Sample: 9-minute guided imagery for "grounding" - promotes feelings of calm, wellbeing, and inner strength:*
“The heart has its reasons whereof Reason knows nothing.” —Blaise Pascal
Hypnosis is a powerful tool for accessing the subconscious mind. Change is difficult, and sometimes understanding something intellectually is not enough.You may have heard the metaphor of the mind as an iceberg: What we see above the surface, or the tip of the iceberg, is analogous to our conscious mind, while the enormous mass that lies under the surface represents the subconscious mind.
Our vast subconscious mind is responsible for emotions, imagination, memories, habits, and intuitions, and dreaming. It regulates our autonomic bodily functions, such as the heart, digestion, respiration, salivation, perspiration, pupil dilation, sleep, and sexual function. Unbeknownst to us, the subconscious - fueled by the powerful motivators of imagination, memory, and emotion - drives our behavior.
Often people have misconceptions about hypnosis due to negative portrayals in the media and from “stage hypnosis” experiences. Hypnotherapy is completely safe and is a powerful agent of change when the recipient is motivated, and the clinician well-trained. Unlike someone performing stage hypnosis, an ethical hypnotherapist follows the lead of the client, and reinforces what the client wants and needs to hear, building on strengths and achievements. Like psychotherapy, hypnosis is a collaborative process between client and hypnotherapist.
Hypnosis can be applied to many goals. The hypnotherapist often provides compassionate support, assistance in goal formulation, and facilitation of the hypnotic state. Ultimately, though, it is the client who is responsible and in control of her own destiny. Hypnosis can be a powerful agent of growth and change, but it does not exempt a person from self-responsibility, and doing the work that needs to be done.
I offer clinical hypnosis both as a stand-alone, time-limited treatment, and within the context of ongoing psychotherapy, as desired. I specialize in smoking cessation.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis, sometimes called “trance,” is a state of deep relaxation and sharp focus - a kind of “guided daydreaming.” In this state of mind, the subconscious mind is more accessible, which creates the potential for rapid and impressive results. While there is a setting of intention, this modality is non-striving in essence, relying on the power of the mind to bring about change by gently focusing thoughts and imagination on desired outcomes. Health and ability are amplified, as opposed to a focus on pathology and deficiencies.
A useful metaphor is the seesaw, with the conscious mind on one end, and the subconscious on the other. In everyday life, where we are mostly aware of our conscious mind, the seesaw is tipped so the conscious mind dominates, and the subconscious is inaccessible. In hypnosis, the seesaw shifts in the opposite direction as we become more in tune with our subconscious. In this state, the recipient is highly receptive to information and messages she finds meaningful and acceptable.
Some common key characteristics of the state of hypnosis include:
Increased suggestibility (for those suggestions which resonate well with the person in hypnosis)
Time distortion (time may seem to slow down or speed up)
Dissociation of conscious and unconscious mental processes (the conscious mind may feel like a detached observer)
Some common applications of hypnotherapy are:
Behavior change of all kinds (e.g., increasing exercise frequency)
Most experts believe that that vast majority of people of people can be hypnotized, and I agree. This make sense when you think of the state of hypnosis more broadly, such as everyday experiences that are hypnotic in nature. The classic example is driving on “auto pilot”, when you realize you have driven for some time without consciously noticing your route. Other examples include daydreaming, and intense absorption in movies and books, where time seems suspended and your attention is highly focused.
Some people are prone to deeper levels of hypnosis than others, which appears to be a relatively stable trait over the lifetime. Luckily, it is not necessary to achieve a profoundly deep level of hypnosis in order for change to occur. Benefits can be gained during both lighter states and deeper states of hypnosis.
Will I lose consciousness during hypnosis? Will I lose control?
Hypnosis is a natural altered state; you do not lose consciousness. You may be so relaxed that you don’t fully register everything you hear on your conscious level — kind of like that moment just before you fall asleep at night, or just as you are waking in the morning, when you are conscious but on the edge of sleep. Rather than losing control, you gain more control by accessing the wisdom and power of you subconscious mind. Your subconscious accepts those ideas and suggestions that you are in agreement with, while filtering out those you are not in agreement with. My job is to clarify what you want in our pre-hypnosis discussions, then to speak it to your subconscious once you are in hypnosis.
What is it like to participate in hypnosis?
Hypnotists use a variety of techniques such as verbal instruction, imagery, and light touch, to encourage the client to enter into an altered state. There is a range of experiences people report having in the state of hypnosis. It is typical to feel very relaxed — often so relaxed that there is no desire to move. Often people feel a heaviness or a lightness, and they may feel somewhat disconnected from their bodies. They may have the sensation of being half-asleep, but still aware of the hypnotist’s voice on some level. In deeper levels of hypnosis, one may “awaken” at the end of the session, and not consciously remember all that was said. In this case, the memory of the session lies in the subconscious. Interestingly, sometimes people do not feel especially “altered” when under hypnosis. In this case, the inexperienced person’s expectations of a more dramatic experience under hypnosis may lead her to falsely conclude that she was not hypnotized. Therefore, it is important to understand the range of experiences, and to enter hypnosis with an open mind.
* A transcript of my grounding audio recording is available here.