Hypnosis produces a light
or deeper trance state in the subject so that suggestions made by the
hypnotherapist are accepted by the subject's subconscious mind more readily
(suggestions can also be made to yourself when trained in
self-hypnosis). The trance state is a perfectly natural state that you already enter several times each day, for example, going into and waking from sleep, when absorbed in a book, television programme or conversation, when driving; hypnosis induces this state and maintains it for the duration of the therapy.
Hypnotherapy uses the enhanced susceptibility to suggestions when in trance to bring about therapeutic changes. No subject will respond to a hypnotist's suggestions unless they are willing to do so and nobody can be made to do anything that conflicts with their personal sense of ethical values; otherwise I would be off to see my bank manager instead of writing this! We actually experience trance states several times during the day with those experienced as we enter or re-awaken from natural sleep, day-dream, 'get lost' in a book or when driving and forgetting portions of the journey most resembling a hypnotic trance.
It is important to note that hypnotherapy is not something that is 'done to you'; it is a partnership in which the therapist guides you towards your goals using the trance state to make the realisation of those goals easier. However, some therapeutic techniques that do not involve trance may be used if appropriate to do so.
I realise that the thought of being hypnotised can seem daunting to some and many of my patients express a little nervousness on arrival for their first consultation only to find, to their delight, that their trance experience was unlike anything they had felt before and extremely relaxing.
A particularly interesting and important field of investigation, and one that is pertinent to Clinical Hypnosis, is that of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) which investigates the links between the individual's psychological state and their immune system. If the immune system's efficiency is compromised by stress or poor self-image then diseases that might otherwise have been stopped at an early stage may produce symptoms.