Demystifying Hypnosis Terminology
There are A LOT of words floating around the internet that hypnotherapists use to describe their practice. In this blog post, I am going to break down some hypnosis terminology that I use on my website and what each term means. I use very specific word choices when I am writing about hypnosis, so hopefully this is a helpful guide!
Ah, yes, the big one. “Hypnosis,” the word that has some really strong negative connotations. (For more info about myths about hypnosis, check out this blog post.) A lot of times, the word hypnosis makes people think of stage hypnosis that they’ve seen at parties or other events. And yes, while that is technically hypnosis, the sort of hypnosis that I do looks very different from stage hypnosis.
I like to define hypnosis broadly as the brain state characterized by hyper-focused attention paired with relaxation. People in hypnosis are in the Theta brain wave, which is the same brain wave we are in when we daydream or meditate. In my office, I use hypnosis as a tool to relax my clients and allow them to access their subconscious mind for healing. Doing therapy while people are in hypnosis literally alters the structures of people’s brains, so it’s an incredibly powerful, sort of awesome tool. (I always imagined that if there were therapists in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, that they would probably be hypnotherapists).
So, when I use the word “hypnosis,” I’m referring to the brain state that is used for therapy. People who are in hypnosis are “hypnotized.” Someone who performs hypnosis is sometimes known as a hypnotist. However, I prefer to call myself a hypnotherapist or hypnoanlayst. (More on that later).
Technically, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis; you can’t go into a state of hypnosis unless you want to. That being said, self-hypnosis is one of the best tools a person can use outside of therapy. It reinforces the brain changes we work on in session, and actually speeds up a person’s healing process. In other words, yes, I am one of those therapists who gives their clients homework, but it’s the sort that helps them relax and get better. Typically, I ask that clients use self-hypnosis (or a combination of self-hypnosis and meditation) for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.
Sometimes I use the term “clinical hypnosis” to describe what I do. I technically am a hypnoanalyst, but that word is a bit confusing and kind of jargon-y. At the same time, the work I do extends beyond simply hypnotherapy, so I have settled on the term “clinical hypnosis” (and sometimes “therapeutic hypnosis.”) I think it’s a nice umbrella term for the work I do, which includes age regressions (drawing from principles of psychoanalysis) as well as hypnotherapy. It also makes it clear to people who see the term “clinical hypnosis” that what I do is not stage hypnosis and I will not make you quack like a duck.
Hypnotherapy is probably the type of therapeutic hypnosis that you’ve heard of. Hypnotherapy is direct suggestions that are healthy and positive and designed to help people reach their goals. About half of the treatment sessions in my office are technically hypnotherapy sessions, where people listen to direct, positive, healthy suggestions directly related to their goals. That being said, hypnotherapy is best used in conjunction with hypnoanalysis. (See below!)
Hypnoanalysis is the protocol I use and I consider myself a “hypnoanalyst.” Hypnoanalysis is the most advanced form of therapeutic hypnosis; it uses hypnosis to uncover and heal the root cause of your problem stored in your subconscious mind. By treating the root cause of the problem, people see their symptoms dissipate usually within 12-20 sessions. Paired with sessions of hypnotherapy, hypnoanalysis is an incredibly powerful therapeutic tool because it literally changes the way your brain works.
It is a highly collaborative protocol that puts the power in the hands of the client. I like to say that I (the hypnoanalyst) am in the passenger’s seat giving directions while the client is the driver. That’s one of the reasons why I love this protocol so much—it is your experience and you control the process.
Check out my hypnosis FAQ page, send me a message, or leave a comment below! I’d love to talk.