No you wont start acting like a chicken!

When I say “hypnosis”, what comes to mind? For most people, it conjures up images of
comedy shows where volunteers from the audience get hypnotized and start acting like
chickens or singing opera, etc.

“Hypnosis is”, in fact, “an altered [yet natural] state of awareness in which the individual
withdraws his peripheral awareness and concentrates all attention on a focal goal."
(Spiegel, H., Spiegel D. Trance and treatment: Clinical uses of hypnosis. 2nd ed.
Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2004.).

In the case of the comedy show participants, the common goal is: entertainment. These
participants are highly suggestible and highly vetted prior to the show.

“Opinions vary on the exact definition of this natural state of mind. First of all, contrary to
what many people believe, hypnosis is not always a trance state or a sleep state even
though a person in hypnosis may appear to be sleeping. Hypnosis is really a natural
state of mind and is an important part of everyday life.” (National Council for
Hypnotherapy — UK)

Human brain waves measure patterns of neural electrical activity within the central
nervous system at different levels of awareness/consciousness. For most humans who
are awake (with their eyes open), your brain is emitting Beta waves at approximately
13-30Hz — this is regarded as the “normal” brain rhythm. This is the level where you
are listening, thinking conversing, processing, and making decisions.

Alpha waves occur at approximately 8-12Hz and are where you feel mentally and
physically relaxed (with your eyes closed to minimize attention to stimuli). This is the
level where the conscious and subconscious minds are bridged and you first encounter

Theta waves occur at 4-8Hz and bring an even deeper level of relaxation. This is where
dreams occur during sleep or, when awake, can induce a trance-like state while
completing a menial task such as brushing your teeth or driving a familiar route. This is
a deeper level of hypnosis. It is in the Theta state that you can easily access memories,
emotions, and sensations housed within the subconscious mind.

So, now that you know what hypnosis is, the next questions tend to follow suit: “what
does it feel like?” and “does it actually work?”.

What does it feel like?

As mentioned earlier, hypnosis is a natural state of being. You experience hypnosis as
you are falling asleep, as you are waking up, and any time you daydream, meditate, or
become so completely engrossed in an activity that you seem to lose track of time.

Your response to induced hypnosis will differ based upon how suggestible you are and
how easily you allow yourself to relax and deepen the hypnosis. The more comfortable you are with the process and what to expect, the easier induced hypnosis can be

Regardless of how you experience hypnosis, it is imperative to remember that you are
always alert and aware of your surroundings and cannot be made to do or say anything
you wouldn’t do or say while fully awake.

Does it actually work?

Induced hypnosis can be used as suggestion therapy because the hypnotic state makes
you better able to respond to suggestions.  Your conscious mind is your logical, thinking
mind whose role is to keep you safe.  Your conscious mind keeps you safe by adopting
thoughts and beliefs which cause you to react in a way that is predictable.

Therefore, when you start to change your behaviors, your conscious mind resists this
change because the outcome is unpredictable.  By making changes using your
subconscious mind, you bypass the resistance of the conscious mind and are therefore
more open to suggestion allowing for greater ease in making changes.

Induced hypnosis can also be used as analysis therapy which allows you and your
hypnotherapist to explore the root causes of a symptom, disorder, or traumatic event
that you may have suppressed within your subconscious memory.  Once the root cause
is revealed, it can be addressed in a psychotherapy session which is why traditional
psychotherapy, psychiatry, and hypnotherapy work so well together.

Hypnosis is simple, effective, and puts you, the client, in control of your own
transformation. Your capacity for transformation is directly correlated to how much you
are willing to believe it will work, how honest you can be with yourself, and how open
you are to immediate, lasting change.

Amy W. Barbour, MS

Certified Hypnotherapist & Life Coach