Every day we all have periods of mental relaxation, often for short periods and often when undertaking familiar tasks. Generally we don’t notice when this happens. We are not asleep but we are not concentrating on the routine task in hand. Our brains are taking an opportunity to relax for a moment or two in much the same way as our bodies relax between bouts of physical exercise.

Taking a break from physical exertion allows, amongst other things, our heart rate to fall, our breathing to slow down, oxygen levels in the body to recover and carbon dioxide levels to reduce, preparing us for the next period of exercise.

Our brains also require such periods of relaxation to prepare for the next period of concentrated thinking.

Ironically, these periods of mental and physical relaxation do not always happen at the same time. For example, whilst exercising in a gym, the brain may take a few minutes off since conscious thought is not required. In such circumstances many people find themselves thinking unrelated thoughts, sometimes in a new and different way, a state of mind sometimes referred to as daydreaming.

This relaxed state of mind, between full active consciousness and sleep, can be called a hypnotic state. It is a relaxed state of mind in which the brain works in a different and uninhibited way so that occasionally new ideas and solutions to old problems can occur. Sometimes these new ideas and solutions can be positively life changing.

Hypnotherapy is about teaching a client how to relax their mind and body so as to access this hypnotic state deliberately, and then take control of any irrational thoughts that are affecting their behaviour. The hypnotic state is most effective when body and mind are both relaxed such that optimum levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide are available to the brain.

Thus in essence the skill of a hypnotherapist lies in teaching a client how to achieve a hypnotic state of mind and use the opportunity to direct their own thoughts and life.

A hypnotherapist will first spend time finding out where a client is in their life. What does the client see as the good and bad points in their life and the issues and opportunities they currently perceive in their mind. Next the therapist will establish where the client wants to be, what they want to change in their mind set, what goals they want to achieve personally.

Under the guidance of a hypnotherapist a client can learn how to achieve a relaxed state of body and mind, in other words a hypnotic state, to help them visualise a pleasant relaxing environment and a place of safety in times of pressure. This way, from within a safe environment they have created for themselves, the client may revisit unpleasant past experiences, and see themselves dealing successfully with past, current and future situations that currently cause them concern.

The role of a hypnotherapist is not unlike that of a Satellite Navigation System in a car. Given a starting point and a destination, a SatNav will make step by step suggestions which the driver can accept or ignore. A hypnotherapist will also make suggestions to a client in a hypnotic state which the client can accept or ignore in their journey towards achieving their goal.

It is important to note that the goal is always decided on by the client, who remains in control. The role of the hypnotherapist is to guide the client towards their goal whilst the client retains control of their thoughts and decisions.