Hypnosis can be an effective tool for weight loss, especially when used in conjunction with a healthy eating plan and exercise. Plenty of people have reservations about using hypnosis because of a variety of misconceptions stemming from its portrayal in the media, movies, and stage hypnosis. Before we discuss specific benefits and uses of hypnosis for weight loss let's consider typical questions the average person has about hypnosis.

What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a safe, proven technique that has been used for thousands of years. It is a trance state or altered state of consciousness, not unlike any other trance state you experience on a daily basis. In fact, all of us are in and out of trance states every day. Daydreaming is a light trance state. A deeper trance state occurs right before sleep, when one is very relaxed.

Hypnotists achieve a trance state by helping the client relax the body and conscious mind and focus attention so one can tap into the subconscious mind more fully. This allows one to go to the source of difficulties and create changes on a deeper level.

What does hypnosis feel like?
During hypnosis some feel heaviness in the body, while others describe feeling lighter. What is most commonly experienced is feeling very relaxed, comfortable, and peaceful. When in a state of hypnosis a person is not asleep and can open his or her eyes at any time. Although sounds become more distant with a deeper trance, a person can be aware of noises outside and inside the room.

How does it work?
One of the goals of hypnosis is to have the conscious mind hang out on the sidelines while we work with the deeper part of the mind, the subconscious mind. When the body is in this relaxed state the subconscious mind is more open to suggestions.

What is the subconscious mind and how is it different from the conscious mind?
The conscious mind operates when we are awake and aware of our environment. It is also the analytical, chattering part of our mind. The subconscious mind contains anything that is not in our current awareness. This can include beliefs formed at an early age, as well as memories and knowledge that are not needed in conscious awareness. It is also where our dreams come from.

Can anyone be hypnotized?
We are all in and out of trance states every day of our lives so it is a natural and normal state for us. There are times that an individual does not enter a hypnotic state because there is not sufficient trust and rapport between the client and hypnotist.

A point worth making is that an individual is not "hypnotized". The client agrees to accept or reject the suggestions of the hypnotist, remaining fully in control.

Isn't hypnosis used to control people? I've seen stage hypnotists make people do some pretty silly things on stage.
Although a person is more open to suggestions while in a hypnotic state they cannot be made to do something that is against their moral or ethical code. Stage hypnotists have done a lot to encourage the appearance of control over a client. Subjects that participate are chosen carefully by the hypnotist as they appear compliant, cooperative, or extroverted. Subjects understand that they are on stage for entertainment and aren't likely to spoil the show. While stage hypnotists use hypnotic techniques and many participants are in a trance state, the element of control is an illusion.

The bottom line is this: While you are in a state of hypnosis no one can make you do something that is not okay with you. It is your choice to accept or reject any suggestions.

What is hypnosis used for?
Hypnosis is used in two different ways. First, it can be useful for gaining insight into the source of a problem or into the blocks to resolving a problem. Many of those with chronic weight problems have subconscious blocks to weight loss and there are reasons for the extra weight and overeating in the first pace. Hypnosis can be an excellent tool for identifying and removing these blocks.

Secondly, hypnosis can be used for giving suggestions toward the desired changes. Sometimes changes can be achieved in one session. More commonly permanent changes require repeating suggestions over time. The goal is to convince the subconscious mind that the desired changes are real.

Can't the hypnotist just put me into a trance, say some words, and make me stop eating too much?
By the hypnotist "just saying some words" the client is not encouraged to take an active role in the change process. When the relationship between hypnotist and client is a mutual alliance with shared and clear goals the client can feel empowered and responsible for the progress made. The hypnotist provides the tools of hypnosis and the client uses what is appropriate and meaningful.

How can hypnosis help me lose weight?
Now that we have a clearer understanding about what hypnosis is, let's talk specifically about how it can be used successfully for weight loss. One effective use is the repeated mental rehearsal of the desired future behavior. The client can rehearse a variety of eating situations where healthy food choices are made over and over again. The client then imagines pushing the food away when no longer hungry. Again, the goal is to convince the subconscious mind that this is the reality. The subconscious mind is more likely to respond accordingly in daily life.

While the client can be motivated to eat healthier food and smaller portions, suggestions can include feeling repulsed by fattening, high calorie foods that don't serve their weight loss goals. Food cravings can be addressed by helping the client gain insight into the emotional needs the craved food serves. The client can rehearse different and effective ways for getting those needs met in healthier ways.

Other uses of hypnosis can include suggestions that increase motivation to enjoy exercise. The client can see themselves exercising regularly and experiencing multiple benefits as a result.

Clients may rehearse a healthy life out into the future where the goals have been achieved, the extra weight has been lost, and they are healthy and feeling good. They can imagine all the benefits to achieving their goals thereby creating greater motivation and incentive. This can make sustaining the long-term effort required for weight loss more attainable.

All of us consciously rehearse behaviors and future events, not always in ways that serve us. We all have imagined making mistakes or doing something wrong. We also regularly give ourselves suggestions that don't help us. Too often we tell ourselves that we can't do something or otherwise criticize ourselves too quickly. By using hypnosis we are utilizing that deeper part of our mind and tapping into resources we may not have known existed. By using hypnosis we are simply being conscious about our goals and using that deeper part of our mind to get to those goals. We are always giving our minds instructions. We might as well be conscious, directive, and resourceful about it. Hypnosis can help us do that.

Author's Bio: 

Sue Stevenson, Ph.D., is a Weight Loss Coach in Tucson, Arizona, who works with individuals and groups to help them reach their weight loss and fitness goals. She uses innovative techniques like hypnosis, NLP, and the Emotional Freedom Technique. Her strengths are in identifying the blocks to weight loss and using the tools to resolve those blocks. She is the author of "Adventures with Guided Imagery". She can be reached through her website: http://www.yourtucsonweightlosscoach.com