Hypnosis has been around for centuries. It utilizes the power of suggestion. In the late 1800’s, Milton Erickson began to use it for therapeutic reasons and found it to be useful in accessing sub-conscious information that was otherwise not accessible by the conscious mind. Hypnosis is not a phenomenon. We experience hypnotic states every day in different forms. It is simply not recognized by the untrained eye. It means being in a state of mind that allows the power of suggestion to be used. Hypnosis, however, cannot force anyone to do anything that they are not willing to do at some level. The patient is never out of their own control.
There are two types of hypnosis. There is theatrical hypnosis, which is what most people are familiar with. This is done primarily for entertainment purposes and has its risks, only because of the personnel whom are applying the technique. When hypnosis is used by anyone other than a Marriage and Family Therapist or a Psychologist, the risk is that material may arise that they do not know how to handle and can cause damage by handling it improperly.
Theatrical hypnotists use certain parts of hypnosis to trick people into believing, temporarily, in certain illusions. The host will always pre-qualify the participants to ensure that they will go under. And they do it in front of everyone to further enhance the belief of its authenticity. Theatrical hypnosis is largely misunderstood by the lay person and appears to be magic. It is the suggestion that the person forget what has happened that makes hypnosis appear to be a mystery. But this is not an essential part of hypnosis. Sometimes it is preferred and sometimes it is not. In theatrical hypnosis, however, it is almost always preferred to further enhance the entertainment value of the show.
The second type of hypnosis is therapeutic hypnosis, which is a conscious and a sub-conscious process at the same time. It is a safe technique. The patient is aware and participating in the hypnotic process. There are no tricks or power struggles. It is a process of guided imagery and power of suggestion to help the person more readily accept what they know is true and cannot move past. When this is done with an experienced mental health professional, there are no risks. When unexpected or intense material presents itself, a mental health professional will know what to do with the situation and it can greatly enhance the therapeutic process.
Hypnosis is primarily used by Marriage and Family Therapists or Psychologists who specialize in depth or analytic psychology. Therefore it is best that the professional be trained by the Graduate school they attended, or by additional training outside of academia. This is a question you need to ask your therapist before agreeing to the hypnotic process.