Pamela Hollings, LCSW
Individual, Couples and Family Therapy & Clinical Hypnosis
300 Carlsbad Village Drive, Ste. 216
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(619) 624-0735

I would like to provide clarification about the use of clinical hypnosis. I have found that many people have misconceptions due to the way hypnosis has been misrepresented to the public in stage shows and through misinformation by some religious groups. Unfortunately, these negative connotations prevent people in need of help from accessing the therapeutic benefits hypnosis can provide. I would like to dispel these myths and help you develop a more accurate understanding about hypnosis.

Hypnosis is not magic; it does not allow someone else to control your mind. During hypnosis, the client is able to maintain total self-control during the entire experience. In the same way you accept or reject suggestions at any other time, you are able to make the same choices while in a hypnotic state. There is no surrendering of your will or good judgment. I apologize if I am taking away the mystery that makes for good entertainment, but stage show hypnosis is all based on the creation of illusion. In the treatment setting, a therapist is not a showman, and clinical hypnosis is not a stage act.

Hypnosis is also not a means of "brainwashing". It does not cause your mind to become vulnerable to ideas that are not right for you. Hypnosis has no mysterious power to make you believe what you do not accept is true. Like all good psychotherapy, clinical hypnosis is practiced with respect and sensitivity to a client's religious beliefs and life philosophy. There is no reason for hypnosis to conflict with an individual's faith or personal value system. People learn best about hypnosis by experiencing it. I have found that clients from all walks of life who were once confused or fearful of hypnosis now endorse it as a valuable part of their treatment.

Some people mistakenly believe that hypnosis is a sleep state, but hypnosis is not sleep. During hypnosis, an individual is relaxed, conscious and alert. Even though you may not realize it, you experience the natural qualities of hypnosis during your daily activities of life. Have you ever been driving while deeply absorbed in thought about something other than the fact that you were driving? Have you ever found yourself so involved in reading a book, or so immersed in watching a television program that you were oblivious to what was going on all around you? Without knowing it, you become "hypnotized" every day.

In the clinical setting, hypnosis is based on the premise that the client has valuable abilities that are present but hidden, abilities that can be uncovered and used in a deliberate way to overcome symptoms and problems. Hypnosis is primarily a focusing technique that amplifies or de-amplifies an experience. When you focus on A, you amplify it in your awareness, and when you focus on B, you de-amplify A. When the therapist asks you to focus your attention on a suggested thought, feeling or sensation and guide it in a positive and meaningful direction, you experience a hypnotic induction. For therapeutic purposes, this focused attention allows clients to look beyond their usual patterns of thought and response and explore new possibilities to change how they perceive and do things.

Hypnosis begins with the belief that people are more resourceful than they realize, then moves them towards a stronger sense of independence and self-reliance in their own potential for further growth. Learning self-hypnosis is an invaluable way for clients to develop new strategies for problem solving and self-correction that result in greater control over their lives. The effectiveness of hypnosis is highlighted in the fact that successful treatment outcomes are achieved in fewer clinical visits than other therapy approaches.

Because physical and mental health are inextricably linked, hypnosis has become a valuable therapeutic tool used by health care professionals for its application not only in psychology, but also many other health professions. One of the most frequently applied and effective uses of hypnosis is to create analgesia and anesthesia for all kinds of painful conditions. Many people have received relief from pain and learned to manage chronic pain conditions through the use of hypnotic techniques. In addition to pain management, hypnosis is effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, trauma recovery, anger management, stress management, relationship issues, spiritual conflict, weight management, sleep disorders, smoking cessation and other life stressors that exacerbate health problems.

The influence hypnosis has had on all forms of therapy has not been fully appreciated. In its ability to effectively help people develop deeper insights into how they generate their thoughts, feelings and behaviors, hypnosis makes therapy more strategic. As clients learn to creatively utilize what already exists within them, they can develop the life skills they need. By tapping into strengths, people are able to outgrow learned limitations and use their internal resources in ways beyond what they once thought were possible.

Hopefully, you are beginning to realize that hypnosis is a legitimate clinical tool to help people improve their lives. Of course, the rules for good psychotherapy apply --the skills of the clinician and the context of the treatment are essential elements to consider when making a decision to use hypnosis. There is no mystery to it; good clinical hypnosis is simply a well-designed therapeutic intervention that works.