The word hypnosis is derived from the Greek word ‘hypnos’, meaning ‘to sleep’. It was brought into common parlance by Scottish surgeon James Braid in the 1840s. Hypnotherapy techniques were used with operative procedures before the use of anaesthetic and had developed from the theories of a Dr Mesmer from 60 years before.

Hypnotherapy is the production of a trancelike state that is not dissimilar to daydreaming. In effect, the consciousness leaves the body, which continues to be controlled and protected by the subconscious. An example is thinking of a beach in Rio while driving a car. Driving demands a lot of concentration and coordination but can be done without thinking about it. If a child were to run in front of a car the subconscious would not have the ability to avoid it. The consciousness is called back into the body, which deals with the situation, and Rio is forgotten!

I divide hypnotherapy into two techniques. The first is suggestive and the second is ‘part’.

In both techniques the individual is taken into a deep relaxed state through imagining a comfortable and enjoyable place. The suggestive hypnotherapist will then plant an idea into the subconscious, such as that an onion is an apple or a cigarette is nauseating. When the consciousness returns the subconscious holds this concept and the individual will bite into the onion with relish or may wish to stop smoking . ‘Part’ hypnotherapy is geared towards discussing matters with the subconscious and finding out which part of the individual’s past has triggered the unnecessary or unwanted psychological problem. Part hypnotherapy should not be undertaken by those who cannot afford or intend to follow through with the psychological support that is often necessary when something deeply buried comes forward and which can markedly affect their life. Suggestive hypnotherapy is safer but may not be quite so effective. I would like to stress that these definitions are my own and would need to be explained to a hypnotherapist to find out which form of treatment they intend to use.