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What is Hypnosis and How it Works in Hypnotherapy

What is hypnosis

Hypnosis is a natural state. You probably have been in hypnosis many times without knowing it. It happens to everybody, children and adults, in every day life and on special occasions.

Hypnosis is the original mind-body medicine. It has been in use forever, every natural mind-body healing is based, more or less, on hypnosis. The essence of hypnosis is the intense concentration on the chosen subject and the exclusion of everything else.

Every hypnosis is self-hypnosis – only you can concentrate your mind on a chosen topic. To be hypnotized by somebody else you need to cooperate. Nobody can hypnotize you against you will.

But what exactly is hypnosis? Nobody knows yet. There are many theories, many researches. Is it surprising? Who knows, for example, what is the mind?

Hypnosis and meditation
Hypnosis is very similar to meditation, and quite often what people call meditation is in fact hypnosis. Both hypnosis and meditation use the same alerted, meditative state, so it feels very similar. The difference is that in hypnosis you achieve the meditative state and then go ahead to do some work on yourself to achieve your goal. In meditation, the goal is the meditative state.  Note that the so called ‘guided meditation’, when one person says what to do and others listen is in fact hypnosis.

Hypnosis and relaxation
The hypnotic state is sometimes assumed to be just a deep relaxation. Most techniques used to induce and deepen the hypnotic state contain suggestions of relaxations. Clients usually enjoy being comfortable and relaxed during their session. And since we all are so tensed and stressed in our everyday lives, being able to completely relax could just be the main goal of hypnosis.

The truth is that it is easier to achieve the full relaxation in the hypnotic state. Hypnosis and relaxation seem to be connected, but the hypnosis can be achieved without relaxation, for example when you are performing some physical activity, like walking or running, or playing tennis. So relaxation is rather one of the goals you can achieve during hypnosis. Not the hypnotic state itself.

Hypnosis and sleep
Hypnos was a Greek god of sleep. When hypnosis was first discovered, it was thought to be a sleep. But there are differences. During sleep we drift off, we loose focus, while in hypnosis we are very alert and interested in the mental adventure. It may look similar, because it is easier to focus on the particular inner image when you close your eyes.

How does hypnosis work?

During hypnosis you respond to suggestions which may change your life. Hypnosis manages to change the way your brain interprets experiences.  


When you are in hypnosis you are in a state of deep concentration. You are extremely focused and paying attention to the hypnotist’s words while ignoring everything else going on around you. The conscious mind is switched off and you can access the resources of your unconscious mind . The ideas and suggestions given by hypnotists are absorbed by your unconscious mind and become part of your acting and thinking. The deepest levels of your mind can be reached, the big storage of memories and feelings, and your perceptions, thoughts, behavior and feelings can be changed. 

Can the hypnotist force me to do something against my will? 

No. When you are in hypnosis, you are still alert, you know what you are doing, and any suggestion which does not agree with you internal values will simply not work. So the hypnotist cannot ask you to take your clothes off and to dance on the roof – unless this is what you want. But if it is something against you ethical code, or something you do not want to do, you will simply wake up from hypnosis.

Hypnosis relies on cooperation (remember – every hypnosis is self-hypnosis). The hypnotists cannot even give you a successful suggestion to stop smoking if you do not want to quit. For example, if the only reason for your treatment is to stop your wife nagging you about quitting, but you enjoy your smoke and you do not have any intention to stop.

However, there is an exception. This would not happen in the therapeutic situation, but rather when, for example, kidnapped by a terrorist or during interrogation in some totalitarian regime. Your suggestibility can be increased by starvation, prohibiting you from sleeping and some other brainwashing techniques. This would require days of isolation and other means than just a comfortable chair.  

Your therapist is probably like me a member of a respectable hypnotists association with strong ethics, which are very strictly observed. But even if she is not, it is in his interest to behave in an ethical way – otherwise she would not earn a penny.  

How will I act when I am in hypnosis? Can I embarrass myself ?

Most likely you will not do anything, you will just relax, enjoy and listen. Sometimes you may get emotional, but that’s all. And you will not be on stage, so you cannot embarrass yourself in any way. You will be in a private room, just with the therapists, who is bound by very strict rules of ethics to keep the session absolutely confidential.


It is quite possible that you know hypnosis from some stage show, or TV. Stage hypnosis is different. The hypnotists is an entertainer, so you saw the hypnotized people acting like chicken or quacking like a duck. But how does the hypnotists select these people? They are the people who want to be on stage, who want to be hypnotized and have a good laugh. So they cooperate and everybody has fun.


Your therapist will not make you quack. Unless, of course, your goal is to improve your quacking (you may want a role of Donald Duck on the school show).


How can hypnosis help me?

Clinical hypnosis can help you understand and regulate your behavior, alter your thoughts, achieve your goals and dreams, improve your physical wellbeing. Clinical hypnosis is a much under utilized therapeutic tool.


  • Hypnosis can help you have better health. It is often a treatment of choice for the health problems, because it is noninvasive and relatively inexpensive.

  • Hypnosis is very effective for stress control and stress related symptoms, for example insomnia.

  • Hypnosis is a traditional tool of pain control.

  • Hypnosis can help you in your personal life:

- It can help you stop smoking
- It can help you stop drinking alcohol or get rid of other addiction
- It can help you to loose/gain weight
- It can help with relationships
- It can improve your social life


  •  Hypnosis can help you change a troublesome behavior, like nail biting.

  •  Hypnosis is very successful for treatment of phobias.

  •  Hypnosis can help you with studying.

  •  Can help you with sport achievements.

  • And so on, and so on. Just find a goal, and it can be achieved.

To learn more how exactly hypnotherapy and hypnosis will help you, use the buttons on the left...

Can I Be Hypnotized?

Yes. Almost everybody can. There is only one condition: you must want to be hypnotized. Nobody can hypnotize you if you do not allow it. It requires cooperation. But it does not matter how strong willed or weak you are, or how smart or slow you are. You are simply born with a talent for hypnosis, so it will happen as long as you wish it to happen.

Some people are more talented then others. About 15 – 20 % of population is born with exceptional talent for hypnosis, another 15-20% with a low talent, and the rest of us are in the middle. However, even with a low initial talent, the hypnosis can be taught and the talent increases with practice.

So, do you have a strong mind? Good. Because it will make it easier to accomplish your goals in the hypnosis. Since the goals are yours, a strong mind will help.

When you are in hypnosis, you are in the state of deep concentration. You are extremely focused and paying attention to the hypnotists words while ignoring everything else around you. Because you are so focused, you may be feeling like being somewhere else, isolated from the surroundings. You may feel heavy or light, like floating. Some people feel warmth, some feel tingling in their bodies.


The experience is very pleasant, feels wonderful – many clients are very reluctant to come back to normal state. You will know and remember what was happening. You will be in full control – you will be able to stop the session and leave hypnosis any time you want. However, since it is your own goal, you will be motivated to stay in hypnosis and cooperate.


Most people feel very relaxed and comfortable. At the beginning of the session you are usually given suggestions of relaxation and when you are experiencing hypnosis for the first time, you will be surprised how deeply relaxed you will feel after the session. My clients usually comment after the first session that they could not believe it was possible to achieve such complete relaxation.

How would I know that I was hypnotized?

You will know from the results. Did you respond to the suggestions? Did you experience a relaxed state, as suggested? Did the suggested situations / scenes seem realistic? How about the feelings in your body, do you feel change? Perhaps less heaviness in the shoulders, perhaps breathing is more free, this lump in the throat has gone or the stomach has loosen up. Check your mood and your emotions. How did they change? What about your goal? Do you feel the change?  


Sometimes the change from the hypnotic session takes time to occur, and when it does occur it seems you did it yourself. This is basically true, any change you do yourself. The therapists only helps you to start it, just gives you a gentle push and helps you to access your internal resources.


If you are not sure, you may ask your therapist for proof. The therapist can give you a specific suggestion. For example, she may suggest you to touch your ear any time he talks to you after the session. Or he may even suggest that you will quack as a duck, if it is the proof you asked for… 

What if I get stuck in a trance?

Impossible. When the session is over the therapists will simply ask you to open your eyes. 


If the hypnotists had a heart attack during the session and he cannot ask you to open your eyes, you will simply open your eyes by yourself after a few moments once you get bored with no voice to listen to. 


When there is an emergency situation, a fire for example, you will respond to it in normal way. You will not need the hypnotists to say anything. You will open your eyes and keep going on your own.


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