorates in Psychology, which means that we all completed years of extensive training that allow us to diagnose and treat different conditions, being well versed in all the effective therapy techniques and the latest research associated with those conditions. Someone who is not trained in mental health will not have such training which could have negative consequences.

The second reason is that there is very little or no evidence suggesting that hypnosis alone could treat mental health conditions, whereas the research on the integration of the two is very well documented. Of note, all of the research listed on our site is on the efficacy of hypnosis in addition to other traditional therapy techniques. As such, we practice in a way that aligns with the best standards of the American Psychological Association (APA).

For instance, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to help a client understand how their unwanted behaviors are tied to their thoughts and feelings, and to refocus and replace problematic thinking with more constructive perspectives. Hypnosis supports this work by allowing the client to implement these changes in a deeply relaxed and open state, which can lead to more rapid change.

Backed by research, hypnosis is extremely effective in a therapeutic setting. Hypnosis is a powerful form of therapy that when combined with traditional therapy, is a constructive tool for changing behaviors and for exploring root causes of a variety of problems — like anxiety, phobias, sleep disturbances, and more. This integrative approach promotes real and lasting change.

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How We Work