There is no debate as to whether hypnosis works. Hypnosis does not occur without the active cooperation of the client and cannot compel anyone to do anything against his/her wishes. Typically, clients do not lose consciousness during trance, but remain aware throughout, although in a relaxed, detached state.
Hypnosis is a trance state, similar to drifting off to sleep or losing track of time while driving or reading. While in the enhanced state of trance, the conscious mind is suppressed and the unconscious mind is revealed. Then, the therapist is able to implant ideas, concepts and alterations, the seeds of which become firmly implanted and reinforced.
Hypnosis can release fears, physical reactions, phobias, and allow troubling thoughts, emotions and memories to be confronted and released in ways not easily available through conventional, psychological ways. It is also compatible with other therapeutic interventions, and has been called “ the drugless therapy.” Hypnotherapy has no history of harmful effects and any outcome must be consistent with the client’s values.
In trance, the breathing slows and deepens, the pulse slows, and the metabolic rate falls. Similarly, changes in the central nervous system and hormonal balances allow for the release of long-term physical reactions and sensations such as chronic pain, vertigo, enuresis (bed-wetting), teeth-grinding, phobias (disabling fears), weight management, anxiety, stress, addictions, smoking cessation, obsessions, and nausea, to name a few. Hypnosis has also been successfully used in the treatment of pain associated with burns, and to ease childbirth.
Hypnosis is most often seen in entertainment (stage hypnosis) or in sensationalized, and mostly untrue depictions in movies and television. In these circumstances, the casual observer might well gain a distorted view of hypnosis. In reality, a client cannot be compelled to do anything against their values, no matter the skill of the practitioner.
Hypnotherapy is the application of hypnotic techniques toward a specific, therapeutic outcome. The issue may be resolved in as little as one session, but most require several sessions, as typically one issue is addressed per session, due to the nature of the subconscious, and the possible need for reinforcement. Hypnotherapy may be used by a practitioner by itself, in conjunction with counselling, or with other approaches.