Terms & Definitions
Etymology: Gk, hypnos + therapeia, treatment
The induction of a specific altered state (trance) for memory retrieval, relaxation, or suggestion. Hypnotherapy is often used to alter habits (e.g., smoking, obesity), deal with the symptoms of a disease, alter an individual’s reaction to disease, and affect an illness and its course through the body.
Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.
A hypnotherapist is a therapist who utilizes hypnosis as a primary tool for assisting clients to achieve their goals. Hypnotherapists often differ from other therapists because they focus on the role of the subconscious behaviours and the influences they have on the client’s life. The hypnotherapist also uses interactive therapies which often involve communicating directly with the subconscious mind, getting at the root cause of the client’s issues or blocks. The hypnotherapist is not a diagnostician. He/she follows the subconscious mind, leading the client to the place of healing and strength. The subconscious mind is wiser than either the client or the hypnotherapist. We simply guide the client to find answers that the subconscious mind has readily available when the client is in an altered state. The role of the hypnotherapist is to do no harm, to protect the client, and ensure their safety, confidentiality, comfort, and support.
In 1973, Dr. John Kappas, Founder of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, wrote and defined the profession of a hypnotherapist in the Federal Dictionary of Occupational Titles:
“Induces hypnotic state in client to increase motivation or alter behaviour patterns: Consults with the client to determine nature of the problem. Prepares client to enter hypnotic state by explaining how hypnosis works and what client will experience. Tests subject to determine the degree of physical and emotional suggestibility. Induces hypnotic state in client, using individualized methods and techniques of hypnosis based on interpretation of test results and analysis of client’s problem. May train client in self-hypnosis conditioning.”
An altered state is a state of trance. It is a state of mind where the brain waves are not in the normal range of total awareness, known as the beta state. Brain waves that have been slowed down through the process of hypnosis are called theta waves. Theta is where the hypnotherapist’s work is done. This state is where the subconscious mind is open for suggestion and change.
Deepeners are words, phrases, and procedures that are used to help the client intensify the trance state. As the client goes deeper into a trance state, the brain waves slow down, and the client responds more and more from the subconscious mind.
Neuro pathways are created each time we think a thought, make a movement, have an experience, or whenever electrochemical energy travels along a pathway. Each time we experience the same thing, it travels along the same pathway. The more we experience that feeling, the easier it is for the energy to travel that route. This is how habits, good or bad, are created. Hypnotherapists begin to create new pathways for good feelings with the client and encourage the client to make these new feelings stronger, like a strong, well-functioning muscle.
Endorphins are “good” natural chemicals created in the brain that elevate a person’s mood. Endorphins play a major role when treating depression, sadness, or the blues.
Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE)
ISE is at the root of the symptoms that the client is experiencing today. The client seldom knows the ISE. Once the client has reached the ISE, he/she will experience abreaction. Healing takes place once clients have reached the ISE. The root cause can be found in this lifetime or, if you believe, in a past lifetime. Once the client has reached the ISE through hypnotherapy, the therapist will reframe or change the reality of the subconscious mind. Research has shown that once the reframing takes place, changes occur between the limbic system and the cortex in the brain. Once these changes have taken place, the client is no longer subject to the same emotional reactions that had brought them to the therapist in the first place.
Symptom producing Event (SPE)
This is the event that triggered the ISE and, as a consequence, the existing symptoms that the client is experiencing today. The client sometimes confuses the SPE with the ISE as the root cause of their symptoms. The SPE is a channel to reach the original cause of the current events. At times, the SPE and the ISE can be the same. This often happens when trauma has taken places such as rape or murder.
For example, a client has a great fear of large crowds. In her mind, she thinks that crowds are the cause for her discomfort and she, therefore, refuses to be in places where large groups of people gather. She never went to parties, concerts, or big community events like Canada Day. This was the SPE. She sought help from a wonderful hypnotherapist, and together, they reached the root cause ISE. Once hypnotherapy had taken place, she realized that, when she was three years old, she had to be in a bomb shelter due to war situations in her country. She discovered that the event, the fear, and the chaos around her were very scary to her as a little girl. The wonderful therapist did reframing and today, that grown-up woman is able to enjoy a new life, celebrating events and attending almost every concert in the city. She is no longer bound by the fear that has been with her for over forty years.
Abreaction is an involuntary release of emotional material from the subconscious mind. It can take the form of a facial or verbal expression, fear, or laughter. Abreaction can be created by the hypnotherapist or can be spontaneous when the subconscious mind reacts either negatively or positively. Abreactions are important as they are a sign that we have touched on the root cause of the issue or symptoms that the client is currently dealing with. It is as if the subconscious has given a signal to start therapy as this is where the healing takes place.