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What is hypnosis / hypnotherapy?

The term ‘hypnosis’ was coined around 200 years ago by a Scottish physician called Dr James Braid from the Greek ‘hypnos’, meaning ‘sleep.’ That’s not particularly helpful, as the hypnotic state is closer to wakefulness than sleep. I prefer to define ‘hypnosis’ by what it does, which in short is create a hyper-suggestible state of mind that makes therapy more effective.

Before going deeper into how that works, it would be helpful to dispel some of the many misperceptions about hypnotherapy.

  • First off, it’s not passive therapy where your issues get magically fixed without any effort on your part.  Effective hypnotherapy is a team effort requiring your active involvement.

  • It won’t render you submissive, even during hypnosis. Throughout the session, you remain in control and aware of what is going on. You can be active during the experience, talking if necessary, or making yourself more comfortable. And there is no danger of getting ‘stuck,’ zombie-like, in hypnosis.


Hypnotherapy is basically a combination of hypnosis and psychological therapy and counselling. The therapy strategies and techniques help clients make positive change in their lives, and the relaxed hypnotic state makes their delivery by a trained professional more effective.

Unlike many psychological therapies, Hypnotherapy is generally a fairly short-term approach because it empowers people to make change for themselves. Rather than being dependent on a therapist to deliver change, Hypnotherapy helps people access their inner potential. How long this takes will depend on a number of factors, including a person’s needs and their trust and confidence in the therapist.


However, in general, success for relevant conditions can be achieved in relatively few sessions. Conditions that are amenable to Hypnotherapy are those where accessing the subconscious mind can help. These include stress, anxiety, phobias, addiction, insomnia, lack of confidence, allergies, skin disorders, migraines and poor digestion. It can also help with pain and anger management. In many cases, the first step is de-hypnosis to rid negative thought patterns.

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