What is hypnosis? 

The British Society of Clinical Hypnosis (BSCH) describes hypnosis as being “neither asleep nor awake”. It’s a “little like daydreaming, with a pleasant feeling of deep relaxation behind it all.” This state is referred to as being “in trance” and it may be surprise you to learn that most of us experience trance daily during the course of our lives – think driving the car on autopilot or daydreaming of your favourite holiday whilst on crowded public transport. Even passing into ordinary sleep involves a kind of trance state.


Hypnotherapy is deliberately taking someone into a state of hypnosis to treat various medical or psychological problems.  During trance the hypnotherapist’s words “by-pass” the rational part of the client’s mind (the conscious). The conscious would ordinarily assesses every new idea presented to it against the stored behaviours and ‘programming’ in the client’s sub-conscious, choosing to accept or reject those new idea based upon analysing previous experiences and beliefs. By offering suggestions to the client’s sub-conscious mind (via trance) the client’s brain is more likely to accept new ideas without the usual dismissal of ‘Yeah I tried that before and it didn’t work…’. It’s like supercharging an individual’s willpower. As the brain doesn’t know the difference between something that’s vividly imagined or something that’s actually happened, if a client imagines him/herself enjoying a new experience or sees themselves confidently interacting differently in a situation that may have caused them discomfort or fear in the past then they are much more likely to give the new behaviour or reaction (such as quitting overeating or smoking) their best shot and stick with it long term. 

It’s important that clients know that no-one can be hypnotised against their will and that even when hypnotised, a person can still reject any suggestions provided by the therapist – that’s why one of the first things the therapist will ask about is your motivation to change. Hypnotherapy is therefore a state of purposeful co-operation where the therapist assists the client to achieve a trance state and offers them suggestions aimed at helping them to achieve their therapeutic goal. BSCH reports that an estimated 85% of people will respond at some level to clinical hypnotherapy. It may even succeed where other more conventional methods of treatment have not produced the desired result. When carried out by a trained and qualified hypnotherapist, the benefits can be long lasting and often permanent. It is natural and safe, with no harmful side effects. 

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (2012) describe hypnosis as “a state of inner absorption, concentration, and focused attention characterised by relaxation and some degree of suggestibility”. 

For further information please follow these links: 


On hypnotherapy – “If this were a drug, everyone would be using it”

David Spiegel, M.D. Associate Chair of Psychiatry at Stanford University