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Understanding Hypnotherapy

Updated: Nov 6, 2023


Hypnotherapy bristol

There are many misunderstandings about hypnotherapy, mostly fuelled by portrayals of the approach in the media, stage (performative) hypnotists and a history of being associated with witchcraft and hysteria. These sensationalised portrayals of hypnotherapy have led many people to believe that hypnosis is about forcing people to do silly or embarrassing things by swinging a pocket watch in their face and equate it to a parlour trick. .


Clinical hypnosis significantly differs from the approaches in these portrayals. It is a regulated, standardised and evidence-based therapy approach delivered by trained and suitably qualified healthcare professionals such as doctors, counsellors and psychologists. In contrast to the portrayals of hypnotherapy, during clinical hypnosis the client remains in control - they can reject the suggestions by the therapist and they can come out of the state at any time.


During a clinical hypnosis session the therapist puts the client in a deeply relaxed subconscious state, where the mind is able to focus, blocking the outside world and other distractions. In this state the mind is more open to positive change, with the therapist making suggestions that the client is more open to receiving. Once the client is brought out of the hypnotised state they continue with this mindset, taking the suggestions into their every day life - changing how they think, feel and behave.

During clinical hypnosis, the client remains in control and can reject the suggestions by the therapist and they can come out of the state at any time

Not everybody is susceptible to hypnosis so the therapist typically completes a screening assessment to ensure suitability. During this the therapist will discuss calming sensory experiences that help the client to feel safe and secure, for example a beach, waterfall or woodland. The therapist will talk through these places, creating powerful imagery in the clients mind, which aids with the achievement of deep, calming visual images. The external world then disappears from focus, allowing the mind to focus and be open to new experiences. This is referred to as a ‘hypnotic state’.



hypnotherapy bristol


There is a huge evidence-base supporting the use of hypnotherapy for a range of physical and mental health conditions. These include chronic pain, sleep problems, IBS, OCD, anxiety, stress, PTSD and phobias. There is also evidence that hypnotherapy helps with behavioural change, reducing or breaking unhelpful habits such as comfort eating, alcohol use, smoking and drug use. Further, hypnosis can also be helpful with the fear of childbirth and fear of pain during this process.

The evidence-base also provides some indication as to how and why hypnosis may work. Brain scans of people undergoing hypnosis show that the areas responsible for switching between tasks are less active during the hypnotic state, allowing for a deep focus and concentration on the present moment. Brain scans also show that the areas of the brain that manage the stress response are calmer, which may contribute the intense relaxed state felt during hypnosis.


Hypnosis can be a transformative experience for many people. Our counsellor Hannah uses Hypnotherapy to help clients to enter into what can be described as a relaxed subconscious state to help them achieve behaviour changes or to improve their physical or emotional wellbeing.

Hannah says ‘hypnotherapy can be described as a deep state of relaxation where your subconscious mind can be accessed. Being under hypnosis allows you to feel relaxed. Sometimes you may notice your mind is wandering- perhaps you are thinking about what’s for tea later .. or what you need to buy when you go out shopping. Thats ok, don’t worry it’s still working.. I always say it’s important to have an open mind to hypnotherapy in the first place before starting. I believe this is important so you can develop a trusting relationship with your therapist to enable the best success. You can be guided into hypnosis in different ways and we will talk together initially in the consultation to discuss how this might best fit you.’


‘I really enjoy delivering hypnotherapy to my clients as it is truly rewarding to watch the difference in clients week by week. I believe hypnotherapy has such strong results in clients because it re-trains the brain, and this is because of it being in those key moments where the subconscious brain is being accessed. Hypnotherapy has worked excellently for clients in many areas such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, and habitual behaviours.’


If you feel you would benefit from hypnosis then please do get in touch here. Hannah offers online hypnotherapy sessions and face to face hypnotherapy in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

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