Hypnosis is a natural state of mind that involves shifts in one's awareness and focus, along with shifts in brain activity. Sometimes, this is called a trance state. An ordinary example of this is daydreaming. And when you daydream, you might lose track of time or notice less of what's around you; but you are still awake and you are still in control of your body. The American Psychological Association's Division 30 (Society of Psychological Hypnosis) defines hypnosis as: "A state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion."
Clinical hypnosis or medical hypnosis is the application of hypnosis for therapeutic benefit. This is in contrast to stage hypnosis that you might see at the county fair, where the purpose of hypnosis is for entertainment or show. When working with a licensed health care clinician, who has received training or certification in hypnosis, you can feel comfortable that the purpose is to help you with what you need and want. It is a highly collaborative and relational experience. It is also highly experiencial.
In my teaching and clinical practice in Sacramento, I find it helpful to describe hypnosis as a 4 step process. Of course the details change from person to person and time to time, but this is a general guide and also helpful for teaching self-hypnosis. Step 1 involves the permitting of one's shift in attention and focus. I like to think of it as an invitation to become absorbed more internally. Step 2 is a deepening of this process to allow for greater absorption and relaxation. Step 3 is the application of suggestions (this could take the form of ideas, visualizations, sensory shifts, questions, etc.). One might think of this as letting the subconscious part of the mind become open and amenable. A variety of brain regions become active in this process, which has been studied using functional MRI's. Step 4 is a re-orienting to time, place, and alertness. Together, we identify your goals and hopes, and we learn from each experience to foster further growth.
Research and clinical studies have shown the benefit of utilizing clinical or medical hypnosis for a variety of health issues and concerns. A few examples are: IBS, acute or chronic pain conditions, insomnia, eating issues and concerns, functional neurological disorders, pre-surgical preparation and post-surgical healing. I believe hypnosis builds mind/body integration and awareness, as well as increases a sense of competency. As a clinical health and hypnosis psychologist, I can blend and integrate modalities to best support your needs.
Hypnosis promotes a sense of physical calm, and can be tailored to address a variety of issues related to anxiety and stress management. This can be done in many ways, such with imagined rehearsal or visualization of more helpful responses or outcomes. The use of hypnosis can increase a sense of agency and build hope for the willingness to address challenges.
Hypnosis is a wonderful access point for the subconscious mind which is limitless in its ability to be creative and experience different ideas for oneself. The subconsious mind is open to suggestions and when we use this for clinical purposes, it can help a person connect to and envision their goals or other ideas for their life. Sometimes it is helpful to explore conflicts or places where one is stuck.
Hypnosis is a helpful tool for promoting the parasympathetic relaxation response. Often people experience sensations of comfort and well being from allowing themselves to enter into a relaxing state of mind and body. Many have used this "flow" state to promote better performance.
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The purpose of this website is for information and education only and does not constitute a therapeutic relationship. The information on this website is not intended to be a substitute for mental health treatment. If you, or someone you care about, needs urgent help or is having a mental health emergency, please go to your nearest hospital emergency room or call 911.