Dr. Allen is trained in clinical uses of hypnosis. Hypnosis is a cognitive skill. We have within us a method for inner communication to the subconscious mind, and for setting and achieving goals, overcoming self-set limitations, changing negative thought processes, and exploration of psychological issues. Dr. Allen has offered the use of clinical hypnosis for lowering anxiety and stress, overcoming test and performance anxiety and the limitations of self-doubt, quitting smoking, diet support, study and academic success, getting rid of phobias, strategies for helping relieve medical issues (i.e., headaches, TMJ, GI, chronic pain, among numerous other conditions), and other situations where conscious – subconscious intervention may be helpful.
Self-hypnosis uses similar procedures to the process auto-hypnosis (with therapist), but requires absolute concentration, a secluded and quiet atmosphere, and about fifteen minutes for practice to accomplish the goals, preferable twice each day. Self-hypnosis is a worthy skill, and requires disciplined practice, diligence, and motivation to become proficient. With practice, you can learn to accomplish hypnotic work in briefer periods of time, such as several 3-5 minute sessions spaced throughout the day. However, the amount of time will also depend on the complexity of your goals. The best way to schedule your hypnotic sessions would be at consistent intervals (early in the morning, after lunch, during an afternoon work break, and definitely before bed). The brief sessions of self-hypnosis during the day can feel quite relaxing and refreshing. The following are guidelines to follow for conducting a self-hypnosis session.
Before conducting the self-hypnosis session, determine and write down your specific goals: It is more effective to focus on one or two goals for each hypnotic experience. First, write down your goals in very specific terms as you want them to happen. Focus, not so much on a superficial statement of changing traits (e.g., “to be more confident and self-assured”), but on the very specific behaviors that need to change and the new and desirable feelings associated with the change. If you were this new person you desire to be, how would you feel, sound, look? How would you act differently, and in what specific situations? What kind of positive responses would you experience from others?
Hypnosis: An art and a science
Hypnosis is a cognitive skill, innate in every individual. Learn how to use the hypnotic state to create, choreograph, and practice seeing your goals for success. The subconscious mind responds to using the 8 senses in imagery (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, vestibular-balance, proprioception, and interocetion), imagining the feelings and emotions relating to the achieving of the goal in action, words and affirmations, and post-hypnotic suggestions affirming a future success. Learn how to master this skill for overcoming challenges, and enhancing skills and potential.
Hypnosis as an altered state of consciousness, where an individual’s focus of attention is narrowed and his or her concentration directed toward a goal. Scientists believe that hypnosis tends to involve greater right brain activity and imagination. Each person experiences hypnosis in a unique way. The benefit of hypnosis is that it helps an individual relax in a secure environment, allowing the that individual to use his or her subconscious mind to focus on more positive ideas and create motivation for making healthy personal changes. Through hypnosis, an individual can access mental strengths, and utilize his or her innate capacity for greater mental control and self-mastery.
There are many myths about hypnosis, but there is nothing magical or mystical about it. It is simply an inner state of focused attention, absorption and mental concentration. This altered state of consciousness is similar to a magnifying glass in the sun, in which sunrays are focused in the glass and are thus, more powerful. Similarly, when the mind is passively concentrated and focused, more potential and power can be directed toward a goal. It is commonly believed that we use only five- or ten-percent of our mental potential. Hypnosis is simply a focused state of attention and concentration that allows you to use more of the potential and power of your own mind. Self-hypnosis can help you gain more control over anxiety, and increase mental concentration.
To better understand hypnosis, consider the differences between the “conscious” and “subconscious” mind. For simplicity, the conscious mind functions when we are fully awake and aware of our external environment, and the subconscious mind is most active when we are asleep or daydreaming. For example, have you ever driven on a highway, absorbed in thought, and then became suddenly alerted to the road, only to realize that your mind was off in thought for several miles? The conscious mind was absorbed in thought and the subconscious mind through years of memory of 1000s of driving hours held the road competently. Another example of the activity of the subconscious mind is when we are unable to remember someone’s name. Finally we get frustrated and give up, and then the next day without any conscious effort, the name appears in mind. The subconscious mind goes on autopilot to do its memory retrieval work. Additional trance states occur when we are deep in thought, or completely absorbed in a movie or exhilarating book.
In hypnosis, the use of the imagination is the foundation of the process. Otherwise, it is simply meditation of varying sorts. Mental imagery is very powerful, especially in a focused state of attention. Rather than using will power, hypnosis harnesses the natural and cooperative power of imagination. The skillful use of guided imagery, which is symbolic in nature, can assist in creating change similar to the belief and feeling quality of the very things that are imagined. This process already occurs constantly, which, ironically is how fear and anxiety manifest. However, with hypnosis, the outcome can be positive rather than just random. In addition, positive suggestions are stated to the subconscious mind. In an altered state of focused attention, ideas that are more healing and compatible with the mind’s desires may be accepted and lead to desired change.
Unaware, we often use spontaneous, informal trance states in a self-limiting manner. This occurs when we visualize negative outcomes or memories that tend to stir up anxiety or depression, or when we speak internally to ourselves in critical ways, or brood and reiterate negative experiences. When criticizing ourselves, we may be in light trance state, preoccupied, and internally focused. While thoughts, imagination and internal dialogue can be positive and helpful, they can also be negative and maladaptive. Through hypnosis, you can alter your internal world to discover and change how you think and feel, and visualize and imagine things the way you want them to be. The goal is to create positive change in thought and behavior.
Hypnosis is optimally effective when an individual is highly motivated to overcome a problem, and when the therapist is well trained in both hypnosis and in general issues relating to the treatment of the particular problem. On the other hand, it is less effective when a client maintains unrealistic expectations about its potential, or is ambivalent and less motivated.
Hypnosis should always be used in an ethical manner, and the clinician should be well trained and have received qualified supervision in hypnosis. Hypnosis is not an end-all treatment, it is one of many to be used only where it is efficacious. The real work in healing requires a more holistic strategy involving positive lifestyle changes, improvement in diet, and changes in attitude, qualities that go beyond just therapy.
There are many misconceptions about hypnosis, such as a fear of loss of control, of surrendering will, or of being dominated. This is a myth, partially resulting from TV images of hypnosis as control strategy or stage hypnosis, where a guest in the audience is made to quack like a chicken. These myths give the impression that the subject is gullible. A hypnotic trance state occurs, not out of gullibility or weak-mindedness, but simply because that person allows it to happen. A stage hypnotist knows this, and carefully screens volunteers in the audience to select only those who display exhibitionist tendencies and who are willing to cooperate. In hypnosis, the subject is not under the hypnotist’s control. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. In other words, hypnosis is not something that is imposed on you, but something that you yourself do as you relax and use your imagination to support a goal. The therapist helps facilitate, but you do the work. You will never be asked to do anything that you yourself do not want to do. On the contrary, if you believed the hypnotherapist was asking you to do something against your values, you would likely immediately re-alert yourself. In addition, you will never have to reveal anything to the therapist you don’t want to.
Another myth about hypnosis is of the loss of consciousness and amnesia. Only a small percentage of very hypnotizable individuals go to very deep levels of trance and experience amnesia. Most people remember everything that occurs during hypnosis. On a more positive note, most therapeutic goals in hypnosis can be achieved in a light or medium depth trance state, through which memory of the session is active.
As we perform the hypnotic sessions, it is most effective to use your imagination and passively imagine that things are happening to you. Don’t try to hard to make things happen, or analyze the process to see if it is working. Just allow things to happen naturally. After the session, I will ask you for feedback about how we might enhance the experience for you.