Hypnosis (or hypnotherapy) works to help people in managing stress, dealing with trauma, and many other issues, but how does it work? The most important aspect of hypnosis is what’s called “bypassing the critical factor.” This means that, through some means, the patient is guided into a trance state, where the critical portion of the mind does not distract the patient. The patient is so focused on the trance that he or she will only hear the voice of his or her hypnotherapist.
How does your hypnotherapist bypass your critical factor? If you don’t know much about hypnosis and hypnotherapy, you probably associate hypnosis with a man with a beard and an accent dangling a watch in front of your face until you suddenly fall into a deep trance, as if by magic. That’s absolutely not what happens in hypnosis, but there is something to the presence of the watch.
Your hypnotherapist will have you either close your eyes and focus on her voice, or she may have you focus on an object in the room. She may have you bring an object with you to your session that you want to focus on. Focusing on that object or on the sound of her voice is the first step to hypnosis. When your mind is that focused, it doesn’t have time to say, “But is this going to work?” or, “I’m bored. This is stupid. It’s not working.” The absence of that background chatter helps you drop into a hypnotic trance where you can get some real therapeutic help.
That background chatter is the critical factor that hypnosis works to get past. If you don’t believe therapy will work, it won’t. As with any kind of psychotherapy, if you are not a cooperative patient, you won’t get much out of it. Hypnotherapy helps you get away from the things in your head that tell you not to cooperate and the parts of your psyche that are fighting to stay in stasis.