What is Hypnotherapy? Is Hypnotism Safe?

Hypnotherapy History

The medical use of hypnotism has been documented  since the 18th century.  Hypnosis for health and wellness is termed “hypnotherapy.” 

What is the history of hypnotherapy?  Modern hypnotherapy became prevalent during the 18th Century. James Braid (19 June 1795 – 25 March 1860) was a Scottish surgeon and influential pioneer of hypnotism and hypnotherapy. Many consider him as the first genuine “hypnotherapist” and the “Father of Modern Hypnotism”.  The medical use of hypnosis to bring about healing of the emotions, mind, or body has been practiced for hundreds of years and in modern times is commonly referred to as “hypnotherapy.”

Hypnotism - Salpêtrière Hospital 1800s

Hypnotism demonstration at Salpêtrière Hospital 1800’s

How can hypnosis or hypnotherapy aid in healing?  Hypnosis is a safe, gentle, naturally occurring state of mind where one is more open and receptive to positive suggestions for change. We often find ourselves in a light hypnotic trance while we are focused on a movie or engrossed in a good book. Hypnotherapy is a powerful tool for self-improvement! Each of us often has the answers to our problems within our wise subconscious mind. Hypnosis creates a bridge from the Ego conscious mind to the subconscious. Your answers are then easily accessed and then incorporated into daily life.

Can a hypnotherapist make a person do something against their will?
I am often asked if people can be made to do anything against their will. The answer is no! Hypnotherapists cannot make you do anything that goes against your morals, beliefs, ethics or principles while in a hypnotic trance. Each hypnotherapy session is especially tailored for your unique personality and issues to be transmuted. Suggestions are not placed with out your prior consent and knowledge.

Why do people go to a hynotherapist?
There is an endless list of areas that can be addressed with hypnotherapy besides smoking and weight loss. Clients often wish to work on improving self-esteem, enhancing creativity, increasing intuition, improving sports performance, relieving insomnia, tapping into their spirituality, overcoming issues of codependency, or for healing past trauma. Past life regression is also very beneficial for releasing past trauma or learned behaviors.

Altertered ConsciousnessWhere do you go when you enter a hypnotic state?  A hypnotherapist often helps a person enter a “Sacred Space.” Entering your, “Sacred Space” is a valuable component of healing and shifting into higher levels of consciousness. In Sacred Space, you have the ability to connect with Ascended Masters, Spirit Guides, Angels, deceased loved ones, animal totem guides or your higher self.

What will a session feel like?  
Most hypnotherapists offer a safe, gentle, nurturing environment where you can easily create breakthroughs and realize your desires. During a session, you’ll most likely sit comfortably in a chair or lie down, fully aware of your surroundings and in total control. Most sessions begin with an informal chat, discussing the specific work to be done and then proceed with a guided relaxation infused with positive suggestions for change. Sessions are pleasantly relaxing and typically last about one hour. Clients report feeling happy, rested and refreshed following appointments.

Debbie San Paolo

This article was written by Deborah San Paolo. Deborah is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Conscious Channel, Medical Intuitive, Energy Practitioner and a Holistic Health and Wellness Educator and member of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Alliance is a non-profit organization of like-minded individuals who are dedicated to providing free-access to health education of body, mind and spirit. If you would like to join our Alliance, or if you’d like to submit a wellness article for us to print here on our blog, Contact Us. 

Relax – It’s a Healthy Choice!

Are we relaxing enough? Do we have the skills we need to know how to relax?  Do you take time each day to relax and refresh?

Relax - It's a Healthy Choice!

Are we relaxing enough? Do we have the skills we need to know how to relax? Click, copy, download, save and share.

The Medical Significance of Relaxation
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

“Relaxation is more than a state of mind; it physically changes the way your body functions.”

“When your body is relaxed breathing slows, blood pressure and oxygen consumption decrease, and some people report an increased sense of well-being. This is called the relaxation response. Being able to produce the relaxation response using relaxation techniques may counteract the effects of long-term stress, which may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including depression, digestive disorders, headaches, high blood pressure, and insomnia.”

Man Meditating Nature

Meditation is an effective relaxation technique.

What Are Different Types of Relaxation Techniques?
According to Paul Lehrer, Paul M.; David H. (FRW) Barlow, Robert L. Woolfolk, and Wesley E. Sime (2007), in the book, Principles and Practice of Stress Management, there are a wide variety of techniques for relaxation.

Certain relaxation techniques known as “formal and passive relaxation exercises” are generally performed while sitting or lying quietly, with minimal movement and involve “a degree of withdrawal.”
These include:

  1. Autogenic training  – a relaxation technique developed Johannes Heinrich Schultz, published in 1932, using daily practice of sessions that last around 15 minutes, usually in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evening.
  2. Biofeedback – the use of electronic monitoring of a bodily function in order to train someone to control that function.  For example, measuring increased heart rate (a stress factor) and physically monitoring that to lower heart rate and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
  3. Deep breathing – breathing with focused, long breaths, as exercise or a method of relaxation.
  4. Meditationto engage in a spiritual or mental exercise or contemplation  for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness or a state of deep relaxation.  For example, concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra.
  5. Mind-Body relaxation – Mind-body meditation goes by many different names, including mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindful meditation. It can involve multiple relaxation techniques including yoga, other meditation types, and including progressive relaxation
  6. Zen Yoga – a form of Eastern yoga, based on the teachings of Aaron Hoopes,  with the basic principle that basic breathing, movement and stretching exercises are achievable by anyone regardless of age, fitness, or health
    Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  7. Progressive Muscle Relaxation  a technique that involves tensing specific muscle groups and then relaxing them to create awareness of tension and relaxation, proceeding through all major muscle groups, relaxing them one at a time, and eventually leading to total muscle relaxation, made popular by Dr. Edmund Jacobson, in the 1920’s.
  8. Pranayama – (in Hindu yoga) the regulation of the breath through certain techniques and exercises in order to achieve a heightened state of conscious awareness or deep state of relaxation
  9. Visualization or Guided Imagery –  visualizing a peaceful situation or setting or engaging in positive changes or actions, in order to induce relaxation and decrease stress and anxiety,  improve self-confidence, or more effectively cope
  10. Yoga Nidra – a sleep-like lucid state which yogis report to experience during their meditations which is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness.
  11. Self-hypnosis – the state or act of hypnotizing oneself for the purpose of reaching a heightened state of awareness, eliminating negative habits, emotional burdens, anxieties, addictive behaviors, past trauma, negative habits, or to achieve a deep state of relaxation, contentment and peace.

Research on the Effects of Relaxation on Health
In the past 30 years, there has been considerable interest in studying the effects of stress and anxiety and on relaxation and health. Anxiety can be the root of a wide variety of physical, mental and emotional symptoms.

Anxiety Symptoms

Research shows that anxiety can cause a wide variety of symptoms which may be effectively treated and eliminated through relaxation therapy.

There is no evidence that relaxation techniques are harmful or can worsen illness symptoms.  There is evidence that relaxation techniques may be an effective part of an overall treatment plan for some health conditions. These health conditions include:

  1. anxiety
  2. depression
  3. headache
  4. pain
  5. temporomandibular disorder
  6. ringing in the ears
  7. smoking cessation
  8. overactive bladder
  9. nightmares
  10. hot flashes.

Daily disciplined practices of relaxation techniques are key to successfully achieving reduced stress and anxiety and optimum health and wellness of mind, body and spirit.



The American Institute of Stress

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Paul Lehrer, Paul M.; David H. (FRW) Barlow, Robert L. Woolfolk, and Wesley E. Sime, Principles and Practice of Stress Management, Guilford Press,  Aug 16, 2007

R.H. Schneider, C.N. Alexander, F. Staggers, M. Rainforth, J.W. Salerno, A. Hartz, S. Arndt, V.A. Barnes, and S.I. Nidich. “Long-term effects of stress reduction on mortality in persons 55 years of age with systemic hypertension.” Am J Cardiol 2005. May 1;95(9):1060–64.

J. Kabat-Zinn, A.O. Massion, J. Kristeller, L.G. Peterson, K.E. Fletcher, L. Pbert, W.R. Lenderking, and S.F. Santorelli. Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Am J Psychiatry 1992 Jul;149(7):936–43

R.J. Davidson, J. Kabat-Zinn, J. Schumacher, M. Rosenkranz, D. Muller, S.F. Santorelli, F. Urbanowski, A. Harrington, K. Bonus, and J.F. Sheridan. Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosom Med 2003 Jul–Aug; 65(4):564–70.

K.H. Kaplan, D.L. Goldenberg, and M. Galvin-Nadeau. The impact of a meditation-based stress reduction program on fibromyalgia. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 1993 Sep; 15(5):284–89.

P. Gelderloos, K.G. Walton, D.W. Orme-Johnson, and C.N. Alexander. Effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation program in preventing and treating substance misuse: a review. Int J Addict 1991 Mar; 26(3):293-325.


Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.
  Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.