Hypnotherapy.
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17-10-2014, 03:13 PM (This post was last modified: 17-10-2014 03:18 PM by bemore.)
Hypnotherapy.
I pick up my hypnotherapy diploma tomorrow. So I thought Id tell you about it, the things Ive learned and what its like to hypnotise people and to be hypnotised.

My course was ten months, done over 10 full weekends (about 140 hours), with one weekend fully dedicated to my tutor(Robert)s friend, who is a Dr (Steve), to come in and talk about the Autonomous Nervous System, the brain (Biological, neurological and psychological) and how these could be relevant towards hypnotherapy. Steve was a doctor at some hospital somewhere in the UK for many years (I forget which one) in the head trauma unit. He got taught hypnotherapy by Robert and are firm friends. He enjoys teaching with him when he can and he was with us for 3 weekends.

I took notes of everything Steve taught us over the weekend which I have (laboriously lol) typed up ...


The Human brain is a jelly like mass of tissue weighing about 3 lbs. It accounts for 2% of our body weight but consumes 25% energy. It is divided into two halves (hemispheres) and each of these is divided into four regions (lobes). A large number of distinct structures have been identified within each region that have specific functions.

The Neuron is the basic cell within the brain. The brain contains an estimated 100 billion. They form synaptic connections with other Neurons and other body tissues. Complex neural networks form in the brain and each neuron can have an average of 7000 synaptic connections. The signal within a neuron is electrical, the signal between neurons is chemical.

Mirror Neurons were discovered in experiments on macaque monkeys in the 1980s. They mirror the behavior of others within our own brain, allowing us to experience and learn without action. In humans the mirror neuron systems develop in a number of areas of the brain before 12 months of age. The role of mirror neurons can be seen as understanding the intention of others, by interpreting facial expressions/body language, allowing us to experience another persons emotions (empathy) making us self aware of the effect of our actions on others. Allowing us to simulate what others are doing by mental rehearsal. Thought to have an important role in language development.

Neurotransmitters are produced within a neuron and then released into the synaptic gap after an electrical impulse has been fired. They bind to specific receptors on the next neuron and either cause an impulse to “fire” or to inhibit it. Over 60 different Neurotransmitters have so far been identified. The same chemicals are found elsewhere in the body but generally cant cross the blood-brain barrier.

-Serotonin, needed for a stable mood. Involved in regulation of eating, sleep cycle and pain control. Low levels associated with poor immune response and depression.

-Noradrenalin stimulates but can cause feelings of anxiety at high levels. Low levels lead to lack of energy, poor focus and sleep problems.

-Acetylcholine activates the motor neurons that control muscles. Also involved in attention, arousal, leaning and memory.

-Dopamine important for focus and concentration. It produces drive and motivation and a feeling of reward.

Emotions and feelings are unconscious processes that arise in response to rewards or threats. They can help the mind and body prepare for an actual or predicted event and then take action. They evolved to help us survive and reproduce, by rapidly shaping our decisions, our behaviours and motivating us to do things. Feelings are produced by a combination of emotions, memory and previous learning. Emotions tend to be intense but temporary. Feelings tend to be less intense but more sustained.

The amygdala asseses the emotional value of a stimulus for negative emotions. The pre-frontal cortex assesses stimuli for positive emotions. Emotions affect our mind and body through a complex combination of neurotransmitters and hormone release and the fight/flight/freeze response. Memory has a major effect on our emotional response and the intensity of the response. Basic emotions are universal but they are adaptve and their experience is very subjective (like anger felt as rage or annoyance for example.

The Autonomic Nervous System is a part of our nervous system that operates largely without our conscious awareness with two sub systems that have almost opposite effects. The purpose of the ANS is to help to automatically keep our body systems in balance (homeostasis) while allowing us to respond to a threat, by quickly preparing our body for action and then returning it to a resting state.

The two sub systems of the ANS are the Sympathetic (Acts quickly to mobilise body responses for action. It has been described as the Fight or Flight system) and the Parasympathetic (Acts more slowly and dampens down body responses. It has been described as the Rest and Digest system)

Fight/Flight/Freeze The amygdala detects a threat and signals the hypothalamus. The sympathetic NS is activated and the adrenal medulla releases adrenaline and noradrenalin into the bloodstream. This rapidly causes changes in the body that allow us to respond to the threat. The response can only be sustained for a short time.

Stress is a state where balance in the body (homeostasis) is, or is perceived to be threatened. We experience stress when we encounter a challenge or threat (the stressor) that we feel we don’t have the resources to deal with. Our stress response is designed to prepare our body to deal with a stressor. There are 2 separate pathways involved, an immediate response (Fight/Flight/Freeze) and a longer term response (HPA axis)

HPA Axis is the hypothalamus starting a cascade of hormones with the pituitary gland and then the adrenal glands being stimulated. Cortisol is released into the bloodstream that is essential for homeostasis but can cause many health problems if high levels are present for a long time. In short term stress the subsystem shuts down due to a feedback mechanism but modern stressors can unbalance the system. The immune system can be affected.

Body posture and breathing where studies were carried out on people attending a job interview. People with a typical reserved, closed posture had high levels of cortical and low testosterone in the blood. Adopting a powerful posture for only two mins prior to the interview significantly reduced cortisol levels but increased testosterone. Emotions can be affected by an incongruent body posture. Anger is diminished if laying down, shame is diminished when upright/erect. Deep abdominal breathing produces measurable levels in anxiety levels and blood pressure.

TED Talk...Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

For learning and memory we need to acquire information, process it, retain it and then be able to retrieve it. This involves sensory input, perception, attention, consolidation, retrieval and reconsolidation.

Sensory input... up to 40 million bit/sec is available but up to 98% is discarded after initial (unconscious) filtering. Our brain doesnt passively receive the sensory input. it has to actively process the information to make sense of it. Information from each sense is processed in different centers of the brain (most information is relayed via the thalamus) and this processing is called perception.

Perception is the process that allows us to identify, interpret and organise information. It occurs outside of conscious awareness but can be modified conscious reasoning when things dont make sense. A number of different "perceptual states" can be employed to shorten the process or "fill in the gaps" in the information available. Our brains interpretation is influenced by our own "model of the world". Visual illusions can show how the brain can create its own meaning.

(two examples you could look up are "Boring's woman" and "Kanisza Triangle")

Cognitive bias affects perception, judgements and decisions about other people and situations, sometimes in an illogical or irrational way. They have probabaly arisen as shortcuts to allow faster processing of information, some are thought to be innate, some can be adaptive. Psychology research has identified over 100 different types of cognitive bias. Three of these that can be seen as "important" to hypnotherapy are conformation bias, observational selection bias and the negativity bias.

Sensory memory gives the ability to retain information after a stimulus has ended (sparkler effect) Perceived information can be held here for 0.2-0.5 seconds while it is quickly scanned for relevance/importance before further filtering. Only around 2000 bits/sec are sent on for pre-attentive processing (but more can go on a parallel pathway for unconscious processing) All of this occurs outside of conscious awareness.

Attention is the process of selectively concentrating on certain aspects of our environment while ignoring others. Information is pattern matched to existing memory to assess relevance. More information comes from within our mind than from sensory information. Conscious attention is like a spotlight that scans a dark stage.

What comes to our attention??? Anything with an emotional connection (Amygdala Hijack). Something relevant to a current goal or task (goal orietated). New or unexpected information. Sudden change (stimulus driven) like sudden motions or noise. Personally relevant information (Cocktail party effect) and information related to our mood.

The amygdala hijack... The thalamus acts as a relay station during pre attentional processing. It send on information to the pre-frontal cortex for conscious processing and also to the amygdala which scans for threat and emotional connection. The information can get to the amygdala first that can lead to flight/flight response before we are consciously aware of the information.

What doesnt come to our attention are things that we are very familiar with or where we dont expect change from a previous experience. Information related to previous learning is often perceived and processed unconsciously (driving... language... sports). Sub threshold information that comes in while we are concentrating on something else.

selective attention test

Unconscious processing pathway... far more information is proccessed unconsciously. We learn to understand non-verbal communication in childhood by observation and also listening to stories and extracting unspoken meaning from the tone of voice of the reader. We monitor body functions, information concerning previously learned behaviours (driving, playing instruments, sports) interpretation of body language and anything relevant to our "model of the world" or survival that does not need immediate conscious attention. We can become conscious of this stored information if it is required or put forward for conscious appraisal at a later time. Studies have shown that priming and subliminal messaging are examples of unconsciously processed information.

Short term (working) memory is like the brains post it note. This is the first time that we are conscious of the information. It's capacity has been estimated at only 40 bits/sec, but we can make the most of it by chunking, mnemonics, ryhmes and patterns. Millers experiments indicated that we could handle 7 +/- 2 chunks of information at one time. We can normally only hold information for 10-15 seconds but this can be extended up to a minute by repetition or rehearsal.

Working memory can deal with new information and/or information retrieved from long term memory and uses three subsystems. We only give something our conscious attention when it is on working memory, only the ability to switch our attention very quickly gives s the impression that we are aware of everything around us. Not everything is passed on to long term memory. Transfer to long term memory is more likely if information is of current interest, can be related to previous memories, has an emotional connection, or if it is mentally repeated/rehearsed.

Long term memory information goes through a process of consolidation that can take up to three months to complete. The hippocampus plays a crucial role in long term memory. Information is encoded and stored in relation to its meaning and association to other things. Within the brain Neurons undergo structural changes (Long term potentiation) with new proteins being synthesised and many different neurotransmitters involved. Neurons connect to form extensive networks that spread widely across many areas of the brain. Neural networks are constantly being created, altered or strengthened. Repeated use of a network strengthens it (neurons that fire together... wire together) Long term memory is though to decay very little overtime. Forgetting is thought to occur if a network is rarely used or a network becomes super imposed.

Memory recall... At recall, neural networks "fire" and the memory is reconstructed from elements stored throughout the brain. This memory isn't a true replay of the original event, but a representation of how we perceived it at the time. Cues are very important in memory recall. When we try to recall a memory, or look for a course of action, our unconscious scans long term memory, or look for a course of action, or unconscious scans Long term memory and generates posssible matches which can then be available to us consciously. Every time a memory is retrieved, the connections between the neurons in the network are destabilised and then reconsolidated. During this process it is thought that new information and learning (ie, suggestions) can be incorporated into the network, with the optimum time being 10-60 mins after reacall. It is also possible for false memories to be created.

The conscious veto?


Most of the work done within the mind is done by unconscious processes. We can only be conscious of 7 +/- 2 things at a one time. Our unconscious constantly generats options for behaviour and problem solving based on previous experience, but the conscious mind can over ride these if it wishes. So does the conscious mind really make the decisions or does it just have a final veto? Do we have a free will or just a free wont?

Possible relevance to hypnotherapy.

Use suggestions and post hypnotic suggestions to draw attention to small/progressive positive change.

The mechanism of perception and cognitive bias help to explain why clients "Keep doing what they've always done and keep getting what they have always got"

Most of the decisions we make are generated by the unconscious mind.

Component of memories are stored across the brain, connected by complex neural networks.

An imagined future event is stored in the same way as a real event.

Memories become unstable each time they are recalled. New information and/or meaning can be added during reconsolidation.

Dissociating an emotional meaning attached to a memory could dramaticaally change a clients future experience.

Great care needs to be taken not to create false memories.

Memories related to smell can be strongly imprinted and emotionally related. This can be a useful anchor in therapy.

Future pacing is more likely to be remembered if it is delivered using positive language and has an emotional content.

Changing the key submodalities of a problem state or memory can significantly change its future impact on a client.


Now by no means am I an expert, nor would I ever claim to be in anything I was taught over that weekend. What it did do though was open up my eyes to a lot more learning and research I have dabbled into looking at. If people want to discuss it or whatever thats cool, hopefully I'll learn something from it.

I say I get a "diploma" and place it in speech marks because in the UK hypnotherapy is not really regulated. Even though all of the knowledge and experience I have gained to me is worth every penny, legally/academically it is nothing. There is nothing stopping anybody advertising themselves as a hypnotherapist and attempting to do it. I suppose somebody could get done for false advertising but it's not like they are claiming they are a medical doctor or a surgeon. or something. You can voluntarily regulate yourself with the CNHC (Complementary and natural healthcare council) and my course was approved by the GHSC (General Hypnotherapy Standards Council) and the General hypnotherapy register (GHR) which are basically owned by the same people except one is a not for profit and the other one isnt (cant remember which way round).

This of course leads to a lot of problems as I myself put a lot of time, effort and research into finding the best course I could, however there would be nothing stopping me from claiming I can teach hypnotherapy, advertising, and charging for it and either teaching people face to face or through distance learning (which there are a lot of both out there doing exactly that)

I found Robert and discovered he had been a hypnotherapist for 11 years, had been teaching for 3 years and was only a 20 minute train journey 30 miles away from me. After speaking to him on the phone I knew he was probably the best I was going to find at the time and I am glad I did.

There was 4 other people on the course with me, all women. Now this is where I mention the woo side of hypnotherapy as two of the women considered themselves as "Spiritual" lol. This often caused amusement between robert, me and steve and one had done a course in "past life regression" which to be honest I find very very hard to believe in. She did learn how to hypnotise people on her course but it was centered around regression and "past life experiences". If I am honest I think the word "Soul" was a word penned that attempted to explain how humans felt (as in consciously/psycholigically) as they had no other way/knowledge of how/why to describe it, the beginnings of evolution of knowledge and questioning that we now call Neuroscience. Now I know that might diss some people on this site and my disclaimer to that is I find it hard to believe, but I dont dismiss anything. We live through 5 senses and are limited in the broad spectrum of the universe and what we do. I have been on many ghost hunts and seen a lot of things that are explainable but a few things that are not. That does not mean there is not an explanation but until somebody can prove it... its just faith.

I don't think I could attempt to fathom writing down everything I have learned. Procrastination would never get it finished however I will list everything I have learned and if anybody wishes to ask me a specific question about any of them then I will do my best to answer and hopefully dismiss some misconceptions about hypnotherapy, in particular therapy based hypnosis.

Hypnotic inductions and deepeners.
The subconscious mind and the mind body link.
The "chimp" model.
Warriors, settlers, nomads.
Values and belief.
Rapport.
Clean language.
Transference.
Psychosis and Neurosis.
Regression to cause.
Abreaction.
Free association.
Ideo-motor signals.
Metaphor and reverse metaphor.
NLP Theory/Techniques.
Reframing/anchoring/rewind techniques.
Secondary gains.
Parts therapy.
Mind/consciousness/thought.
Anxiety/habits.
Mind coaching.
Smoking cessation.
Weight/ pain management.

What is hypnosis?

Hypnosis is actually quite difficult to define and there is much debate about what hypnosis is. Giving that whilst we know a lot about the brain and the human body, there are still elements we are yet to work out and I put it down to these “missing links” that make it unknown. I think if we could fully explain the placebo effect we would be closer in understanding what goes off in hypnosis. It is often described in textbooks as an “altered state of awareness”. Some people describe hypnosis as a natural state of relaxation. Both are inadequate in fully describing what happens in hypnosis, as whilst relaxation can help with hypnosis, it is not actually necessary.

The British Psychological Society describe hypnosis as…

“An interaction between one person, the hypnotist, and another person or people… the subject/s. In this interaction the hypnotists attempts to influence the subjects perceptions, feelings, thinking and behaviour by asking them to concentrate on ideas and images that may evoke the intended effects”

Dave Elman describes hypnosis as…

“A state in which critical thinking is temporarily bypassed and selective thinking is introduced”

I would describe my definition as…

“An internal meditative like state where the client is asked to recall and drawn upon (or create themselves) feelings, emotions and memories with a purpose of reshaping these to implant and form new resolutions”

To cover misconceptions about hypnotherapy and to blow some completely out of the water….

There is absolutely no control on the part of the person performing hypnosis.
A person under hypnosis cannot be made to do anything that they don’t want to do.
A person under hypnosis cannot be made to reveal their innermost secrets.
There is no trance in the true sense of the world.
Hypnosis is not a state of unconsciousness or sleep.
It is impossible to get stuck in hypnosis.
There is nothing spiritual about hypnosis.
Hypnosis is not “magic”

In fact the only real “magic” done is by the client internally themselves dependant upon levels of co-operation, belief, trust, will and desire to change. I would describe myself as nothing more than a “storyteller” who encourages unconscious thoughts to manifest and suggests way to “reframe” these that are to the clients approval.

I was going to finish with generally describing how I hypnotise someone, as I have so far hypnotised 8 people for free, all with relative success. But this is a tl : dr as it is and I shall leave it for another post.

Ill end with this fun video of three neuroscientists talking about consciousness Drinking Beverage




I feel so much, and yet I feel nothing.
I am a rock, I am the sky, the birds and the trees and everything beyond.
I am the wind, in the fields in which I roar. I am the water, in which I drown.
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17-10-2014, 03:28 PM
RE: Hypnotherapy.
Not being funny or anything but you know that you can also use hypnosis for erotic purposes? (Yes I know, probably highly irresponsible).

What really interests me is whether it really works on some people. I have been to a hypnotherapist in the past (because of a promise to my mum, I was emotionally blackmailed into going to my brother's pentecostal church as well). The same thing happened as when I was going through my student drinking days. No matter how relaxed I was (or drunk) I couldn't ever let go. I was always aware and analysing everything.

But I do have reason to believe that it does work on some, possibly far more suggestible (less stubborn) people.
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17-10-2014, 03:37 PM
RE: Hypnotherapy.
Sorry bemore, I couldn't read your whole post. I got through what would be a page's worth and then gave up.

But like Mathilda, I am fairly certain I can't get hypnotized. I wonder if that's a "thing"? Some people being susceptible and some not? Honestly if I hadn't seen hypnosis work in person I would probably would think it was mumbo jumbo.

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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17-10-2014, 03:44 PM
RE: Hypnotherapy.
It is a trust issue.
You need to trust the person doing it.

I have hypnotized my gf. And made her forget the number 4.
Hilarious.
How many fingers do you have? 10
Count the finger on your left hand. 1,2,3,5,6?
Count all your fingers. 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10,11!!
Count the fingers on your right hand. 1,2,3,5,6

If you add the fingers off your left hand to the finger of the right how many do you have? 12 ?!?!?!

You had better count them again.
1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10,11.

Funny stuff.
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17-10-2014, 03:55 PM
RE: Hypnotherapy.
(17-10-2014 03:44 PM)RogueWarrior Wrote:  It is a trust issue.
You need to trust the person doing it.

I have hypnotized my gf. And made her forget the number 4.
Hilarious.
How many fingers do you have? 10
Count the finger on your left hand. 1,2,3,5,6?
Count all your fingers. 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10,11!!
Count the fingers on your right hand. 1,2,3,5,6

If you add the fingers off your left hand to the finger of the right how many do you have? 12 ?!?!?!

You had better count them again.
1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10,11.

Funny stuff.

I hope your girlfriend isn't an accountant. Especially mine! Tongue
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17-10-2014, 04:36 PM
RE: Hypnotherapy.
(17-10-2014 03:28 PM)Mathilda Wrote:  Not being funny or anything but you know that you can also use hypnosis for erotic purposes? (Yes I know, probably highly irresponsible).

Yes you can. It is not something I have done myself but I have heard about it and read some scripts. I think we all have to get stimulated in our minds to be sexual, its a natural instinctual thing. I don't think it is irresponsible (only the person wielding it is)

(17-10-2014 03:28 PM)Mathilda Wrote:  What really interests me is whether it really works on some people. I have been to a hypnotherapist in the past (because of a promise to my mum, I was emotionally blackmailed into going to my brother's pentecostal church as well). The same thing happened as when I was going through my student drinking days. No matter how relaxed I was (or drunk) I couldn't ever let go. I was always aware and analysing everything.

It's none of my business what you were co-erced into seeing the hypnotherapist for, its irrelevant. However for it to work you do need to consciously want the change to happen. If you do not want to be there and do not wish to change you will not accept the suggestions.

Do you strongly relate to these?

A need/ability to make their presence felt.
High levels of tenacity and determination.
Able to plan well and bring those plans into fruition.
A need to be in control.

I would use an induction lbased aroundMillers experiment 7+/-2 to attempt to overload your conscious with different thoughts used in an indirect way. Because you would be attempting to analysis everything I would guess your strong minded, you know your own mind and with indirect suggestions I would not tell you what to do/think/feel but be indirect and sometimes give you options.

(I wonder if you could relax even more so... maybe half as much... twice... maybe it isn't measurable...maybe your happy with your level of relaxation and if you are that is good... as at any time you can sink deeper... as deep as you want or need)

It could be you allowed yourself to be hypnotised but different people describe it in different ways. Some have tingly extremities, some dont remember anything whilst some remember everything. No two ways are the same but I would guess if you did not want to change and were consciously fighting it then you might not have gone into "trance"


(17-10-2014 03:37 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  But like Mathilda, I am fairly certain I can't get hypnotized. I wonder if that's a "thing"? Some people being susceptible and some not? Honestly if I hadn't seen hypnosis work in person I would probably would think it was mumbo jumbo.

I would suggest the same to you adrianime that I have suggested to mathilda above.

(17-10-2014 03:44 PM)RogueWarrior Wrote:  It is a trust issue.

Your right it is a trust issue. Thats why rapport building with the client is very important. You should give them enough eye contact so they know they are being listened to yet not enough to intimidate (about 75% of the time) and copy their body language/posture.

I had a friend who said "Pah... it's all just placebo effect" and my reply was "Yes, it very well could be but can you explain the placebo effect what it is and why it works for some and not for others?"

I feel so much, and yet I feel nothing.
I am a rock, I am the sky, the birds and the trees and everything beyond.
I am the wind, in the fields in which I roar. I am the water, in which I drown.
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17-10-2014, 05:43 PM
RE: Hypnotherapy.
Slight addition, Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter used in the parasympathetic nervous system, the system which reduces stuff like heart rate. Nor adrenaline is used in the sympathetic nervous system, increases heart rate, also can lead to the slowing of the digestive system.

There are other neurotransmitters like you mentioned but they are two that i've been taught a fair few times now.

Behold the power of the force!
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