Hypnosis is simply an altered state of conscious awareness. It's a light trance like state with varying degrees of consciousness - the levels range from a state of alertness to a sleep like state. It may be described as a narrowing of the focus of the mind, an experience that may be compared to day dreaming.

Hypnotic suggestion acts to bypass the conscious mind's natural resistance to change in order to reprogram the subconscious, which can permanently affect the positive changes the client desires.

In other words, it re-trains a persons’ subconscious belief system and allows them to overcome habits, phobias and other negative tendencies, providing the opportunity to change, grow and take those steps toward a new and more fulfilling state of total wellbeing. The process of working towards the desired goal occurs even though the conscious mind (your willpower) is not actively thinking about it.

Hypnosis can be a different experience for everyone, greatly influenced by each individual - however, it is a natural state of the mind and it is natural for all humans and many animals. Although there are varying methods of hypnotherapy, generally the therapist’s voice is used to induce a state of relaxation within the client.

A Brief History of Hypnotherapy

An etching of Mesmer's early 'hypnotherapy sessions'

Hypnotherapy is not a new form of treatment - it has a rich history stretching back over many years. Hypnotherapy in its more primitive form has been used for many centuries throughout the world by many different societies for the purpose of religious and healing ceremonies. For example, there have been reports of Indigenous Australians using it during Dreamtime, Native American medicine men using it for healing purposes, it being used during traditional rituals including chanting and dancing to the beat of drums in Africa, and hypnosis in the form of singing being used as relief from the deplorable conditions slaves were forced to work in America.

The roots of modern hypnosis can be traced back to founder Franz Anton Mesmer back in the early 1700s. In 1842, James Braid named Mesmer's technique "hypnotism" (from the Greek word for sleep, "hypnos"), even though the hypnotised person is not actually asleep. Hypnosis is a light trance like state with varying degrees of consciousness – the levels range from a state of alertness to a sleep like state, which inspired Braid's choice of name. Basically, the lights are on but nobody is at home!

During the war years, Ainsley Mears was known to use hypnotherapy as an anaesthetic to stop the pain for those injured in combat, highlighting its practical uses in medicine. 

The use of Hypnotherapy has increased steadily in popularity over the past several decades and is now recognized as a valuable tool to bring about positive changes in peoples lives. It is currently used today by politicians, ministers of religion, doctors, psychologists, therapists and of course television and radio. Yes, those ads we are constantly bombarded with are a form of hypnosis. Even though you may not pay them much conscious attention, you'd be surprised by the impression those advertisements can make on you - and all without your awareness.

You probably don't realize it, but hypnosis is part of your daily existence; you may experience varying degress of it simply by reading a book, watching a television program, or simply having a conversation with friends. Altered states of awareness are common in other areas of our daily lives, too: most of have us been driving down a familiar roadway only to realise that we've missed our turn. Experiences such as 'auto-pilot' or 'zoning out' are also had when watching television, hearing and seeing the program but not really absorbing what's happening on screen. 

What Can Hypnotherapy Help With?

A specialised hypnotherapy session can be used to assist treatment across a multitude of areas. Below is a list of some issues people commonly address with hypnotherapy, although this list is in no way extensive! The items that are highlighted are linked to dedicated pages that detail how hypnotherapy can help you manage them.

You can read a more extensive list of what Hypnotherapy can assist with at How Can Hypnotherapy Help You?

In general terms, hypnotherapy provides a fascinating new experience, can improve general functioning and can make you feel better both mentally and physically. It can enrich lives in many ways, from changing negative habits and promoting better health, to increasing creative development and high psychic levels. 

It improves sleep, reduces stress and can produce anaesthesia in the body, assisting with the control of painful symptoms. It can also aid in the control of some organic functions, such as bleeding and heart rate, improve your immune system and allow you a higher degree of control over reactions to certain situations. 

It can assist with increasing concentration, capacity to learn and memory function, both in terms of capacity and detail. 

Hypnotherapy is also used to help people acknowledge, confront and overcome difficulties and trauma from their past. It can compress a great deal of thinking and recall into a very short amount of real time and make possible partial age regression, by reliving an experience in the distant past just as it occurred, with the senses operating as they did at the time of the original experience. 

It has many advantages, from numbing sites of physical pain to controlling and ultimately overcoming mental obstacles such as fears and difficulty with external situations.

Hypnosis can change your life. If you are open to its healing properties and willing to let it, it can make a dramatic difference to your lifestyle, increasing your levels of success and feeling of well being. Ultimately though, you are the controlling factor and the driving force behind your own degrees of change.

Who Can Hypnotherapy Help?

Hypnosis isn't everyone’s cup of tea. However, the majority of people can use it to great effect - you just need to be open to the thought of possible change. There is really no age barrier with hypnotherapy. Children tend to be very receptive to its use as they don’t have as many preconceived ideas as an adult has, but any with an open mind can receive the benefits of a hypnotherapy session.

The only areas of contra-indication for the use of hypnotherapy are for people who suffer from psychotic disorders, have pace makers or use illegal drugs (illegal drug users must be drug free for a minimum of 4 days prior to undergoing a hypnotherapy session in order for it to be effective).

What Does Hypnotherapy Feel Like?

As mentioned above, you've probably already experienced an altered state of awareness to some degree. A hypnotherapy session can be thought of us similar to those experiences, but more intense.

Contrary to many peoples' beliefs, Clinical Hypnotherapy isn't about being on a stage or clucking like a chicken. Hypnotherapy actually offers a broad spread of therapeutic benefits to help you heal and boost your health.

Using a mix of relaxation techniques and guided imagery, our clinical hypnotherapist will guide you through a changed state of consciousness, into an entranced state of relaxation and awareness. This state, also known as a trance, allows you to become more aware of your habits, thought patterns or behaviours and replace them with healthier behaviours and beliefs.

While undertaking a session, you will find the mind relaxes and you will be able to slip into a dream-like state. You'll still be aware of what's going on around you, but your subconscious mind will step in and play a central role during the session. This will also improve your clarity of mind. To achieve this state, the Hypnotherapist will use various relaxation techniques to help you tune in to your body. 

During this time your nervous system relaxes and your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure slow down. As you are relaxed deeper the skilled hypnotherapist is able to safely access events, emotions and memories that have often been 'forgotten' by the conscious mind. The hypnotherapist will use various techniques to perhaps separate negative learned behaviours from the memories. 

You'll then be gently prompted to release old habits (such as smoking, weight release or any other negative process that may be taking place) and visualise yourself adopting new healthier habits, behaviours or beliefs (such as being a non-smoker, eating healthier or even feeling more confident).

It's common to feel a sense of strangeness or unreality - you may see yourself or your surroundings in a new way, either more detached or more connected than usual, with a sensation of drifting or floating.

Every person reacts differently, however, generally speaking you will be likely to experience relaxation, sleepiness, a rigidity or limpness in the muscles of the arms and legs, skin warmth or coldness, sensations of tingling or feelings of electricity, and narrowness of attention.

Hypnosis cannot make the client do or say anything that they do not wish to say or do, and gives you the choice to enter or leave the trance like state at any time.

Hypnosis is not harmful in any way. If left in a hypnotic state, either by the Hypnotherapist or through the extended play of a tape or CD, the client would simply either wake up of their own accord or fall asleep and awaken after a pleasant nap.

How Do I Book a Hypnotherapy Session with Karen?

To make an enquiry about how hypnotherapy can help you, please emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
If you'd like to make an appointment to see Karen at the Geelong Bodi and Mind practice, phone (03)-5223-2370.

You can follow Karen at her Facebook page - Karen Holt, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Counsellor.