Clinical Hypnotherapy

Clinical Hypnotherapy

Clinical Hypnotherapy: An introduction

Before we start talking about clinical hypnotherapy, let’s have a look at some definitions.

The definition of “hypnosis”:

Hypnosis is a physical as well as mental state of relaxation, an altered state of consciousness into which individuals allow themselves to enter so that desired, beneficial suggestions may be given directly to the subconscious mind.

The definition of “hypnotherapy”:

Hypnotherapy means the use of hypnosis for the treatment and alleviation of a number of somatic, psychosomatic and psychological conditions.  (The above definitions have been copied from

Clinical hypnotherapy: Let’s have a more detailed look at clinical hypnotherapy

Hypnosis (Source: Dr. Lorna Geer – Counseling Psychologist)

Hypnosis is actually a state of inner absorption, focused attention and concentration of the mind. In this state one could relax your body and focus on your own inner world of experiencing.  Hypnosis has been compared to using a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun and make them more powerful. Similarly, when your mind is focused and concentrated, you will be able to use your mind more powerfully. Therefore, because hypnosis allows one to use more of your potential, the ultimate act of self-control is to learn self-hypnosis.

Hypnosis is a natural ability. A person goes in and out of a hypnotic state when concentrating intently on something, daydreaming, just before falling asleep at night or even just before waking up fully in the morning. As a state of consciousness hypnosis is measurable on an EEG (a machine that measures brain waves). The brain waves activated during meditation are similar to the alpha waves measured during hypnosis.

Hypnosis is used for exploring the subconscious mind to identify which past events or experiences are associated with causing a problem and to better understand the underlying motivations for experiencing problems. Hypnosis makes it possible to avoid the critical censor of the conscious mind. The effectiveness of hypnosis appears to lie in the way in which it bypasses the critical observation and interference of the conscious mind. Therefore it allows a person’s intentions for change to take effect.

Hypnosis could be compared to the fine-tuned instrument that, like a surgeon’s scalpel, allows a doctor to get beneath the surface to locate the origin of the underlying problems. Hypnosis is not a cure but a TOOL that could be used to uncover the origin of the underlying problems and allows intentions for change to take effect. Like the tools used by a surgeon to remove a diseased tissue or organ, hypnosis is a tool to remove a diseased thought or negative belief system.

What does hypnosis feel like?

It is generally speaking pleasant and relaxed feeling. While in hypnosis you are capable of moving, seeing, hearing and speaking freely while focusing internally. You’ve spent a whole lifetime in hypnosis without even knowing it. Have you ever lost track of time while watching TV, reading a book, or being absorbed in a favourite activity? This state of trance that you’ve experienced numerous times before is hypnosis.

What is self-hypnosis?

Self-hypnosis is a practice that could be used to achieve relaxation, stress reduction and improved concentration which you could learn on your own or from a qualified hypnotherapist. Once you are in a relaxed state, you focus on a single specific goal and then use predetermined suggestions to meet that goal. (Source: Dr. Lorna Geer – Counseling Psychologist).

What is Clinical Hypnotherapy? (Source: Sophia Strydom – Educational Psychologist)

Clinical Hypnotherapy is growing in popularity as more people seek a safe, natural method of improving and enhancing their lives. Hypnotherapy involves entering a deep state of relaxation, similar to those few moments before you drift off to sleep, and conducting specialized therapy.

Clinical hypnotherapy
Clinical hypnotherapy: The patient is relaxed, but fully aware of what is going on around him/her.

Clinical Hypnotherapy means using advanced methods of hypnosis and other techniques to treat a variety of medical and psychological problems. It is estimated that upwards of 85% of people will readily respond to Clinical Hypnotherapy (the remaining 15% can still be treated using other techniques that psychologists provide as a matter of routine). It may even succeed where other, more conventional methods of treatment have not produced the desired results. 

Why do professionals use Clinical Hypnotherapy?

Modern Clinical Hypnotherapy is an integrative field of study. This means that the best elements of many other forms of therapy have been integrated into Clinical Hypnotherapy. This includes behavioural psychology, cognitive psychology, EMDR, NLP, as well as the most effective elements from the classical theories proposed by Freud, Jung and Adler, as well as the latest psychological research in terms of how the mind functions.

Clinical hypnotherapy and the subconscious mind

Hypnotherapy allows you to directly access your emotional or ‘subconscious mind’; this is the part of your mind that is the most powerful and stores all your memories. It is very seldom tapped to its full potential and it is estimated that we only use about 10% of our potential brain power. The subconscious is also the seat of all emotions and this in turn affects all of our behaviours. It also affects the physical state of mind (mind-body connection) and is responsible for the functioning of the immune system, which is why hypnotherapy can actually help with physical as well as emotional disorders.

The subconscious mind ‘tape records’ all experiences and hypnotherapy allows access to emotions and past events suppressed, represses, or forgotten by the conscious mind. The subconscious can access facts, information, causes of feelings, behaviours, and attitudes; these can then be strengthened or changed according to the client’s wishes.

How can clinical hypnotherapy assist in everyday life?

Being able to think and act positively is achieved through an awareness of self-management. The person who manages events, emotions, and personal progress is freer from stress, inadequacy, and other negative traits. Hypnosis can create and enhance self-confidence, assuredness, and a sense of well-being. Self-doubt, negative childhood imprints, and other self-defeating negativities can be converted to positive learning experiences for excellence. Hypnotherapy can help belief in personal power (the ability to act) resulting in the complete turn-around of lives and fortunes. Self-esteem and self-confidence are essential to well-being. A person must like, respect, and admire the person he or she sees in the mirror. Life events, in childhood or in later years, can damage self-esteem and confidence, reducing the chances of reaching one’s full potential. Past negative programming and negative beliefs caused by judgmental parents, teachers, relatives, or peers can inhibit progress.

However, Clinical Hypnotherapy and Hypno-analysis can reveal the causes, create understanding and modify self-doubts and beliefs, enabling individuals to achieve their full potential.

Can I be hypnotized against my will?

No! It is a fact that no-one can be hypnotised against their will and even when hypnotized, a person can still reject any suggestion. Thus, therapeutic hypnosis is a state of purposeful (confidential) co-operation.  (Source: Sophia Strydom – Educational Psychologist).

Can clinical hypnotherapy only be used with adults?

No, clinical hypnotherapy can be used with adults and children.  In fact, children often spend a lot of time in a hypnotised state, like when they are so focused on one activity, like playing with their toys, or colouring.

For more information on Clinical Hypnotherapy, visit the South African Society of Clinical Hypnosis or the Milton H Erickson Institute of South Africa.


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