hypnotherapy session with woman sitting on bench

Demystifying Hypnotherapy

By Jack Gilbert, LCSW, Certified Hypnotherapist, Director of Clinical Services at Clarity Way

Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving heightened, focused attention, reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. 

The human mind is composed of the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The conscious mind contains the executive functioning parts of the mind, including but not limited to:

  • Logic
  • Organization
  • Sequencing
  • Verbal and analytical functions

The subconscious mind contains the expansive components of the mind, including but not limited to:

  • Imagination
  • Dreaming
  • Sleeping
  • Healing
  • Feeling
  • Problem-solving

These parts of the mind are divided by a filter known as the “critical factor,” which regulates what information or suggestions pass through to the subconscious mind. Through the process of hypnosis, the critical factor is bypassed and suggestions are received directly by the subconscious mind where they are immediately acted upon. 

Myths and Truths About Hypnosis

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about what hypnosis is and how it works. Understandably, this confusion creates fear and reluctance to engage in this form of therapy for some people.

Many only know about hypnosis from what they’ve seen in shows where it’s used for entertainment purposes. But its most impactful use is as a therapeutic tool to help bring about lasting change for the subject. As we learn about hypnosis, it makes sense to separate fact from fiction:

  • Hypnosis is a very pleasurable state of focused, relaxed trance.
  • Almost anyone can be hypnotized.
  • No one can be hypnotized against their will.
  • A subject cannot be programmed to do something while hypnotized that they would not otherwise do.
  • People can’t get stuck in a hypnotic trance.

We’ve All Experienced Forms of Hypnosis

Everyone has experienced waking forms of hypnosis. For example, if you’ve ever driven several miles down the highway and realized you don’t remember much of anything at all about that part of your journey, it’s because you were in a waking trance. 

Another example is when you’re reading a book or watching television and look up to see someone in the room. You don’t remember the person (or pet) entering the room, yet you know you would have had to see or hear them.  Again, this is due to being in a wakeful state of trance. 

During these trance states, your subconscious mind has moved to the forefront and your conscious mind — driving the car and observing your surroundings — has moved to the back.

Conditions Helped by Hypnosis

The process of hypnosis is simple, effective and in most cases results are immediate. Research in the field of hypnosis is relatively new, but some studies have shown it to help with a number of conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety and stress. It has multiple applications, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Smoking cessation
  • Anesthesia
  • Pain management
  • Habit change
  • Trauma
  • Emotional regulation
  • Controlling cravings

In my work with clients, I’ve primarily used hypnosis to help reduce anxiety, improve sleep, control cravings, change habits and manage their pain. Hypnosis in and of itself is not a “cure,” but is a powerful therapeutic tool that helps clients address issues that impact their recovery and sense of well-being.


Posted on July 23rd, 2018 in Blog, Recovery


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