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What is HYPNOTHERAPY and HOW does it work?

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

What is hypnotherapy?

Are you stuck in a cycle of thought and/or behavior? Wanting to make a change, but unable to do it by yourself? Hypnotherapy is an alternative treatment for healing trauma and changing thoughts and behaviors. A hypnotherapy session provides space for you to fix your attention on a specific thought or behavior and make desired changes that last.

in person

or online

What about what I've seen in the movies and on stage?

Stage hypnosis in which hypnotists use techniques to get participants to do funny things is amazing! Stage hypnosis does illustrate the Rules of the Mind below - particularly the What is imagined tends to be realized rule. Stage hypnosis and the portrayal of hypnotherapy in the movies (so far) is very different from what I do with clients. Contrary to most of what Hollywood shows, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. In a hypnotherapy session, you are fully aware of what is happening and in full control. You are never put under a spell or made to do things you don't want to do.

The Hypnotic Eye - fun movie but not what we're doing!

Here's how a hypnotherapy session with me goes:

  1. Sessions can be conducted online or in-person. If it's your first session, we review your intake form, discuss your situation and set an intention for your session. If it's a follow-up session, we chat and catch up establishing your intention for the session before we begin. Doing a session whenever you're stuck is a powerful way to really peel back the layers and get to your true self.

  2. You'll get comfortable in a reclining chair and close your eyes.

  3. I'll guide you into a deep state of relaxation. Just that is worth the session!

  4. Once relaxed, we begin to focus on your emotions and behaviors. We go where we need to go. It's like a dream in which you're driving and I'm navigating. YOU are driving and you make the ultimate decision on where to go. I use my expertise to guide you through this process. We take care of unfinished business, heal what needs to be healed and reprogram your mind and body in alignment with your established goal.

  5. You then bring forth these new thoughts and feelings as you come out of the session feeling relaxed and renewed.

  6. We discuss your session very briefly. It's best to let the session work itself out without too much effort on your part (See the last Rule of the Mind below). I will provide a recommendation for next steps based on your unique situation and you decide what's next for you.

Video showing what a session looks like

How does hypnotherapy work?

Hypnotherapy works because it embraces the Rules of the Mind to deal with both the conscious and subconscious minds.

The conscious mind is where you spend most of your waking hours - thinking, strategizing, wondering, planning, and executing your plans to meet your goals.

The subconscious mind is where your experiences are stored - your memories, your emotions, your connection to everything else. This is also the part of your mind from which you dream. And the subconscious mind is also where your survival instincts live. You've learned through your nervous system and your emotions how to "survive" and keep safe. However, some of those learned patterns may actually be a hindrance to your present goals. How you learned to "survive" may even be destructive in your present life.


  • Every thought creates a reaction: it will play out as a physical behavior or emotional behavior. Butterflies in the stomach when you're nervous? Tension in your head before a big meeting? Our thoughts lead to our emotions which lead to our physical reactions in the body. For more on this topic, see Bessel Van der Kolk's book - "The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma".

  • Imagination is more powerful than knowledge. Sponge Bob and Einstein had it figured it out.

  • Two opposing ideas cannot be held at one and the same time. This one is deep, but here's a simple example... you don't think both of these thoughts at the same time: I am fat. I am thin.

  • Once an idea is accepted into the subconscious, it remains there until it is replaced by another idea. Oof! This is why it's so hard to make changes on your own.

  • An emotionally induced symptom produces organic change when it persists long enough. Your thoughts and emotions can literally make you sick over time.

  • The nervous system creates a conditioned response once it has reacted in a certain way and it becomes easier to react in that way the next time. Remember Pavlov's dog from Psychology class? Marketers know this rule and they use it to get you to buy and consume their products.

  • When dealing with the subconscious mind, the greater the conscious effort, the less the subconscious responds. Ever tried to diet and avoid certain foods only to find yourself constantly thinking about food and "cheating" on your diet? That's this rule in action.

What personal hell do you find yourself stuck in? It's time to get out and get on with it.

See my next post on how to choose a hypnotherapist...

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