Hypnosis is a concentrated, focused state of mind. It is a natural ability. You go in and out of a hypnotic state when you daydream, or concentrate intently on a project, or just before you fall asleep at night. It is a state of consciousness which is measurable on an EEG (a machine that measures brain waves). The alpha waves measured during hypnosis are similar to the brain waves activated during meditation.

The word “hypnosis” (sometimes misspelled as “hipnosis”) was first used in 1876. It is generally defined as “the inducement of sleep”. It is from the Greek word “hypnos” (sleep) plus “-osis” (condition). Although the word is derived from the word “sleep” it is a common misconception that someone in a hypnotic trance is asleep or unconscious. If you are hypnotized you are awake with your mind focused on something specific. You ignore outside noises and you are more open to suggestion. When used in therapy your concentrated mind is paired with the relaxation of your body to facilitate your learning and inner exploration.

Hypnosis is generally a feeling of being pleasantly relaxed. You are capable of moving, seeing, hearing and speaking while hypnotized. Usually the feeling of relaxation is so comfortable that you may choose not to do any of these things while focusing internally. If you have ever lost track of time while watching TV, reading a book, or being engrossed in a favorite activity, then you have already been in a state of trance similar to hypnosis.
You cannot be hypnotized against your will or without your consent. Hypnosis is really a form of self-hypnosis. The choice to participate in your own self-hypnosis is under your control. Since self-hypnosis is a natural ability, a hypnotherapist functions like a guide or a coach to help you get to your own relaxed state.
Nearly everyone can be hypnotized. We are born with the ability to turn off the outside world and go within. Anxiety about the unknown, fear of not “getting it right”, and stress overload may have kept you from being calm enough to get to your natural trance state. A willingness to try hypnosis, along with trust in your therapist or clinician, will help you to unwind and rediscover the healing effects of this natural form of relaxation.
You are aware of your surroundings when in a hypnotic state. If an emergency were to arise while in this state you would be able to immediately alert yourself and take whatever action necessary to handle the situation and keep yourself safe. A trained qualified professional will also give you additional safety suggestions in the trance state to reinforce your ability to respond quickly to any outside emergency.

Since hypnosis is an innate condition (we are born with this ability), inducing hypnosis is not regulated in most states. Therapeutic hypnosis is different from the stage hypnosis used in entertainment. Medical hypnosis is safe when used by a professional trained in the healing arts. When seeking medical hypnosis, look for a medical doctor or mental health practitioner who has an advanced degree (Master’s or Doctorate); is licensed as a counselor, social worker, psychologist, dentist or doctor; and who has taken additional training in clinical hypnosis or hypnotherapy from a professional training organization.

Hypnosis has many practical and therapeutic uses. Hypnosis can be used for self-improvement in study skills, sports performance, sales successes, and for overcoming mild fears. Therapeutic hypnosis can be used for a wide variety of conditions including smoking cessation, weight loss, panic attacks, phobias and other emotional conditions.
Self-hypnosis is a practice you can use to achieve relaxation, stress reduction, and improved concentration. You can learn it on your own or from a qualified hypnotherapist. Once in a relaxed state, you focus on a single specific goal using predetermined suggestions to meet that goal.