Hypnosis can be defined as a heightened state of focused attention wherein your mind is open to awareness, inner wisdom, suggestion and change. However, depending on who you speak to, the definition may differ slightly. The type of hypnosis we do in the office is highly therapeutic, and we leverage different levels of your mind to create and sustain change.
One definition of hypnosis is “the bypass of the critical faculty of the conscious mind and the establishment of acceptable selective thinking in the subconscious mind” (Dave Elman). I like my friend Jason Linett’s definition of hypnosis–it is a state of consciousness in which your mind is open and more receptive to information, suggestion, insight and releasing of feelings and emotions.
Hypnosis is a natural state that we all experience regularly. If you have ever been so deeply focused on an activity, a book or a day dream that you don’t notice what is going on around you (like someone calling your name, for instance), then you have experienced almost certainly a slowing down of brainwaves conducive to hypnosis. When one listens to music, plays video games, runs, watches a movie, or drives for long periods of time on the highway, these are all times when people slide in and out of hypnosis or a heightened state of suggestibility. That’s the cool thing, when you come into the office, I know that you’ve already been hypnotized before. I just help you to get there!
The Subconscious & Conscious Minds
The subconscious mind is about 95% of yours mind’s power and resources; consists of long term memory, emotions, imagination, creativity, controls your habits, skills, automatic emotional responses, hardwired behaviors, perceptions, and autonomic body functions (such as heartbeat). It stores and acts upon your conditioned beliefs, judgment, body and cellular memory. Think of your subconscious more aligned with the idea of an “operating system” or the “hard drive” of the mind. The conscious mind is drives about 5% of the show or your total mind resources. The conscious mind is the analytical, reasoning part, will-power, and creative abilities. (Dr. Joe Dispenza, You Are the Placebo, Making Your Mind Matter). When making long-term change, one must involve the subconscious mind.
Also, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. While Racquel is highly skilled and experienced in her craft, YOU put the time, energy, and effort into your change. Hypnosis can HELP you to achieve your personal, professional, and health goals. It is not what actually makes the change though. Time, energy, effort, ability to input new skills, and a deep willingness and passion for the change surely helps drive the change faster and leads to more effective change work.
As human beings, our brains are always active. Brainwaves are produced by neurons in your brain that communicate with each other by electrical charges. With hypnosis, we have the ability to change our brain wave activity (which is measured in cycles per second, or Hertz). While you will experience a combination of brain waves simultaneously at any given type, many hypnotists believe Theta and Alphas wave states are optimal for making deep, lasting change.
Generally, brainwaves fall into four or five basic types.
Delta (0 to 4Hz) This is where your brainwaves are cycling very very slowly, most commonly experienced only during the deepest levels of sleep each night (high REM sleep). There are other specific occasions where Delta brainwaves are experienced such as in a coma state, reaction to certain drugs, and also in deep levels of hypnosis. In Delta the conscious processes of the mind switch off and the automated subconscious/unconscious processes take full control. This is why Delta states are linked to healing or physical recuperation because it heightens the inherent connection between the unconscious process of your mind that regulate the physical systems of your body.
Theta (4Hz to 8Hz) Within the Theta state, individuals often experience deep relaxation, vivid visualizations, great inspiration, profound creativity and exceptional insight. Theta is typified by a much reduced conscious awareness and heightened subconscious receptivity. This is why hypnosis is largely performed in the Theta realm because the subconscious is more absorbing of new suggestion without excessive conscious analysis. Most people are still aware of their surroundings while in this state.
Alpha (8Hz to 12 Hz). Alpha levels are typified by relaxed mental states associated with creativity, problem solving, visualization, and light daydreaming. Alpha brainwaves cycle 8 to 12 times per second and in these levels you will still have conscious awareness of everything but will generally feel nice and calm and relaxed. Alpha levels are like the entry gateway to hypnosis and the subconscious – an entry point so to speak before reaching more productive levels of hypnosis or meditation (such as Theta level). Many hypnotists utilize this state for habit change.
Beta (12Hz to 40Hz). Beta levels are where our brainwaves usually cycle during the day when we are awake and in a conscious state, such as with logical thinking, problem solving, talking and writing.
Gamma (above 40Hz). Ultra high levels of awakened consciousness typified by increased brainwave cycles and thoughts. These waves occur typically when you are highly stressed or are confronted by a dangerous situation requiring immediate action (fight or flight). Not a lot is known about Gamma level brainwaves, however, it is associated with bursts of insight and high-level information processing.
Deep, rapid change and healing are often the hallmarks of solid hypnosis or hypnotherapy work! Because the changes occur deeply and rapidly, we’ll often only have to see you for a session or two before you achieve your goal or are well on your way to doing so. Hypnosis has been shown to work with weight loss, smoking cessation, pain reduction, and fears and phobias. Also, Clients report they feel lighter, more peaceful, and a greater sense of well-being after their first session or series of sessions.
Another benefit is that the client creates and owns the change. Thus, it is a very empowering process usually for the client.
While in hypnosis, you may feel very relaxed, a tingling, light, floating sensation. Like the feeling right before you drift off to sleep. You might feel a heavy feeling in your body. Every person experiences hypnosis differently. You may feel deeply relaxed or you may feel no different than usual. Since your critical factor or conscious mind never entirely goes away, you may notice chatter going on in your head, especially during your first session. Relax, this is quite normal. It means little if anything for how effective the outcome will be. Some people describe a feeling of bliss. Cool, huh? Again, how it feels is highly individual.
Most people can be hypnotized. We all go in and out of hypnosis (or the same brainwave state of hypnosis, such as autopilot, daydreaming, the sweet place right before dropping off to sleep at night, for instance.). Most people have no problem going into hypnosis in our office as Racquel is highly skilled at what she does and leverages your natural tendencies and previous experiences. If you can follow a few basic directions, you’ll do great! However, hypnosis works best when you’re not intoxicated.
There is a bit of a mystique about hypnosis. Like acupuncture, it has been around for thousands of years. Many people don’t realize that hypnosis is a natural state that they regularly go into. It feels kind of like a heightened state of relaxation, focused awareness, sometimes like a daydream or the “zone.” But, you are always aware and in charge.
As with any kind of service provider, it is important that you pick and choose your consulting hypnotist carefully. Practicing hypnosis in the United States does not require a license in most states and some hypnotists/hypnotherapists are far better trained than others. Also, hypnosis is considered complementary to other forms of treatment. It should not be used in place of a doctor’s visit, medication or medical advice. When choosing a hypnotist, you should ask them about their experience, training, and find out about their treatment philosophy and ethics. If they see you for a medical condition (physical pain, for instance), they should require a medical consultation and they should not be giving you medical advice. If they do, they are possibly acting beyond the scope of their training, and thereby acting unethically. Here at Hypnosis Columbia, we believe in providing you the best experience possible, to help you to become healthier, happier, and more successful in your life, and we will do so in an ethical manner, abiding by the code and ethics of the National Guild of Hypnotists.
Before we actually meet in my office, we’ll probably speak on the phone together. I’ll ask you questions about your goals and intentions, answer your questions, and we will determine if we are a good fit to work together. After you arrive to your first session, we will continue the dialogue, and when you are ready, I will guide you into a state of hypnosis using my voice and sometimes other techniques. Hypnosis often simply feels like a deep state of relaxation. Although you are likely to be very relaxed, you will be awake the entire time. The “meat” of the work includes the spoken word, sometimes in the form of “suggestions,” and various tools and techniques. Hypnosis is simply being in a heightened state of suggestibility. Therefore, your mind absorbs, incorporates and assimilates suggestions at a very deep level.
Normally, the session will last any where from 50 to 90 minutes, and sometimes longer. Your first session can be longer, sometimes up to 2 hours.
Some Clients see major changes after one session. Depending on the individual, the severity of the issue and a number of other factors, sometimes a series of sessions will be recommended. For generalized fear or “anxiety” that has been around for awhile, 3 or 4 sessions might be recommended, medical issues such as IBS, I usually recommend 6 sessions; weight reduction 3-4 sessions. While it is often difficult to accurately project how many sessions will be needed for a specific outcome, I rarely see anyone for more than 6 sessions!
The average cost of one hypnosis session in the MD/VA/DC area is $80-$300, and it varies throughout the U.S. as well. Sometimes there are discounts when purchasing a number of sessions at one time or paying for sessions in advance. Most hypnotist visits are not covered by insurance. However, you may check with your insurance carrier, particularly if you are seeking help with smoking cessation or weight loss. Often a person can use their employer based Flexible Spending Accounts. Let Hypnosis Columbia know if you will need a specialized invoice or receipt.