Hypnosis is purely healing by trance state (or an altered state of awareness). It is amongst the oldest phenomena known to man and is found, in one form or another, in virtually every culture throughout the world. It could also be legitimately described as the original psychological therapy, and, somewhat more contentiously, as the basis for many of the more recent styles of psychological intervention.
Although such altered states have been known for thousands of years, the term “hypnosis” (from the Greek “hypnos”, meaning “sleep”) was only coined circa 1840 by Dr James Braid, a Scottish physician. It remains a somewhat less than accurate description of the experience, as the hypnotic state is, in most respects, entirely dissimilar to sleep.
At our current level of knowledge, the phenomenon of hypnosis cannot be conclusively defined, but perhaps a reasonable interim definition might be that: Hypnosis is a state of mind, enhanced by (although not exclusively) mental and physical relaxation, in which our subconscious is able to communicate with our conscious mind. It may be better to define “hypnosis” by what it does rather than what it is, and in this regard, it is widely accepted as a most excellent method by which we may access our inner potential. The state of mind referred to may be brought about either by oneself, unaided (self-hypnosis) or with the help of another person. If this other person is a trained professional, who utilises the resultant state of mind to encourage beneficial change to occur, the process is referred to as “Hypnotherapy”.