HypnosisSafe, Effective, Useful
Dr Stuart Edser, Newcastle Psychology & Health’s principal psychologist, is a practitioner of Hypnotherapy, or Clinical Hypnosis. After many years of experience, he has crafted his own considered method of using hypnosis in the clinical setting and finds it to be extremely helpful for appropriate clients. Dr Edser does not use hypnosis as a one-size-fits-all treatment, even when people come to him just for hypnotherapy. Rather, he typically uses it alongside other modalities, like Psycho-education, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and others, to assist people to a level of resolution. He finds that used this way, as an adjunct rather than a stand-alone therapy, hypnosis is most effective and adds something deeper to the counselling experience and to therapeutic outcomes.
Dr Edser is a Member of the Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists.
We are indebted to the Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists (ASCH) and the Australian Society of Hypnosis (ASH) in the preparation of this page, both of whose websites can be found on our Links tab.
The word ‘hypnotherapy’ is technically used to describe a stand-alone modality that is used for a vast range of issues, whereas the phrase ‘clinical hypnosis’ is technically used to describe a modality used in the clinical setting as one of a range of treatments that can be used to assist people. However, most people use the terms interchangeably, so at NPH we are comfortable using either. Dr Edser never uses the term ‘under’ hypnosis, as this tends to have the connotation that a person is under someone else’s power, (the Svengali from cinema), where nothing could really be further from the truth. Instead, he uses the term ‘in’ hypnosis to describe the co-operative state that clinician and client effect together.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hypnosis
Below you will find the most commonly asked questions about hypnosis and hypnotherapy. These are all legitimate questions that have arisen over the years by clients. They are not silly questions – there is no such thing as a silly question! – and they reflect the genuine concerns about something that has been shrouded in some level of mystery down through the years. After all, most people have only ever encountered hypnosis as stage hypnosis which of course is something else altogether and not a clinical modality. So we hope you find the answers to these questions about clinical hypnosis helpful.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is the process by which a person induces an altered state of attention or degree of awareness in another person. It is probably best characterised by a very deep state of relaxation and you may well enjoy a special peace of mind. Many people comment on their feeling of comfort and security, or the sensation of lightness or floating. What is particularly pleasant about hypnosis is the fact that it is natural and safe when used by trained professionals, and almost everyone can learn to use it by themselves and be helped by it. It can be learned and used by adults, adolescents, and children alike.
Hypnosis is a normal, natural, healthy state of mind. It is actually a naturally occurring body defence mechanism, appearing spontaneously as a protective mechanism in humans when we are frightened, disoriented, or in situations of severe violent stress.
A rule of thumb among hypnosis practitioners is that all hypnosis is self hypnosis. We say this because hypnosis can only ever be induced by oneself, either with the assistance of another such as a therapist, or alone. Done in the clinical setting, hypnosis is always a cooperative undertaking. In other words, you cannot be hypnotised against your will.
Every day our bodies experience what are known as Ultradian Rhythms. These Ultradian Rhythms are the basis of what is known as a common, everyday trance or hypnotic state in which we may find ourselves daydreaming or just taking a break.
The following are some examples:
Have you ever had the experience of driving home while thinking about an issue that preoccupied you and suddenly realised that, although you have arrived safely at your destination, you can’t recall having driven past familiar landmarks? You avoided collisions, stopped at red lights – it is as if you had somehow been travelling on automatic pilot.
Have you ever been unsure whether you did something or just though about having to do it – for example, not knowing whether you either mailed a certain letter or just thought about mailing it?
Have you ever been able to block out sounds from your mind so that they were no longer important to you? Or so that they seemed very far away? Or so that you no longer understood them? Or so that you did not hear them at all?
Have you ever been staring off into space, actually thinking of nothing and being unaware of the passage of time?
Have you ever been able to shut out your surroundings from your mind by concentrating very hard on something else?
Have you ever had the experience of reading a novel (or watching a play) and, while doing so, actually forgotten yourself and your surroundings and lived the story with such reality and vividness that it became temporarily real to you?
What Happens in Hypnosis?
A therapist uses hypnosis to enable the client to achieve a state of mental, physical and emotional relaxation. The process may result in a variety of phenomena, which occur spontaneously or in response to verbal or other stimuli. These phenomena can include:
- alternate states of consciousness and memory;
- increased susceptibility to suggestion;
- the production of responses and ideas unfamiliar to the person in the normal state of mind; or
- changes in behavior, perceptions, or psychological processes.
Put more simply, when in hypnosis, the conscious mind (that busy, critical, analytical part of the mind) takes a rest. Hypnosis allows people to tap into the storehouse of information that lies in the subconscious (sometimes referred to as the unconscious) mind and make positive changes to thought patterns, habits or the effects of traumatic incidents that are having a negative impact either mentally or physically.
What does Hypnosis feel like?
The feeling when in hypnosis is of being physically and mentally relaxed. It has been likened to the feelings we experience just before waking completely from sleep or just as we drift off to sleep. Some people say it feels like daydreaming. When in hypnosis, people experience a state of complete mental, physical and emotional relaxation. In itself, this is a very healing state. Dr Milton Erickson, a leading American hypnotherapist, described the process of clinical hypnosis as “a free period in which individuality can flourish”.
How does hypnotherapy help?
The ability to reprogram emotional attitudes and reactions is a latent ability within every human being. Hypnosis is the most functional and reasonable way to train life-long attitudes, rather than suffer a lifetime of emotional accidents the conscious mind is unable to change.
Can Anyone be Hypnotised?
Most people can be hypnotised – some more easily than others. Like anything else in life, the more people practice self-hypnosis, the more easily they can slip into that wonderful relaxed state. The depth tha
t people reach in hypnosis varies between individuals. It is not necessary to achieve a very deep level of hypnosis to bring about change to habits or conditions that are having a negative impact either mentally or physically.
A common myth about hypnotisability is when a person says, “No one could hypnotise me, I’m too strong minded”. As we said above, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. A person goes into hypnosis because they choose to. So strong-minded individuals are really good candidates for hypnosis provided they are committed to wanting it to work for them.
Is Hypnosis the same as Meditation?
Scans of people in hypnosis show that the brain activation seen in hypnosis is quite different from that seen in normal waking or sleeping or in meditation.
Can I be made To Do Anything Against My Will?
This is one of the common misunderstandings associated with hypnosis: that the therapist has control over the client – the old Svengali scenario. This is not the case. People will not do or say anything in hypnosis that they would not do normally. If an action is not consistent with your will, your personality or your values, you will reject it when in hypnosis in the same way you would as in the alert state. Remember, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis – you cannot be hypnotised against your will.
When I’m Hypnotised, am I unconscious?
No. When in hypnosis, the conscious mind takes a rest. Hypnosis allows client and therapist to tap into the storehouse of information that lies in the subconscious (or unconscious mind) and makes positive changes to thought patterns, habits or the effects of traumatic incidents that are having a negative impact either mentally or physically.
In what areas can Hypnotherapy be used?
Hypnotherapy can help with a multitude of different issues, including:
- minor surgical procedures
- pain control
- enuresis (bed wetting)
- tension headaches
- over eating
- smoking cessation
- gastrointestinal disorders
- labour and childbirth
- sexual dysfunction
- nail biting
- panic attacks
- anger and impulse control issues
- eating disorders
- addictions including gambling
- exam/performance/speaking nerves
- study recall
- sports focus
- public speaking
- personal or spiritual growth
- releasing the past
- personal power
- goal setting
- dental phobia
- anxiety control
- bleeding control
- salivation control
- temporo-mandibular dysfunction
- thumb sucking
It must be noted that Hypnotherapy is not a replacement for medical treatment. In most of such cases, hypnosis is used as an adjunct. You must take responsibility to see your doctor if you have a medical condition.
Is Hypnosis a ‘Magic Bullet’?
No. While some therapists use hypnotherapy only in their practice, at NPH Dr Edser has found that using multiple modalities, including hypnosis, over a short course of sessions provides deeper and more lasting therapeutic outcomes.
Will my personality be changed?
No. What hypnotherapy does is to help bring out the best in you. This means that you will change by leaving behind any habits or baggage you no longer need or want and thereby become a stronger and happier person. Hypnosis will not put something into you that was not there in the first place. It just helps you to uncover your strong and good qualities, which you may not even have known you have.
How safe is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a normal, naturally occurring, healthy state of mind. It is totally drug free. There has never been a single documented case of harm resulting from the use of hypnosis.
Leslie Le Crone, psychologist and authority on hypnosis, states: “As to self-induction, many thousands have learned it and I have yet to hear a report of any bad results of its use”.
In his book Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Dr William S Kroger states: “Platonof, an associate of Pavlov, who used hypnosis for over fifty years in over fifty-thousand cases, reports as follows: ‘We have never observed any harmful influences on the patient which could be ascribed to the method of hypno-suggestion therapy, or any tendency toward the development of unstable personality, weakening of the will, or pathological urge for hypnosis’”.
Dr David Cheek, MD, who has vast experience in the field, writes, “We can do more harm with ignorance of hypnotism than we can ever do by intelligently using hypnosis and suggestion constructively”.
Dr Julius Grinker states, “The so-called dangers from hypnosis are imaginary. Although I have hypnotised many hundreds of patients, I have never seen any ill effects from its use”.
Psychologist, Rafael Rhodes, in his book “Therapy Through Hypnosis”, writes: “Hypnotism is absolutely safe. There is no known case on record of harmful results from its therapeutic use”.
Dr Louie P Thorpe, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California, in his book “The Psychology of Mental Health”, writes: “Hypnotism is a natural phenomenon, and there are no known deleterious effects from its use”.
Clinical hypnotherapist, Gil Boyne, states, “In almost forty years of practice and more than 40,000 hours of hypnotherapy, I have never seen or heard of any harm resulting from hypnosis”.
A Note about Religious Concerns
Some clients who have a strong religious faith have expressed concerns that hypnosis might open them up to occult influence. Hypnosis, as expressed above, is a state of deep focused relaxation. In this state, the mind is not empty and the will is not surrendered to another. It is a natural state of the body and mind, suitable for people of all faiths. In fact, hypnosis has been used by many people as a spiritual aid.
Making An Appointment at NPH
When phoning in to make an appointment, please understand that our office staff will not be able to tell you how many appointments will be necessary. Every individual is just that; an individual whose needs must be identified, understood and then acted upon. Dr Edser should be able to give you a rough estimate of how many sessions during your first meeting. Also, don’t forget that Dr Edser uses hypnosis in combination with other modalities so it is quite common to not go into hypnosis in the very first session.
Purchasing Recorded Hypnosis Sessions
A recorded CD of a hypnotic session can be purchased for $20.00. You can also purchase pre-recorded hypnotic ‘meditations’ by Dr Edser for various issues for the same price. Ask the office staff what is available.