What is Clinical Hypnosis?
Hypnosis has been described as an altered state of consciousness in which the individual's focus of attention is concentrated or narrowed. Such states are common in everyday life. You may have had the experience of becoming so engrossed in a movie that you lost track of time, or while driving on the freeway, you became so absorbed in your thoughts that you missed your exit. These are called common everyday trances.
Another definition of hypnosis is: "a procedure during which changes are suggested in sensations, perceptions, thoughts, feeling or behavior."
More recently, hypnosis has been called a "non-deceptive placebo."
To be sure Clinical hypnosis is NOT the same as "entertainment" hypnosis as it appears in nightclubs, movies, etc. Many people believe that if they are hypnotized, they will lose control, surrender their will, and be dominated by the hypnotist. This is not so.
All hypnosis is really self-hypnosis, something that you yourself do. In clinical hypnosis patient and therapist work together towards a common goal. The hypnotist simply facilitates.
Basically, we do three different things in hypnosis:
1) We use our powers of imagination. Images created by our mind help us to bring about the very things we are imagining. To prepare for competition, top athletes are trained to visualize themselves performing at optimal levels.
2) We make suggestions designed to help achieve a desired goal. These ideas are far more easily absorbed when you are in this heightened state. Hypnosis is an effective way to access and influence areas of our mind that are normally beyond conscious control.
3) Hypnosis may also be used to enhance unconscious exploration. This can help us to better understand our underlying thoughts, emotions, and motivations.
Clinical hypnosis has been studied scientifically in hundreds of universities, hospitals, and clinics around the world for over 200 years.* Studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating many ailments and illnesses, including acute and chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety disorders, etc. It also is used in many ways to improve motivation, well-being, and performance. Clinical hypnosis is taught in many medical schools in the United States and around the world.
*A bit of history: In 1782, in Paris, Benjamin Franklin and his scientific colleagues, in what has been called the first placebo-controlled blind trial, debunked the claims of a certain Dr. Antoine Mesmer (He of mesmerism fame). He had been successfully treating Parisians for a variety of ailments claiming that the chief beneficial agent was what he called "animal magnetism." and After two weeks of experiments, Franklin's Commission determined that Mesmer's patients recovered their health "through the power of their own minds." Nowadays, we call this clinical hypnosis. Here's a site that will explain more about what happened in Paris all those years ago. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/07-08/franklin.