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What Is Clinical Hypnosis?

what is clinical hypnosis?

What is clinical hypnosis? In the hypnotic state, the individual becomes extremely relaxed and has an increased ability to concentrate and focus which, in turn, can allow him/her to become more receptive to, and respond more positively to, therapy.

Hypnosis, per se, is not a therapy, but, rather, a tool that can increase the effectiveness of therapies administered to the individual whilst that individual is in hypnosis.

When hypnosis is used in this way (as a medium through which other therapies are delivered), it is referred to as hypnotherapy or clinical hypnosis.

Therefore, a person is not actually treated with hypnosis, but, rather, whilst in hypnosis.

Why Might A Therapy Be More Effective When Received In The Hypnotic State ?

It has been theorized that when in hypnosis the individual enters a state of altered consciousness (see below) that, temporarily, dampens down the activity of the conscious/rational parts of the brain which, in turn, allows the therapy being received greater access to the subconscious and, therefore, makes it more likely to help the individual overcome dysfunctional thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Hypnosis And Brain Wave Studies: 

When in hypnosis, there is increasing evidence to suggest the individual has entered an altered state of consciousness. For example, there are three types of normal consciousness :

  • rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (dreaming)
  • non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep (non-dreaming sleep)
  • being awake

By using brain scanning techniques to monitor brain activity it has been found that, when in hypnosis, the brain produces a different brain-wave pattern when compared to the brain wave patterns generated by each of the above three states of normal consciousness.

Which Therapies May Be Integrated With Hypnosis In Order To Augment Their Effects?

Hypnosis can be used as a tool to increase the effectiveness of various therapies and therapeutic techniques including the following:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • person-centered counselling
  • solutions focused therapy
  • cognitive analytic therapy
  • eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • therapeutic suggestions
  • exposure therapy
  • free association
  • physical and mental relaxation
  • exposure therapy

Those trained in the use of clinical hypnosis include some doctors, some psychiatrists, some psychologists, some dentists and some practitioners of various types of psychotherapy.


Newcomers to the field of hypnotherapy have often heard things said about it by non-experts. Some of these things may be true, but other things may well be untrue. In this brief article, then, I thought I would clear up some of the misconceptions by exposing ten myths about hypnosis.


1) WHEN YOU ARE HYPNOTIZED, YOU ARE ASLEEP – in fact, the person under hypnosis is fully aware of what is going on and is NOT asleep or unconscious. For example, if there was the noise of traffic outside of the consulting room window, the hypnotized person would be capable of hearing it just as well as the hypnotherapist if he chose to attend to it, even deep in hypnosis.

2) THE HYPNOTIZED PERSON IS ‘UNDER THE CONTROL’ OF THE HYPNOTHERAPIST – untrue.The hypnotized person is fully able to exercise free-will and cannot be made to do anything s/he does not wish to do.

3) THE PERSON BEING HYPNOTIZED MUST GAZE AT A SWINGING WATCH OR SIMILAR ITEM – no, this is incorrect. In fact, most hypnotherapists do not use any physical objects to help them hypnotize the client whatsoever – instead, they just use the sound of their own voice and, perhaps, some relaxing background music.

4) YOU CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE PERIOD IN WHICH YOU WERE HYPNOTIZED – this is another mistaken belief. This in an idea which comes from the spectacle of stage hypnosis which is carried out for dramatic effect. After undergoing therapeutic hypnosis, the person who was hypnotized is able to remember everything, and, indeed, will almost certainly remember some of the suggestion made by the hypnotherapist whilst s/he was under hypnosis better than s/he normally would.

5) YOU NEED TO LIE DOWN TO BE HYPNOTIZED – no. The therapist will most frequently ask the client to sit in a comfortable chair.

6) YOU CAN BE MADE TO REVEAL SECRETS WHEN YOU ARE UNDER HYPNOSIS – this is another misconception. Just as you have voluntary control over what you do or don’t do during hypnosis, so, too, you have full control over what you say and don’t say.

7) IT IS POSSIBLE TO GET ‘STUCK’ IN THE HYPNOTIC TRANCE – this is incorrect. Hypnosis is just a deep state of relaxation. You can choose to come out of this relaxed state just as easily as you could choose to come out of a non-hypnotic relaxed state.

8) YOU DO SILLY THINGS WHEN HYPNOTIZED – no. Again, this idea comes from stage hypnosis which is a very different thing from therapeutic hypnosis. As already stated, during a hypnotherapy session you cannot be made to do anything that you do not wish to do.

9) YOU ARE ONLY HYPNOTIZED IF YOU CANNOT HEAR WHAT THE HYPNOTHERAPIST IS SAYING – actually, the opposite is true, during hypnosis the client tends to be very focused on the therapists suggestions.

10) HYPNOSIS ‘ANTI-RELIGIOUS’ – another complete myth. There is nothing whatsoever supernatural about hypnosis. Hypnosis is essentially just a very relaxed state in which the client tends to become more receptive to therapeutic suggestions. It is based on scientific theory and is backed by scientific research. It is no more ‘anti-religious’ than taking an afternoon doze.


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).