All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Focusing on a problem to the extent that we forget how not to have the problem is the ultimate form of negative self-hypnosis. And we've all experienced that one ...
So the answer to the question, 'Can I be hypnotised?' is going to be 'Yes, you're already an expert.' The question, 'Can you hypnotise me?' is slightly different and depends upon various factors. When we talk about 'hypnotic trance', it's important to bear in mind that the brain remains uncharted territory. We know relatively little about how it functions. So trance is something that we all do many times a day; but there is plenty of scholarly dispute about exactly what it is or how to measure it. It shares features with night dreaming - absorption in inner experience with the resulting distortions of time and physical reality, disconnection from large muscle groups, deletion of awareness of outside events and so on. It also shares features with daydreaming: you can wake up, you can direct your thoughts, you can mould or reshape memory and emotion. The key point, perhaps, is that the more richly realised the trance, the more the body responds to metaphoric situations as if they were really happening.
The 'relaxed' form of trance is not the only form of hypnosis - shock puts you into trance too. Hypnosis is essential to understand the mechanism behind trauma, phobia and panic attacks. It is the reason that we learn so very quickly to fear dangers we encounter (whether genuine or imaginary) and to associate them apparently inextricably with the sensory phonemona present at the time of the shock or sensitising event. Ever smelt a dental surgery as you walked past and got a prickle of anxiety? Or the whiff of school dinners and you straightaway remember the classroom and exactly where you sat when you were six years old? These all evoke a complex bundle of emotions and memories, held together in a kinaesthetic collage.
You could be swept up in the excitement of watching your favourite sport and be oblivious to all else. You could be in an anger trance or a greed trance or a fear trance. There are many forms of trance because fixed attention is a component of trance.
Hypnotherapy combines that fixed attention with recuperative relaxation (switching on the 'rest and digest' parasympathetic nervous system and the brainwave activity of dreaming sleep).
It's nature's own way of processing emotional content, connecting the dots and making sense of things. We can use it deliberately as a tool to deliver solution-focused, relevant psychotherapy. Hypnotic trance is not by any means a golden panacea - just going into trance won't solve your problems, but the trance state is the key to laying down new behavioural templates, seeing new perspectives, re-connecting to resources. It is simply the easiest way to adjust our relationship to our own experiences by immersion in another resourceful, healthful version of ourselves.
I can use hypnotic techniques combined with brief solution-focused psychotherapy to help you with the following:
Addictions - food, substances, alcohol, internet etc
Fears and phobias
Irritable Bowel Syndrome*
Post-traumatic stress disorder
*IMPORTANT: check with your doctor first! I can't treat you for IBS unless you have been cleared to go ahead. I am happy to liaise with your doctor.
If you suffer from Sleep or Night Epilepsy (i.e. your fits are triggered by relaxation) or if you have had episodes of psychosis, there is mounting evidence that hypnosis may still help you but needs to be undertaken under clinical conditions and/or with permission of your consultant.
I can't treat you if you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs during a session. Severe alcohol dependence needs to be tapered off sensibly and your doctor can advise you best on how to do that.