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» Provider Directory » Find a Therapist » Michigan » Southfield Therapists » Therapist Profile

Nathan Terey, MA, BS, C.Ht., CAC

Hypnosis Deconstructed

Prior to examining common misconceptions about clinical hypnosis it is important that we have a working definition of “hypnosis” and how it works in conjunction with the mind. Just for clarification purposes, when we discuss hypnosis in this article we are not referring to “stage hypnosis” where people are quacking like ducks and barking like dogs. A clinical setting is a much different vehicle for hypnosis than stage hypnosis. It’s like driving a car versus riding a motorcycle, they are just two different vehicles. Hypnosis defined is a sleeplike state induced artificially by a hypnotist, which allows the subconscious mind to experience greater suggestibility. Hypnosis produces a physiological state in the mind that is identical to similar states of the mind that can be created by biofeedback, guided imagery and prayer, or being in the “zone” or “in flow”.

Hypnosis correlates to specific brainwaves. Research has shown 4 different levels of brain waves that we all experience during sleep states. The four levels from highest frequency to lowest frequency are Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. We are in high arousal sleep patterns when we are in ‘Beta’ sleep and deep, dreamless sleep patterns when we are in Delta sleep. Hypnosis produces the same type of brainwaves that are experienced in the Alpha-Theta range.

There are also three different levels of our minds. The first is consciousness (being aware of what feelings you have as you read the words on this page for instance), secondly, the subconscious (involving recalled memories such as what kind of toppings you had on your pizza last Friday night) and the unconscious (which involves instinctual drives and memories that we have yet to recall but memories that can dictate our behaviors, thoughts and emotions). Hypnosis is a way that we bypass the conscious mind where there can be resistance, judgment and criticism and we move right into the subconscious mind, the level of the mind that is greatly influenced by suggestibility.

The history of hypnosis extends back past the ancient Egyptians. And it continues to provide insight into the mind for researchers and provide positive changes to those who invite it as a tool for change. I can even guarantee you have been hypnotized before! Remember a time when you drove from your home to work (or any destination), did you process every turn that you made, the speed limit, and every step you utilized to drive your car to get you to your destination? No, you didn’t. Your conscious mind operated the car as your subconscious mind allowed you to think or daydream about other things. In that short drive you experienced the same state as being hypnotized!

Now that we have an understanding of how hypnosis works scientifically and a definition of what it actually is, let’s take some time and deconstruct hypnosis and possibly answer questions you might have, or clear up any misconceptions you may have accumulated over time about hypnosis.

“When I am hypnotized I will do things I don’t want to do, that may be against my will”

Imagine something for a moment, you and I are walking down the street and I tell you, “I want you to begin to bark like a dog”. Can you picture that? Well, for the small amount of time you spent picturing yourself acting like your favorite pooch you were in a state of trance, and secondly, if you wouldn’t “say it, act it, or do it” in consciousness neither will you when you are hypnotized. You will never respond to a request that is against your value system. You will never do something under the influence of hypnosis that you wouldn’t do in waking life

There have been reports in the media recently of hypnosis being harmful, is that true?

Hypnosis is no more harmful than any other therapeutic technique utilized to help you change your outdated and unhelpful cognitions and behaviors. Keep in mind that the hypnotist can make you do nothing that you wouldn’t do in waking life. So I would not be able to make you rob a bank if you are good, upstanding citizen. If I could make people to do things they didn’t want to do than I would make everyone in the world give me all of their money and then would retire!

“Hypnosis is sleep”

Yes, it is true that the word “hypnosis” was coined by Dr. James Braid, and it is a Greek word that means “to sleep”. However, there is a vast contrast between conscious sleep and subconscious sleep. When you enter a state of hypnosis, or “trance”, you will not be asleep, nor will you be unconscious. You will hear every word that is spoken. Scientific research has proven that hypnosis is not sleep. Electroencephalogram’s (EEG) has shown that subjects in a state of trance are very much awake. You can think, talk and even move around (like scratch your nose) if necessary.

“I might not wake up”

There has never been a person who has not come out of a hypnotic state. Remember that hypnosis produces the same waves that would be produced if you were taking a nap, and unless you have trouble waking from your naps, you will have no problem coming out of trance.

Only weak willed people can be hypnotized

 Imagination is the key to producing a steady and good hypnotic trance, not “will-power”. If something is important to you, you will exhibit a tremendous amount of determinism. If something is not important to you, you will show little determination. The more focused you can become and the more you can use your imagination, the better hypnosis will work!

Hypnosis is related to the occult and black arts

There have been uninformed religious groups, who, over time, have associated hypnosis with the realm of the supernatural, bizarre and even occults. However, research on clinical hypnotherapy continues to show that hypnosis is a state of mind in which the subconscious is open to suggestions. Hypnosis was recognized in 1955 by the British Medical Association, in 1958 by the American Medical Association and has its own division in the American Psychological Association (APA; Division 30). In the APA, “hypnosis is devoted to exchanging scientific information, advancing appropriate teaching and research, and developing high standards for the practice of hypnosis. Areas of interest of the membership are diverse, including topics such as mind/body connections; dissociation; and hypnosis with women, children, and adolescents.”

Others can be hypnotized, but not me

Can you think back to a happy daydream you had recently? Good! Anyone who has ever daydreamed has experienced the exact same sensations, both cognitively and emotionally, that someone experiences in trance. In fact, 99.9% of those seeking hypnosis can be hypnotized. We enter into a state of trance dozens of times daily.

In conclusion, I hope I have done a great job clarifying both what hypnosis is and what it can be used for in a clinical setting and what hypnosis is not. Remember there are some awesome benefits to using hypnosis. It can help you to change your negative emotions and thoughts into positive emotions and thoughts which will directly impact your behaviors. It will help you take charge of your life, reduce anxiety and depression , increase creativity, relieve stress, improve performance in sports and your profession, help change pitfalls in interpersonal relationships, overcome fears and phobias and even help increase focus for study habits!

Nathan Terey, MA, BS, C.Ht., CAC, Southfield
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Southfield, MI 48076
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Accepting New Clients:  Yes
Free Initial Consultation:  Yes
Years in Practice:  16-20
Sliding Fee Scale:  Yes
Prescribe Medication:  No
Evening Availability:  Yes
Weekend Availability:  No
Wheelchair Accessible:  No
Near Public Transport:  Yes
Hypnosis Deconstructed
Hypnosis Deconstructed
Holiday Stress
It’s beginning to feel a lot like… STRESS!
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Last Modified: 2/6/2024  

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