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Is there a difference between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy?

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Hypnosis is the process of getting a person into a state of feeling relaxed and then making suggestions usually drawing upon pre-prepared scripts.

Hypnotherapy utilizes the state of hypnosis in conjunction with solution-focused counseling to create a specific hypnotic session that is customized for you.

Scripts and hypnosis: A hypnotist (not a hypnotherapist) will mainly use relaxation and scripted hypnotic suggestions to address the behavior you want to change. For example, hypnotist may ask a client to associate a nasty, disgusting substance with the food or drug they are addicted to.  In other words they create a negative association. However, it doesn’t necessarily address the underlying causes for the client’s behaviour. Is the client eating because they are filling an empty emotional space inside? Or because eating is how love is shown in the family? Or they have always been praised for a ‘healthy appetite”? Or do they eat when they are bored, frustrated or stressed and this distracts them from the discomfort? Or did they have a period of food shortages when they were very, very young and the body is remembering “there is never enough”? The underlying reasons for eating beyond what is healthy are as varied as the individuals who come for help. You can see that to be really effective the client needs to get to the crux or underlying pattern of their issue.

What about relaxation and guided meditation? Most professional counsellors have learned how to help their clients relax whether by using mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation or guided meditations. These are very helpful in general terms – feeling relaxed and mindful are excellent tools for self-awareness.  Again, they do not address the underlying patterns that have been laid down in what is called the unconscious or subconscious mind.

Our mind is generally thought of as having two parts; the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Now the conscious mind and subconscious mind are not physical structures in our brain. Rather they have roles and functions. The conscious mind is the logical, analytical part of our minds. It’s the part of the mind that gives you reasons for why you do what you do. Your conscious mind also deals with your willpower and temporary memory. Your conscious mind is what you use most of the time. Cognitive therapists typically work with the conscious mind, which, it is estimated, comprises 10% of the individual’s total being. However, research shows that most of our decisions and choices are made by our unconscious or subconscious mind (which is 90% of our mind).  It works outside of our conscious mind’s awareness. This means our conscious mind goes searching for the good reason to have made the decision after the decision has already been made.

The subconscious mind is where your emotions reside and emerge from. This part of your mind does not analyze. This part of the mind is “who you are”. It’s the database of all your experiences, creativity, spirituality, beliefs and ideas. The reason hypnotherapy works so well with this part of the mind is because it doesn’t analyze information. It just accepts things as they come so long as they are good for you. So in other words, when a hypnotherapist offers a suggestion, it can go right into your subconscious mind and your database of experiences. To this part of the mind, if a suggestion gets through, it’s treated as already real.

Interestingly the conscious mind does not go completely offline. It relaxes enough to let your choices and options widen and stays attentive enough to check suggestions in relation to your values and goals. You could say it’s still watching for anything that might not be a good fit with your conscience, and other than being alert for that, it’s just relaxing and enjoying a mini vacation.

Hypnotherapy is a strategic, solution-focused and individually tailored.  We harness the power of the subconscious mind and invite the conscious mind to enact the changes you want to make in real time in the real world. If you are seeing a hypnotherapist you should find that they have been trained in both clinical hypnosis and counseling or psychotherapy.