26/08/2014 09:30 BST | Updated 25/10/2014 06:59 BST

Hypnotherapy - Fast Becoming a Treatment of Choice

Hear the word 'Hypnosis' and you can be forgiven for thinking you are losing control and about to perform like a monkey in the zoo. Of course these myths are fast becoming out-dated, and at last the clinical benefits of hypnosis and hypnotherapy are now much more well established. Hypnotherapy can be described as an altered state of conscious alertness in which the client feels so deeply relaxed, that beneficial suggestions can be embedded into their sub conscious mind to help them achieve their goal. These days hypnotherapy is used to help clients overcome phobias, increase self confidence, and control weight to name just a few, and a professional practitioner will also teach clients how to use self hypnosis as part of the treatment plan. But what does a session of hypnotherapy involve and how do you find a good practitioner?


The stages of a hypnotherapy session

There are five key stages to a hypnotherapy session:

1. Induction: The hypnotherapist will induce hypnosis using a range of techniques. This may include what is known as an eye fixation; in other words asking you to focus your eyes on a spot on your hand or simply asking you to close your eyes. The induction stage will help to send a message to your unconscious mind that you are about to focus on achieving your goal.

2. Progressive relaxation: Here the hypnotherapist will guide you into a pleasant state of relaxation. This normally involves helping you to relax your thoughts and each muscle of your body so that you become both mentally and physically relaxed. As you begin to relax your brain waves slow down, and your unconscious mind becomes more able to accept suggestions.

3. Deepener: As you begin to relax the hypnotherapist will help to deepen your state of relaxation helping to ensure your unconscious mind is able to accept positive suggestions. This can include counting down from ten to one, helping you to relax with each descending number. At this point clients often report feeling neither awake nor asleep but somewhere in the middle.

4. Installing suggestion: With stages one to three complete you will have relaxed deeply. The hypnotherapist will then use a range of creative protocols to embed positive suggestions into your mind, all of which are designed to help you achieve your goal. This can include using direct suggestion, visualisation, and in some cases regression. The protocol used to program your mind will always depend upon your presenting condition.

5. Awakening: Finally with the positive suggestions embedded, the hypnotherapist will awaken you usually by counting up from one to ten. You wake feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to continue the rest of your day having spent time programming your mind to achieve your specific goal.

Finding a reputable hypnotherapist

I am often asked the question of how to find a professional hypnotherapist. Generally I would recommend you check out the quality of their training, evidence of their results, and definitely avoid those who are too cheap. Prices vary, but you are well advised to steer clear of those who are low in price as it may mean they are desperate. An average session with a good practitioner will cost around £70 minimum. Often the best will charge £120 per one hour session. Always speak in detail to the practitioner before attending a session of hypnotherapy. Many will offer a free initial consultation to explain how they work and provide you with an opportunity to explain what you want to achieve from sessions of hypnotherapy. Generally a client will need between three and six sessions of hypnotherapy to achieve their goal. As you initially discuss your needs if it doesn't feel right then walk away and search for an alternative practitioner.

There is no doubt that hypnotherapy is fast becoming a treatment of choice as we recognise that our behaviours, habits, and ultimately our results are determined by the programming of our mind. It has now been sixteen years since I personally trained with the London College of Clinical Hypnosis to become a registered Clinical Hypnotherapist, and there is not a single day goes by where I do not appreciate how my mind determines the results in both my professional and personal life.

Once thing is for sure - we are what we think.