If you, or someone you care for, are having difficulties with relationships, personal challenges, emotional balance, or past trauma, I can help. I have 30 years of experience working with adults, couples, children and adolescents supporting emotional health and well being. People seek my help because they find me easy to talk with, experienced and insightful, genuine, open and supportive. My areas of expertise include: anxiety and stress management, child/adolescent/adult depression, family conflict, relationship counseling, communication skills development, anger management, adoption and attachment, sexual and physical trauma, ADD/ADHD, divorce, childhood adjustment and self-esteem.
Hypnosis can be used to train the brain in the mental habits associated with success.
“I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”
– G. K. Chesterton
I was click baited yesterday into reading a story about a man, Andrew Michael, who stole £30,000 from his mother “to make millions”.1 Well, with a headline like that, why wouldn’t you click through?
Michael had spent £30,000 on his mother’s credit card when he was 17 to start a business. He eventually sold this business for £61.5m (and by then had presumably remunerated his good old mom handsomely). Now I’m not suggesting you should steal money or max out other people’s credit cards to kickstart success. Not at all.
But Michael’s daring (with his mum’s money!), sheer belief in his startup puts me in mind of that famous quote often attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
Certainly, and not surprisingly, doing rather than just dreaming increases your chances of achieving goals. This sounds so basic it might seem not worth mentioning, but you might be surprised how much success is wasted in the world through want of a little boldness to just begin it.
But how do you find that boldness?
Find motivation through the magnetism of your dreams
Looking back on how he expanded his first business, Fasthosts, the now wildly successful Mr Michael said “I was laser focused” and “nothing else mattered.” You’d hope so, if he was willing to risk so much of his mother’s money! But this tells us something really interesting about successful endeavours.
When you are on the path to success you feel pulled inexorably towards it, almost as if a giant magnet were pulling you towards your future success. This is the polar opposite of trying to force yourself to feel motivated enough to take the steps towards creating success.
Imagine for a moment feeling as though you have no choice but to do everything possible to attain your goals. Fears, doubts, negative ‘well wishes’, none of that matters – your impulse to succeed will pull you through all that.
When we use hypnosis to help people become successful, in whatever way they frame success, we help create goal magnetism in their mind. Fear and self-doubt falls away as the individual becomes singularly focused on serving their goal.
And this idea of serving the goal is vital.
Success is a byproduct, not a destination
When Andrew Michael sold his first business at the age of 26, banking all those millions, he had expected to feel happy. But strangely, he said, he felt deflated as all that cash was deposited into his account.1 Why?
Well, perhaps because he’d assumed that the destination was more important than the journey. When he realized was that it was the striving and the challenge that lit his fuse, not simply the fulfilment of it, he began a new venture (which would become even more successful than the first!).
Michael’s reaction to banking millions at 26 tells us something important: Lack of material problems should never be confused with happiness (although it can help us get there).
Why be disappointed by success?
It seems that Mr Michael wasn’t aiming to get rich, although that was a pleasant ripple effect. He was simply trying to create a successful business. He likes to make things work. He’s motivated by making things work.
And what happens when you’ve made things work? There is little left to make work – and therefore little motivation. This is really important to remember.
The other important lesson we can draw from Michael’s story, I think, is that he seemed to me to be serving his goals, striving to make them work, but not trying to be successful for the sake of ‘being a success’.
If we focus on the goal, then the trappings of success, whether recognition from others, money, status, or simply a sense of achievement, will take care of themselves. But if we focus instead on the trappings themselves, the ‘treasures’ of success, then the goal itself may be neglected. It’s almost as though we have to forget about the ‘candy’ when striving to achieve what might be possible for us.
When training to do a marathon, say, losing weight may not be the primary motivation – but you could call it a signal of success. We don’t have to pursue success signals when pursuing goals – we can let them take care of themselves.
Trying to become successful isn’t the same as serving your goal, and splitting your focus between the two may take you further away from both.
Focus on your specific goals rather than ‘being a success’.
And when you think about becoming successful, whatever that may mean to you (and it may have nothing to do with money), I want you to ask yourself one key question.
To what extent will your success sustainably meet your primal emotional needs?
Having, say, an absence of material worries, or even a short-lived sense of satisfaction in what you have achieved, shouldn’t be confused with sustainable happiness, especially if you are the kind of person who strives to achieve your goals. The shine of having achieved what you set out to do may wear off fast as you ‘habituate’ to success.
You and I have an array of emotional needs which include a strong need for meaning and purpose, intimacy, attention, connection to a wider community, and challenge and creativity. Ask yourself – to what extent would achieving your success either sustainably meet your needs or enable you to more easily meet them (perhaps because you’ll free up time and money)?
If you unconsciously assume that all your emotional needs will suddenly and permanently be met through, say, becoming rich, you’re setting yourself up for disillusionment.
Yes, you should strive to meet your goals – but you should also be aware of your needs and work to meet them in sustainable ways without unconsciously assuming the completion of one goal will meet all your needs for all time. You might even choose to make sure you are meeting your needs in areas separate from your success goals so you can fully focus on what you want to achieve.
And all this begs another question. What exactly should you be striving for?
The ‘anyone can do anything’ fallacy
You have certain potentials within you which may be currently blocked through fears, self-doubt, or inertia. I have certain potentials too – so does everyone. But our potentials may differ because of what we are naturally suited to. That diversity of potential is a good thing. But it also means none of us has the potential to do anything and everything.
Just believing that I am going to become a quantum physicist, or the world’s greatest electrical engineer, isn’t going to suddenly make me hugely interested or talented in these fields.
We need to find our own path towards goal fulfilment, which might not be identical, or even similar, to anyone else’s path towards – or even definition of – success.
Successfully copying someone else may mean failing yourself. The first step towards a more authentic kind of success is to come to really know yourself. What am I like? What do I like? And what am I naturally suited to?
Looking at ourselves as calmly and objectively as possible and seeing what we are like, not what we ‘should’ be like, is often the first step to success. Of course, this doesn’t mean we can’t learn all kinds of new skills.
So how do we use the immense power of hypnosis to help feel more magnetized towards our goals? The answer may surprise, even shock you.
3 steps to using hypnosis for success
Over the years I’ve trained many people in hypnosis and ways to apply positive and solution-focused techniques. And I’ve discovered three universal truths when it comes to helping people towards their success.
In order to help someone succeed, we need to:
Help them discover what areas they want to become successful in. What does ‘success’ mean to them? To what extent will it meet their emotional needs?
Help clear away any blocks to success, whether it be anxiety, low self-belief, or paralyzing procrastination or perfectionism (or often all three at once), which diminishes and prevents enjoyment of any successes.
Envisage not only successful outcomes but also, very strongly, the steps along the road towards success.
This last one often surprises people. People may assume that success hypnosis is all about sitting down and hypnotically experiencing future success. But such an approach would conflict with science and common sense.
Don’t chase success away
Why would fantasizing about your wonderful future success actually cause success to flee from you like a rabbit caught in the headlights?
Research has shown that strongly imagining success without envisaging yourself actually doing what’s needed to get to that success may make you much less likely to achieve your dreams.2
This point is really worth considering.
The researchers assessed expectations and fantasies among various cohorts pursuing different goals, from trying to get a new partner or job to passing an academic test. They then assessed effort and performance among those individuals weeks to months later.
They found that those who spent the most time positively fantasizing about their desired result did worse. For example, among those looking for a job, participants who spent most time fantasizing about getting a great job actually had lower paid and less fulfilled jobs two years later than those who didn’t fantasize so much!
The problem with positive fantasies is that they give us the feelings of success in the present time – and yes, that might feel like a good thing at first. But they don’t help us anticipate the work and setbacks we may need to overcome. They can give us a false sense of already having reached our goal! And if you’re already there, why bother with the actual journey?
According to the researchers, “[p]ositive expectations (judging a desired future as likely) predicted high effort and successful performance, but the reverse was true for positive fantasies.”
So the secret, it seems, to harder work and a greater likelihood of success is to have positive expectations but without indulging too many fantasies of future success.
So how do we use hypnosis to get people to take their path to success?
Seeing the journey makes it compelling
When we help people hypnotically envisage their goals, we do so by helping them envisage not just the destination but the journey towards success. As you become magnetized towards your goal you need more than simply ‘passion’ or a one-off hit of excitement to get there. Why? Because excitement, like a sugar high, is short lived unless it is renewed often.
Yes, you need to be excited by your goals. But you also need to honour them in ways that don’t require you to be constantly whipped up in a frenzy of passion. You may not be passionate about cleaning your teeth every day, but you still do it.
Other research has found that visualizing yourself from a third-person position carrying out desired success-oriented behaviours makes you much more likely to carry out those behaviours for real.3
Mind you, often there is a special moment that plants the seed of success so deep that it just has to grow. Self-imposed or external blocks? You’ll surmount them. Negativity from others? You’ll listen for any truth, but if it’s just negativity it will be as water off a success-seeking duck’s back! Sometimes it takes just one person to believe in you to create a turning point.
I had a turning point moment like that many years ago.
Why limit yourself?
Why indeed. These words float to me often from back through the decades. They came from the lips of an old client. A man in his late eighties whom I’d helped to hypnotically control his blood pressure and sleep better. He’d shown a great deal of interest in my fledgling therapy practice.
I asked him what he meant. He repeated.
“Why limit yourself! Think big, Mark! Why only see eight people a week when you can teach a hundred, a thousand others to do what you do. Those thousand others might see eight troubled souls a week. You would then be helping, indirectly, not just eight people a week but eight thousand!”
I’ll never forget his words. It was the seed that germinated into a shoot of flowering possibility and action. Twenty-five years on, my business partner and I have trained thousands face-to-face and reached millions online.
Sometimes it takes just one person to believe in you – and that one person might as well be you!
So when it comes to success, think big, and always ask: “Why limit myself?”
I’ve created a course using a workbook and hypnosis for success here: 10 Steps to a Stellar Success Mindset.
Here are 10 great affirmations to help achieve your goals.
I absolutely love affirmations. They’ve really helped me in my own life and business. Today, I’ve put together these special affirmations to help you achieve your goals.
Pick out the ones that resonate with you, use them all or use them as a base to create your own affirmations specific to you.
Before you start focusing on your mindset work to achieve your goals, it’s important to know what your goals actually are.
How and when to use affirmations to help achieve your goals
Fill your day with them. You can do all kinds of things like…
Write your affirmations out daily
Write your affirmations on separate post-it notes and place them around the house, office…
Record your affirmations onto a voice recorder (most mobiles have them these days) and play them back to yourself throughout the day
Simply run them through your mind as you’re going about your day
Stand in front of the mirror and repeat them out loud (this is incredibly powerful)
Enjoy your affirmations. The more enjoyment you can add the better as you’ll be coming at them from a really positive place, raising your vibrations and when you do this you activate the law of attraction to draw to you whatever you need to achieve your goals.
8 affirmations to help achieve your goals
Any time is a good time to use affirmations especially if you catch yourself thinking or feeling negative, just start saying your affirmations – fill your mind with positivity.
1 – I can achieve all of my goals
This is a super simple, yet incredibly powerful affirmation. You want to achieve your goals and this is exactly what this affirmation is focused on.
You can add anything you want to the “I can… ” affirmation such as I can easily attract 10 new clients this week.
I can achieve all of my goals is a fantastic general affirmation. Adding a specific goal to the end of I can… adds real focus to that specific goal.
Both of these affirmation styles work brilliantly. You can use them both side by side.
Try looking at your goals for the year and create a specific “I can…” affirmation for each goal.
2 – I’m a real goal-achiever now
So, this affirmation is affirming who you are as a person. Maybe you’ve struggled to achieve your goals in the past or stay focused on your goals.
This affirmation “I am a real goal-achiever now” says that you are the kind of person who really goes after your goals. You don’t do it sometimes or a bit half-heartedly, you go for it. That’s who YOU are.
The “I am…” affirmations are also massively powerful. In fact, they’re probably the most powerful, so I highly recommend any positive statements starting with “I am…”
Try this: Look at your goals list and ask “Who do I need to be to achieve this goal?”
Maybe you have a goal to attend networking events to put the word out about your business and get to know other business owners in your area. This idea might make you feel quite nervous and uncomfortable, so you could say “I am calm and confident talking about my business at events.” Play with this idea and see what you can come up with.
Related reading – Who do I need to be to achieve my goals?
3 – Achieving my goals is getting easier and easier
So many people have the belief that success is really hard work and whilst I do believe any goal worth achieving does take time, attention and effort, it doesn’t have to be hard (a struggle).
If you feel like you always struggle to achieve your goals, this is a really positive affirmation for you to use, it’s also not a massive jump to “Achieving my goals is easy.”
If you are struggling right now, this is a better feeling affirmation that your mind will readily allow to be the truth for you. Big jump affirmations can often cause too much resistance.
As you start to believe that achieving your goals is getting easier you can then start to add Achieving my goals is easy now, achieving my goals is so easy now.
Look at your reality now as you see it and go for better feeling thoughts and affirmations.
4 – I now set clear goals and consistently work on achieving them.
I now… is another great way to start your affirmations. You’re putting out a message to the universe and your subconscious mind saying, sure, in the past it hasn’t always been this way but this is now – NOW, this is how my life is.
Maybe in the past, you might have set vague goals and maybe you were a bit hit and miss about trying to achieve them. Not NOW. Now your goals are clear and now you consistently work on achieving your goals.
I personally love this affirmation and use it in my own life, especially with my business goals. I have definitely been guilty of setting all kinds of vague mismatched goals and haven’t then worked on achieving them consistently, so this has been a powerful affirmation to help change that unhelpful behaviour pattern.
Related video I’m not consistent belief buster
5 – I have a clear plan of action to achieve my goals
I always, always encourage you to have a clear action plan for any of your goals. Break your goal down into actionable steps that you can work on.
This affirmation will help you to stay on track and focused, it will remind you to set action steps and stick to them. You’ve got your goal, you’ve got your action plan and you have now set yourself up to achieve your goal.
Affirmations do a wonderful job to shift your beliefs and change your behaviour patterns.
I have a clear plan of action to achieve my goals, says “Yes, I have a plan” and “Yes, of course, I will achieve this goal.”
Related reading Goals without an action plan are a waste of time
6 – I prioritize my goals and take every opportunity to work on them
Prioritizing your goals is essential if you want to achieve them. This affirmation will help create a belief that you are the kind of person who does prioritize your goals.
You know they are important to you and therefore they deserve time and attention to achieve them.
An alternative to this affirmation is “I take every opportunity to work on my goals” this is a shortened version but equally as powerful.
This affirmation will help you create a mindset that has you moving closer to your goal every day.
Recommended reading – Prioritize your most important goal
I hope you’re enjoying these affirmations to help achieve your goals – If you’re on Pinterest you can find Pins for each of these affirmations on my Goal Setting Pinterest board
7 – I am fully committed to achieving my goals
In all honesty, if you feel you’re not committed to achieving a goal, I would recommend that you first question yourself “Is this goal really important to ME?”
Often when I’m going through goals with clients and there is a big commitment issue, it will turn out to be something that the person thinks other people expect from them but the goal is not very important to them.
So that aside, assuming you do really want to achieve your goal. This goal will help you to create a positive belief that will help you to really commit to your goals.
Another little note: Make sure you are not overcommitting your time as this could end up forcing you to neglect your important goals.
Recommended reading Say “No” to overcommitment – Time management tip
8 – My goals are worth achieving
If your goals are important to you then, of course, they are worth achieving. You deserve to achieve your goals. An alternative to this affirmation is “I am worthy of achieving my goals.”
I often speak with people about this issue and what I’ve come to understand is that so many of us have a belief that unless you’re working ridiculously hard, sacrificing something or putting in 90 hours a week, it’s not okay to be successful. I had a belief very similar to this for many years. I’m here to tell you it’s not true. I do believe you need to focus on your goals, have a clear action plan and put effort into achieving your goals. But it does not need to be hard. You do not need to sacrifice success in other areas of your life (such as family time) and you do not need to work around the clock to achieve your goals. Your goals are worth achieving. You are worthy of achieving your goals.
Goal Setting tips
Start with your big, Ideal Life, Ideal Business goals and then break them down into your yearly goals, them monthly goals, then weekly, daily goals.
Create a clear plan of action to achieve your goals.
Write your goals down
Do your mindset work. Start with these affirmations and try using EFT to achieve your goals.
Keep your goals clear and simple (don’t overcomplicate your goals). Also, try not to have too many goals at any one time.
Record your affirmations
These days most smartphones have a way for you to record yourself speaking. So why not record a list of your favourite affirmations and play them back to yourself throughout the day. This is powerful stuff. Keep filling your mind with positive thoughts.
Keeping your goals clear and simple (don’t overcomplicate your goals) will help. Also, try not to have too many goals at any one time.
Recommended Reading Don’t overcomplicate your goals
Try creating a Pinterest board filled with affirmations that really resonate with you. You can also create a board in your home or workplace. Write out affirmations on nice coloured pieces of card and pin them on a pinboard or even print out your favourite affirmation and frame it. These regular reminders are so incredibly powerful.
I really hope these affirmations to help achieve your goals resonate with you. Give them a go, fill your mind with positive thoughts and affirmations. See what happens.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and let me know which is your favourite of the affirmations I’ve shared and if you have another that you like, share that in the comments below.
Look for a hypnotherapist who is a member of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) or the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. To be a member of either of these organizations, a hypnotherapist must have a doctorate level degree in medicine, dentistry, or psychology, or a master’s degree in nursing, social work, psychology, or marital/family therapy plus a specific number of hours of approved training in hypnotherapy. In some cases, accredited, doctoral-level practitioners of alternative health care, such traditional Chinese medicine, may also be approved for membership. Of course, in addition to looking at qualifications, you should also find a hypnotherapist with whom you feel confident and comfortable in a therapeutic relationship.
“You need to be 100% behind it. Don’t just half heartedly give it a go. Really try it properly. Adapt it to what works best for you and what you want it to do for you. Stick to the advice given above. I was skeptical at first, but once I gave in and let go, it really worked for me. It’s not a miracle cure for all your problems, but I’m amazed it worked for me & how useful it’s been.”…” more
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“It really helped a lot. But before going to start this, we must completely believe it. We must be confident and do this. Only then there will be some kind of use.”…” more
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“The calmness that exudes from every sentence of the article and the absolute lack of any suggestion of pressure. This is a neat trick, by the way.”…” more
“The wording used so that I could understand what was written helped. It also reaffirmed what my own registered hypnotherapist has told me.”…” more
“I did self hypnosis for a year, but this is awesome and full of details for everyone that wants to do it. “
“Use positive suggestions, use present or future tense, don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time.”
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Lucid dreams are when you know that you’re dreaming while you’re asleep.
You’re aware that the events flashing through your brain aren’t really happening. But the dream feels vivid and real. You may even be able to control how the action unfolds, as if you’re directing a movie in your sleep.
Studies suggest that about half of people may have had at least one lucid dream. But they probably don’t happen often, usually only a handful of times in a year.
When Do Lucid Dreams Happen?
Lucid dreams are most common during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a period of very deep sleep marked by eye motion, faster breathing, and more brain activity.
You usually enter REM sleep about 90 minutes after falling asleep. It lasts about 10 minutes. As you sleep, each REM period is longer than the one before, finally lasting up to an hour.
Lucid Dreams Research
Neuroscientists don’t know exactly how and why lucid dreams happen. But they have some ideas.
For one thing, studies have found physical differences in the brains of people who do and don’t have lucid dreams. The very front part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex — the site of high-level tasks like making decisions and recalling memories — is bigger in people who have lucid dreams. That suggests that folks who are most likely to have lucid dreams tend to be self-reflective types who chew over thoughts in their heads.
One small study in Germany tracked brain electrical activity in volunteers as they slept. Based on these measurements, the researchers say, lucid dreaming may be kind of a “between state” where you aren’t fully awake but not quite asleep, either.
Some sleep scientists believe that lucid dreams may also happen just outside of REM sleep, which many long thought was the only time when you dream.
Benefits of Lucid Dreams
Lucid dreams might help your waking life with benefits like:
Less anxiety. The sense of control you feel during a lucid dream may stay with you and make you feel empowered. When you’re aware that you’re in a dream, you can shape the story and the ending. That might serve as therapy for people who have nightmares, teaching them how to control their dreams.
Better motor skills. Limited studies suggest that it may be possible to improve simple things like tapping your fingers more quickly by “practicing” during your lucid dream. The same part of your brain turns active whether you imagine the movements while awake or run through them during a lucid dream.
Improved problem-solving. Researchers found some evidence that lucid dreams can help people solve problems that deal with creativity (like a conflict with another person) more than with logic (such as a math problem).
More creativity. Some people taking part in lucid dream studies were able to come up with new ideas or insights, sometimes with the help of characters in their dreams.
Dangers of Lucid Dreams
Lucid dreaming may also cause problems, including:
Less sleep quality. Vivid dreams can wake you and make it hard to get back to sleep. And you might not sleep well if you’re too focused on lucid dreaming.
Confusion, delirium, and hallucinations. In people who have certain mental health disorders, lucid dreams may blur the line between what’s real and what’s imagined.
How to Have Lucid Dreams
Small studies have found that you may be able to raise your chances of dreaming lucidly. One way to do it might be to prime your mind to notice unusual details in your dream to alert yourself that it’s not real.
More research is needed to know if any method can actually trigger a lucid dream. Some things researchers have tried include:
Reality testing. This is when you pause at different times of the day to see whether you’re dreaming. You can try to do something impossible, like push your finger through your palm or inhale through a closed mouth. Or you can do something that’s usually hard to do in a dream, like read a page in a book.
Dream diary. Some studies showed that people had more lucid dreams when they kept a log of their dreams, because they were more focused on them. Other research found that these journals didn’t help on their own but might be useful when combined with other methods.
Wake-back-to-bed. You wake up after 5 hours of sleep, stay awake briefly, and then go back to bed to try to enter an REM sleep period.
Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD). You wake up after sleeping for 5 hours and tell yourself several times that the next time you dream, you will remember you’re dreaming. This uses prospective memory — the act of remembering to do something in the future — to trigger a lucid dream.
Drugs. Studies have also focused on the effects of several drugs, such as supplements and medicinal plants, on sleep and dreams. But it’s not clear how safe they are or how well they work.
Devices. Some masks and headbands that have sounds or lights might bring on a lucid state. Other devices can record and play messages used in the MILD technique while you’re asleep.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on June 27, 2020
American Psychological Association: “Reality testing and the mnemonic induction of lucid dreams: Findings from the national Australian lucid dream induction study.”
Boston University: “Lucid Dreaming and the Enigma of Our Consciousness.”
Frontiers in Neuroscience: “Portable Devices to Induce Lucid Dreams—Are They Reliable?” “My Dream, My Rules: Can Lucid Dreaming Treat Nightmares?”
International Journal of Dream Research: “Can we induce lucid dreams? A pharmacological point of view.”
Journal of Sports Sciences: “Effectiveness of motor practice in lucid dreams: a comparison with physical and mental practice.”
National Sleep Foundation: “What is Lucid Dreaming?” “Do Lucid Dreams Affect Sleep Quality?”
Penn State: “Probing Question: What is a lucid dream?”
Scientific Reports: “Frequent lucid dreaming associated with increased functional connectivity between frontopolar cortex and temporoparietal association areas.”
Sleep: “Lucid Dreaming: A State of Consciousness with Features of Both Waking and Non-Lucid Dreaming.”
U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Gray and white matter of the brain.”
University of Adelaide: “Want To Control Your Dreams? Here’s How You Can.”
Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry: “Lucid dreams and metacognition: Deliberate thinking and dreaming,” “The seat of meta-consciousness in the brain.”
Nature Reviews Neuroscience: “Anterior prefrontal cortex: insights into function from anatomy and neuroimaging.”
International Journal of Dream Research: “Lucid dreaming during NREM sleep: Two case reports,” “An exploratory study of creative problem solving in lucid dreams: Preliminary findings and methodological considerations,” “Applications of lucid dreams: An online study.”
Cleveland Clinic: “Sleep Basics.”
Frontiers in Psychology: “Dream-reality confusion in borderline personality disorder: a theoretical analysis,” “Psychosis and the Control of Lucid Dreaming.”
Imagination, Cognition and Personality: “Lucid Dreaming: A Diary Study.”
Hypnosis — or hypnotherapy — uses guided relaxation, intense concentration, and focused attention to achieve a heightened state of awareness that is sometimes called a trance. The person’s attention is so focused while in this state that anything going on around the person is temporarily blocked out or ignored. In this naturally occurring state, a person may focus his or her attention — with the help of a trained therapist — on specific thoughts or tasks.
How Does Hypnosis Work?
Hypnosis is usually considered an aid to psychotherapy (counseling or therapy), because the hypnotic state allows people to explore painful thoughts, feelings, and memories they might have hidden from their conscious minds. In addition, hypnosis enables people to perceive some things differently, such as blocking an awareness of pain.
Hypnosis can be used in two ways, as suggestion therapy or for patient analysis.
Suggestion therapy: The hypnotic state makes the person better able to respond to suggestions. Therefore, hypnotherapy can help some people change certain behaviors, such as stopping smoking or nail biting. It can also help people change perceptions and sensations, and is particularly useful in treating pain.
Analysis: This approach uses the relaxed state to explore a possible psychological root cause of a disorder or symptom, such as a traumatic past event that a person has hidden in his or her unconscious memory. Once the trauma is revealed, it can be addressed in psychotherapy.
What Are the Benefits of Hypnosis?
The hypnotic state allows a person to be more open to discussion and suggestion. It can improve the success of other treatments for many conditions, including:
Hypnosis also might be used to help with pain control and to overcome habits, such as smoking or overeating. It also might be helpful for people whose symptoms are severe or who need crisis management.
What Are the Drawbacks of Hypnosis?
Hypnosis might not be appropriate for a person who has psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, or for someone who is using drugs or alcohol. It should be used for pain control only after a doctor has evaluated the person for any physical disorder that might require medical or surgical treatment. Hypnosis also may be a less effective form of therapy than other more traditional treatments, such as medication, for psychiatric disorders.
Some therapists use hypnosis to recover possibly repressed memories they believe are linked to the person’s mental disorder. However, the quality and reliability of information recalled by the patient under hypnosis is not always reliable. Additionally, hypnosis can pose a risk of creating false memories — usually as a result of unintended suggestions or the asking of leading questions by the therapist. For these reasons, hypnosis is no longer considered a common or mainstream part of most forms of psychotherapy. Also, the use of hypnosis for certain mental disorders in which patients may be highly susceptible to suggestion, such as dissociative disorders, remains especially controversial.
Is Hypnosis Dangerous?
Hypnosis is not a dangerous procedure. It is not mind control or brainwashing. A therapist cannot make a person do something embarrassing or that the person doesn’t want to do. The greatest risk, as discussed above, is that false memories can potentially be created and that it may be less effective than pursuing other, more established and traditional psychiatric treatments.
Who Performs Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is performed by a licensed or certified mental health professional who is specially trained in this technique.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on November 15, 2018