Hypnosis, also called hypnotic trance, is a natural state of our consciousness that is situated between waking and sleeping. We experience this state daily when we are absorbed in reading a book, watching a film, when we daydream while staring at the ceiling, or daydream at the same time as being able to follow a discussion.
If you have a driving licence, perhaps you have already experienced losing yourself in a daydream whilst driving. Without thinking about driving you still managed to stay on the right route despite this. This can even happen to us when we are walking along a road. You have walked or driven unconsciously – in other words your eyes saw the road or path and your hands and feet guided you without your conscious mind or logical thought intervening. It was your subconscious mind that was acting – exactly the same mind that permits you to stand upright without thinking about your balance. During a moment of excellence or high performance, when we experience high concentration, relaxation and above all being in the present moment, we are actually in a sort of trance – and thereby better connected to our subconscious potential. Be this in sport, art or the practice of our profession: excellence, imagination and creativity are extremely important. Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. This holds true not only for scientific discovery, but also for when we want to reinvent our lives. Trance permits us to wake the creativity that lies dormant within us. It is with the explicit aim of activating the subconscious mind that we seek to induce this state of modified consciousness called hypnosis or trance, because it constitutes a state of learning. Our subconscious mind – the seat of our sensory perception, our emotions and our immune system – becomes very active as soon as the activity of our conscious mind – the seat of our rational and intellectual intelligence – diminishes. This state can also be called “super-consciousness”, because it permits a feeling of being more ‘oneself’ and allows us to see things with more distance and simplicity without being influenced by stress and worry.
The conscious and subconscious mind
The subconscious mind is at the centre of the hypnotherapeutic process. It is the location of a number of our bodily, mental and spiritual resources. Our conscious mind can, amongst other things, think rationally and make decisions. Our subconscious has numerous capacities that we have not had to make an effort to acquire voluntarily: our immune system protects us automatically, our breathing works naturally all day and our cells regenerate without having to be asked to do so. Other faculties can be learned voluntarily and later become subconscious, such as speaking, standing upright, walking as well as our way of seeing the world, our way of seeing our own selves and the way in which we relate to others. Hypnotherapy consists of introducing hypnosis and of using this state to learn by indirect communication. We often already know what it is we want to change, but our habitual thought, feelings and emotions impede us from fully integrating this knowledge. We must therefore above all work on evolving our emotional relationship to the world around us.
Humans have used hypnosis for over 3000 years. The ways in which it is used varies from culture to culture, but the principles remain very similar. I practice Ericksonian hypnosis, which differs from the older “classical hypnosis”, because it does not aim to ‘re-programme’ the client, but offers a way to accompany him or her in his or her discovery of new perspectives.
In Ericksonian thought there exists a conviction that at each moment we act in the best way we can, using the resources we have at our disposal. As soon as we have new resources, we can do even better. Ericksonian thought holds that positive intentions exist at the source of all problems, negative experiences and habits of life (such as a behaviour, a way of thinking, a manner of speaking, a physical or mental symptom). The aim is neither to eliminate nor to judge these positive intentions but to find an alternative way to satisfy them, in a way that is more respectful towards ourselves and the people around us.
Of course hypnotherapy has its limitations: it is a highly useful complementary therapy, but in no way does it replace medical, psychiatric or psychotherapeutic treatment, above all in cases of severe health problems.
Areas of application
The areas in which hypnotherapy can be used are:
- Changing behaviour patterns
- Changing thought patterns
- Increasing self-confidence
- Weight loss
- Chronic pain
- Negative habits
- Stress and anxiety
- Skin problems
- Sleep problems
- Auto-immune diseases
- Sexual problems
- Personal efficacy
- Improvement of concentration and learning abilities
- Birth preparation
- Personal development
- Development of creativity