The word "hypnosis" originates from Greek "hypnos" (sleep), it describes both the state of mind and the technique which is used to induce it. Hypnosis is a natural state which occurs at least twice a day when you are falling asleep and when you are waking up. It is also called "hypnogogic" state. It is a state of consciousness between "awake" and "asleep". The brain waves during this state are alpha and theta waves. (when you fall asleep - brain-waves change to delta (slowest waves) , and when you fully wake up - to beta (fastest waves). Alpha brain waves also show on EEGs of people watching TV or a movie, reading an interesting book, daydreaming, meditating, praying or even driving a car - all these activities produce light hypnotic trance. So, even if you have never been hypnotized by a therapist or at a hypno-show - you already have a lot of experience of being in hypnotic trance! People who meditate regularly have more experience with it and can put themselves into hypnotic trance (self-hypnosis) - but almost anybody can be hypnotized if they are willing to relax and follow hypnotherapist's instructions.
During hypnosis the "critical factor" is bypassed and hypnotherapist can access the person's subconscious mind to help improve attitudes, habits, and self esteem of the client, erase fears and anxiety, uncover repressed or forgotten memories. Can people be hypnotized against their will? No! Not in normal conditions (without use of mind altering drugs, sleep deprivation etc) Person has to relax willingly and allow the process to take place. Most clients are awake and aware during sessions and always in control.
There are 2 main types of hypnotherapy - "suggestion therapy" and "regression therapy". Suggestion therapy is used to create healthy beliefs, attitudes and habits. Hypnotherapist induces a state of hypnotic relaxation and "suggests" healthy attitudes and habits to the client. All suggestions are discussed with the client prior to the session, and only the ones client wants are used during the session. By repeating the suggestion many times while the client is in relaxed hypnotic state - hypnotherapist imprints them into the client's subconscious mind, so they eventually become client's "second nature". It is widely used for weight loss, quitting smoking, reducing anxiety or insomnia, raising self-esteem and improving academic or athletic performance etc etc.
"Regression" therapy is a form of mental time travel. We all have millions of memories, most of which we do not even remember - and some we would really love to forget! Hypnotic regression is used to "time travel" to the past events which created harmful belief or habit or fear - by relieving the event the fear is usually eliminated!
But sometimes the situation which created fear/anxiety happened not in this life - but in a previous lifetime! I will speak more about this topic on "Past Life Regression" page. This is my favorite form of hypnotherapy as it allows to time travel into different times and places and eliminate roots of fears, and even physical illnesses, and also trace relationship with the same "cast of characters" through many lifetimes and find hidden talents and abilities useful for this life!
Can anybody be hypnotized?
Almost anybody. About 90% of people can be hypnotized if the are willing to let it happen, but not everybody can go into very deep levels of trance called "somnambulism" - this is a state when an operation can be performed on a person without any pain, or any childhood memory can be vividly relieved and client acts and talks like a child or animal when asked - but after waking up the client does not remember anything. Only 10-20% of people are somnambulistic. Stage hypnotists have a "6th sense" for these people and always choose them to go on stage for shows! But even somnambulistic clients can not be "programmed" to do anything against their moral standards - they immediately wake up from trance! Nobody can make you harm somebody or perform any other immoral act in hypnosis.
DO I HAVE ANY CONTROL IN HYPNOSIS?
First of all, you can't be hypnotized if you do not like or trust the hypnotist. If you do not have "rapport" - a feeling of trust and emotional acceptance. You also can control how deep do you want to go. You can even open your eyes or move or get up and go to the bathroom if you need to! (but it is better if you minimize liquids intake before the session so you do not have to...) You are always in control - but for your own sake it is better to let yourself relax as deeply as possible to have the best result of the session! The deeper you go (the slower the brain-waves) - the better results you will have. It is MY JOB to make sure you do not fall asleep! Hypnosis is not sleep - it is 'in between" state - when you are not asleep and not awake, but hanging right on the border...