What is the difference between hypnosis, hypnotherapy, guided imagery, meditation, visualization, and relaxation techniques?

Hypnosis is the method used to put yourself (or with the help of a therapist) into a relaxed state of consciousness that is common to everyone everyday. Hypnosis may be used just to be put into the state of relaxation only, or to feel pleasant, or as a therapy to help change behavior, etc.  Hypnosis as used by professionals is not to be confused with stage hypnosis, which is entirely different from this discussion and is employed as entertainment rather than therapeutic.  Generally a person who administers hypnosis is a hypnotist, though this term sometimes has bad connotations due to stage and theatrical hypnosis.

Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis as a therapy to help individuals improve their lives whether it be just general relaxation or stress reduction, or for other medical or emotional concerns, such as helping individuals reduce pain, cope with trauma, endure medical procedures when medication is contraindicated, reduce symptoms of functional disorders or just general well-being. Hypnotherapy is NOT however, a substitute for professional medical care, but rather a complement to it.

A person who provides hypnotherapy is a hypnotherapist, and usually has additional professional training, certifications and qualifications in mind sciences and therapy as well as counseling skills in addition to hypnotherapy. The hypnotherapist usually provides in-depth consultation and inquiry sessions prior to the actual therapy sessions in order to provide the best possible care to the patient. Many work in liaison with physicians who refer their patients for further care.

Solely for ease of use, the terms hypnosis and hypnotherapy are used interchangeably throughout this site.

Guided Imagery or visualization are processes used by hypnotherapists to help their patients resolve issues or improve their health. The subconscious mind responds very well to images and metaphor which can represent facets of the individual’s life or problems. By using these visualizations, the subconscious mind makes a mental picture and solves the problem since it cannot distinguish reality, it will take the images as a means to improve and move forward with suggestions made.

Meditation can be a form similar to self-hypnosis where the mind goes to a slower level for inner calm and insight but the individual is not being guided. No specific behavior or change is targeted.  It can also be a form of prayer.

Is Michael Mahoney a qualified clinical hypnotherapist?

Indeed he is. You may find out more about Michael’s qualifications and experience here.

How is hypnosis and hypnotherapy different from psychology or cognitive behavioral therapy?

Both of these methods approach the conscious mind and you have to actively think about what you are doing and learning. You use your intellect and your rational thinking to help solve problems. But when you use your thinking mind, there is a greater possibility of negative thoughts interfering, excuses, or barriers going up that block progress. These negative experiences or negative thinking then goes back into the subconscious mind and gets further reinforced.  This is not to say that these methods cannot be helpful, because they can, but it requires a lot of work on a conscious level, and is not as “easy” as hypnosis can be. Many individuals use hypnosis after failing with other methods, because they are so frustrated and fed up by their failure.

Does hypnosis / hypnotherapy really work?

Hypnosis and hypnotherapy have many research studies done showing how effective the method can be for many types of problems and conditions. If it was not successful at all, there would be publications saying so. If you do a general search on any of the medical search sites, such as PubMed, (National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health), Medscape, WebMD, etc. you will see professional medical journals full of entries on the successful use of hypnosis and hypnotherapy. For example, for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), hypnotherapy has proven to have one of the highest success rates over other treatment methods, with most studies being done after all other methods have failed with very severe refractory cases.

Will this work for me?

Well, there is no way to know for sure, but that goes for other treatments and medications too. But you can rest assured that most people of normal intelligence are fully capable of taking part in this form of therapy. As long as you follow the simple instructions, be open and positive about the approach and process, you should become receptive to the suggestions and obtain improvement. As with any treatment method, there is no magic bullet, nothing in this world works for 100% of those who use it, but that being said, this method has a very high success rate. And since it is completely safe, there is no worry about its effects. At the very least, it will do no harm, at minimum, you will find better sleep and be more relaxed in general, and for most, you will see improvement in your condition, and in many cases for many application, elimination of symptoms.

Most people realise that this is going to help them, it is nothing scary at all, they have complete control at all times, and we have many, many people who tell us they love their sessions and look forward to the peace and well-being they provide.

Will I know that I have been hypnotised?

You may not even realise that you were hypnotised. Some people know that they were because they feel they have been asleep for awhile, then “wake up”, while others are totally aware of their surroundings and remember everything. Once you begin to see positive changes in the way you think and feel, you will know that you have been hypnotised.

What is it like to be hypnotised?

In experiencing altered states it should be acknowledged that trance (altered state of consciousness) is slightly different for everyone. Most find it extremely pleasant, enjoyable and relaxing, saying they’ve never felt so agreeably relaxed and comfortable before. The altered state of consciousness is an individual and personal experience. Some may feel no difference at all, while others may feel very heavy and deeply relaxed, while still others may feel like they were floating – it is best not to have any preconceived ideas and just experience the sessions in your own unique way.

Who can be hypnotised?

Just about everyone if they choose.

Who should not use hypnosis?

Those with any mental illness, injury or disease should not use hypnosis, neither should those with special needs, who require  personal attention. Hypnotherapy is not suitable if you have or have ever suffered from personality disorders, psychosis, clinical depression or epilepsy. If in any doubt, please consult your doctor before using any of these products.

Is hypnotherapy safe?

Yes. It is a safe, natural part of human experience. Always protected by our subconscious, trance (altered state of consciousness) is part of everyday life. We are already proficient in its use, we simply don’t recognise it.  Note: Hypnotherapy is not stage hypnosis.  Important: Because these CDs guide you into a deeply relaxed state, it is very important that you DO NOT listen to them while driving a car or operating machinery; if you listen as a passenger in a car, use a personal CD player with headphones.

Should I use hypnotherapy as an alternative to seeing my doctor?

The answer is NO.  It is not an alternative to seeking proper medical care. Hypnotherapy is a complementary therapy and should, where needed be used in partnership with conventional medicine. Your physician’s or consultants training in diagnosis cannot be replaced by hypnotherapeutic recordings. Check out all health problems first with your doctor if in any doubt about using any self help treatment.

Can I be forced into trance?

No. It is a state of mind that needs your co-operation. No one goes against their own unique code of behaviour in hypnotherapy.

Am I too strong willed to be hypnotised?

Strength of will plays no part in the process.

I am too intelligent to be hypnotised?

No. The higher the intelligence and imagination the better.

Do hypnotised persons lose control of themselves?

Quite the opposite, the client is in control of their trance (altered state of consciousness), and is being guided by the recording, and will only do that which seems right and is helpful.

Could I get ‘stuck’ in trance?

No. It simply doesn’t happen. You are able to come out of the session at any time – all you have to do is tell yourself to do so.

Will I be unconscious when in hypnotherapy?

No. No loss of consciousness is involved. Individuals will be perfectly aware of their surroundings, including sounds, movements and smells and will be hyper-sensitive to touch. Some individuals will achieve a deeper level of trance than others. However, the results remain the same.

Is my problem to trivial to be bothered with?

Any problem which affects our lives is not trivial. The programmes on this site are certainly not for  trivial matters.

Why should I consider or need hypnotherapy?

Since your subconscious mind is accessible during hypnotherapy, it is more open to change and improvement, so you are much more likely to be successful in your goals.

How do the program sessions work?

By following the listening schedule or routinely listening to your sessions, you are using your body and your mind together for a desired result. Firstly, your body becomes relaxed and begins to feel better as tensions from the day leave your body, and you actually physically “feel” better – since your stress becomes reduced, your body relaxes, and as your body relaxes, so too, does your mind. Once your mind enters this relaxed state, the sessions then begin to use suggestions and/or guided imagery providing your subconscious mind with new ways to think, and replace old negative beliefs, old symptoms, and you begin to see change. But this is a process and it does take time – be patient with yourself and persevere with listening, your problem may have been with you many years, so naturally it will take some time to adjust to new ideas and concepts. Continue to listen, preferably at the same time each day or evening following the suggested listening schedule if your CD set or download included one, and if you do sleep, you can rest assured that the information will still reach the subconscious mind.

How soon can I expect results?

This varies from person to person, some individuals notice better sleep and relaxation the very first time they listen, others notice this comes later. Simply work with the listening schedule if your chosen programme has one. Don’t try to do anything, but simply listen. Impatience is your greatest enemy. Take away the importance of your presenting problem and work with the programme, enjoy it and acknowledge the fact you are doing something different to help you feel better, and to reduce or eliminate the condition.