Charles M. Citrenbaum, Ph.D. & Associates

specializing in practical and strategic counseling and clinical hypnosis


What is Modern Clinical Hypnosis?
What's the difference Between Clinical Hypnosis or Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy?
What is Hypnosis?
What is a trance?
How does hypnosis work?
What is self-hypnosis?
What is Clinical Hypnosis helpful or useful for?
Can anyone be hypnotized?
What about the level or depth of trance?
Will I cluck like a chicken?
Is hypnosis like being asleep?
Is hypnosis like transcendental meditation?
Is trance and relaxation the same thing?
Can someone not wake up from hypnosis or trance?
Are hypnosis and biofeedback the same?
What about all these hypnosis clinics?
Hypnosis for cigarette smoking cessation and diet control

What is Modern Clinical Hypnosis?

The word, "modern", implies the use of hypnotic concepts and strategies developed in more recent times. In the past, hypnosis primarily used direct, authoritarian suggestions, e.g. "You will not smoke cigarettes" or "You will not be afraid to fly". Modern Clinical Hypnosis flexibly utilizes a broad array of strategies. Techniques can vary from the simple use of imagery or visualization to very complex behavioral and communication strategies.

What's the difference Between Clinical Hypnosis or Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy?
No difference. Clinical hypnosis or hypnotherapy is psychotherapy that uses hypnotic strategies to achieve clinical goals.

Just What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a word that means one person helping another to experience a trance. This trance experience "belongs" to the person or patient, so really all hypnosis is self hypnosis.

What is a Trance?
Trance is a very natural, everyday experience for all of us. You, the reader, have been in and out of a trance a number of times since you woke up this morning. For example, when you stare off into space and you daydream or fantasize, that's a trance. When you have been riding down the highway and are lost in your own thoughts or entranced in a conversation with a passenger and are surprised that you have forgotten part of the ride or that you traveled so far, that's a trance. A person can be entranced reading a good book, entranced listening to music or watching a TV show. Trance is a conscious experience but an altered or alternate state of consciousness.

How Does Hypnosis Work?
All hypnosis involves a focus of consciousness on something (e.g., the hypnotist's voice, staring at a spot on the wall or imagining something in one's mind like consecutive numbers). Since the person's conscious attention is concentrated or focused, the person "lets go" of control of the unconscious mind. The "unconscious" includes our automatic, unconscious behaviors and experiences, and the functioning of the involuntary nervous system. The unconscious usually is quite significant in terms of our emotional experience. Many emotional illnesses and symptoms are thought to be significantly influenced by unconscious processes.

What is Self-Hypnosis?
Self-hypnosis means going into a trance by yourself. Usually a person will use a structured procedure or "induction" which involves a focus of consciousness. After practicing self hypnosis, many people can just "let go" into a trance without needing the induction procedure. Most people find self hypnosis more effective after first being hypnotized by someone else.

What is Clinical Hypnosis Helpful or Useful For?
Hypnosis is not a cure-all, however, sometimes the results of hypnosis can be very dramatic and effective. The usefulness or limitations or hypnosis are not yet fully established. Hypnosis is a tool to be used by a professional within that person's profession and training. For example, a dentist might use hypnosis to help a patient with pain but he or she should not treat phobias. More and more physicians are using hypnosis for stress management.

Hypnosis can be very effective in the treatment of a wide variety of emotional disorders, such as phobias and other anxiety conditions, many sexual problems, and unhealthy habits or compulsions. Of course, more complex conditions, such as psychotic disorders or serious depressions, would usually require medication and psychotherapy, but hypnosis might also be helpful as a part of the treatment plan. Hypnosis can also be helpful in treating acute or chronic pain.

Can Anyone Be Hypnotized?
Anyone can be hypnotized. Besides the skill of the hypnotist, the two variables that are most important for being hypnotized are: (1) the person's motivation and (2) the person feeling at least some safety or comfort within the hypnotist setting. Some people may have a more difficult time "letting go" into trance than others and it may take longer for these persons to learn to experience trance.

What About the Level or Depth of Trance?
Different experiences can be associated with various levels of trance. However, there is little relationship between the depth of trance and treatment effectiveness. For example, just as many persons with whom I have used hypnosis for cigarette smoking cessation were successful who experienced milder states of trance as those who experienced a deep trance.

Would someone say or do something against their will because of hypnosis? (In other words, will I cluck like a chicken?)
You would cluck like a chicken only if you chose to. No one says or does something against their morals or values because they are hypnotized. Such misconceptions stem from portrayals of hypnosis in the mass media and by stage hypnosis. In contrast to the myths about it, hypnosis and self hypnosis are the ultimate experiences for self control. This is why people can stop smoking or turn pain down or off by the use of hypnosis.

Is hypnosis like being asleep?
Not really. Sleep, like coma, is unconscious experiencing. However, with trance the person is quite conscious but conscious processes might be slowed down or suspended to some extent. The hypnotized person is aware of the hypnotist's voice and of other things taking place in the environment, sometimes even more aware than she/he would be normally.

Is hypnosis like transcendental meditation?
Transcendental meditation (TM) is a form of hypnosis. When the practitioner of TM is alone it is a form of self hypnosis. However, the objectives may be different. In TM, the objective is to clear the mind; with clinical hypnosis there could be many different kinds of objectives. For more information on TM, do a search at Google or try the Transcendental Meditation Portal.

Is trance and relaxation the same thing?
No. In most clinical applications of hypnosis, there will be at least some relaxation or a slowing down of bodily processes. However, a person can be in trance even when the body is not relaxed. For example, most long distance or marathon runners will go into trance after running a number of miles. They might imagine being somewhere else and this will help them to "leave their body in some way" (in a manner of speaking) and not experience as much pain or discomfort. In other words, whether they know it or not, they are doing self-hypnosis for pain control.

Can someone not wake up from hypnosis or trance?
First of all, when you're hypnotized or in a trance, you are not asleep. Sometimes a hypnotized person who is coming out of a trance may feel a little groggy for a few moments and may continue to feel calm or "slowed down" but the hypnotized person can choose to become alert or come out of trance whenever desired.

Are hypnosis and biofeedback the same?
No. Hypnosis has been described above. Biofeedback involves providing feedback to an individual which then allows increased control over bodily functions. For example, providing visual readout of finger tip temperature might eventually allow a person to learn how to increase that temperature. For more information about biofeedback, search at Google or try the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.

What about all these hypnosis clinics?
Most involve group hypnosis. These clinics are less costly but also less effective than hypnotic treatment done on an individual basis. Group hypnosis situations are often led by persons not trained in human behavior which can be important for success in many cases.

Hypnosis for Cigarette Smoking Cessation and Diet Control
I receive many inquiries about this. I am the senior author of the professional text, Modern Clinical Hypnosis for Habit Control (find it at amazon.com) and the treatment strategies that my associates and I have developed are widely used.

For over 500 people that I have treated, hypnosis was about 75% successful in helping them to stop smoking. About 10% of these patients had a mild "slip" or relapse after 9 to 12 months, but most were then able to stop smoking after a brief intervention (sometimes over the telephone). Treatment for smoking cessation for most people is several 1.5 hour sessions and patients are screened ahead of time. Important screening variables are motivation, current stress in the person's life, and the extent of alcohol use. More information can be found on this web site in the article, "Clinical Hypnosis: A Psychological Treatment for Cigarette Smoking". Click HERE to read the article.

Hypnotic treatment for diet control involves 3 to 6 or more hourly sessions. Treatment is weekly at first and then tapers. Success for weight loss has been 60% to 70%. It is often necessary to address emotional issues or sensitivities that are associated with overeating or being overweight. An important strategy in the treatment of unhealthy eating and other habitual patterns is patients regularly doing self-hypnosis.