Chrysalis Year One What is Hypnosis?

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“What is Hypnosis?” Describe the psychological and physical aspects of hypnosis and discuss the role of relaxation in Hypnotherapy.

‘No-one really knows what hypnosis is; this is part of the attraction of the view that there really is no such thing.’ (Waterfield 2011, Introduction)

Hypnosis, as a term and as a practice, is shrouded in centuries of mystery and surrounded by misconception. Even the word itself, derived from the Greek ‘hypnos’, meaning sleep, is misleading; most people today, even if they hadn’t experienced it themselves, would recognise that being in a hypnotic state is not the same as being asleep. In order to reach a satisfactory definition of hypnosis, it is necessary therefore to explore its origins,
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We will look at these in more detail to understand what changes might occur in the subject at each stage. The objective is, broadly speaking, to facilitate a trance-like state in the subject which enables easier access to the subconscious. After the therapy, there would typically be a period of reflection wherein the subject is encouraged to discuss how the therapy felt and what next steps they might take. However, for the purposes of answering the question ‘What is Hypnosis?’, we will focus primarily on the four key stages. The primary purpose of the ‘Induction’ stage is to relax the subject and somewhat detach them from awareness of their immediate surroundings and concerns. There are many examples of Induction techniques, including eye fixation (pioneered by James Braid int he 19th century); progressive relaxation of each muscle group in the body in turn; and even rapid induction, which might simply comprise commands such as ‘close your eyes...lower your head...’ and result in the subject falling into trance very quickly. Once the subject is relaxed, the therapist may invite them to use visualisation to visit a ‘special place’ where they feel safe and happy, and will usually give them permission to ‘stay’ there for some time. The special place can later be used as a trigger so that, once back to an alert state, the subject can use it whenever they need
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