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The Many Benefits of Clinical Hypnosis

From management of localised pain to improvement of health and well-being

purple 7768474_xlAs a practicing counsellor, I have developed a profound appreciation for the many benefits clinical hypnosis has to offer. It is a technique, not a treatment, usually used in conjunction with pain management treatments or psychotherapies.

Hypnosis, the “Mother” of all Psychological Therapies

Most of the famous psychologists, including Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), initially began with hypnosis. “Hypnosis” is a Greek word that means “sleep”. However, hypnosis is not like the kind of sleep we experience at night. In actuality, it is much closer to being awake than ordinary sleep, similar to a daydream, in which the individual remains awake.

Only in horror movies or stage shows does the hypnotist traditionally apply the term “sleep”, as it is dramaturgically more effective to use the short command “sleep” than to provide accurate instructions or a precise description of the hypnotic process (e.g. “Close your eyes and enter into a sleep-like state of deep relaxation.”)

Another early misconception, which originated in the late 18th century based on the work of Austrian physician Dr Franz Mesmer (1734-1815), was that hypnotism was a magnetic energy from outer space. In fact, hypnotism was originally known as “mesmerism”, after Mesmer, and we still use its derivative, “mesmerise”, today. British surgeon and scientist James Braid (1795-1860) rejected Mesmer’s bizarre idea, believing hypnosis instead to be a brain-body interaction that he termed psychophysiology and later hypnosis.

In the last 30 years, neuropsychological technologies, such as electroencephalogram (EEG), positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), have confirmed Braid’s belief that the brain is instrumental to generating the experience of hypnosis and is also responsible for the various hypnotic phenomena, including anaesthesia and deep trance.

In the decades after Braid, as Freud observed his patients enter a hypnotic state, he began to recognise the existence of the subconscious mind. These initial insights and the theories they inspired continue to play an important role in psychotherapy today.

Approaching Issues at a Subconscious Level

Many people seeking help have repeatedly tried to consciously change their behaviours, their feelings or their thinking (e.g. quit smoking, become more assertive, feel less angry), but have failed to do so. How come? They all tried to deal with the causes of their problems at a conscious level rather than approaching their issues at a subconscious level, where they could obtain positive results.

For example, smokers know at a conscious level that smoking is hazardous to their health, but subconsciously they still consider the cigarette to be their best friend! Habits are engrained in our subconscious. Consequently, smokers have to become subconsciously aware through hypnosis that this best friend will ultimately kill them – only then can they rid themselves of their deadly habit for good!

Hypnosis Does Not Override Free Will

Clients who are not familiar with hypnosis initially express fears that they will reveal their secrets during the session. They also worry that they will get stuck in their trance and that they will be made to do things they do not want to do. However, these fears are groundless! Hypnosis cannot override our free will. A person can choose to disclose or not to disclose information, or show or not show a requested behaviour when hypnotised and can exit hypnosis at any time he or she wishes.

Hypnosis is not something done to a person. Rather, all hypnosis is essentially self-hypnosis. The aim in the hypnotic process is to achieve trance. In fact, we hypnotise ourselves daily.

Let me reiterate this important point: No mentally healthy person can be hypnotised against his or her will.

dentist hypnosis 1All Hypnosis is Self-Hypnosis

The power behind hypnosis does not come from the hypnotherapist but from the person who is willingly undergoing and experiencing hypnosis. This individual is always in control and free to accept the suggestions offered during hypnotherapy or to reject them outright.

If I believe a client is only seeing me because he or she is being pressured to do so, I will not apply hypnosis on the client. My clients must convince me that they want to experience hypnotherapy of their own free will.

Quite often, anxious parents call me as a last resort and ask that I “fix” their child with hypnosis to get better grades in school. Since all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, however, I cannot force an individual into a trance or to cease maladaptive behaviours. Regrettably, I have to inform those parents that hypnosis does not work that way and that it is not a miracle treatment.

If all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, then what is the role of a hypnotherapist? His or her task is simply to guide and teach the client to enter into a (self-hypnotic) trance in order to overcome challenges, such as anxiety, pain, or worries. The hypnotherapist merely provides the client with suggestions (e.g., “Please take a deep breath and relax.”) for the subconscious mind to consider. The subconscious mind is free to accept or reject these suggestions.

Hypnotic Trances

We all regularly enter into hypnotic trances, for example, when we become mentally absorbed in our computer games, books or television dramas. In these moments, we are not consciously aware of the sights and sounds of our surroundings, such as the noise of the air conditioner or possibly even our spouses or children calling us.

Hence, trance is a state of inner concentration rather than one of being mindless or “zoning out”. In such a trance state, clients usually feel calm and relaxed and are subconsciously receptive to helpful suggestions, which the client can later consciously transform into a healthy change of behaviours, emotions and/or thoughts.

No doubt, clinical hypnosis as an adjunct to psychotherapy – conducted under the special care of a trained psychotherapist or health care professional – can improve our overall health and well-being. However, be aware: hypnosis adds to other treatments, it does not replace them!

Management of Dental Pain

Hypnotic anaesthesia (instead of pharmaceutical anaesthesia) is quite effective for localised pain. In a trance, the client’s hand becomes completely numb. With the hypnotherapist’s help, the client then transfers this numbness from his hand to his mouth by briefly touching his face with the anaesthesised hand. Then, the client will drop his hand back to his lap, resulting in an even deeper state of trance in which he is relaxed and free of pain.

Hypnosis vs Meditation

The ultimate aim of hypnotherapy is to achieve specific therapeutic results (i.e., external behavioural, emotional or cognitive changes). The aim of meditation is to attain a certain internal state, also described as the absence of all conscious thoughts.

Dr Wolff von Auer is a passionate SAC-registered counsellor and a recognised well-known Certified Hypnotherapist. Apart from supporting individuals with hypnotherapy, he also facilitates highly rated and popular workshops on 'Hypnosis and Persuasion’ and on 'Clinical Hypnosis explained with Show Hypnosis Demonstrations'. He has appeared on TV and Radio-shows. For more information, visit or
Posted by ezyhealth on Mar 5 2014. Filed under Mental Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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