Hypnosis is a relaxed, altered or trance-like state where the conscious mind and physical body are at rest. It is similar to the comfortable feeling experienced just before sleep or before becoming fully awake, and is comparable to a daydream. One of the pioneers of modern hypnosis, James Braid (1840), called it 'sleep of the nervous system'.
In this relaxed mode, hypnotherapists may use insightful interjections, guided imagery and suggestion therapy in order to encourage previously hidden unconscious memories to emerge, or to discover and release previously unknown blocks to healthy psychological change.
The task of hypnotherapy is to alleviate or transform unhealthy and dysfunctional thoughts, beliefs and behaviours, distressing feelings such as depression, stress, anxiety or phobia, pain management and psychopathological symptoms.
A skilful hypnotherapist will work intuitively and recognise whether the client needs to regress into the past in order to find the root of a problem, use progressive techniques to focus on the future, use 'here and now' tools to resolve current problems, or a combination of all three.
Like other therapies, hypnotherapy assists in activating the inner resources of a person in order to achieve realistic goals.