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Hypnosis: A Muslim Perspective – Mubashar Latif

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“Does anyone know the position of hypnosis in Islam?”

“I did ask and was told it was haram….the reason being that it was likened to a state of intoxication, in that you have voluntarily given up your control over your mental faculties….And Allah(swt) knows best”.

This was the reply to the above question I received on a Muslim community group mailing list by one of its members.

Hypnosis is defined as a state of deep relaxation; just short of deep sleep. A popular misconception is that hypnosis is a form of unconsciousness resembling sleep. However, contemporary research suggests that hypnotic subjects are fully awake and whilst focusing attention, have a corresponding decrease in their peripheral awareness. Subjects also show an increased response to suggestions. In one of the first books on the subject, Neurypnology in 1843, Dr James Braid described “hypnotism” as a state of physical relaxation accompanied and induced by mental concentration. It is a state of well-being and the client is fully in control. This means that EVERY single one of us can be and has been in a state of hypnosis; on a daily basis. For example, when we’re waking up and put our alarm on snooze and half-awake: this is a state of hypnosis. When we are sometimes watching TV and don’t hear the other person; this is a state of hypnosis also. Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation but short of being asleep. The methods of Hypnosis being referred to here are those that allow the client to be in full control of the suggestions and imaginations that they are given; at which they are in a state to accept or reject them.

A quick research into the history of Hypnosis can show that this was common in Egyptian and Indian sleep temples. Hypnosis was even practiced by ancient Greeks. Furthermore, in his Book titled Kitab Al-Shifa (The book of Healing), the Persian physician Avicenna (Ibn Sina 980-1037) wrote about Hypnosis and referred to it as Al-Wahm Al-Amil. He was seen as the first physician to make the distinction between sleep and hypnosis. He stated that one would be able to create conditions in other people so they can accept the reality of this process of Hypnosis.

If we look at one of the Fathers of modern Hypnosis, Dr Milton Erickson (1901-1980), one who is known widely by any training organisation of Hypnosis; much of his language patterns are those that are already in the Quran. Yes! This not an extreme comment and nor is it anything taken out of context. How many of us knew this?

Ericksonian hypnosis combines metaphorical stories which start and don’t finish at the same time. They sometimes finish at the end of the sessions or sometimes a few sessions later. This is like in the Quran of many stories of the Prophets (Peace Be Upon Them all); which clearly continue throughout. Amongst many language patterns used; Ericksonian hypnosis also refers to many things with much vagueness. Another aspect clearly found in the Quran. The benefit of vagueness is that it can and does relate to any and every point in time – the less specific, the more it can relate to wider audiences with no limits or lesser limits of time, place and situation.

These are just some of the methods and language patterns that will be used. None of it goes against Islam; and is not ‘haraam’ (forbidden); a word used much freely and yet only appears in the Quran a few times.

Hypnosis does NOT give the effects similar to that of ‘intoxicants’. Intoxicants are physical substances in the form of gas, liquid or solid (powder and tablets, for example). They are man-made substances or natural substances which are processed in a manner to produce these harmful substances. They effect the body, mind and the soul. They block out some neurons and cause imbalance and effect the neurology. Hence they result in effecting the complete body in this manner and clearly don’t allow the individual to be in control of one’s senses. Regardless of what they are; the purpose of them is to fulfil the individuals need for ‘more’ for a fulfilment they aren’t getting from another area of life. Hence; widely resulting in addiction. They also cause one to say and do things they wouldn’t in their own right mind or in their daily normal lives when not using these substances.

Islam may also not have allowed Hypnosis on the basis that it maybe the works of a Soothsayer (fortune-teller) and/or working with Jinns (spirits). This may have been true or maybe true today still in some parts of the world as some people have the ability to communicate with spirits. However, the hypnosis being referred to and applied here has NO link or connection with spirits or fortune-telling. Working with spirits is seen as contrary to Islam on the basis that it’s seen as ascribing power to those other than God. Where-as the primary foundation of Islamic belief is upon the conviction that There is Only One God and all power is with Him. This refers to that we mortals have no knowledge except that which God has allowed us to have. Having belief in spirits and making use of them to intervene between the Hypnotherapists and the client is completely contradictory to Islam and definitely to the modern Hypnosis being referred to here.

Hypnosis does none of that as there is no two-way conversation; just suggestions. Also, the client does not do or say anything which they wouldn’t in their right mind. Clearly this is a misconception within the Muslim community. It highlights that a judgement has been made on something without looking into it. As we, the Muslim community, constantly do this; truly we are denying ourselves the means for progression in all areas of education, employment and further advances in any area. If or as long as we continue to think in this much limited manner then so will be the fruits of our labour have the same effect.

There are many Muslims; who are practising and trained hypnotherapists. If anything, they’ve come closer to their faith rather than further from away it. I even know a Muslim colleague on my training who came from Saudi Arabia to learn Hypnosis. He is a practising Muslim, works in a corporate environment in change-management and has been there for over 10yrs. He states himself; that in Saudi Arabia there is much withdrawal from anything they don’t understand. If certain things aren’t understood; they are dismissed. I’m not saying this is the case for every aspect in every area of discipline. It is however, in reference to those he has met in his company who are mostly practising Muslims. This is an indication of what is much a problem in our communities and hence gets ‘blamed’ on religion. This is something much terrible of an example for those looking from outside, into this amazing faith.

This opinion is respected (“That Hypnosis is haraam in Islam as it gives effects of intoxicants”) but it’s not one that I will accept for myself. As stated before, it is something of highly much benefit to the community. There has been much of a response as some individuals have seen the value of this and how it can manifest in their lives and those around them.

You are requested and urged to look into this as to what it’s benefits are, it’s methodologies and purpose; whether you are Muslim or not: regardless. It can be verified by medical doctors that Hypnosis is perfectly safe and accepted by the medical profession as a means of curing some illnesses; whether they are of the body, mind or soul. Medical science will not accept something that includes working with spirits and fortune-telling. Furthermore, hypnosis does certainly NOT give effects of intoxicants; as can also be verified medically. By definition of Hypnosis, The Quran certainly brings about a deep relaxation through reciting or listening to it. Hence, The Quran itself brings about a state of Hypnosis. It was known that even people would fall into trance through speech and conversation with Dr Milton Erickson. Such was the effect of The Beloved Prophet (Peace and blessings be Upon Him) who would talk to people in such a relaxing manner that they felt his warmth; bringing about greater relaxation within them; with an intention of reaching out for the goodness.

Hypnosis is a tool necessary for the Muslim community to allow the recipients to bring out more of their amazing uniqueness that every individual is special and is born with such amazing gifts. Regardless of what area of life you are at; we can always achieve more as we dream in the night; then the days are to fulfil those dreams. It can be used to work with clients to achieve their goals, relieve stress and even improve their health whilst curing some illnesses. It is beneficial and necessary for individuals as well as the Muslim community in order to concentrate and focus deeper upon their daily and personal goals.

Anything that the mind can conceive, perceive, and achieve; the body can physically easily achieve.

Author profile:

I’m a Muslim Master Practitioner and therapist; working work with clients to INCREASE VALUE in their life, increase MOTIVATION, SELF-ESTEEM, CONFIDENCE whilst….REMOVING any EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE they’ve been carrying for many years. Trusting that you find this of BENEFIT; please SHARE this with anyone you may know who would like to benefit from this. This therapy uses techniques of NLP, NLP Coaching, Hypnosis and TimeLine Therapy – in ways that comply with Islam and the Quran. I’m based in London, UK. Please contact for more details.

Mubashar Latif: I’m a certified Master Practitioner in NLP, NLP Coaching, TimeLine Therapy and Hypnosis. I’m based in East London and have my own therapy, coaching, NLP and Hypnosis organisation: “Tripod Training”; working with a target-market of Asians/Muslims between 28-40year olds; whilst open to clients of all backgrounds and ages: as are some of my clients.
Tripod Training – “Changing Lives; for life!”

Manage Stress with the Waterfall Technique By Tracey Burchard

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Stress is a powerful influence on how we feel, emotionally, mentally and physically. This powerful technique can be used anywhere to help you relieve stress and relax. All you need is two minutes and a quiet place where you can close your eyes.

You’re stressed out – admit it. Everywhere you go, you are subjected to stress. Your boss at work, standing in line at Starbucks while the lady in front of you tries to make up her mind (how can she not know what a mocha is?), and sitting in traffic during rush hour. That’s enough to get anybody’s blood boiling!

Why do we get so stressed out? Are we really in that much of a hurry? Are we that worried that we are going to look bad? Are we overstimulated? Are we too busy trying to cram everything into our lives that “somebody” thinks we should be doing?

That’s part of it. But realize that much stress is related to events from your past. Emotional stress from the past plays a big part in your blood pressure readings. Here’s why.

Your subconscious mind is the part of you that manages your emotions. It creates them and then you feel them in your body and your mind. But what happens when you don’t feel the emotions – what if you don’t process them? For instance, if you have a lot of emotion all at once, and you still have to take care of life events – like when someone close to you dies, or you get into a car accident…you don’t have time to process all the sadness, grief, fear, shock, guilt, anger and other emotions that might be present. So what happens to them? We’ve all heard of stuffing emotions, right?

Your subconscious mind will be kind enough to store the emotions for you. It’s just doing it’s job – protecting you from being overwhelmed. So it might store the emotions along with the memory that created them. It’s easy to tell if this is the case – when you access that memory, or think about what happened, you will feel the emotion – even though it may have happened years before. Or the subconscious might store that energy in your body somewhere – in effect blocking other energy and possibly causing physical issues. Especially excessive stress.

So, here’s a technique you can use, pretty much anywhere you are. It’s a visual exercise, but don’t worry if you are not visual. Just imagine or pretend…it works just as well.

Find a place where you won’t be disturbed for a couple of minutes. After a little practice, it will only take you seconds to do the exercise, but for now give yourself plenty of time. And since your eyes will be closed – don’t do this while you are driving…

Close your eyes and take a couple really deep breaths. Breathe all the way down to the bottom of your stomach, filling your lungs completely, and exhaling all the way. As you breathe, mentally will all of your muscles to unwind – imagine that you are a bowl of spaghetti, and mentally untie all the knots in your muscles and let them go loose.

Keep breathing, and as you do, imagine yourself walking along a beautiful stream. As you walk, pretend that you can hear the birds, frogs and crickets around you as the stream rushes by. Imagine that you can feel the wind cooling your face and the sun warming your back. Take a moment just to visualize it…to feel it…to really internalize how that would feel.

Now imagine that you see a gentle waterfall. You can feel the mist on your face and hands as you approach it, watching the water bounce off the rocks at the bottom. You might even see a rainbow as the sun glistens of the mist. Raise your hand and put it into the waterfall, and feel the perfect temperature of the water, refreshing and cool. Imagine stepping into the waterfall and feel it splash down around you, gently rushing over your head, your neck, your shoulders and down over the rest of your body – it feels wonderful. Now it occurs to you that this is a very special waterfall, and as the water rinses the stress from the surface of your body, the energy from the waterfall penetrates deep inside you, rinsing away negativity and old emotions that are simply not needed anymore. You look down at your feet and see a darkness from your body seeping out into the water as the energy from that intense, cleansing waterfall rushes over you. Let it go…let it all go. The stress, the worry, the anger, the fear, the guilt, the shame, the sadness, the grief. Watch with amazement as it is rinsed out of your body by that cleansing, pure waterfall. Let it all go. And as the water at your feet begins to run clear, feel yourself begin to fill up with a wonderful sense of peace and well being. Breathe it in to every cell in your body. Allow yourself to feel it – give yourself permission to really feel good, relaxed and peaceful. Let it resonate with your deep inner being, with your spirit, your soul. Notice how good it feels.

Take another deep breath, and step out of the waterfall, feeling refreshed, cleansed, optimistic and objective. Open your eyes when you are ready.

As you use this visualization, you will be able to imagine it more and more intensely, and it will get much faster for you. Soon you will be able to use this technique for relaxation even if you just have a few seconds. The more you use it, the more powerful it will become for you. You are training your mind to let go and relax. Use it often, and enjoy!

Author profile:

Tracey Burchard is a Certified Hypnotist and Life Coach in Central Florida and does sessions by phone and in her office. She has authored and produced a line of audio CDs and MP3s based on the Law of Attraction and Emotive Visualization™. Visit her hypnosis website at or check out her Self Improvement CDs at

Surgical Hypnosis by Paul Gustafson RN BSN CH

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When people set aside the usual myths and misconceptions associated with hypnosis good things usually happen. Recently, hypnosis has been getting some positive national exposure increasing the publics general awareness of its health related benefits and its role as an increasingly popular frontline holistic healer. Hypnosis is non-invasive, soothing and once the client understands the process they may continue making healthy changes all on their own.

Hypnosis is the simple process of accessing subconscious thought. The subconscious mind has many important functions; it is where all our values, beliefs, habits and patterns reside. It also is the home of our body’s control center. It regulates our heart rate, breathing and coordinates every step we take.

Having the key to such a powerful place enables us to initiate positive changes supporting how our body responds to situations like stress, fear, pain, depression or even the trauma of surgery. Clients fortunate enough to be given the option of receiving hypnosis prior to, and after surgical procedures, sing its praises. Also, scientific research supports these claims with reduced complications and medication needs; more timely recoveries and shorter hospital stays, which is good for everyone.

“An average savings of $1,200 per patient resulted from this simple 5-minute intervention.” (Disbrow EA. Western Journal of Medicine. 1993)

Another study discovered that the hypnosis group did better than 89% of those who did not receive hypnosis. “These data strongly support the use of hypnosis with surgical patients.” (Hypnosis with Surgical Patients, Guy H. Montgomery, PhD)

Hypnosis isn’t magic, its nature. We all go in and out of hypnotic-like trance several times a day. We call it day dreaming or zoning out. Hypnosis is the process of enabling this dream-like state to occur and then offering helpful direction, which support the client’s specific goals.

Surgical hypnosis involves relaxation, improved immune response and circulation that minimizes infection and promotes rapid healing. By increasing endorphin production pain is minimized requiring less medication and the unwanted side effects that usually result. And because the imagination resides in subconscious thought, wonderful images show the client relaxed, comfortable and successful further reinforcing this positive plan.

This healthy direction creates a blueprint, which becomes reality. Surgical Hypnosis disconnects patterns of fear and worry. It puts the client in the drivers seat when need they need it most. In life we all follow the path of our most dominant thoughts and with hypnosis you get the unique opportunity to create the thoughts and images, which serve you best. What your mind conceives your body achieves.

In the mid 1840’s when John Elliotson and James Esdaile began using hypnosis in the surgical setting as an anesthetic with great success. Prior to their efforts mortality rate was 40%; with hypnosis it was 5%. In spite of their success hypnosis would soon take a backseat to either, nitrous oxide and chloroform by the late 1840’s. (Origins of Surgical Hypnosis. John F. Kihlstrom)

The 3 important keys to success with hypnosis are how open a client is to this type of relaxation, how motivated they are to make positive changes and how prepared the hypnotist is to offer the suggestions and imagery supporting the desired change.  Hypnosis is a relationship of trust and co-operation. If a client believes the hypnotist is working in their best interest they are likely to be more open minded and accepting, ensuring positive results.

It is impossible to predict the outcome of any treatment option but when clients understand the technique, benefits and are involved with the process, results are consistently positive.  Also, considering the mountain of research supporting clinical hypnosis as an effective compliment to traditional medicine, the time has come to open the door to this and other holistic options.

An advocate and practitioner of surgical hypnosis is Elvira Lang MD. Dr. Lang teaches at Harvard University and is the Director of Interventional Radiology at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston, MA. Her study involved 241 patients receiving percutaneous vascular and renal procedures either received no special treatment, structured attention or self-hypnotic relaxation. “Structured attention and self-hypnotic relaxation proved beneficial during invasive medical procedures. Hypnosis had more profound effects on pain and anxiety reduction, and is superior, in that it also improves hemodynamic stability.” (Elvira V Lang The Lancet, Vol 355 2000)

Other studies reveal more positive results:

“Positive intraoperative suggestions seem to have a significant effect in reducing morphine requirements in the early postoperative period.” (McLintock TT. BMJ 1990)

“Patients in the hypnosis group had significantly less vomiting, 39% compared to 68% in the control group, less nausea and less need of analgesics postoperatively. Preoperative hypnotic techniques in breast surgery contribute to a reduction of both post operative nausea and vomiting and postoperative analgesic requirements.” Enqvist B. Bjorklund, Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica 1997)

“ypAnxiety before the operation increased significantly in the control group but remained at baseline level in the experimental (hypnosis) group. Postoperative consumption of analgesics was significantly reduced in the experimental (hypnosis) group compared to the control (non-hypnosis) group.” (Enqvist B. Fischer International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis 1997)

“A significant correlation was found between anxiety and perceived knowledge of procedures. The results suggest that pre-operative hypnosis provides a quick and effective way to reduce pre-operative patient anxiety and anesthetic requirements for gynecological daycare surgery.” (Goldmann L. Anaesthesia 1988)

Through the early 20th century the debate was if hypnosis existed at all. The American Medical Association said it did in 1958 and since then hypnosis has been dissected and analyzed and the positive results are available for anyone to read.

Now the debate is over and the verdict is in. It may not be for everyone, but what is?  Hypnosis is safe, relaxing and an effective option for clients going through the trauma of surgery. There are no side effects or allergic reactions and it costs next to nothing. Some also believe that it should be the client’s right, not the hospital’s option, as to which holistic supports are available. Someday soon it will hopefully be as simple as selecting ‘hypnosis’ on a pre-op check list.

Paul Gustafson RN, BSN, CH is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and practices in Burlington, Massachusetts. His 11 years of acute cardiac and hospice nursing experience offer a solid foundation supporting his clinical approach to hypnosis. Visit or call 888-290-3972 for more information.

Author profile:

Paul Gustafson, R.N., C.H. is a Clinical Hypnotherapist in Burlington, MA. His 11 years of acute cardiac and hospice experience offer a solid foundation supporting his empowering and creative use of hypnosis. Visit or call toll free at 888-290-3972.

©2004 Paul Gustafson  – all rights reserved


Hypnosis Relieves Symptoms of IBS by Paul Gustafson RN BSN CH

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastro-intestinal (GI) condition with no known cause or cure. Symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, cramping, gas, pain or bloating. Symptoms run in cycles lasting for days, months or years.  IBS can be disabling and force many sufferers to feel like prisoners in their own homes.

Traditional intervention includes high fiber diets, antispasmodic and antidiarrhea medications, sedatives and antidepressants which offer relief only 25% of the time. Because IBS is not life threatening, is not a precursor to acute illness and is undetectable with diagnostic equipment, sufferers are usually told they have to live with it. Thankfully this is not the case. Hypnosis has been researched for over 20 years and stands alone as the most effective option for long-term IBS relief. Its success rate is consistently 70-95% and relief usually lasts at least two years. (Olafur S. Palsson)

IBS is an enormous problem affecting 35 million Americans and 4 of 5 are women. It is more common than asthma, diabetes, acid reflux and depression combined. IBS is responsible for 10% of all primary physician visits and is also the 2nd leading cause for employee absenteeism and costs the US 8 billion dollars a year.

Diagnosing IBS is no simple task. First the physician needs to rule out infections, parasites, lactose intolerance, Crohn’s disease, celiac and gallbladder disease, dumping syndrome, ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease before an IBS diagnosis can be made.

The onset of symptoms ranges between the ages of 20-29 in adults and 9-11 in children. Some clients can trace the symptoms back to a traumatic event, illness or injury. Some begin having symptoms early in life for no apparent reason at all. IBS is also known to be generational. Many IBS sufferers go through life with no concept of what normal GI function is like.

Symptoms can be exacerbated by stress, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, foods high in animal or vegetable fat, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, food or medication sensitivities or hormone fluctuation, but none are the cause. Some research indicates that IBS sufferers may have an abundance of specialized cells in the intestinal tract making them more reactive and sensitive. (Melissa J. Roth)

The irregularity of the GI tract is what is responsible for all the problems. If it moves too quickly the body doesn’t absorb what it needs resulting in diarrhea. If it moves too slowly the body absorbs too much resulting in constipation. This erratic pattern can also dramatically affect how nutrients are absorbed and how well the colon absorbs waste out of the blood stream.

Hypnosis has a long history cluttered with myths, misinformation and manipulation. Most people only know about stage hypnosis but there is also a serious minded clinical side that is quickly establishing a foothold as a viable compliment to mainstream medicine.

Hypnosis is the simple process of accessing subconscious thought which is where all of our habits, patterns, values and beliefs reside. With hypnosis clients are empowered to embrace healthier patterns of nutrition, exercise and to release unhealthy patterns like smoking in favor of more positive ones.

The subconscious mind is also our body’s control center which regulates our inner network of complicated mechanisms.  It regulates our heart and respiratory rate and controls the thousands of metabolic functions which occur automatically everyday of our lives. With unique access to this immensely powerful place hypnosis can also positively redirect specific areas of GI function, dramatically reduce stress, improve compliance with medication and diet regimes and also help clients see themselves as healthy and whole again. It gives them the feeling of control.

Hypnosis is by no means a magic pill. Success requires clients to be open to the process and motivated to assume responsibility for their recovery. Hypnotherapy for IBS relief involves up to several months of treatment and listening to recorded sessions at home. There are, however, some who do not respond as well as others. This includes clients over 50 years of age, those not open to the process and those with psychiatric disorders. One study indicates males with diarrhea as their major symptom as another group who do not experience as much relief. (Olafur S. Palsson)

The steady accumulation of positive scientific research is the reason hypnosis has finally begun to gain acceptance. For over 20 years researchers like Olafur S. Palsson, Peter Whorwell, William Gonsalkorale and L.A. Houghton have been studying the benefits of hypnosis for IBS symptom relief. The following are brief descriptions of some of their findings.

One study compared 25 severe IBS clients treated with hypnosis to 25 patients with similar symptoms treated with other methods. The hypnosis group showed that in addition to significant IBS symptom relief they had fewer MD visits, lost less work time and rated an improved quality of life. Hypnosis clients unable to work before treatment went back to work afterwards. The study shows the economic benefits and improved health-related quality of life. (Houghton LA)

Another study which is the largest to date followed 250 IBS clients who were treated with 12 hypnosis sessions over a 3-month period and they also listened to recorded sessions at home. The conclusions showed dramatic improvement in all IBS symptoms. The average reduction in symptoms was more than 50% as well as increased quality of life and relief from anxiety and depression. (Whorwell PJ)

Lastly, the longest study to date treated and followed 204 IBS clients for up to 6 years. 71% showed immediate improvement, and 81% of this group was still improved years later. Quality of life scores were also still significantly improved at follow-up. Patients had less MD visits and required less medication long-term after hypnotherapy. Results indicate that most hypnosis clients benefit for at least five years. (Gonsalkorale WM)

Hypnosis isn’t magic but can seem magical. Think of it as a daydream by design. It is a wonderful escape into an inner peacefulness that not only feels good but can be extremely good for you. In addition to offering IBS symptom relief clients also become more relaxed, focused and centered in general and much less affected by the day-to-day distractions of life.

Author profile:

Paul Gustafson, R.N., C.H. is a Clinical Hypnotherapist in Burlington, MA. His 11 years of acute cardiac and hospice experience offer a solid foundation supporting his empowering and creative use of hypnosis. Visit or call toll free at 888-290-3972.

©2004 Paul Gustafson – all rights reserved

Hypnosis for Stop Smoking By Diana Powley

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The law to ban smoking in public places will come in next year and we need to prepare now, says Diana Powley, a leading UK hypnotherapist and founder of Habitbreakers

Smoking will probably be banned in all pubs, clubs and workplaces in the whole of the United Kingdom from summer 2007. It could still be banned at outdoor locations that are ‘substantially enclosed’ such as football grounds and railway platforms. It is believed that an extra 600,000 smokers will give up over ten years as a result of this ban.  The Irish Government hails their smoking ban as a success that is already bringing health benefits to bar workers and creating a more pleasant atmosphere in which to socialise.

Throughout the UK thousands of people’s lives are severely damaged every year as a result of smoking and this impacts on their health, relationships, family life, work and finances. This is therefore yet another powerful incentive for stopping smoking.

So what has been preventing people until now? Personal health issues don’t stop many people, the smell doesn’t stop them, and the cost doesn’t stop them. Yet, why not?

I would suggest that it’s fear and fatigue. Fear of failure. Tired of trying. You know the story: they’ve tried so many times before using willpower, patches, maybe Zyban, even acupuncture, and nothing has worked for very long. So they’ve accepted that they are unable to stop.

Then clients come to hypnotherapy, often as a last resort. They may know someone who was stopped using this method. And provided that they really want to stop then this method can reach the parts that all those other methods just couldn’t reach. The majority of clients stop and stay stopped (see success rate chart). Why? Because smoking is a mental habit. It’s a deeply ingrained habit which has been reinforced several times a day for years, even decades. It’s like an old record that has got stuck. ‘I need a cigarette, I’ve got to have a cigarette.’

New Scientist magazine (vol 136 issue 1845) reported the largest ever scientific comparison of ways of stopping smoking. Of all of the different methods analyzed the survey found Hypnotherapy to be the most effective, being five times more effective than will power alone, and three times more effective than nicotine gum:

. . .  “Most techniques turned out to be hopeless. Hypnosis, however, came out as the most effective anti-smoking technique”  “

 Let me explain a little about hypnosis

Hypnosis is increased relaxation and concentration. We take negative habits and replace them with positive habits. We all go into hypnosis everyday – when you drive your car, when you daydream, whilst listening to music, watching a film – when you’re on automatic pilot, its known as environmental hypnosis.

Now let me explain the connection with our conscious and unconscious minds. In the conscious mind is our awareness, our logic and reasoning, our short term memory. Yet this part is only about 10% of our mind and can only process about five or six pieces of information a second.

On the other hand our unconscious mind can process over 2 million bits of information a second. This is the part which is on auto-pilot and runs our life for us. It’s been building habits for us perfectly since the day we were born. Everything we do is an unconscious habit. The way we brush out teeth, the way we put our shoes on, drive a car, even breathing. We don’t have to think about because the autonomic nervous system is run by our unconscious mind and does it for us.

However when we were learning to drive we had to think of so many things – looking in the mirror, how and when to change gear, signalling. It was a complete overload for the tiny conscious mind until, by repetition, it downloaded the information to the powerful unconscious mind and those things all became, over a period of time, automatic habitual behaviours. It is the same with smoking. It is a learned experience which by repetition becomes an unconscious habit.

So how do we do it? 

Hypnotherapy removes the desire for smoking, replacing that ‘record’ with one which will serve them better: ‘I am now a non-smoker and I’ll be a non-smoker for the rest of my life.’

Most people stop smoking after one session with a few usually stopping after a backup session or telephone support.

During the session we replace the old ‘negative’ habit with a new ‘positive’ mental attitude. This ensures that the client leaves, not only as a non-smoker, but with a more positive focus which will serve them better, with a much healthier approach to life. For example, many choose to drink more water, eat more fruit, salads and vegetables, others to exercise more.

Whilst the majority of people stop smoking after just one session, many hypnotherapists like myself provide full back up support for up to a year following the appointment.

Ultimately the facts speak for themselves: We have got a year to turn over half a million smokers into non smokers. We can do if we work together and utilise the most effective methods of helping people break their smoking habit, and hypnotherapy is the most effective statistically proven method.

Author profile:

Diana Powley is a leading Neuro-Linguistic Programming Hypnotherapist. She is founder of Habitbreakers, a UK-wide organisation of professional NLP Hypnotherapists specialising in smoking cessation, weight management, fears, phobias and other negative habits –

OBESITY – £1bn-a-year problem for the NHS By Diana Powley

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It’s time to recognise obesity as a medical condition and Hypnotherapy could be the most effective treatment, says Diana Powley, leading Clinical Hypnotherapist

It is estimated that treating obesity-related diseases costs the NHS over £1billion a year.

  • The proportion of obese children is now rising faster in Britain than in the US
  • Obesity causes Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke and high blood pressure
  • Being obese knocks nine years off the average life expectancy
  • More than 40 per cent of men in Britain are classed as overweight and more than 20 per cent are obese
  • Among women, about a third are overweight and a fifth are obese
  • An obese child has nearly always got obese parents

Most people have emotional weight issues and if you separate the emotions from food, sometimes that’s all it takes.  There are three different types of eaters.  These types are emotional eaters, subconscious eaters and conditioned eaters.  An emotional eater eats food because of emotions such as stress, frustration, worry, loneliness, boredom, pain, as a reward, as a punishment, to fill a relationship void.  Over 70% of all weight-related issues are based on repressed emotions or frustrations.

The next type of eater is a subconscious eater who eats food and does not even know how much they’re eating.  These subconscious eaters may eat a whole tub of ice cream or big box of popcorn while watching a film or snacking on a whole bag of crisps, watching TV, or maybe ‘grazing’ throughout the day at work, without even being aware that they’re doing it.  The operation is subconscious, not conscious.

The third type of eater is a conditioned eater who was programmed from early childhood to finish everything on their plate because people are ‘starving in other countries’.  In the past, some people had difficulty acquiring food and food was scarce, so these parents made their children feel guilty if they left food over, or even insisted on their children remain at the dinner table until every piece of food on their plate was eaten.  This type of eater feels guilty if they leave any food over on their plate.

Hypnosis and weight management

Hypnotherapy is now regularly used in medicine, dentistry, childbirth, law enforcement, professional sports and education.

Hypnosis makes weight management easy. Thousands of people have reached their ideal weight, without feeling deprived or miserable through Hypnotherapy.  More importantly they have developed new healthy habits for eating, drinking and exercise which ensure that the weight stays off permanently.

How does hypnosis work?

Our minds work on two levels; the conscious and unconscious.

We make decisions, think and act with our conscious mind. The unconscious mind controls our habits. In the relaxed state known as hypnosis, we can communicate directly with the unconscious mind. This is why it is so quick and easy to change the habits of a lifetime.

Hypnosis is completely safe. You are in control the whole time and you will hear and remember everything. It is simply an extremely powerful way of getting your mind to do what you already want it to do.

Will hypnosis work for everyone?

Virtually everyone of average intelligence can be hypnotised if they want to be. The client simply needs to be sober and clear of drugs during the session.

Most people can’t tell the difference between being hypnotised and being relaxed. Some experience a feeling of lethargy or lightness. The one thing that people do notice is an inexplicable change in their daily behaviour subsequently.

Why does Hypnotherapy succeed where other methods fail?

Hypnotherapy is a very effective approach to resolve anxiety and stress connected with eating habits, which many other methods, including many diets, do not address. It enables you to change the way you think and feel about food, drink and exercise – permanently.

It can help us reduce the need to prescribe expensive drugs, or for patients to pursue drastic physical procedures such as gastric bands which do not address the underlying emotional eating habits.

So what is involved?

A typical hypnotherapy programme ensures success through 4-6 sessions. These sessions combine the latest techniques incorporating hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and nutritional advice.

The initial session usually lasts approximately 1½ hours, including a comprehensive lifestyle consultation, dietary advice and your initial hypnotherapy session.  We discuss your particular eating habits that you would like to change, why you feel that you overeat, and what you would like to replace this with in your life, for example, drinking more water, eating more fruit, salads and vegetables.  Perhaps you would like to cut out chocolate and sweets.  Perhaps you would like to exercise more.  This will all then be incorporated into your personalised programme.

The way forward

The challenge is clear and the facts are frightening. Obesity has become an ‘epidemic’ problem in our society, affecting all generations. Perhaps the most worrying thing is that is if we do not look at broadening the ways in which we tackle obesity, being overweight, deeply unhappy and unhealthy will become the norm for our younger generations. Hypnotherapy provides a swift, safe and sympathetic solution to obesity and the emotions and habits that give rise to it.

Author profile:

Diana Powley is a leading Neuro-Linguistic Programming Hypnotherapist. She is founder of Habitbreakers, a UK-wide organisation of professional NLP Hypnotherapists specialising in smoking cessation, weight management, fears, phobias and other negative habits –


Arthritis-Hypnosis Connection by Paul Gustafson RN BSN CH

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Did you know that we all have the ability to enhance self-healing, increase comfort and improve nutrition, exercise, communication and flexibility? This article explains clinical hypnosis and how it can bring relief to clients suffering from arthritis. Hypnosis is easy to learn, you can do it on your own and it empowers you to take an active role in your healthy well-being.

The subconscious mind has many jobs. It quietly and effectively regulates our bodily functions and stores all of our values, beliefs and memories. It also balances our blood pressure, heart rate and co-ordinates each step we take everyday of our life. The negative effects of arthritis extend into many areas of a client’s life, as does the positive resolve and relief of hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is the simple process of accessing and directing the subconscious mind to support certain positive changes. It is the language of the mind, it access the most powerful level of awareness and down loads new applications of freedom and relief.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It causes a deterioration of the protective lining of cartilage in our joints. This deterioration occurs due to a breakdown of the chondrocytes that form cartilage. Osteoarthritis affects men and women equally. Most people over 30 years of age have some features of early osteoarthritis. The degree of limitation depends on the location of the inflammation. The major areas of concern are hips, knees and spine. The development of osteoarthritis may be related to trauma, aging or heredity.

The symptoms of stress play a big role in exacerbating the situation. Communication with family and friends plays a key role in managing stress and hypnosis makes this a lot easier.  Suggestions offered to a client during a hypnosis session encourage them to share what’s on their mind enabling them to offload concern and frustration, giving them more time doing things they enjoy.

It takes energy to deal with any physical or emotional burden. Hypnosis creates ideal sedation allowing for sound sleep. We all follow the path of our most dominant thoughts and if the last thoughts a client has at bedtime involve deep restful sleep, they are in a much better position to recharge their body and mind for tomorrow’s challenges.

For those suffering with arthritis it’s often difficult just keeping up with the fast pace of day-to-day life. Hypnosis helps individuals adjust to a more appropriate pace and also to release the frustrations and anxiety associated with any limitation. Clients who routinely relax with hypnosis are more centered, balanced and less affected by things they can not control.

Increasing muscle tone reduces stress to affected joints, which increases mobility and comfort. Low impact activities like swimming; walking and range of motion exercises are commonly recommended to clients with arthritis.  With hypnosis it’s easier to integrate new regimes and to establish positive subconscious connections between healthy activity and improved mobility, comfort and freedom.

The more protection in your joints, the more comfort and mobility you create. Since the subconscious controls the multitude of our bodily function, hypnosis can direct it to increase the production of chondrocytes, which increases the growth of healthy new cartilage. Pain is often the biggest issue with arthritis. Some pain, however, is necessary; it acts as a warning system telling us that something isn’t right. The responsible approach with hypnosis is to only reduce unnecessary pain, leaving intact the body’s ability to signal us and protect us from further complications.

Hypnosis can also be used to regulate the flow and distribution of endorphins, which are the ‘feel good’ chemicals the body uses to create comfort and relaxation. Using hypnosis to regulate endorphin production plays a big role in putting the client in control. Hypnosis can also alter the perception of where the pain is located. By redirecting sensitivity away from key areas such as hips, knees and vertebrae to a less critical part of the anatomy like a finger tip, the client has much more control.

The same approach can be used to attach a different quality to pain. A sharp pain can be perceived as dull; burning pain can be perceived as cool. Involving other senses is one of the distinct advantages hypnosis offers in managing the symptoms of arthritis. Another technique involves using one color to represent pain and another to represent comfort, and then blending the two offering instant relief.

Lastly, by attaching a number value to pain creates the option of change. By imagining a yardstick during hypnosis a client can pick the number that best reflects their current level of pain, and then they are directed to different numbers which changes their perceived level of discomfort.

With hypnosis arthritis sufferers gain a distinct advantage in managing and even reversing the limitations of arthritis. Hypnosis is simple, empowering and extremely effective. A few sessions with a hypnotherapist gets you started and with a little practice you begin to effect healthy positive changes in your life. We all have remarkable self-healing abilities and hypnosis is an excellent way to jumpstart a return to a healthier more active life.

Author profile:

Paul Gustafson, R.N., C.H. is a Clinical Hypnotherapist in Burlington, MA. His 11 years of acute cardiac and hospice experience offer a solid foundation supporting his empowering and creative use of hypnosis. Visit or call toll free at 888-290-3972.

©2003 Paul Gustafson  – all rights reserved

Hypnosis and the Great Work of Transformation By Marilyn Gordon, BCH, CI

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What Does Transformation Mean?

Transformation is a process of moving from darkness into light. It’s a darkness-into-light shift in consciousness that can happen at any moment. Through it you can make dynamic shifts in understanding to move pain, grief, anger, sadness, and trauma into new ways of being. Everything that has happened in life contains the seeds of dynamic transformation. Ultimately, you can move into the true essence of strength, love, healing, and positive redirection. There is emotional and physical healing as well as support for spiritual transformation.

It’s about first paying attention to the difficulties, experiencing how they feel or sound or what they look like, and then releasing and transforming them by making this connection with a more transcendent state of consciousness. This helps us to view our difficulties differently by shifting our level of awareness. There is truly a temple of healing that exists within. The healing process is a movement from darkness into light, from the unreal to the real, and from the deepest to the highest states of consciousness.

What are the Different Levels of Consciousness?

There are different levels of consciousness in every being, and we can work with them all in states of hypnosis.

The first of these levels, the conscious mind, is the thinking part of consciousness. Its job is to judge, be logical, evaluate and take in the facts of the world through its own interpretations. Too often it gets mired in these interpretations, when it appears that a rope it sees is a snake or when it thinks that everything must be judged. It’s the conscious mind, and we live here a great deal of the time. Through hypnosis, we can view the ways our minds are looking at events see if there’s a way to view them differently.

The next level is the subconscious mind, the data storage or filing system of consciousness. Everything that has happened to you is stored here and cataloged. This includes, losses, pain, habits, traumas, and it also includes subpersonalities like the inner child. You can put it on “search mode” and find out a lot about what’s going on. You don’t have to dwell in this area, and yet it holds its own fascination as the great search engine of the inner being. You can put it on “search mode” and find out the possible origins of current issues.

The unconscious mind stores records of all your karmas and patterns that you’ve brought to this lifetime, such as tendencies to feel “I’ll never be any good” or “I’m better than everyone.”
The energy field is your aura or electromagnetic field. Tapping the code of your energy field can create healing and great relief from pain and suffering.

The crown jewel of states of consciousness is the superconscious state. This is the remedy for all the issues and difficulties of life, the challenges from every other level. In the superconscious state or higher self, you find the Wise Mind, along with love, peace, light, forgiveness, bliss, healing and enlightenment. When we work with the Wise Mind, we tap into the vast pool of the superconscious healing system of the universe, for it is set up so that we can become enlightened and healed by recognizing its profound offerings to us.

What Are the Three Stages of Healing?

They are: Experience, Release, and Transform. The first phase of this healing work is allowing yourself to fully experience your experience, to come to know what’s inside. The second is to release the experience, and the third is to transform it.

As you move through the stages of “Experience, Release and Transform,” you first allow the full experience of the experience, to come to know what’s taking place within. Next, you’re able to release the experience, and then you can transform it.

The “Experience” Stage

Every experience of life has value. Paying close attention is the first step in the process of inner knowledge. It is a process of looking with an inner microscope or magnifying glass and just seeing what’s there. It’s about looking, for example, at current experiences that are taking place in the body – pains, constrictions, tingling, holding – whatever is happening in the moment. It’s also about looking at the mind and emotions – seeing whether there is sadness or rage or tightness or shame. It’s about looking even more deeply at the experience, possibly finding the roots. The roots may be in childhood, or they may go all the way back to the womb. Or they may go to another lifetime, or to a belief or a tendency of the mind. Even as you pay attention to the deep experience, transformation is taking place, for whatever you pay attention to naturally transforms.

The “Release” Stage

Sometimes release happens naturally as a direct result of “looking deeply” or “paying attention.” This second stage is a natural process. Clouds release raindrops when it’s time to let the rain come. Boils on the skin release foreign matter when it’s time to heal. Other times, we can assist in the release process by using techniques such as energy therapy (EFT), which taps away old traumas, fears, resentments, guilt, grief, shame, anger and emotional trauma, and there are other release processes which we’ve looked at in other articles and will talk about in more detail in future ones.

Release is a clearing out of consciousness. It’s like cleaning out closets and drawers, releasing old correspondence or outworn clothes. As these are discarded, you invite in a new level of life. You initiate an opening of a reality that had previously been either closed or unknown.

The “Transform” Stage

This third stage comes when there’s a readiness to shift consciousness to a new level, an opening to see with different eyes. Sometimes the transformation will lead to places suffused with light. Or a profound wisdom may come forth. You may find that deep compassion is flowing or that there is an upliftment into the experience of love.

Going through the three levels allows the process of transformation from the deepest places to the highest ones. One person found a lotus at the bottom of a murky pond. Another felt as if she were experiencing a birth process through a very dark tunnel and out into an experience of light.

We remember that healing is the work of a lifetime, that healing is a cyclic process. We know that in this process we continue to transform darkness into light and to experience love, compassion, forgiveness, wisdom, the ability to stand back and see with greater perspective, and the ability to know the great power of healing.

Some Questions You Can Ask to Assist in Transformation

“Whenever you’re ready, you can share with me what you’re experiencing. It may be a picture, a feeling, a thought or an impression.” (Ask questions to vivify the experience…” What’s happening now? Tell me about it. Where are you? How old are you? Is anyone else there? What do you feel in your body? Do you see anything? Tell me more.)

“Are you ready to release this now?”

“What does that part of you need? (Or how can you bring more love to this?)” -Or-
“What resources do you have within you that can help you with this?” -Or-
“What would your Wise Mind like to tell you about this?” -Or-
“What is this here to teach you?”
(Other transformational experiences: love, comfort, compassion, guidance, (inner healer, spiritual guide) forgiveness, wisdom, witness, soul lesson, light, reframing.

How a Man Transformed his Anger

One man named Dan found that he was constantly angry with his boss. He saw his boss as a petty tyrant. Dan stewed in his anger so much that he was developing a skin ailment. It was something akin to hives, which involved an eruption of redness, and which he knew was his anger externalized. He also knew that he’d have to make some changes in his perception, as this was starting to affect him in powerful ways. When his Wise Mind suggested to him that he look at his boss from an expanded point of view, he saw that his boss was still a child in many ways, bullying his way through life. He imagined his boss as a child, and he experienced that the boss had, himself, been bullied throughout his childhood. This relieved the man of a great deal of his anger. He simply moved back to see his boss more clearly. In stepping back, he was also able to view the panorama of the experience at work. He saw that this was a “setup” by the universe to get him to heal his own childhood and his own anger. He felt sorry for his boss. The emotions didn’t affect him any longer, as he moved into a space of the “observer.” From this, he soon found he didn’t need to be working with the boss any longer. He could move on in his life as he had moved on in his consciousness. He had made the giant leap from the darkness of his angry emotions to the light of his compassion.

How Another Man Began to Live Again

Jack, a man of 62, had decided he was a “loser.” He had gotten off the wheel of his own success fifteen years ago when he lost his position in a company, and he had put his foot on the brake of the rest of his life. He now did nothing. He decided that he no longer had any worth, and so his life stagnated. When he came to talk to me about this, he said he knew he wasn’t very good because his parents had told him this over and over. But Jack knew that the time was up for this pattern, and he was finally ready for a breakthrough. Among other things we worked on together, Jack traveled into the terrain of the Wise Mind. It helped him to understand that he didn’t have to listen to this old conditioning inside himself any longer. The Wise Mind told him to begin his life again immediately. Start by cleaning up his home step by step. Pay attention to himself inside as well, and he’d be given the instructions for the daily renewal of his life. Decide that if he ever berated himself again, he was to tell himself, “I don’t shop here anymore. I am healing myself now.” Miracles are continuing to happen in Jack’s life as he continues to tune into the frequency of the Wise Mind. He called this “better than medicine, and healthier, too.” A new sense of joy has entered Jack’s life, as he operates now from a more expanded understanding of his life.

The Trials of Life Become Transformational Experiences

In addition to perceptual shifts, you also find that there is an understanding of the life of the spirit in greater depth. As you move through darkness and into the light, you understand the trials of life as transformational experiences. This is felt emotionally, physically and spiritually. There is a lifting into lighter emotions, a lifting up spiritually so that the great source of great power that lives within is understood experientially. This is the nature of transformation. We are working, as you remember, with all levels of consciousness. All of these are the components of a healing system that moves you gracefully from darkness into light.

Author profile:

©2006 Marilyn Gordon, BCH, CI
1 (800) 398-0034


Medicine and Hypnosis: Hypnotherapy – Healing Emotionally and Physically from the Inside Out, By Linda Simmon, C.Ht

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More and more doctors now realize that hypnosis is powerful medicine.   Why this is and how it happens is still something of a mystery, but science is proving that hypnosis can improve your health in amazing ways.  It can help relieve pain, make breathing easier for people with respiratory illnesses, aid with gastrointestinal ailments and relieve depression just to name a few.  The most astonishing evidence is coming from research on healing.

In a pilot study published in 1999, Harvard University psychologist Carol Ginandes, Ph.D., showed that hypnosis can help broken bones heal faster and, in a follow-up experiment published in 2000, Ginandes and her research team discovered that women who had breast reduction surgery recovered far more quickly after undergoing hypnosis.

It is speculated that hypnosis alters the levels of certain chemicals found in the brain that influence the nervous system, hormone production, and the immune system.  It appears that hypnosis effects how genes in cells express themselves, turning some functions on and others off.  Studies using brain scans and other imaging technology are providing explanations as to how and why hypnosis works in helping the body heal itself.

Hypnotherapy uses relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, imagery, visualization and positive suggestions.  Clients often say to me that they experience a feeling of peacefulness and euphoria yet are fully aware during a session.  This is similar to what is experienced during meditation.  As David Spiegel, director of the psychosocial treatment laboratory at Stanford University School of Medicine and coauthor of Trance & Treatment: Clinical Uses of Hypnosis (American Psychiatric Publishing) explains, there is “some overlap with meditation” however, “hypnosis focuses on the ability to do something for a specific purpose.”  And this is how hypnosis achieves its strength, by using positive statements and suggestions while a client is in a fully relaxed state.  This enables the client to more easily focus on past problematic patterns or behaviors and it is this ability to more easily focus that results in the desired change.  A sort of spring cleaning for the mind.  Working from the inside out, releasing negative thoughts, perceptions and behaviors and replacing them with the positive thoughts and suggestions that the client desires.

It is this technique of focusing and strengthening willpower that is responsible for hypnotherapy’s high success rate, particularly for clients who want to lose weight or quit smoking.  A University of Connecticut review of six weigh-loss studies found that 70 percent of study participants rated hypnosis better than cognitive therapy alone.

Arreed Barabasz, director of the laboratory of hypnosis research at Washington State University in Pullman and coauthor of Hypnotherapeutic Techniques (Brunner-Routledge) agrees.  The suggestions, however, must not emphasize what you are against, but rather stress the positive goals and imagery that you are seeking.  For the client who wishes to quit smoking, positive suggestions about their body and visualizing their lungs becoming clear and free of smoke as well as instilling images of the client happy, healthy and smoke free are the types of suggestions that are most effective.  When Barabasz tested this approach on 300 heavy smokers who had previously quit and relapsed, almost half stayed smoke-free 18 months after hypnotherapy – compared with 10 percent for the nicotine-replacement therapy alone.

Research has shown that cancer patients who receive hypnotherapy prior to or during chemotherapy sessions experience less nausea and vomiting than those going through chemotherapy without the aid of hypnosis.

The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, April 2000 discovered that hypnosis relieved pain in 75 percent of the people studied.

And this list goes on and on.

As more and more doctors and patients are beginning to recognize that mental states and emotional and physical well-being are connected, hypnosis continues to be used more frequently.  Hypnosis can help you to take back control of your health and your life and once you have taken back control, then the real fun can start, realizing all the possibilities available to you, all the directions you can go and finally realizing that your life is a journey not just a destination.  A journey that you can now control.

Linda Simmon, C.Ht.

Author profile:

After over 20 years of being a paralegal, Linda Simmon decided it was time to take a new direction with her life and is a graduate of The Hypnosis Motivation Institute, the first nationally accredited school for hypnotherapy in the United States.  For more information on Linda, her CD’s and downloadable mini-session as well as telephone or face to face sessions, visit

Hypnotherapy, a brief introduction by William Broom

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What is Hypnosis?

Healing by trance state (or an altered state of awareness) is among the oldest phenomena known to man and is found, in one form or another, in virtually every culture throughout the world. It could also be legitimately described as the original psychological therapy and somewhat more contentiously, as the basis for many of the more recent styles of psychological intervention.

Although such altered states have been known for thousands of years, the term “hypnosis” (from the Greek “hypnos”, meaning “sleep”) was only coined circa 1840 by Dr James Braid, a Scottish physician and remains a somewhat less than accurate description of the experience, as the hypnotic state is, in most respects, entirely dissimilar to sleep.

At our current level of knowledge, the phenomenon of hypnosis cannot be conclusively defined but perhaps a reasonable interim definition might be that: Hypnosis is a state of mind, enhanced by (although not exclusively) mental and physical relaxation, in which our subconscious is able to communicate with our conscious mind. It may be better to define “hypnosis” by what it does rather than what it is and in this regard, it is widely accepted as a most excellent method by which we may access our inner potential. The state of mind referred to may be brought about either by oneself, unaided (self-hypnosis) or with the help of another person. If this other person is a trained professional, who utilises the resultant state of mind to encourage beneficial change to occur, the process is referred to as “Hypnotherapy”.

What is Hypnotherapy?

Psychological therapy and counselling (sometimes referred to as the “talking cure”) is the treatment of emotional and psychological disorders, unwanted habits and undesirable feelings, using psychological techniques alone. The aim of all such therapy is to assist people (usually referred to as clients) in finding meaningful alternatives to their present unsatisfactory ways of thinking, feeling or behaving. Therapy also tends to help clients become more accepting both of themselves and others and can be most useful in promoting personal development and unlocking inner potential.

There are many forms of psychological therapy but Hypnotherapy is distinctive in that it attempts to address the client’s subconscious mind. In practice, the Hypnotherapist often (but not exclusively) requires the client to be in a relaxed state, frequently enlists the power of the client’s own imagination and may utilise a wide range of techniques from story telling, metaphor or symbolism (judged to be meaningful to the individual client) to the use of direct suggestions for beneficial change. Analytical techniques may also be employed in an attempt to uncover problems deemed to lie in a client’s past (referred to as the “there and then”) or therapy may concentrate more on a client’s current life and presenting problems (referred to as the “here and now”). It is generally considered helpful if the client is personally motivated to change (rather than relying solely on the therapist’s efforts) although a belief in the possibility of beneficial change may be a sufficient starting point.

Regardless of the techniques employed, perhaps the most important thing is that a client should expect to feel comfortable and at ease with their therapist. This is of particular importance in Hypnotherapy, in which the value of the treatment is greatly enhanced when there is confidence in the practitioner. For this reason it is recommended that a single session only is initially booked, leaving the client subsequently free to decide if they wish to proceed with more.

Unlike many other psychological therapies, Hypnotherapy is generally considered to be a fairly short-term approach in which beneficial change, if it is to occur, should become apparent within a relatively few sessions.

N.B. In actual practice, most Hypnotherapists will combine hypnotic procedures with other appropriate counselling and therapeutic techniques. Should there be any doubt about the combination of skills utilised in individual cases, the therapist should be asked directly for a further explanation of their preferred methodology

Who can be hypnotised?

The answer to this question is undoubtedly “virtually everyone”. This claim must, however, be qualified by the observation that some are more readily hypnotisable than others and that it will also depend upon one’s willingness to be hypnotised at the time. This willingness will itself depend upon a number of factors, not least of which will be the strength of the person’s particular need and their trust and confidence in the therapist concerned. A corollary to this question is “What level of trance is required in order to achieve a beneficial outcome?” Although there remains some disagreement over the answer, most researchers concur that the actual level (or depth) of trance obtained does not relate to the beneficial results that might be obtained. In practice, this means that even where a person feels that they have not been hypnotised, given time (and this is a very important factor), the desired outcome of therapy might yet materialise. This matter of time is especially important in our current society, which has, in many respects, been coerced into believing that gratification of every desire should be instantaneous. Hypnotherapy can be extraordinarily effective but it is not magic. However, if the right ingredients are present, if the time is right and if a suitable practitioner can be found with whom the client is willing to work, then all their (realistic) goals are achievable.

Who may benefit from Hypnotherapy?

Again, the answer to this question is “virtually everyone”. Given that hypnotherapy can be utilised to access a person’s inner potential and that probably no one is performing to their actual potential, then this answer is literally true. However, it is not just potential which Hypnotherapy is well placed to address but also one’s inner resources to effect beneficial change. In this regard, it is the innate healing capacity of our own body that may be stimulated by Hypnotherapy. Consequently, the list of problems which may be amenable to Hypnotherapy is far too long and varied to catalogue but certainly includes: stress, anxiety, panic, phobias, unwanted habits and addictions (e.g. smoking, overeating, alcoholism), disrupted sleep patterns, lack of confidence and low self-esteem, fear of examinations and public speaking, allergies and skin disorders, migraine and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Additionally, it has proved of value within surgery, where normal anaesthetics have not been practical, in the wider sphere of pain management and in the areas of both sporting and artistic performance enhancement. As an adjunct to other counselling techniques, it can also assist in helping to resolve relationship difficulties and be useful within anger management strategies.

Although there remain many other areas of human suffering in which Hypnotherapy may bring relief, there are instances in which it may be contra-indicated. These could include some manifestations of depressive illness, epilepsy, psychosis (e.g. schizophrenia) and some breathing problems.

Some Common Concerns

People are sometimes concerned that they will “lose control” in hypnosis. However, general consensus indicates that regardless of how deeply people may go in hypnosis and however passive they may appear to be, they actually remain in full control of the situation. They are fully able to talk if they wish to (or not, as the case may be) and can stand up and leave the room at any time. Neither can a hypnotised person be made to do anything against their usual ethical or moral judgement or religious belief. It is likely that the notion of a loss of control stems from most people’s misconception of stage hypnosis, wherein participants are apparently made to perform all manner of (usually foolish) acts. However, the reader should be aware that participation in a stage act is an entirely voluntary process (thus “permission” is already given to the hypnotist) and that there can be no such volunteer who is unaware of exactly what they are letting themselves in for!

Author details:

William Broom
Chief Executive & Registrar,
The General Hypnotherapy Standards Council and General Hypnotherapy Register

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