Clinical hypnosis is a process in which a licensed health professional suggests that a client/patient experience changes in sensations, perceptions, thoughts, or behavior. The hypnotic context is generally established by a direct or indirect induction procedure. Well trained professionals determine which approach will be most useful for the person in front of them. Invitations to let go of stress/tension and suggestions to imagine or think about pleasant experiences are commonly included in hypnotic inductions.
People respond to hypnosis in different ways. Some describe their experience as an altered state of consciousness, but others describe hypnosis as a normal state of focused attention, in which they feel very calm and relaxed. Regardless of how and to what degree they respond, most people describe the experience as very pleasant.
Some people are very responsive to hypnotic suggestions and others are less responsive. A person’s ability to experience hypnotic suggestions can be inhibited by concerns arising from some common misconceptions. Contrary to what some may believe, those who are hypnotized do not lose control over their behavior, and unless amnesia has been specifically suggested, they usually remember what transpired during hypnosis. Hypnosis makes it easier for people to experience suggestions, but it does not force them to do anything.
Hypnosis is not a type of therapy. Instead, it is a procedure that can be used to facilitate therapy. Because it is not a treatment in and of itself, training in hypnosis is not sufficient for conducting therapy. Clinical hypnosis should be used only by properly trained and credentialed health care professionals, who have also been trained in the clinical use of hypnosis. Hypnosis has been utilized in the treatment of many psychological and medical issues.
Hypnosis, however, may not be useful for all psychological problems or for all patients or clients. The decision to use hypnosis as an adjunct to treatment can only be made in consultation with a qualified health care provider, who has been trained in the use and limitations of clinical hypnosis.
(The above definition of hypnosis was based on the description written by the American Psychological Association, Division of Psychological Hypnosis. Permission to reproduce is freely granted to CHSNJ.)