The difference between hypnotherapy and hypnosis is while hypnosis is simply an altered state of consciousness hypnotherapy is deliberately induced hypnosis by a professionally trained and qualified hypnotherapist for therapeutic purposes.
Hypnosis is, perhaps, one of the most misunderstood and controversial methods of psychological treatment. The myths and misconceptions that surround hypnotherapy mostly stem from people’s ideas about stage hypnotism. The truth is that stage hypnotism is essentially a theatrical performance and has about as much in common with bona fide clinical hypnosis as many Hollywood movies have with real life.
The fact is that hypnosis is a genuine psychological phenomenon that has valid uses in clinical practice. Simply put, hypnosis is a state of highly focused attention or concentration, often associated with relaxation, and heightened suggestibility. While under hypnosis (i.e., in a hypnotic trance), it seems many people are much more open to helpful suggestions than they usually are.
The positive suggestions that people are given while hypnotized are referred to as “post hypnotic suggestions” because they are intended to take effect after the person emerges from the trance and is no longer under hypnosis.
As explained above, you are not asleep or unconscious while in a hypnotic state. Therefore your conscious mind is awake and aware and able to monitor its surroundings and what is being said to it. If something is "suggested" to you while in a hypnotic state that you do not like or which goes against your moral and spiritual character then one of two things will happen. Your mind will either dismiss the suggestion the hypnotherapist has given you or you will open your eyes and come out of the trance. To put it simply a person has to want what is being suggested to them. The person in a hypnotic trance is always in control, just as someone who is daydreaming can decide to go on or stop at any time. While the practitioner serves as a teacher or guide, the only person who can hypnotize you is you, since trance is a latent potential of your own mind. Therefore, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.
Hypnosis for the Relief and Control of Pain
Hypnosis is a set of techniques designed to enhance concentration, minimize one's usual distractions, and heighten responsiveness to suggestions to alter one's thoughts, feelings, behavior, or physiological state. Hypnosis is not a type of psychotherapy. It also is not a treatment in and of itself; rather, it is a procedure than can be used to facilitate other types of therapies and treatments. People differ in the degree to which they respond to hypnosis. The key to becoming hypnotized is the extent to which a person is hypnotizable, which is a very reliable and stable individual difference trait that indexes one's openness to hypnotic suggestions.
Research shows that hypnosis works as part of a treatment program for a number of psychological and medical conditions, with pain relief being one of the most researched areas, as shown in a 2000 study by psychologists Steven Lynn, PhD, Irving Kirsch, PhD, Arreed Barabasz, PhD, Etzel Cardeña, PhD, and David Patterson, PhD. Among the benefits associated with hypnosis is the ability to alter the psychological components of the experience of pain that may then have an effect on even severe pain.
Myths About Hypnosis
People often fear that being hypnotized will make them lose control, surrender their will, and result in their being dominated, but a hypnotic state is not the same thing as gullibility or weakness. Many people base their assumptions about hypnotism on stage acts but fail to take into account that stage hypnotists screen their volunteers to select those who are cooperative, with possible exhibitionist tendencies, as well as responsive to hypnosis. Stage acts help create a myth about hypnosis which discourages people from seeking legitimate hypnotherapy.
Another myth about hypnosis is that people lose consciousness and have amnesia. A small percentage of subjects, who go into very deep levels of trance will fit this stereotype and have spontaneous amnesia. The majority of people remember everything that occurs in hypnosis. This is beneficial, because the most of what we want to accomplish in hypnosis may be done in a medium depth trance, where people tend to remember everything.
In hypnosis, the patient is not under the control of the hypnotist. Hypnosis is not something imposed on people, but something they do for themselves. A hypnotist simply serves as a facilitator to guide them.