Hypnosis: Bridging the mind-body connection
Bridging the mind-body connection
The idea of hypnosis conjures a variety of reactions from most people, but it's rare to find someone with no opinion at all regarding the validity of "being hypnotized". The strength of opinions generally fill a range from believers who have had first hand experience (or know someone who has), the curious who mistakenly like the idea of a process that "makes" things happen, to the skeptics who deny that hypnosis is even possible.
Acceptance of the effectiveness of hypnosis relies on an understanding of the theory of how our mind functions to process information, consciously, subconsciously, and unconsciously. Each level of consciousness serves a particular purpose in allowing us to perform daily tasks. The hypnotic process actually creates a bridge between the conscious and subconscious mind, much in the same way that the draw bridge was used in medieval castles to permit entry to welcomed visitors. In the case of hypnosis, we call these visitors "suggestions" and can ask them to stay permanently, or if they are unwelcome resident thoughts in our subconscious, we give them the boot!
The true power of hypnosis is in the permission and acceptance relationship of suggestions that occur during the hypnotic experience. The most common applications of hypnosis are for smoking (tobacco use) cessation, weight management, and the reduction of anxieties or phobias. Many times the public perception of hypnosis has been influenced by stage presentations which take on a theatrical quality and may diminish the credibility of the process itself. In fact, even the most skeptical skeptic has most likely experienced some level of hypnosis without being fully aware of it! There are a variety of subtle experiences and common occurrences that are actually states of hypnotic trance. Have you ever driven a distance and suddenly realized (woke up) to discover you had no recollection of the miles you traveled - even though it was you behind the wheel? Become so engrossed in a T.V. program, movie, book or conversation that you didn't hear the phone ring? Surprise, you have been in a hypnotic state!
Common misconceptions about hypnosis also deter many people from utilizing a very effective tool for creating change in their lives. Nobody wants to quack like a duck or bark like a dog as a result of being hypnotized for someone's enjoyment. In truth, no one can be made to do anything in hypnosis that is against their own basic moral or legal internal code of behavior. Remember, hypnosis is a permission based process, when you volunteer to get on stage, or turn that T.V. on, you are giving yourself permission to enter a trance-like state of consciousness.
Hypnotist or Hypnotherapist? The ability to perform hypnosis is simply a matter of receiving instruction in the methods of inducing a trance, which in effect is a deep state of physical and mental relaxation - getting the "guard" to put the draw-bridge down. With some training in self-hypnosis, individuals can actually induce a sufficient level of relaxation to be considered in a hypnotic state. Learning to perform hypnosis on other people varies greatly. Adding the letters, "C.Ht." (Certified Hypnotist) to your name, might be as simple as viewing online or video courses or participating in a weekend seminar. Becoming a hypnotherapist may require attending hours of classes with instructors certified to teach specialized methods of hypnotic induction, and is often restricted to individuals who meet other educational criteria. My training required 60 hours of class attendance (see http://www.healthepath.com/). For better or worse, calling oneself a hypnotist or hypnotherapist is not a closely regulated legal title in most states, including Missouri. In choosing either, it would be wise to consider the overall education, general qualifications and background of the individual, just as a state regulatory body might do.
The theories of hypnosis are based on very well researched psychological principles. It has been endorsed by the American Medical Association and is grounded in the fields of cognitive and neuro-psychology developed by psychiatrists such as Milton Erickson M.D., and the development of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) in the research of Richard Bandler Ph.D. and John Grinder Ph.D.
The use of hypnosis continues to grow and develop as the field of integrative therapies and advances in the understanding of mind-body healing practices gain acceptance. Perhaps it is time to wake up!