This guide will help you understand how hypnosis works, and how it’s an efficient, safe and modern treatment that addresses many problems that have to do with attitude or perspective. Through hypnosis, our clients have quit smoking, managed healthy weight loss, addressed and tackled fears, phobias and worries and become more confident in their social and professional spheres. Hypnosis has also helped them change the way they deal with stress-inducing situations, allowing them to re-think old habits and behaviours, turn procrastination into motivation, sleep better, reduce stress and gain better focus for work and study.

Hypnosis Defined (According to Dave Elman)

Hypnosis can be defined in two parts:

  1. Bypass of the critical faculty of the conscious mind, and
  2. The establishment of acceptable selective thinking.

(Elman, 1964)

The critical faculty is the part of your conscious mind that judges, analyzes and evaluates what other people say. While it’s vitally important to everyday life (without it, you would be too easy to influence), and one of the purposes of education is to develop it, it can also prevent you from accepting helpful suggestions. Unless your critical faculty has been bypassed (or suspended), we cannot say that you are hypnotized.

Selective thinking is when a person adopts wholeheartedly and uncritically a new way of thinking. Because people who are in hypnosis are never completely suggestible, only heightened in suggestibility, they still have to find the new way of thinking to be acceptable to them. However, as long as this condition is met, when hypnotized they will accept the new way of thinking without questioning or analysis.

Once these two conditions are met, we can say that the client is in hypnosis. A client who is in hypnosis is capable of experiencing a variety of hypnotic phenomena, such as heightened imagination, altered perceptions and time distortion. More importantly for our purposes, they can accept new ideas, attitudes and perspectives more readily, and this is what causes the changes that our clients are seeking.

How Easy is It to Be Hypnotized?

Whether they realize it or not, people enter into a state of hypnosis all the time. For example, in order to fully enjoy a film, you must allow your critical faculty to be bypassed–although in this case, we call it “suspension of disbelief.” It’s only after suspending disbelief that you can be emotionally and intellectually affected by the film. Even years after watching a very good film, you can still be affected by it, even though you had only spent two hours with suspended disbelief. Hypnosis works through the same principle.

Although most people can enter into hypnosis within a few minutes, being in hypnosis is only the first step to achieving lasting change. What matters more is the work your hypnotherapist does with you once you’re in hypnosis.

What Happens During Hypnosis

Entering hypnosis only takes the first five or ten minutes of your session. Once you’re in hypnosis, change occurs because of the suggestions we give and the processes we guide you through. Here are some of the more common techniques that we use in hypnosis:

Direct suggestion: This is what most people think of when they think of hypnosis. Direct suggestion means that hypnotist is telling you very directly what to think, such as “Your worth and dignity as a human being are constant and inviolable” or “You’ve already smoked your last cigarette.”

Reframing: In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we have the line: “There is nothing either good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.” Reframing helps you to see a situation in an entirely new light. At our practice, we try to help clients see what’s truthful and reassuring, or truthful and empowering.

Visualization: Entire books have been written about the power of visualization. In recent years, we have stopped telling clients explicitly what to visualize, but most people will be visualizing on their own throughout their sessions, as a reaction to the hypnotist’s verbal suggestions.

These are the techniques we use most frequently, but the possibilities of what might occur during hypnosis are limited only by our imagination.

Foundational Principles That We Believe In

The more experience we gain, the less we think or work like other hypnosis professionals. In recent years at The Morpheus Clinic for Hypnosis, we’ve abandoned the technique-driven approaches we used to practice to prefer a more philosophical, principle-based approach. Here are some of the principles we believe in and put into practice:

  • The mind-body link is very real for everybody, which means the thoughts in your head are inevitably going to affect the way you feel in your body (and by extension, what you believe you’re capable of doing).
  • This means there’s such a thing as high-quality thinking that improves people’s lives, and low-grade thinking that diminishes a person’s quality of life. Our clients usually have some form of lower-quality thinking that they had learned earlier in life, and which we can improve upon.
  • Hypnosis allows a person to focus inwardly and accept higher-quality thinking. This would normally be the thinking of somebody who doesn’t have the client’s problem. It’s usually truthful and reassuring, or truthful and empowering.
  • Truth is liberating, not oppressive, and the pursuit of it is always worthwhile. Much suffering is caused by inauthenticity, wishful thinking and outright lies.
  • It isn’t always necessary to revisit the past or to understand how the client developed their problem before adopting new ways of thinking. In fact, it’s often the long way around. (You don’t need to understand why the kitten was abandoned roadside before taking him in for some warmth, food and milk.)
  • The niche that hypnotists fill is to provide clear guidance for the client’s inner world, and more specifically, the strongly directive kind that other professionals do not practice.

In addition to these principles that explain how we approach hypnosis, we’ve identified a large number of principles that allow people to live a healthy life, make presentations confidently, stay smoke-free and so on. When we onboard a new client and write a treatment plan for them, the plan consists largely of a list of principles that we believe will help them when fully internalized. We believe that when we are transparent about what we intend to communicate, it will be much easier for you to suspend critical thinking as described above.