I use a form of hypnotherapy called permissive hypnosis. This is very different from stage hypnosis in that you are not given direct instructions. Rather suggestion, story telling and metaphor are used to allow you to make changes that are in line with your goals and values.
Hypnosis works with patterns of thinking and feeling, which may have been formed in the past when we had different understandings and resources. These patterns may no longer be helpful or even be destructive to us, but they may be difficult to change because they are stored in that part of our mind that holds learned experience uncritically and out of our conscious awareness. In hypnosis we are more able to access and revise this sort of information.
Hypnosis is endorsed by the British Medical Association, and research suggests that hypnosis combined with CBT is more effective for client outcome than CBT alone.
Hypnotherapy uses the state of hypnosis to facilitate change in thoughts and behaviours. Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness. It is a naturally occurring, quiet, receptive, state, that can be entered through focussed attention such as is practised in Mindfullness or meditation. Brain scanning indicates that the pattern of brainwaves alters both in hypnosis and in meditation, as do bodily processes such as breathing patterns, heart rate and blood pressure. Hypnosis is a deeply relaxing state in which you are not asleep but actually alert and focussed. It can occur naturally is states where you are relaxed but highly focussed for example when absorbed in an activity or film.
I teach many of my clients self hypnosis in order to help them to deal with stress and anxiety. Even when the therapist induces the hypnotic state, you, the client remain in control, awake and able to emerge from the hypnotic state whenever you wish to.