Hypnosis is a process of achieving an altered state of consciousness. It's similar to daydreaming. With your conscious mind occupied or turned off, the messages from the hypnotist go into your subconscious. The effect is that new attitudes and behaviors can be suggested so deeply that they can become as integrated as if you'd been that way for years. For example:
It becomes natural to reach for the water bottle instead of a cigarette. The idea of buying ice cream now turns your stomach. The extra hour or so is just enough time to get to the gym instead of wasting time on the computer.
Autoimmune disorders are the result of a malfunction in the systems that keep us fighting off infections. Hypnotherapy is often used to boost and target the immune system. In some cases, recovery is possible. In most cases, the hypnosis just helps to make your other treatments more effective. Usually deep trance is required for substantial positive effects on the immune system.
Treatments for HIV and AIDS can also be difficult to tolerate on occasion. The rashes and digestive disorders are treatable with hypnosis, as well as any pain and neuropathy. Some times AIDS patients need help with sleep, diet, and exercise. And often depression and fear can be alleviated with hypnotherapy.
There is interesting research underway at Roehampton University in the UK and at the Department of Neurology at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine, both of which are using hypnosis to improve HIV/AIDS patients symptom management. The UK research is measuring HIV-positive volunteers' recovery from a flu vaccine after a course of trance training. The Mount Sinai research is studying relief from HIV-related neuropathy using hypnotherapy.
First, you and the therapist will sit down and talk. Probably for at least 30 minutes. You will find out more about each other. The therapist will ask you questions to narrow down your most important issues. The therapist will check your dominant senses and the suggestibility in your hands, arms, and legs.
Then we will go through several trance sessions (usually 2 to 4) where we will try to get you to your deepest possible trance, and then implant the suggestions you want. At the end, you will tell me how the session went for you, and they will let you know anything you need to do or be aware of before your next appointment.
Again, your goals and depth of trance can affect the length of your hypnotherapy experience. For some idea, you may want to look at sections on specific side effects and problems. And consultation with your doctor is strongly recommended for my feedback and any changes in medication that may be required during testing of hypnotic effects.
How many times?
The quick answer is one to six sessions for most.
The number of sessions you'll need depends on a variety of factors. Generally, deeper subjects need fewer sessions. Simpler issues can be resolved in fewer sessions. New behaviors that you can practice more frequently require fewer sessions. People under a lot of stress often require more sessions.
Who goes under?
About 98 percent of the people that want to be hypnotized can be. The volunteers at a stage hypnosis show are picked because they are natural somnambulists -- about 10 to 15 percent of the public goes into deep trance easily. These people tend to be frequent daydreamers, experienced meditators, really creative, really open-minded, really intelligent, young people, dancers, actors, law enforcement, military, sleepwalkers, and previous hypnosis subjects.
A large majority of the clients I see are medium-trance subjects, cataleptics. They initially experience hypnosis as a half-wakeful state. They are often letting their minds wander and then focussing again on the hypnotist. It's a state similar to when you're just falling asleep or waking up (hypnopompic, hypnogogic states). Many learn to go deeper, but even at this level, hypnotic suggestions can be effective. They just require a bit more reinforcement.