By Nick Jankel

Author, Keynote Speaker, Leadership Theorist, Transformational Coach, Wisdom Teacher, Co-Creator of Bio-Transformation Theory & Practice®

What is Hypnosis and Visualization?

Have you ever wanted to change something about your life – a habit, a difficult love life, unfulfilling career, or how you feel about yourself – but found it was stubborn to shift? Often the key is in our subconscious: the thoughts we aren’t even consciously aware of, but that are running things behind the scenes of our emotions, choices and behavior. Hypnotherapy and visualization work directly with the subconscious to change the things that aren’t working in our lives, so we can make better choices and start thriving. Hypnotherapy is a complementary therapy using the power of positive suggestion to change issues such as smoking habits, phobias, anxiety and depression. Visualization – or creative visualization – is an incredibly accessible way to improve your body and mind balance and reach goals that are important to you, by using your imagination in a positive way.

But Do Hypnotherapy & Visualization Work?

When you think of hypnosis, you may imagine someone going glazed-eyed as a watch is swung in front of their eyes – or a hypnotized person doing embarrassing stunts on a stage while the audience laughs. But hypnotherapy is a lot more developed than that. It involves being put into a state of hypnosis in which your subconscious mind is more receptive to suggestions of new behaviors and ways of thinking that will benefit you. Does hypnotherapy work? It has been shown to be effective for 85 % of people, and to have effects that are long lasting and often permanent, without harmful side effects. Whether you want to quit smoking or nail biting, have better weight control or improve your work, study or sporting performance, hypnotherapy is a powerful tool.

And it goes deeper than that: hypnotherapy can help you with emotional problems, improve your self-confidence, reach more of your potential in work and relationships, and release phobias and compulsions. It’s an excellent stress-reliever, and some types are helpful for depression and anxiety. Hypnotherapy also improves physical problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. Clinical hypnotherapy is effective when used alongside traditional treatment and also after other forms of treatments have not worked.

Visualization works on similar principles – accessing the subconscious to create change. And the beauty of it is you can do it yourself at home. Practicing visualization techniques can lower your blood pressure and your stress hormone levels, increase your energy and improve your feelings of relaxation. You can then solve the problems in your life with more focus and clarity. If you want to achieve a particular goal – like losing weight, landing your dream job or become more self confident – you put yourself into a relaxed, meditative state, breathing deeply, then visualize and feel every detail of how you will look, feel and behave in the new situation. This will send messages to your subconscious to change, and helps remove the barriers between you and your ideal situation. You may also use guided visualization to find a deeper awareness of yourself, and access your intuition – the part inside you that knows what is the right thing to do in any situation. For example, you might want to decide what career path to follow. You could listen to a guided visualization to meet a deeper, wiser part of yourself that can help you to find that guidance.


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Getting Started with Hypnotherapy & Visualization Techniques

There are a few different kinds of hypnotherapy to choose from. Be sure to choose a hypnotherapist that has the right qualifications and insurance, and preferably is a member of a hypnotherapy industry body. Once you’ve chosen a hypnotherapist, you will discuss what you want to work on. You will work out a program of treatment together and your therapist will explain the next steps. To make hypnotherapy more likely to work for you, it helps to be sure you want to do this type of therapy, to keep an open mind – suspend your cynicism – and to feel a sense of trust in your hypnotherapist. Otherwise, your subconscious may work against you to sabotage your efforts to change. A hypnotherapist will help you to enter a hypnotic state, using methods that are tailor-made to you and your specific problem. You may also receive training in self-hypnosis to continue the work at home.

To get started with visualization, you could buy a guided visualization tape/CD, or go to a class to benefit from the extra energy of visualizing with others and having a teacher’s guidance. You can also have a private tailor-made session. As you get used to these methods, you can start to make up your own creative visualizations. Shakti Gawain’s book is a classic in helping you to do this. When you use creative visualization to change your life, go inside and use all your senses: what do you see, feel, hear and smell? You might use creative visualization simply to mentally go to a relaxing place, such as the ocean, whenever you’re in a stressful situation like about to go into a job interview.

Trance States and Talking to your Subconscious

Hypnosis isn’t all that different from states of consciousness we experience in everyday life. In fact, we experience trance states often, including going to sleep and daydreaming. Hypnotherapy allows you to deliberately enter the state of hypnosis, where your conscious mind is relaxed and your subconscious or unconscious mind is accessed for therapeutic purposes. The unconscious mind is the part of your mind that holds your experiences, while your conscious mind helps you with day-to-day problem-solving, interpretation and decisions. When you’re in a hypnotic condition, a hypnotherapist will give positive suggestions directly to your unconscious mind, where your true potential lies – as well as the source of many of your problems.

Visualization is working for you all the time – whether you realize it or not. We use visualization to create both the negative and positive circumstances of our lives. Using creative visualization helps you to utilize this power consciously for your good. Your subconscious doesn’t know whether something is really happening or not – so by using visualization techniques you are literally telling your subconscious that something is real. It will then get to work to confirm that by guiding you to behavior and feelings that create the results you want. Visualization practices are found in many different spiritual traditions, such as Vajrayana Buddhism where it is used to achieve Buddhahood. Sports psychology makes extensive use of visualization tools. A tennis player may visualize playing a successful game over and over again to prepare for a match, picturing and sensing each serve and return so as to train the muscle memory and improve chances of winning.

From Victorian Times to Oprah Winfrey: The History of Hypnosis & Visualization

Hypnosis dates back to the Victorian times (the age of the watch-swinging). In the 1950’s Milton Erickson developed what’s now known as ‘Ericksonian hypnotherapy’. The founders of NLP (insert link to NLP article) claimed to use Erickson’s model in their work. The positive thinking movement has been founded on creative visualization techniques, which arose in the nineteenth century with the New Thought movement. But the concept of visualization is older than that, coming from the Hindu Monistic theory of the universe. Shakti Gawain’s book ‘Creative Visualization’ started a movement back in the 1970’s, advocating mental imagery and affirmations to make positive change. Visualization is now used successfully in all kinds of fields, from health to sports to business to the creative arts. Celebrities endorsing creative visualization include Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, and Anthony Robbins. Jim Carrey famously wrote a check to himself in 1987 for the amount of $10M, dating it 1995. He kept visualizing it until in 1994 he received $10M for his role in Dumb and Dumber.

How will this help you to transform your problems and pain?

Hypnotherapy and visualization are exciting ways of working with your mind and the power of the imagination to change your life for the better, letting go of habits that are just bring you down and bringing you more energy, success and relaxation instead.


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