Hypnosis has been shown to be effective in dealing with a wide range of trauma-related issues. It is helpful in dealing with trauma from abuse of many kinds, PTSD and traumas from abandonment, bullying and failures or losses. It is, in general, quicker and more effective than other types of counseling or psychotherapy. It is not for everyone, but if people are open to trying it the success rate is very good. How and why does Hypnosis work in dealing with trauma and how is it different than other ways of dealing with it. It is also noteworthy to say that there is more than one way of using hypnosis to deal with trauma. In some cases, regression may be used to deal successfully with trauma and in other cases no regression is needed and other techniques may be used for reframing and changing mindset, fears and releasing energies and memories associated with the past traumas.
It is worth noting that The British Medical Council, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have all endorsed hypnotherapy as a valid therapeutic procedure for the treatment of PTSD.
How exactly does it work? Every Experience (both positive and negative) is stored in our brain encoding in neural connections. In our brain’s organizing system experiences or memories of a similar nature are stored or linked to those that are similar in nature. That is why a stimulus from one memory may bring up a similar memory or situation. The stimuli (such as sound, smell, song, color, voice tone) is called a trigger. An event that initiates trauma is different and usually painful and does not fall in with or connect easily with other life experiences. It is filed away in a special place, but still has its own set of stimuli associated with that event. Hypnosis can allow the patient to do a number of things which are helpful in healing trauma. First it is possible to isolate, retrieve and clarify the memory if needed. The client is looking at the trauma now from a more resourceful perspective and can allow them to see the situation resolved in a manner that brings calm, safety and a sense of accomplishment. Also, the client may be guided in visualizing a happy outcome and mastery over the fear or helplessness caused by the trauma. It can eliminate discomfort and anxiety and give the client the tools needed to reprogram their brain for better functioning and less anxiety and fear.
Hypnosis is powerful and deals with unlocking the subconscious mind. A qualified hypnotherapist can use it either by itself or in conjunct with other therapy. Knowing a lot about the client’s history and the nature of the trauma is very helpful in effectively using hypnosis. It must be used carefully. Defense mechanisms and blocking of traumatic memories serves a protective purpose and releasing these protective devices must be done with careful thought and intention. When done with a plan for replacing the panic with more positive and resourceful reactions it can be very helpful in permanently changing traumatic memory triggers.
In some cases, and with some clients it is possible to help the client look at the trauma from a new perspective where they are simply more capable and able to deal with the situation easily and without fear or panic. Seeing themselves in this new way will often be enough to eliminate future reaction to any triggers. Sometimes a past trauma may be modified with more information that was not available at the initial traumatizing event. This will often diminish its power.
So, the bottom line is that hypnosis is a tool that has the power to change and rewire the patterns and connections that stimulate the fear and panic reactions that are stored away in our subconscious. Through hypnosis those neural pathways can be replaced with more positive or resourceful reactions. It is a way of editing the story of the past, in order to create a better story in the present and the future.
When I went to training for my Life Coach Certification, which included hypnosis, I was open to learning hypnosis and I believed that it worked for some people, but like many others, I was a skeptic about what could be accomplished with hypnosis and specifically, whether I could be hypnotized. I also had some typical misconceptions about what hypnosis was and how it would feel to hypnotized. Therefore, it is no surprise to me that many other people and some of my potential clients have these views about hypnosis. I have expanded my views to become a big fan of what can be accomplished with this wonderful tool and an advocate for its many uses. As a practitioner, hypnosis allows me to help clients work through issues and make changes to get results in remarkably short time periods. I am able to help clients when everything else has failed and to do so in a way that avoids much of the pain and suffering that tends to be part of some other processes.
Getting back to the question, “Who Can Be Hypnotized? – with a few qualifications, almost everyone who is willing and open to being hypnotized can be hypnotized. Everyone does experience this wonderful state of enhanced or expanded awareness in a very natural way in your daily lives. Most people go into this natural, self-induced state of hypnosis on a frequently. It is a break in a way from all the distractions and demands on our attention. Yes, this is different than being led into a hypnotic state by a qualified hypnotist and allowing one’s self to experience hypnosis in this way is somewhat more difficult for some. We go into a natural state of hypnotic trance without even thinking about it when certain circumstances present themselves. To be hypnotized we must allow ourselves by agreement and trust to be led to this state by another. This is the part that can get tricky and results in some people being more resistant to moving into a state of hypnotic trance than others. It is also the aspect of “thinking” that can confuse the process and cause some people to resist transitioning into a hypnotic state. When we go into hypnosis naturally, we do so without thinking and thinking can get in the way. Our mind is, contrary to common belief, a single process mechanism with regard to what it can handle. Therefore, when we are busy engaging our conscious mind with thinking, we have difficulty switching over to the subconscious mind and slipping into that state of hypnotic trance that is fairly automatic. It is like trying to put your car on auto-pilot and steer at the same time. It just doesn’t work or defeats the purpose. Some people are reluctant to allow this transition, as it feels like giving up control, rather than going to a higher level of focus, as it actually is. For some it feels like they are giving over control to someone else and although this is incorrect, it feels that way and is therefore, difficult. Finally, there are the people who actually do go into a state of hypnosis, but don’t believe that they have been hypnotized because it just feels too normal to them and they expect it to feel different than it actually does. There are many factors that have influenced people to believe that they will be in some sort of other-worldly state of trance where they are being controlled by others or in a zombie-like state of being where something happens that is beyond their control. This is just not what hypnosis is and how it feels.
What is needed then, if almost anyone can be hypnotized, for someone to be hypnotized? To be hypnotized these conditions must be present:
These are the only two conditions that must be present, but there are other requisites that are very helpful. These would include the hypnotist being good at their craft and able to use different techniques to help different clients move into hypnotic trance and the client trusting the hypnotherapist and allowing themselves to relax into hypnosis as stated above.
It isn’t very complicated. Everyone can go into hypnosis if they want to. You have done so many times naturally in your life already and professional or therapeutic hypnotherapy is simply using this heightened state of awareness as a resource in helping you to work through issues that you want to resolve while you are in your most resourceful state and have the ability to resolve things quickly with great clarity. Yes, even you, can probably be hypnotized if you decide you want to be hypnotized, find a qualified hypnotherapist that you can trust, feel comfortable following instructions and choose to allow yourself to move in this wonderful state of heightened awareness. And yes, you can accomplish amazing things in this state, if what you want to accomplish is realistic and you believe it is achievable.
Hypnosis has been found to be very effective in the management and relief of pain. There are many studies and years of research to support this and many people who would attest to finding relief and being able to live their lives more productively through the use of hypnosis. The question then is how and why does hypnosis work so well for pain? To explain the very effective way hypnosis can help with pain management, we first have to understand what pain is and how it works in the communication system between our body and our brain. We have a very complex neural communication system that helps to keep us safe and healthy. According to the American Dictionary:
“Pain is an uncomfortable feeling that tells you something may be wrong. It can be steady, throbbing, stabbing, aching, pinching, or described in many other ways. Sometimes, it is just a nuisance, like a mild headache … Acute pain is usually severe and short-lived, and is often a signal that your body has been injured.”
The answer to the question “what is pain?” however, is more complex than you might think. You can not always draw a straight line between pain and damage or cause. Think of trauma or phantom limb pain where the painful body part no longer exists. It is complicated; however, scientists and neuroscience agree that pain is generally an unpleasant feeling that leads us to want to change our behavior and it is a very advanced protective mechanism.
Why is pain so complicated and generally misunderstood? How does it really work? First pain is a signal transmitted by danger receptors or nociceptors that send alerts to the brain, but they do not send “pain”, because all pain is made by the brain. It is not the bruise on your knee or your broken arm or ankle that the “pain” is coming from. Pain is your brain’s evaluation of information or data, including danger from the detection system that uses such reference points and cognitive data as expectations, previous experience, beliefs, cultural and social norms and sensory data. In responses, the brain produces pain as a signal, based on the information it has and sends out a signal to the body. It is usually fairly accurate, but sometimes does not have enough information or is relying on old information or patterns that are not totally accurate. There are all kinds of examples of our body getting signals that are not quite accurate, such as those mentioned above. However, most of the time pain is a good indicator that tells us not to lift or bend with our injured back, not to walk on our injured foot or to see a doctor or physical therapist to help with healing. The brain can also turn on pain or turn pain up when it receives evidence of danger and in this way is a protective mechanism. For instances, we might get a headache when we anticipate doing something that has previously caused us pain or injury.
Pain is additionally complicated because it is not just in the brain. The receptors or danger detectors that are the eyes of the brain are distributed across all the tissues of the body and form the neural system that is the brains messenger. So, this system is very sensitive to any changes in the body and ready to mobilize the body’s many mechanisms for alert, healing and repair. There are some conditions that can interfere with or inhibit optimal functioning of this system. There are substances that can numb the transmitters and allow severe tissue damage without indication of pain or heightened signals of pain when actual damage is not severe as the pain would indicate. Inflammation in the body, for instance, actually causes pain to be signaled at a sensitivity level that is far greater than what is actually happening in the body haor what would be felt if the inflammation were not present. that is why anti-inflammatories or reducing inflammations can reduce pain, even though the actual conditions, have not changed.
An example of how pain works that made a strong impression on me was a story I heard when I sat next to a Physical Therapist on a plane trip from Seattle to Boston. He explained pain to me this way:
Jared explained - His friend, who was an avid hiker in the Northwest went on a trip to Costa Rica. Since he hiked a lot in areas where there were no trails he was used to little pricks and scraps from bushes and underbrush and knew that is generally was not an indication of serious injury. So, when on a hike in Costa Rica he felt a prick on his ankle, he thought nothing of it. Not too long later, he found his ankle and leg swelling, painful and was unable to walk on it. His guides informed him that he had been bitten by a very deadly snake. He had to be airlifted back to the US and barely survived. It did not deter him from hiking, which he loved. However, on a hike in the Northwest, shortly after this incident he felt a prick similar to what he had felt in Costa Rica and even though he knew there were no deadly snakes to be bitten by, his ankle and leg swelled up and felt very much like it had when he had been bitten by the snake. The brain was going with the most recent data and information it had recently and decided that “the last time we felt this, we almost died” and so there was significant danger involved and sent signals and “pain” replicating that previous circumstances, even though in fact there was no substantial real danger at that time.
The Physical Therapist’s explanation made a strong impression on me and helped me both in understanding pain and understanding how hypnosis can be effective in helping to manage and relieve it. The next question then is, how does hypnosis work with the body and the brain in managing pain? this in no ways means that when we experience pain, we are imagining it, but that the body signals danger and draws from experience, so sometimes the signals do not mean what they seem and that we can take control of those signals to our advantage to help in managing pain.
Hypnosis is actually a heightened state of focus and awareness and is not sleep or an altered state of mind control, as popular belief has led us to believe. During hypnosis the patient is completely aware of what is going on and can stop the process at any time. The client must trust the hypnotist for the process to be effective, but hypnosis is actually a very normal process that occurs in our daily lives. During hypnosis subjects are very responsive to suggestion and this can be used in a positive way by the hypnotist with regard to pain. Relaxation, focused attention, creative imaginary and some hypnotic phenomena are used in hypnosis to help the patient manage and relieve pain, usually very effectively, using the body's own mechanisms.
An article from June 2012, http://theconversation.com/explainer-how-does-hypnosis-relieve-pain-7060 explains the technical way this works with some advanced measurement tools we now are able to use:
Advances in brain function imaging using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning techniques have allowed us to see that hypnosis modulates activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, which links the limbic (emotions) and sensory cortical areas of the brain during hypnotic pain relief. This appears to allow sensations that would normally be experienced as painful to no longer have the suffering or negative emotions that would normally be associated with them.
A labor contraction, for example, can be felt as either the most terrifying and painful of sensations or a wonderfully fulfilling experience that tells the mother she is getting closer to her baby. These very different perceptions may be experienced despite the intensity of uterine contractions being identical.
This is really amazing evidence that hypnosis is effective in allowing us to get a handle on pain and better manage and use this amazing system that our body already has in place to help us in dealing with danger, injury and illness and to help keep us safe and in good health. As I hypnotherapist, I recently updated my certifications with advanced training and certification in Medical Hypnosis from the ICBCH. It is so gratifying to help people in dealing with pain and its immense impact on the quality of our lives.
It is a long-held belief that there is some kind of magic or wizardry to hypnosis, a kind of woo-woo that is beyond explanation and certainly out of the whelm of logic and science. Is this the case or has hypnosis gotten a bad rap? Personally, I do believe that there is a magic to hypnosis, but it is not the type of magic that involves hocus pocus and woo-woo wizardry. It is more the magic of the mind and going beyond previously established limitations. It is the astounding and miraculous realization that we do not know the powerful limits of the mind and the human spirit. Through hypnosis we can explore these limits and, in that regard, it is a magical tool. This statement from the North Carolina Society of Hypnotherapists http://nchypnosis.org/what-is-hypnosis/)
characterizes hypnosis well:
“It’s not like what you see in the movies.
Hypnosis is a natural state of selective, focused attention, and, even though it is 100% natural and normal, it remains one of the most fascinating phenomena of the human mind. Our ability to enter this unique state of consciousness opens the door to countless possibilities for healing, self-exploration and change. Hypnosis, called by different names in different cultures and times, has been recognized for thousands of years and used for many purposes.”
When we watch stage hypnosis we are further led to believe that hypnosis is, at least, slight of hand, if not wizardry. It implies that people can be led to do things they would not otherwise do and perhaps they are unaware of and unwilling participates in the process. This is definitely not the case and a huge misconception. We cannot be controlled or made to do anything we are not willing to do while hypnotized. Hypnosis is actually a state of heightened awareness. It is a state of suggestibility, but no one can be made to do anything that is against their will or values. People will sometimes go along with what is being suggested to them, but it is a matter of choice and they probably have some inclination to want to experience whatever they are participating in.
How does hypnosis actually work and what is magical about it? Hypnosis works using relaxation, focused attention, creative imagery, neuro-patterning and hypnotic phenomena to reach a state of heightened awareness and suggestibility bypassing the conscience mind and putting us in direct contact with the powerful sub-conscious mind. We are constantly discovering new limits to what can be done with the sub-conscious mind. For instances, with hypnosis time travel is an everyday occurrence. We take our clients on a journey backward or forward in their lives and sometimes even beyond and through this “time travel” produce amazing healing and emotional release. We help our clients release trauma and erase the wounds of the past. We can future pace them to achieving goals and dreams they once believed to be impossible. There is no stronger magic or more powerful wizardry than giving people the power to create their own reality and success. In my own practice, I call myself a “Change Adventure Navigator”, as I guide my clients through this amazing journey to places they have never been and anywhere they want to go. To our sub-conscious minds imagining an experience is as powerful and has the same effects as the actual experience.
The beauty of hypnosis is that is takes advantage of the natural mechanisms of our mind/body integration and is largely a process of clearing away the dysfunction and setting us back on our natural course. It is a process that uses how things work to achieve desired results. With hypnosis we can time travel, fly, be anything or anyone we might imagine and become our own Super Hero! What could be more magical?
“I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith.” --
R. A. SALVATORE, Streams of Silver
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or Tapping, as it is frequently called, is both a therapy modality and a self-help technique which uses light pressure in the form of gentle tapping on the acupressure meridians while focusing attention to neutralize negatives. It was started by Gary Craig in 1992, based on research from Dr. Ronald Callahan and his TFT and other work in the field of Energy Psychology. Gary Craig thought that all of the physical and emotional problems or illness people experience were created by blockages in the energy flow through our bodies. This is similar to ideas behind Traditional Chinese Medicine. He related this as very similar to the way electricity flows through a circuit. If there is a blockage or disruption the electrical circuitry does not work and will short out. EFT is a system and methodology for dealing with this and is used to neutralize negatives.
EFT can be approached from the emotional side, physical side or doing something called, "Tap and Talk", where the client simply taps while talking and relating a story or experience. By emotional side, I mean that you could, for example, work on feeling anxious. By physical side, it means you could work on physical pain or discomfort that you are feeling, such as tension or pain in your shoulders (resulting from anxiety). I like to work from the physical side when possible, because it is usually specific and easy to pinpoint. This is called "Chasing the Pain". How it works is -- you tap on the pain and it will eventually lessen and subside. There is a distraction element to this. It has been found that it will usually move to a different location and you then continue to tap on each location, usually moving downward. The theory is that eventually the pain will move down to the feet and flow out of the body. They have found, amazingly, - that when the pain flows out of the body, the emotional issue associated with it is also gone. And, in reverse, when you work from the emotional side, the physical pain or discomfort will also be gone. The "Talk and Tap" works similarly but tends to be less specific and therefore can take longer but can be very cathartic for the client.
So, what exactly is the process? You start by setting up the tapping session. You tap 4-7 times gently on what they call the "Karate Chop Point" located on the soft fleshy outer edge of the hand. At the same time, you repeat, "Even though I have pain in my shoulders and upper back (if you are doing Chasing the Pain), I deeply and completely accept myself!". After 4-7 taps, repeating those same words, you go to the second tapping point, which is the meridian on the top of the head, then inner edge of eye brow, outer edge of eye brow, under the eye, under the nose, under the chin, under the collar bone, under the armpit (all at meridian point) (see diagram below). You keep doing this tapping and repetition until the pain or the issue subsides - checking in with where you are on an intermittent basis.
I love EFT (Tapping) used in conjunction with other therapies, as it gives the client relief and also, a tool they can use while you are getting to the triggers and resolving issues. It can be used without the client ever talking about their story or initial traumas and can be used with very private issues without the therapist ever even knowing the details. Re-traumatization, which can be a factor in PTSD, can also be avoided.
There are other and more advanced techniques in EFT, such as, 9-gamut, and matrix re-imprinting, but here I just wanted to give you a basic overview and understanding of how and why EFT works and has become a standard modality for working with clients on a variety of issues. It can seem a little weird at first but has a high success rate and since it can also be done at home by the client, as a self-help tool, it has gained great popularity.
There are many online resources and videos on EFT (tapping) that you can watch and get a good idea of how it is done. Anyone can do tapping and you might want to give it a try by linking to one of those resources,
A trained EFT practitioner can be helpful in guiding clients through issues and resolving specific problems quickly and permanently. I find it has become a regular part of my work with clients and an addition to coaching, hypnotherapy, NLP and sometimes, Reiki. Have a bright and beautiful day and tap into the positive side of life!
Hypnosis is a heighten state of suggestibility and therapy modality, as well as, a self-help technique and a stage entertainment. It has been around for a long time and there are many methods of use for hypnosis. It is actually a very natural state that we have all experienced. It can be used in a therapeutic setting to help us in dealing in many ways. Over the years, the portrayal of hypnosis in stage shows and in movies and television or books has led to many myths and misconceptions about hypnosis. It has a mysterious reputation in many regards that is not deserved.
I would like to clear up some of those myths and provide a better idea of what hypnosis is and what it is not. As a double certified Master Hypnotherapist, hypnosis is one of the most valuable tools I use in helping clients to move forward and make the changes they want to achieve their dreams and goals or find a sense of peace in their lives.
#1 – Only those who are weak-willed or gullible can be hypnotized.
False: Anyone with an IQ over 70, a willingness to be hypnotized and the ability to focus and follow simple instructions can be hypnotized. Recent studied have confirmed that different people may need different methods to induce hypnosis, but if they are willing they can be hypnotized.
#2 – Hypnosis is mind control and may cause you to loss conscious or have amnesia.
False: In hypnosis, the client is never under the control of the hypnotist. They remain totally conscious and generally have a heightened sense of focus and awareness. The hypnotist is simply a facilitator guiding the client through the process. It is extremely difficult to get someone to do something under hypnosis that they do not want to do. That being said, stage hypnotists do get people to do some strange things. The explanation for this, is that those who volunteer are generally inclined to be more extroverted and in a state of exhilaration caused by the show and stage excitement. They are inclined to go along with silly suggestions, much like those who behave out of character when intoxicated of in a party atmosphere.
#3 – Hypnosis is like a truth serum and you cannot lie while hypnotized.
False: This is blatantly false. People can and do lie as easily when hypnotized, as not and cannot be made to confess or tell the truth, if they are otherwise inclined.
#4 – Hypnosis is dangerous and you might get stuck in hypnosis.
False: Once again, blatantly false! Hypnosis is a natural state that we have all experienced and go in and out of every day. Just before falling sleep, upon waking and while watching TV, movies, sometimes while driving on the highway or reading a book are common times when people enter an “environmental hypnosis”. It is not possible to get stuck in hypnosis even if the hypnotist does not count you out, you will emerge from hypnosis as soon as your body and mind enter a new state and can be done by yawning, stretching or move to a new position.
#5 – Hypnosis is a “Miracle Cure” that works for everyone and everything.
False: While hypnosis is very effective there is nothing that works for everything and everyone and it cannot be guaranteed to work. It is highly dependent on the motivation of the client whether it will be effective.
#6 – Hypnosis is Sleep!
False: Even though the Hypnotist may say “Sleep!” while inducing hypnosis, the client is not asleep! They may have their eyes closed, but they are aware of their surroundings, have a heightened sense of focus and will generally remember everything that is happening.
#7 – Hypnosis is witchcraft or against religion.
False: Hypnosis has no links to witchcraft or black magic and is not mentioned in the Bible or has no connection to any religion. It is a natural state and will with heightened focus and awareness and will not make any inclined or susceptible to any evil or negative influences that they would not otherwise, be inclined toward.
#8 – Hypnotists are flamboyant or weird!
False: While this may be true for some individuals or stage hypnotists, it is definitely not a characteristic or requirement for the field.
#9 – Hypnosis will retrieve lost memories
Maybe: While it is possible to retrieve some lost memories through hypnosis, memories are fragile and “not always even true”. There is no guarantee that memories will be retrieved or that what you recall is exactly how things happened. It is always a recalled perception. Hypnosis is, however, effective in many cases at helping to retrieve desired memories.
#10 – Self-Hypnosis is the same as hypnosis by a professional Hypnotist.
False: While self-hypnosis is a useless state and can be of value, it is not the same and can take you to the same level of hypnosis and professional guided hypnosis.
These are some of the top myths about hypnosis. I hope I have cleared up some misconceptions and you have a better idea of what hypnosis is and feel more comfortable with it. It can be a valuable tool in helping people get past trauma and make desired life changes or build positive habits. It is one of the modalities I use in my Life Coaching and is amazingly fast and effective. Are there any other beliefs you might have about Hypnosis that you are not sure about? I will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have or set up a “Discovery Session” to see if hypnosis would be useful for you.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Ask a question via the comment form on the blog or call: 206-566-1615.
About the Author
Kate Olson, CPC, CHt, is a Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP Master Practitioner & Certification Trainer, EFT Practitioner and Reiki Master practicing in Seattle at Embrace Change Hypnosis & NLP and Northern Lights Life Coaching .
She offers workshops & classes, as well as, individual and group coaching. Her emphasis is on assisting clients in finding path, purpose and peace. Kate focuses on integration of mind, body, spirit wellness with all of her businesses. It is her mission to help clients find joy through connection, creative expression and change facilitation. Kate is a speaker, writer and radio show host of "Embrace Change with Kate" on Contact Talk Radio, in additional to her private practice. She is passionate about creativity, travel, personal growth and living with joyful purpose. Kate's businesses operate as Dba's under Total Well Resources, LLC.