Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy - what is is, how does it work?

What is Hypnosis?

What is Hypnosis

All most people really know about hypnosis is what they’ve seen on television, in the movies or at a stage show.

what is hypnosis

For example, movies often show people being hypnotized, usually with a swinging watch, and made to do things that are illegal or dangerous to themselves or others.

Or, they watch a stage show and see the participants doing silly and outrageous things.

This page is designed to give you the facts about hypnosis.

What is hypnosis, and how does it work?

The usual definition of hypnosis is a ‘state of focussed attention’. When you go into a hypnotic trance, you are completely aware of what is going on. You are not asleep but rather even more aware than you are right now as you read this.

To understand how hypnosis works, we have to talk about how the mind works.

The mind has three parts:

  • Conscious (approximately 20% of your mind)
  • Subconscious (approximately 80% of your mind)
  • Critical Factor


This part of the mind is:

  • analytical
  • logical
  • limited – it can only hold about seven to nine pieces of information at any one time
  • the home of your willpower


This part of the mind is like a huge database of information. Everything that you have ever experienced from the time you were born is stored here.

This part of the mind:

  • believes that everything is real
  • contains your habits and beliefs
  • resists change
  • generates emotions
  • protects you against known dangers

Every experience you have had has been saved in either a positive or negative way. These experiences form how you feel about things and how you react to things as well as your habits.

For example, someone may have had a dog as a child who was their best buddy. Because they had such a great experience with dogs as a child, they may have grown up to be a dog trainer or veterinarian.

Another person may have been chased or bitten by a dog as a child. Because of this horrible experience, they may have grown up to have a fear of dogs.

Critical Factor

The critical factor is a comparing mechanism. I like to think of it as a ‘gatekeeper’ or a ‘receptionist’.

How hypnosis works

When someone decides to make a change in their life, the critical factor checks in with the subconscious to see if the suggestion can go on. Depending on the programming in the subconscious, the suggestion may or may not be accepted.

However, in hypnosis, the critical factor is bypassed. Using the gatekeeper analogy, it’s like we’ve sent the gatekeeper off to lunch to get him out of the way.

If the suggestion is something that won’t hurt the client and is a wanted change, the suggestion should go into the subconscious and flick the “on” switch for that feeling.

Is hypnosis “sleep”?

Many people think that hypnosis clients are sleeping. Actually, the correct term to use is being “in” hypnosis.

When you are asleep, you are unaware of what is going on around you. Since you are very aware of what is going on when you are in hypnosis, you can’t be asleep.

The word ‘sleep’ is often used by hypnotists, but this word should simply be considered a code word for ‘go deeper relaxed’.

Hypnosis happens every day

People go into hypnosis on their own every day. Really.

Here are some examples:

  • The times just as one is waking up and going to sleep at night.
  • A driver realizing that they don’t remember the last 10 miles of their drive. This is called ‘highway hypnosis’.
  • If you have ever had the experience of looking all around the room for something and just not being able to find it, and then someone else comes into the room and points out that the item has been right in front of you all along, you have experienced a negative hallucination.
  • Have you ever cried at a really sad movie? If you have, you’ve been in a state of hypnosis. Your critical factor was bypassed, and your subconscious believed that what was on the screen was real. If your logical, conscious mind was involved, you would have known that you were just watching actors performing from a script.

Is hypnosis safe?


When you are in hypnosis, you are fully aware, alert and in control.

If you decide that you don’t want to be in hypnosis, you won’t be. You will emerge on your own.

As mentioned above, your subconscious protects you and does not let in any suggestion in that would hurt you.

You are in control while in hypnosis. As a result, you cannot get “stuck” or “trapped” in hypnosis.

Hypnosis vs. Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis is a relaxed state of mind that the hypnotist guides the client into. In this relaxed state, the mind is open to receiving positive suggestions.

Hypnotherapy is the practice of providing the client with beneficial suggestions while they are in a hypnotic trance to help the client achieve the desired change.

What can hypnosis help with?

Weight Management

Overcoming Habits


  • Sports performance
  • Better study habits
  • Overcoming limiting beliefs
  • Enjoying tasks you don’t like (e.g., housework)
  • Feeling “stuck”
  • Moving on after the end of a relationship

Professional Development

  • Attracting abundance
  • Networking
  • Asking for a pay raise
  • Confidence in job interviews
  • Sales performance


  • Animals, insects, and reptiles
  • Heights
  • Flying
  • Claustrophobia
  • Childbirth
  • Criticism

Hypnosis Works!

For those who are ready to make a change, hypnotherapy is a great tool to assist. It is not a magic bullet. It is a tool to help people achieve the change they want.

This article talks about three studies where hypnosis was used by some of the participants. The participants who had hypnosis did better longer than those who did not.

The key to hypnosis success is the correct mental attitude

Maintaining the correct mental attitude of ‘I know I am going to like the suggestions’ and ‘I know they are going to work’ will ensure your success.

Going into hypnosis with the attitude of ‘I’m going to try this to see if it works’, decreases your chances for success.


So now that you know a little more about hypnosis, if you think it might be something that could help you, I invite you to book a free consultation to discuss if hypnosis is right for you.