In order to help you understand, and feel more at ease with hypnosis as a therapeutic tool, I thought it might be helpful to explain a bit about the ingredients that make a hypnosis session.

A hypnosis session is generally regarded to contain five elements. These are introduction, induction, deepener, therapy, and wakening. I will explain each of these elements in turn.

The introduction phase is where the hypnotherapist gains rapport with the client. This is an extremely important stage, and can ultimately make or break the session. A good clinical hypnotherapist will quickly gain the subjects trust and co operation. Without this, the therapy is virtually useless as the patients’ mind can simply reject the therapeutic suggestions. The patient may even wish not to precede with the therapy if they do not feel at ease with the therapist.

The best clinical hypnotherapists are also good conversationalists, and can quickly put people at ease, allowing them to open up. Some of this is taught, but a lot is down to personality and experience. They may engage in some light patter to begin with, before gently guiding the conversation to the patients’ problems, and what they would like to achieve as a result of this therapy. In the online world this has to be done in a different way. I try and write and distribute as many articles and videos as I can, in order to hopefully show my competence in the field of therapy. I try to be as active I can be online, and respond to as many questions and correspondences as possible. This way I hope to help people feel at ease, trust me, and feel almost like they have met me in person.

The next phase is the induction phase. The main aim of this phase is to gain eye closure. In stereotypical terms, it is the part where the hypnotist swings his antique watch, suggesting that the patient is feeling sleepy, and wanting to close their eyes. Personally I feel that this sort of thing is becoming a little outdated. It may even encourage some patients to feel like they are going to become ‘mesmerised’ out of their control by a half deranged hypnotist! I prefer to give the patient some time to get comfortable, then ask them to close their eyes when they are ready to do so. I feel that people do not generally like being told what to do these days, and don’t always appreciate being told to close their eyes by a stern looking hypnotist. There are other techniques, such as gazing at a spot on the ceiling, or at your hand.

The deepening stage is where you relax the patient into a trance. My personal favourite techniques to achieve this are meditative breathing techniques, as you can easily feel the physical effects of the relaxation through both your mind and body. There are many other techniques that achieve this also, and you are only limited by your imagination. A hypnotherapist may, for example, guide you on a relaxing stroll in an imaginary garden, or on a sunny beach.

The next phase of the session is usually the therapy phase. With the patient in a trance, the conscious mind is quietened, so that the therapeutic suggestions are easily absorbed by the unconscious mind. The unconscious part of the mind is where our habits and drives are formed. By talking to it, we can effect permanent change. In case you wondered, there is no need to be concerned about sinister hypnotists abusing this phase. The subconscious mind is more than able to reject suggestions that it does not wish to accept. I could not, for example, suggest that you transfer all of your savings to my bank account. Your subconscious mind would not buy that for a second! What it will accept though, is suggestions of changes that you have discussed in the introduction stage. A good hypnotherapist will quickly get to know the patient in the introduction stage, and tailor the therapy for the individual.

The final stage is the wakening stage. Here the aim is to gently lift the patient back out of their trance, returning them to full waking consciousness. Sometimes in my recordings I will allow the patient to wake up at a time that is convenient for them. This isn’t always practical in my live sessions however. I would like to add that there has never been any reported problems of anyone ‘stuck in trance’. These are just urban legends and grossly distorted media hype. Very occasionally, someone might not wake up straight away, simply because they are enjoying the trance so much. They always wake up after a few minutes, usually when they start getting bored, or when I tell them that I am charging for this time!

So to round up, a hypnotherapist tries to gain rapport and trust, before the hypnosis begins, in the introduction stage. The hypnotherapist will then ask the patient to close their eyes, and may use an induction to do so. The patient is then guided into a trance with a deepener. Once suitably relaxed, the hypnotherapist will then perform the therapy, before waking the patient.

A hypnotic therapy session is almost always a safe, gentle and relaxing experience. I hope that by being open and explaining to you the elements of a hypnosis session, I have given you some idea of the reality of hypnosis. There is much misinformation about hypnotherapy floating around. This form of therapy may not be everyone’s’ cup of tea, and I am fine with that. What can be a little disheartening is when people miss out on this enjoyable and effective form of therapy because of fear caused by misinformation. I hope I have helped you to gain some knowledge about hypnotherapy, and have opened up the possibility of you benefiting from this form of therapy in the future. Thanks for listening.

Jon Rhodes is one of the UK’s leading clinical hypnotherapists. Click here for more information on his free online hypnosis sessions, and here for more hypnosis downloads