Have you ever been hypnotized? Or maybe you know someone who has. It’s a process that can be both fascinating and mysterious. But what exactly happens during hypnosis? And is it really as powerful as people sometimes say? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the different stages of hypnosis and dispel some common misunderstandings about it. Stay tuned!
Hypnosis or hypnotherapy session consists of eight successive stages. We can summarize these as preparation, induction of hypnosis, deepening of hypnosis, the treatment part, ego enhancement, post-hypnotic suggestions, self-hypnosis, and termination of hypnosis.
Where does the name hypnosis come from?
The term “hypnosis” comes from Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep. And, as many know, hypnosis is often used to help people fall asleep.
Stages of Hypnosis
It is the stage of hypnosis in which the patient is prepared for hypnosis. If this stage is rushed, successful hypnotic induction and hypnotherapy cannot be performed. Clinical evaluation, establishing a connection between the patient and the therapist, evaluating the sensitivity to hypnotic suggestion in stages of hypnosis, eliminating false beliefs by providing detailed information about hypnosis and providing facilitating information, and organizing the hypnotherapy environment are performed in the preparation phase.
Before starting hypnotherapy, the psychological and social aspects of the problem should be determined by clinical interview and psychiatric examination with the patient. In stages of hypnosis functional or non-functional thought, emotion, physical response, and behavior patterns are also covered in this context.
In addition, the degree of the problem is determined with psychiatric tests and scales. In the light of all these, the case is conceptualized and a road map for treatment is drawn.
Thanks to the bond to be established between the patient and the hypnotherapist, trust will be gained, positive expectations and attitudes will be developed and motivation will be gained. A good hypnotherapist should be warm, caring, and empathetic, reassuring with expertise and authority, able to speak with the patient’s language, and understand the patient’s expectations.
Assessment of hypnotic suggestibility is also discussed at the first interview. In this way, information about the degree of hypnotic depth that the patient can experience is obtained.
For successful hypnosis/hypnotherapy, it is essential to inform about false thoughts and superstitions about hypnosis and to relax the patient.
To briefly summarize the misunderstandings about hypnosis;
- Hypnosis improves: There is no therapeutic aspect of going into a trance through hypnosis. Treatment will be by applying clinical knowledge and psychotherapy methods in hypnosis. We call this hypnotherapy.
- The hypnotist has special abilities: The hypnotist is not someone with supernatural powers. Anyone who learns about hypnosis can do it, but it cannot happen without the help of the patient. The important thing is not to hypnosis, but to use hypnosis for treatment.
- Not everyone can be hypnotized: There is hardly any person who cannot be hypnotized. But hypnotic sensitivity is variable. Therefore, not everyone can experience trance at the same depth, some people easily hypnotize while others it is hard to be hypnotized.
- Hypnotized people are of poor character: Of course not. Being hypnotized is not linked to any personality disorder or a negative personality trait. Everyone has the ability to get into a hypnotic state.
- Once a person is hypnotized, they cannot resist hypnosis again: The hypnotic process is an interaction between the patient and the hypnotherapist based on shared strength and trust. The person may or may not choose to be hypnotized.
- I can do things I do not want during hypnosis: In hypnosis, the person does not do or say anything against his will.
- Hypnosis can be dangerous: Hypnosis itself is not harmful, it has no side effects.
- The person being hypnotized can become dependent on the therapist: There is no such thing, hypnosis does not encourage addiction to the therapist.
- It may not be possible to get out of hypnosis: It is unlikely to encounter such a situation. Hypnosis is a focused state of attention that can be controlled by the patient. The patient can end this situation at any time.
- Loss of consciousness in hypnosis: There are general relaxation and relaxation in the trance of hypnosis, it is not a state of sleep or unconsciousness. No matter how deep the trance state is, there is a certain level of consciousness.
- Hypnosis is therapy: Hypnosis is not a therapy. Hypnosis is a therapeutic tool used as an adjunct to psychological treatments. This is called clinical hypnosis or hypnotherapy in the world of psychology – psychiatry. Therefore, we recommend that you pay the utmost attention when choosing your hypnotherapist.
- To be hypnosis must be completely relaxed: Since hypnosis is a focused state of attention, physical relaxation will be a facilitating factor, but it is also possible to hypnotize a person while they are walking or cycling.
- In hypnosis, I will remember everything: Memory cannot be fully trusted because memory is a dynamic and constructive process. With hypnosis, it may not be possible to remember the right memories.
After breaking the myths of hypnosis and eliminating misunderstandings, after providing the correct information, facilitating information is given about hypnotherapy and the second stage of hypnosis is started.
This phase is the hypnotic induction phase. The patient is put in a trance with methods such as eye fixation technique, hand and arm lifting technique, and relaxation by counting method.
At this stage, hypnosis is deepened. The intensification of the patient’s participation in the hypnotic experience is called the deepening of the trance. Increased feelings of relaxation, increased attention and concentration, or, in the case of awake hypnosis, a feeling of increased energy are indicators of deepening hypnosis.
The positive treatment is not directly proportional to the depth of hypnosis. Since the depth of trance strengthens the belief of the client about the power of the intervention, it can increase the response to treatment. The depth of the trance may vary during and between sessions.
There are many techniques to deepen hypnosis, such as imagining inner relaxation, breathing techniques, conditional suggestions, visual representation, counting, hand rotation or automatic movements, and spinning wheel fantasy.
This stage is the most important stage in hypnosis because it is used for treatment. The trance state alone has no therapeutic effect. When used as a combined tool in the treatment of psychological-psychiatric problems in the hands of experts, it will be called hypnotherapy and will play the main role in the treatment. In non-competent hands, it will remain as show material.
In hypnosis, it is possible to combine many psychotherapy methods such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, gestalt therapy, holistic psychotherapy, family therapy. Facilitation of emotional discharge, discovery, and restructuring of the unconscious will play an important role in treatment.
This phase is the ego strengthening phase in which tension, anxiety, and worry are eliminated and the patient’s self-confidence is restructured to cope with the patient’s problems. Ego reinforcement suggestions are aimed at increasing the patient’s self-confidence, coping skills, positive self-image, and interpersonal skills. The client will recover quickly to the extent that they feel confident and strong.
Post-hypnosis suggestions are given at this stage. Immediately before the end of the hypnotic session, suggestions are used to counter problematic behaviors, negative emotions, dysfunctional cognitions, and negative self-affirmations. Post-hypnosis suggestions are an important part of the treatment process and play a major role in shaping behavior. Here, suggestions act as positive or negative reinforcers to increase or decrease the likelihood of desired or undesirable behavior.
In modern hypnotherapy, special attention is paid to self-hypnosis and it is recommended that clients be taught self-hypnosis. With self-hypnosis training, the person will learn the suggestions to create a good mood and strengthen their ego and apply them on their own.
It is the section where hypnosis is terminated. It is generally based on the principle of counting numbers up or down.