You can prepare yourself to have a successful experience before you engage in the work of hypnotherapy. The preparation involves taking a good look at your beliefs and expectations about hypnosis, understanding the hypnotic state, and learning that your ‘inner hypnotist” is in control of your experience. Hypnotherapy is not what most people have been "hypnotized" into believing. The way hypnosis is represented in movies and portrayed on stage is far from the reality of hypnosis when used in a therapeutic way.
A well-trained and ethical hypnotherapist will always take time with a new client in the interview process to discuss the client’s expectations, beliefs about, and previous experiences of hypnosis. But sometimes, with the brief education that happens in session, a client may still unconsciously block her hypnosis experience because of unaddressed fears and a lack of understanding of hypnosis.
You Experience Hypnosis Daily
You normally experience the hypnotic state many times during the day. Do you lose time when you are sitting at your computer playing games? Are you unresponsive to someone asking you a question when you are absorbed in a good book? Have you driven your car on auto pilot while daydreaming and missed your turn off? If so, you have spontaneously experienced the non-ordinary state of consciousness called hypnosis.
Hypnosis is Natural
Hypnosis is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. You may have had the experience of drifting off to sleep and having someone come into the room to ask you a question. Since you are not asleep yet, you can still respond coherently from a relaxed, inwardly-focused state. So, if you can go to sleep, you are already going into hypnosis. The question is: do you want to allow yourself to be hypnotized by another person guiding you through the process?
Hypnosis is a Skill
Just as some of us were naturals when we first learned to hit a baseball, some of us are naturals when being hypnotized at allowing ourselves to access the hypnotic state. And just like with hitting baseballs, we can all be coached and taught to go into a hypnotic state. Your hypnotherapist has the job of being your teacher and coach.
All Hypnosis is Self-hypnosis
Contrary to what most people believe, hypnosis involves the use of your free will. You choose to respond to the suggestions given in hypnosis. The "inner hypnotist" is the part of you that says to yourself, " I can and will allow myself to let go and relax." Because your own free will is engaged, you will only respond when you want to respond. Being able to be hypnotized is not the same as being gullible. As a matter of fact, being able to be hypnotized points to a higher than normal ability to be creative and be the "captain of your own ship" of your body, mind and emotions. When you are in hypnosis you are in control behind the wheel navigating your own life in directions of healing and transformation that you choose. The control, however, comes from a more expanded and integrated state of awareness.
You Remember What You Experience
In hypnosis you perceive through all of your inner senses by seeing with your inner eyes, hearing with your inner ears, and feeling emotions and body sensations. In most hypnotic states you are very relaxed and you return to wakeful consciousness feeling refreshed and renewed. After a hypnotic session you are very likely to continue to think about what you experienced or feel the positive effects of the work you have done as you integrate your new levels of insight and self-discoveries into your conscious self. The positive effects will most often become a part of your conscious awareness and your daily life. It is likely that the more you access the hypnotic state, the more positive effects you will have.
How is it that Hypnotherapy Helps?
In a hypnotic state you are more resourceful and creative because you have access to more dimensions and levels of consciousness. You experience yourself as more that your normal waking thoughts, beliefs, sensations, and feelings. You are expanded to include access to your subconscious and your super-conscious Self. In hypnosis you can access long-forgotten memories, control pain, promote self-healing and become more intuitive; and you are also more highly receptive and suggestible to positive suggestions to promote change.
An important difference between doing talk therapy and doing therapy in the expanded state of hypnosis, is that in hypnosis the client’s unconscious automatically accesses the most emotionally relevant material for healing. Working in an expanded state supports the client in going to the source or essence of the issue more directly and quickly than in talk therapy.
Stanislav Groff, MD, a researcher of non-ordinary states of consciousness, says that the client who works in a non-ordinary state has “ an ‘inner radar’ system [that] scans the psyche and the body for the most important issues and makes them available to our conscious minds. ”  In hypnosis you have direct access to the source of your difficulties, as well as the source of your healing.
When you first meet with your hypnotherapist, take time to discuss your expectations and any concerns you have about hypnotherapy. Expressing your thoughts, experiences and concerns will give your hypnotherapist a better opportunity to address any misconceptions you may have about hypnosis, to discuss your concerns, and to support you in having a positive and healing hypnotherapy experience.
Holly Holmes-Meredith is a Doctor of Ministry and a licensed Marriage family Therapist who trains hypnotherapists at HCH Institute in Lafayette CA. Learn more about hypnosis and its many therapeutic uses by reading her other blogs on Past life Therapy, Spirit Releasement Therapy, Manifesting your dreams and more.
Visit www.HypnotherapyTraining.com to learn about HCH Institute and its California state approved and registered certification trainings and classes for personal growth in hypnotherapy, energy therapy and parapsychological studies. And listen to her pod cast and samples of Holly's Hypnosis CDs which are available on-line.
 Groff, Stanislav, MD, The Holotropic Mind, Harper, San Francisco, 1993, p. 23